My mother-in-law bought me the Aerobie AeroPress for my birthday and I’ve been hyper ever since. But I’m saving that story for Part 2.
I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I love the flavor, but I hate the fuss of making it myself and having it come out bitter and unsatisfying. I love a jolt of caffeine when I need it, but my digestive and nervous system is not very forgiving if I overstep the line. I love coffee-shop coffee, especially iced coffee, but I have done the calculations and know that buying even one coffee every day is a much larger expense than people seem to realize1.
I have found two methods for making coffee I like without the expense and with very satisfying results.
Over the years, Maggie and I have tried to make iced coffee drinks that would satisfy our craving without the expensive trips to coffee shops, and where we had more control over the calories. But I was never really satisfied with the flavor, texture or richness with any of my homemade concoctions. Until we learned about cold-brewed coffee, which only seems to be a secret to a now-shrinking number ofyankees.
This method is said to produce a smoother iced coffee, with less acid and a little less caffeine. That means you can enjoy it more if you’re sensitive to either the acid or caffeine. And if you like caffeine, no problem — it produces a concentrate, so you can adjust the strength to your needs.
Put 1/2 pound of ground coffee into your container. Pour the water over the coffee. Stir to moisten all the coffee.
Let it sit 8-12 hours.
Pour your mixture through the strainer and reserve the liquid2. Discard the grounds. There still may be some fine particles in the concentrate. You can decant it a few times to remove this gunk, according to your preference. This produces 3 cups of concentrate, which you store in the fridge.
To drink, you will need to dilute this concentrate to a desired strength. In my estimation, this stuff is somewhat more concentrated than espresso. About 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water or milk is good, but this will vary wildly by your preference.
This method made me realize that cooked coffee with ice in it is a complete blasphemy. And once you’ve got this fresh concentrate on hand, you can whip up an iced coffee any time. Ir a coffee smoothie. Or back coffee-flavored pastries. Or whatever.
The great news for me is that now I can enjoy iced coffee all the time, cheaply. The better news is that with less acid this stuff is easier on the tummy. But the bad news is that now I’m addicted to coffee again. It only got worse when I got my AeroPress, which I’ll discuss in Part 2.
1 Say you spend $4/day on your favorite menu item at Starbucks or wherever (you’ll pay more than that for some selections) by the end of the year you’ll have spent $1,460. You’re drinking two laptops per year. Even if I buy somewhat-expensive beans at the supermarket at $8/lb, using the concentrate method I got a pound to last me 2 weeks. That’s $416, or less than a third of the cost. And I’ve made my coffee concentrate with $5 coffee on sale for $2.50 and it tasted great.
2 You might be thinking at this point “Why not use a French Press to filter the coffee?” That’s what I thought, too. But it just didn’t work that well for me (especially trying to prepare so much concentrate at once) and then I had to clean the press, which is not as easy as cleaning a strainer and a metal bowl. Feel free to try this yourself, though and let me know how it goes.
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