I grew up in the Pacific NW and it’s no secret that people in the NW pretty much survive in a sunless environment because of all of the coffee they consume. There is a coffee shop on every corner in Seattle. I was one of those people. Then I moved to Denver, realized that the sun is a magical, life giving force and I stopped drinking coffee like I used to in Seattle. When I do drink coffee here, it has to be cold. Even in the winter, I have this in my fridge.
I started making my own iced coffee after reading another food blogger’s post a couple of years ago. If you do any research on iced coffee, most sources will tell you that you need to use an African bean. I’ve tried different beans over the past couple of years for this recipe and this one from Peet’s is my favorite. Iced coffee has become pretty popular over the past couple of years so a lot of coffee shops sell beans that are recommended for iced coffee, just ask your barista for a recommendation.
When you buy coffee beans for iced coffee, you want to ask the coffee shop to grind your beans for toddy. Toddy is a term used to describe a cold water brew for coffee. If your coffee shop knows what they are doing, this won’t confuse them. However, I’ve been in a couple of coffee shops ordering beans before and have been met with a blank stare when requesting this. One of those coffee shops was ahem, Starbucks. When I tried to explain that I was going to make iced coffee, the lights still did not come on and finally exasperated I requested that they grind for French press.
Usually, when grinding beans for toddy, this means that the beans will be ground in the largest form that they can be ground into. You don’t want finely ground beans for toddy, you want just the opposite. So if you find that your coffee shop doesn’t really know what they are doing, you can also ask them to grind for French press as this also produces a larger coffee ground.
Now comes the easy part. Pour one pound of ground coffee into a two gallon container. Then pour cold water over the coffee, completely covering all the grounds. Stir if necessary.
Put the lid on the container and let sit on the countertop or in the fridge for 24 hours. I’ve seen different instructions out there on how long you need to let the coffee steep, anywhere from 16 to 36 hours. I would start at 24 hours and then adjust your steep time based on the type of beans you are using. Twenty four hours works great for the Peet’s blend I use. However, I have used some other beans and 24 hours was too long. You know how you can tell? Based on how acidic your coffee concentrate comes out. Your coffee should not burn your esophagus. Your coffee concentrate should have a strong flavor to it but it should also be smooth not obscenely bitter.
After 24 hours, strain the coffee concentrate liquid through a fine mesh strainer to eliminate all of the coffee grounds from the liquid. I also place a paper towel on top of my strainer, when straining the liquid to ensure the removal of all the coffee grounds. The liquid that you are left with is coffee concentrate or what I like to call, liquid gold.
Depending on how strong you like your iced coffee will determine how you make it. For me, I fill an entire glass with ice. I then pour the coffee concentrate over the ice and add about two tablespoons of half and half. I’m a coffee sipper not a gulper so my iced coffee lasts me all morning. I have a friend who drinks hers with half water, half concentrate with a splash of non fat milk. It’s up to you to create your perfect iced coffee drink!