The steamy months are upon us. Two symptoms of the Central Florida summer are a general and profound sluggishness and an aversion to ingesting hot food or drinks. No doubt this is why iced tea is the official beverage of the South, combining cool hydration with rocket-fuel caffeine levels. But what if, gasp, you don't care for Lipton, chilled or otherwise?
Iced coffee is the answer, and a new — well, newly popular — method is making waves in the foodiesphere. Cold-brewed iced coffee, an elixir familiar to New Orleanians, has been covered in the New York Times twice in the last two months and mirrored/commented upon by countless food blogs. The concentrated brew corrects the crucial iced-coffee snag: Pouring hot coffee over ice produces a watery mess, and it also ends up sort of lukewarm, not icy-cold. Connoisseurs say another benefit of the cold-brew process is that the flavor is better, with less acidity and no bitterness, making sugar almost superfluous.
The technique is simple: Just soak coffee in cold water overnight, then strain out the grounds the next day. (More detailed directions can be found below.) If you like gadgets or spending money, there's the Toddy system, which looks like an overweight drip coffeemaker, or you can just buy the concentrate, premade, at www.coldbrewed.com.
Before you know it, you'll be dedicating a special ice-cube tray to frozen coffee cubes — thus enjoying even less dilution of your precious potion.
Makes eight cups.
Place one pound of dark-roast, medium coarse–grind coffee in a large nonreactive pot – a tall stockpot works well – or wide-mouthed glass jar. Slowly pour in two cups of cold water and gently stir, wetting the grounds. Add another eight cups of cold water, being careful to disturb the coffee as little as possible. Cover and leave overnight (or for 12 hours) at room temperature.
Strain the mixture through a medium sieve, then through a fine-mesh sieve or coffee filter, into a refrigerator pitcher or jar. (Bear in mind that coffee will stain plastic.)
To make iced coffee, combine ¼ cup of coffee concentrate with ¾ cup of milk or water and pour over ice. (Proportions can be adjusted to taste.)