We are so thrilled to announce that Jason Brechin, Chambana dad and author of the wonderful Clever Food Blog, has joined us as our bi-weekly food columnist. Have a question for him or a suggestion for his next column? Looking for meal ideas or interested in a specific cooking or baking technique? Let us know and you may see your suggestion show up in the next installment of “Cooking At Home With Jason.”
by Jason Brechin
Now that the weather is turning warmer, one of my habits will be changing.
Instead of always drinking a big, hot cup of coffee, I’ll opt for a smooth iced caffeine fix. You may be used to driving through or walking by your favorite coffee shop, or maybe you don’t normally like coffee unless it’s some fancy triple-whippy-nonfat-nowhop frappucino, but I like brewing my own because it tastes better at less than half the price. Give it a try.
Not only does it save me money, but I get to choose exactly what beans I’m putting in my cup. Maybe it’s a local roaster, or something organic and fair trade, or some standard sale-of-the-week beans from the grocery store.
Get something you like, but keep in mind that not all beans are created equal. Get good coffee because it’s worth it. By the method I give here, you’ll get somewhere around 15 or more (16-oz) cups of coffee from an average 12-ounce bag.
Even if you’re paying $10 a bag for great coffee that’s kind to the planet and the people that grow it, you’re paying less than half of what these would cost at the shop. So stop by Common Ground or Strawberry Fields and try a few different coffees from the bulk bins.
Iced coffee can be an amazing thing. There are, however, a few things it is not. First, it is not hot coffee allowed to cool. This tends to make your coffee oxidize and taste stale.
Also, since most people aren’t brewing their coffee right, it will be very bitter (because bitter tastes are stronger when things are colder). It is also not hot coffee poured over ice. Since it’s not sitting around, it won’t taste as stale, but it will still tend to be overly bitter.
Properly made, iced coffee is smooth and rich, tasting like… well… coffee. It’s not bitter, or overly acidic. Most coffees will display a wide range of flavors like caramel and nuttiness that are normally overshadowed when hot brewed.
It can still be strong, but it’s packing lots of subtle flavors, not just burnt and bitter punches to the palate. The major downside is that you need to plan ahead a bit to make the coffee. Once it’s made, though, you can have iced coffee in your fridge ready to drink for days.
In a large bowl, put 1 cup of ground coffee. In my measurements, this was about 75g or 2.5oz. Add 8 cups (that’s 2 quarts, 64oz) of cool water, filtered is best. Stir to combine, cover, and allow to steep for about 8 hours.
I like to do this overnight, but you could prepare it in the morning and it would be ready after work. Once it has steeped, you’ll need to strain the coffee into a pitcher or carafe. I used to have a Chemex coffee pot, but now I use one of those single-cup filter holders. You can find either of these at Art Mart and probably elsewhere in town. You could buy a $30 device that just makes cold-brewed coffee (the Toddy), but that seems silly.
I put some ice in a glass, then add coffee and some milk. I normally use sugar with hot coffee, but not iced (it’s just not necessary). Add a straw, and enjoy the heat again.
Jason Brechin is a Savoy resident, an unrepentant foodie and a dad of two whose passion for cooking led him to start Clever Food Blog, where he chronicles his adventures in the kitchen. You can find him here every other week, writing about cooking at home. Have an idea or question for Jason? Contact us and we’ll pass it on.