Monday, March 01, 2010

Coffee...a cup best brewed cold...

I'm baaack! And I'm seriously caffeinated. I'm also attempting to enjoy life a little more and, as a result, I'm working on getting my creative juices flowing again by reintroducing myself to my own blog. I hope the one or two remaining people with an RSS feed to this blog missed me as much as I missed myself.

While I refuse to blog about anythig related to work, I will say the past few months of my new job have been stressful and exhausting, and I will leave it at that. you want the full scoop? Buy me a beer. Or a cup of coffee. Hey speaking of which, that's quite the natural segue into the subject of today's blog post. Snow. No wait, I mean coffee, not snow. I'm sick of snow. and so are you. I'll just talk about coffee.

I'm somewhat of a coffee snob. I get all my coffee fresh roasted from Prestogeorge, my favorite place in Pittsburgh's Strip District, and tend to drink about three of four cups a day. I refuse to drink that standard office swill, and cringe any time someone tries to offer me skim milk to put in my cup. Recently my trusty-yet-raggedy DeLonghi coffeemaker decided it was time to give up the ghost. Well, not totally, but the timer button stopped working. Yeah, sure, it still makes coffee, just not at four in the morning while I'm still asleep. And that's annoying. So it was time for a new coffee maker.

My needs were simple. A steel carafe and a timer were really my only requirements. I wasn't interested in a machine that automatically grinds, as waking the dog at four in the morning would be a whole different annoyance. I also believe that those doohickies that take the single-serving plastic tubs of coffee are yet another example of how this planet is doomed, so I'm not going there either. And, unfortunately, I took the time to read all the comments on for each coffee maker I viewed, and noticed one common thread...they all sucked. Curse you, Amazon, and your Web 2.0 openness. It was so much easier to shop when I knew nothing about what I was buying.

Then I started to read about the concept of "cold brewing". The idea is that you take a pound of ground coffee, dump it in a plastic tub with about nine cups of water, let it sit for a day, then drain it through a filter. The end result is sort of a coffee "concentrate". Take a little bit of this concentrate (about a 1/4 cup) and mix in a cup of boiling water Yes folks, it's a trendy take on instant coffee! But the concentrate has none of the oils and acids left in typical brewed coffee, and therefore it tastes more "pure" and is less harsh on your stomach. One batch of concentrate apparently will last over a month in the fridge and makes about as many cups of coffee as the traditional process would, but with no waste because you make it a cup at a time. The gadget to do this cost about thirty bucks, so I decided to give it a shot.

The verdict? I'm still undecided, but I'm leaning toward excellent. They say that this process makes coffee that "tastes like a coffee shop smells" and they are absolutely right. It has a sweet, pleasant taste with no bitterness. You can make it as strong or as weak as you like simply by adding more or less concentrate. It's the first cup of coffee that I've ever enjoyed drinking black. While I'm still in the process of finishing my first batch, I'd say I'll stick with it for a while. Here's some other interesting things I've learned about this whole process:

Someone on a website commented that if you drain the "sludge" after it's done steeping for the day and immediately put new water into the old coffee grounds, you can get a second batch of concentrate that's just as good as the first, thus doubling what you get out of a pound of coffee. It appears to be the truth, because I can't taste the difference between batch 1 and batch 2.

The brewing process isn't exactly the cleanest in the world, but since you only do it about once a month, it's not so bad.

This stuff makes kickass iced mocha and iced coffee as well.

It's nice making coffee with boiling water. You end up with much hotter coffee that you do from a typical brewer.

If you invite friends over that drink decaf (god knows why), you might have a problem if you don't have a spare coffeemaker around, because this whole cold brewing process isn't exactly a spur-of-the-moment thing. You can, however, make an entire pitcher of coffee simply by measuring out enough concentrate to mix with the right amount of boiling water

The leftover sludge makes great compost for the yard. Just dump it around your plants to keep deer away. That is, if the snow ever thaws.


Curly Top Labradoodles said...

Hey, I was wondering what happened to you. Thanks for the lesson in cold brewing coffee.

Howard said...


DKB said...

I'll send you an email about the cold-process coffee, I just needed to post here to prove to the rest of the bloggerverse I read it.