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Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space

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I recently took my coffeemaker off of the counter top and regained about a square foot of space.  In my kitchen, that’s a big deal.  It’s not that I’ve given up coffee – I still have my morning cup most days – it’s just that I’ve found a new way to make that cup, and it is about as low-tech as it gets: cold-brewing.

I make mine a concentrated strength.  Add 1 part of the concentrate to 2 or 3 parts boiling water, and you’ve got a deliciously smooth cup o’ joe.  The usual methods of dripping and percolating can bring out bitterness in coffee, but cold-brewing keeps bitter flavors at bay.  Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use the resulting concentrate in cold drinks (it is the middle of August right now, after all).  Add it to cold milk, throw in a couple of ice cubes, and you’ve got a nice iced coffee.  Blend it with milk, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup, and you’ve got a simple Frappuccino substitute.  Mmmmmmm!

Good mail day

Gather your supplies

First you need coffee, naturally.  I just recently discovered Equal Exchange, and my first order showed-up yesterday.  It’s fair trade, organic, and it saved me a trip to the grocery store.  What’s not to like about that?  You can, of course, use your own favorite brand.  Course grinds are recommended, but I often ignore that with no ill effects aside from the occasional specs of coffee grit in my cup. This current batch was made with Equal Exchange Organic Breakfast Blend, and it was quite good.

You also need a french press.  I have a Bodum Brazil 8-Cup, which I love. Be forewarned if you are in the market for one of these, that’s eight four ounce cups.  I don’t know anyone who drinks such a small cup, although it hardly matters when you’re making a concentrate, anyway.  The press is great for making regular non-concentrate coffee, too, and I’ve also used mine for loose teas.  (Just in case you’re trying to justify buying one – it’s great for more than just concentrates).

Cold-press coffee in progress

Cold brew your coffee concentrate

Put about a cup of grinds into the press, and then fill the rest of the press with cold water until it’s about 3/4 full – just enough to leave some room for the plunger.

Stir the grinds with a plastic or wooden spoon until they are all wet.  Put the plunger on the press, but only push it down until it reaches the water, no further.

Put the press into the refrigerator and let it sit 12 hours or so.  It’s not an exact science.  I have left mine for less and for more.  Different steeping times result in different strengths of concentrate.

[edited 03/05/12: I’ve been doing this for some time now, and my method has changed slightly. First, I’ve been buying whole bean coffee and grinding it coarsely.  Second, I fill the press higher with water, leaving only about an inch at the top. And lastly, I let it sit for a full 24 hours.  YMMV.]

Cold-press coffee for breakfast

Cold-press coffee for breakfast Cold-press coffee for breakfast

Process the concentrate

Once the steeping is complete, press down the plunger as far as it will go.  This will trap the grinds on the bottom of the press while letting the brewed coffee flow freely out the spout.   Fill up your coffee cup about 1/4 of the way with the concentrate, and pour the rest of it into an airtight container.

Label the container so you know what type of coffee is inside, and add the date, just so you know when it’s over-the-hill.  Keep the container refrigerated, and discard the contents after two weeks.  (Tomorrow, you’ll take the container out of the fridge and pour about a quarter cup of the concentrate into your mug, just like you did today with the freshly-pressed stuff.)

Cold-press coffee for breakfast Cold-press coffee for breakfast

Enjoy your cup

Add boiling water to the concentrate in your mug, and there you have it – a piping hot cup of cold-pressed coffee.  Add whatever it is you usually add to your coffee to make it palatable (I’m a whole milk or half & half girl, myself) and enjoy!

This process really has improved my morning coffee experience, saved me counter space, and made it super easy to whip up a frozen coffee drink cheaply and on demand.  I also imagine that it will be useful during get-togethers.  Having two containers of make-ahead concentrate in the fridge (one regular, one decaf), requires me only to boil water – something I do anyway for the tea-drinkers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Have you tried something similar? Have any tips? Have a great recipe that requires cold coffee?  Leave them all in the comments!

P.S. My thanks go to whoever it was that tweeted about this article, which led me to this one, and got me interested in trying this cold-brewing thing in the first place.

29 thoughts on “Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space

  1. 1. I LOVE cold pressed coffee.
    2. I never would have thought to use my French Press.
    3. THANK YOU!!!

    1. I’m curious, how else would you make it?
      (you’re welcome 🙂 )

  2. Big plus…cold brew reduces the PH level. Hence, better for the teeth!

  3. We use the toddy system to cold brew. It brews a pound at a time. You can freeze it into an ice cube tray if you want it to last longer.

    1. The original post I read mentioned the toddy. I’m the only one around here who drinks coffee, so the small batch works for me. good tip about the ice cube tray, though! That could be really handy when doing make-ahead coffee for a crowd.

  4. i am totally getting out my french press now. wonder where it is………

    1. Neil put mine in the dishwasher tonight and melted part of it. I always put it in the top rack – guess I forgot to mention that to him…

      Luckily it was my smaller, personal-size press that I’d gotten as a freebie gift. The larger one is fine.

  5. Gonna try this! Thx! RT @lclarke522: New blog post: Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space http://bit.ly/c3BXCl

  6. Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space…

    How to make a coffee concentrate that you can keep in the fridge and easily use for your morning cup, iced coffee, or a frozen concoction….

  7. cool! (no pun intended :-)) I think I’ll give this a try. I have a french press that I’ve never used.

    1. Hope you like it! It’s really so handy having cold coffee at your fingertips 🙂

  8. That’s a brilliant idea!

    1. I thought it was pretty cool when I read about it, too! Been doing it for the last few weeks, and I’m a convert.

  9. I always wondered how one uses that little do-hickey! To bad it took so long for me to become enlightened… I quit drinking coffee (and soda) about 2 months ago!

    1. Oh, too bad – two months too late! Bookmark it in case you fall off the wagon 😉

  10. damn good idea Lisa. Might have to claim some counter space here too.

    1. Hope it works for you – I’m currently sipping some yummy decaf I cold-brewed yesterday.

  11. RT @lclarke522: Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space http://bit.ly/c3XMal

  12. I do cold brew without a press. I just put some coffee and water in a jar, put the lid on, give it a quick shake, and set it aside for an afternoon (or overnight). Then I strain it through two paper coffee filters into another jar. I can usually make enough for myself for three mornings, without any gadgets at all.

    1. Ooh, doohicky-free 🙂
      I tried straining mine through a paper coffee filter at one point, but I lost patience with it’s slow drip-drip-drip and just gave up.

  13. [delicious] Polka Dot Cottage: Cold-Press Coffee, or, How I Reclaimed Some Precious Counter Space http://bit.ly/c3BXCl

  14. To give you insight on the 4 oz cups. In Brasil, the coffee drink of choice is the Cafe Zinho (it means Cute coffee). It is an utlra strong coffee (probably similar to your coffee concentrate) mixed with sugar and sometimes milk or cream. But it is so strong, you wouldn’t want to drink much more than 4 oz at a time. 🙂

    I have a 2 c. brazil press. I think I will try your cold brew method. I hate having the percolator on my counter all the time.

    1. Well that explains it! Thanks for the little bit of background trivia 🙂

  15. […] the pattern. The only problem? I don’t go out for coffee as much as I used to, now that I cold-brew at home, and my travel mugs are wider than your standard Starbucks cup – this cozy is a really tight […]

  16. […] how-to here. « Cool Cappuccino images Sorry, comments are […]

  17. Mine in the fridge right now. I can’t wait to try this in the morning. Thank you.
    Marisa

  18. […] coffee for breakfast Image by lisaclarke Cold-brewing how-to here. Tags: flavor characteristics, quality-blocking code=, true flavor, complex flavors Filed […]

  19. […] jar up to the halfway point, you get about one ounce of alcohol in the jar? Top it off with some cold coffee concentrate, and it’s quite delicious. It’s 140 calories more than a nice tall glass of ice water, […]

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