Cold Brewed Iced Coffee: Feeding Your Habit at Home

Summertime and caffeine addiction: two great tastes that need a little help to taste great together. A steaming hot cup of java isn’t always the most inviting thing on a 90 degree day when your clothes are sticking to you and the humidity is at ten billion percent. Almost everyone I know gets through the summer armed daily with a plastic cup of iced coffee from the iced coffee purveyor of their choice.

In my neck of the woods, those cups are always marked with pink and orange logos, but I’m somewhat of a coffee snob, and I prefer my coffee not to taste as though someone just used it as an ashtray. Not to mention, all those iced coffees add up, both in the wallet and in the landfill. (And if you’re one of those people who puts their plastic cup inside of a Styrofoam cup and then throws both away when you’re done, we need to have a talk. Please buy one of those wetsuit things for your iced coffee. Stop using Styrofoam cups for insulation. Problem solved. The end.)

So, to combat terrible coffee and the added expense, I make my iced coffee at home. I prefer to cold brew my iced coffee, because hot coffee that’s been refrigerated tends to be very acidic and it also settles kind of funny in your glass. I have a few necessities that go along with iced coffee that I always keep on hand, too: coffee ice cubes and simple syrup.

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

Supplies needed:

  • French press, or, failing that, a glass pitcher of some sort and a few coffee filters
  • Another empty pitcher (glass is my preference, but whatever you have on hand works)
  • Ground coffee (the coarser the grind, the better)
  • Cold water

-Put a few tablespoons of ground coffee into the pitcher of your French press or your “making coffee” pitcher. I generally use a little more than if I were making hot or drip coffee. I use an exact measurement I call “ummm, about this much?” to determine how much to use. I probably use too much, but I like my coffee strong.

-Fill the French press or pitcher with cold water. If using a French press, fit the cover loosely on the pot, but do not plunge the filter. If using a pitcher, cover it if you can. This is mostly to avoid spills and not a really necessary part of the process, as far as I know.

-Leave the mixture on the counter or in the fridge for a bunch of hours. I usually do it overnight, but while you’re at work or school or whatever works, too.

-After your coffee’s been hanging out for a bunch of hours, it’s magic time. This is where having a French press comes in reeeeeally handy. Press the plunger down, and pour the coffee into your empty pitcher. That’s it. If you’re French press-less, then you’ll need to filter the coffee grounds out by pouring the mixture through a coffee filter or two into the empty pitcher. Godspeed. (I’m sure you ingenious people can come up with a simple and effective system. Feel free to share your suggestions with the class.)

-Consume, and feel the sweet sweet caffeine easing your nagging overheated headache away.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Um, pour coffee into ice cube trays. Freeze. Use instead of regular ice cubes. BONUS FROZEN CAFFEINE.

Simple Syrup

Add boiling water to sugar (in equal parts) in a Pyrex pitcher or something else that can handle boiling water. Mix until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool down a little and pour into, um, something? (I like a squeezy bottle like ketchup and mustard come in at picnics, but really, the possibilities are endless.) Keep it in the fridge. It keeps for a very long time. Use this to sweeten your iced coffee so that you don’t have crunchy undissolved bits of sugar.

And for fuck’s sake, use a refillable water bottle or glass to drink out of. No plastic-in-styrofoam, or I’m coming to get you.

6 replies on “Cold Brewed Iced Coffee: Feeding Your Habit at Home”

Ooh, I haven’t had chilled coffee since I was 11 – there used to be a brand in Hong Kong vending machines that was peanut flavoured, which I absolutely adored. I’ll try this as soon as I… *sigh*… move into my own place, with my own fridge.

I’m guessing Europeans would call a “French press” a cafetiere?

Yes Yes Yes! Everyone do this.

Cold Press Coffee is the best. Two different coffee shops I have worked at used this method. You can store the coffee in a recycled gallon milk jug and drink off of it for a week (or three days, whatev).

If you want to get all fancy, you can buy a pitcher that brews cold press – it looks kinda rinky dink but it’s magic. I don’t think it’s terribly costly either. One of my shops sold it for about $15 I think?

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