|Photo from PioneerWoman.com|
Then Amanda, the family barista, came home for the weekend and actually laughed at my brewing method. She took me to the grocery store, selected the proper coffee roast/grind, and taught me correct proportions and cold brewing method. Evidently cold brewing releases more of the natural sweetness than brewing with hot water, which can release the bitterness of the coffee bean. Who knew? PW, as well as several other sites I found on-line, brew their iced coffee base by mixing ground coffee directly into cold water, allowing it to steep, then straining out the grounds. At Radina's Coffeehouse & Roastery - four locations in Manhattan with the prettiest, most polite, and most intelligent baristas in town - they use a "tea bag" of sorts to contain the coffee grounds and eliminate the straining mess. I'm all for avoiding a mess.
So, here is the recipe for Amanda and Tami's Perfect Iced Coffee:
1/4 pound ground espresso coffee (dark roast, finely ground) - Darker roasts are sweeter than lighter roasts but, according to my personal coffee expert, the extremely dark roasts are "just burnt". Put ground coffee in center of cheesecloth square. Pull up corners and tie with twist-tie to form a bag.
Submerge bag in 2 quarts cold water and let steep for 8-12 hours. Beware over-steeping as the coffee can become bitter. After steeping, discard grounds, rinse cheesecloth in hot water and save to use next time - cause you're gonna need more.
Store brewed coffee in the fridge. I like to use a sun-tea jar with a spigot so it's easy to pour straight from the fridge.
To serve: Fill glass with ice. Fill it completely. The more the merrier and all that. And while we're on the subject of ice, I don't think I've ever shared the wisdom of my dear friend Marilyn. "Boughten ice is one of the affordable luxuries of life" - especially in summer. No ice trays to dump, no strange ice-maker smell, just hundreds of perfect little cubes for $1. Anyway - fill your glass with the ice of your choice.
Add coffee base to fill glass about 3/4 full.
Now comes the controversy - to use cream or not to use cream. There are 20 calories in 1 tablespoon of half-and-half. That is the amount in one of those cute little sealed containers they give you in restaurants and it's an acceptable amount for an average glass of iced coffee; but since I like to live on the edge, I use a "splash", which is probably 25 or even 30 calories! I know, I'm daring! If the cream thing freaks you out, you can use 2%, 1%, even skim milk, soy milk or artificial liquid creamer like Coffee-Mate in the flavor of your choice. Keep in mind, there are still 17 calories in the same amount of 2% milk - I'm just saying.
At this point, the coffee is delicious and drinkable. However, most recipes call for a little added sweetness. Sugar, raw sugar (Amanda's choice), honey . . . they all work fine, but I like to counteract the decadence of my half-and-half with Truvia. It's a zero-calorie sweetener made from the stevia plant. I buy it in a box of little packets and keep it on the counter next to the coffee pot. Each packet "provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar." I know this because their web-site says so.
Once you have added the sweetener of choice, you are ready to take the first gulp of cold, creamy, coffee-y goodness. Enjoy!