Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Keeping Cool

So...this past weekend was a pleasant break from the extreme heat wave that Toronto has been experiencing for the last couple of weeks. It's still fairly comfortable today but apparently the temperature is going back to 40's with the humidex later this week. Yikes.

On days like this, just seeing people walking into work with their regular cups of hot coffee makes me start to sweat. How can they bear it?? I get that people still need their daily fix of caffeine but why subject yourself to the extra heat when delicious iced coffee is such a delicious alternative?

I started off the summer drinking Starbucks iced coffees which, I admit, are fairly addicting and convenient. But this starts to get expensive, and really making iced coffee at home is fairly easy and delicious!

You could just make your regular brew of coffee and throw some ice cubes in, but my personal opinion is that the cold-brew method is vastly superior; less acidity and so much smoother. In fact, this can be somewhat dangerous in that this stuff goes down like water. The best part is you can make a few days worth of coffees at a time! For someone like me who is the only coffee drinker in the household, this is so much more convenient than brewing a hot pot of coffee every day. I just make a batch in my french press and keep it in the fridge for about 3 days worth of iced coffee. Yum.

Now about the caffeine level: various articles state that cold-brew coffee has more or less caffeine than regular coffee. So which is it? Honestly it seems to really depend on the grinds to water ratio that you use, and also how much additional milk/water you add to the concentrate. From my personal experience though, a cold-brew coffee generally makes me more jittery than a regular coffee so I'm putting myself in the "more caffeine" camp.

You can add water, milk, any type of simple syrup or sugar (it just might take awhile to dissolve the crystals) with this. Lately though, I've been using condensed milk. I woke up one day a couple of weeks ago just craving condensed milk. Not a particular recipe with condensed milk as an ingredient...just a spoonful of it. So I bought a can and ate a few spoonfuls...so until it's gone I'll be using this to sweeten my iced coffees. It's actually pretty amazing because it adds some milk and sweetness to the concentrate, plus it dissolves more easily than sugar. Oh, and it's REALLY good. Try it.

Vietnamese Cold-brew Iced Coffee

Adapted from Serious Eats

3/4 cup ground coffee
4 cups water
condensed milk (to taste)

1. Fill a pitcher or french press coffee maker with coffee grinds and half the water. Stir to combine, and add the remaining water (this will help you to not get coffee grinds everywhere). Let steep overnight (at least 8 hours, ideally more like 12).

2. Strain coffee - if you're using a french press, strain the coffee into another bowl or pitcher, rinse out the carafe and pour the coffee back in. If you're using a regular pitcher do the same thing but with regular coffee filters to strain out the grinds.

3. Mix with condensed milk, or cream and sugar syrup and serve over ice. You can keep the rest of the mixture in the fridge for a few days which is convenient since you don't need to make a new batch every day!


  1. Jess,
    This is awesome, you are awesome. Your adjectives are making me crave this right now. The only problem is, I'm not a coffee drinker, and I don't know what half the utensils are that you describe in the three steps above (i.e. what's a french press?). Please invite me over for some of your ice coffee.

  2. Haha a french press is just a type of coffee maker...you just put coffee grinds and hot water in it and push a filter down instead of using a drip-style coffee maker. You can do something similar with tea too if you don't like coffee?