Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: Cold-Brew Coffee from My Italian Mama

The Spooky Vegan's Cold-Brew Coffee

I've been brewing my own iced coffee for years and I like to bring my own 20 oz iced black coffee with me wherever I go in case I need an extra jolt of energy. I usually make my iced coffee from coffee I have brewed in my coffee maker the night before...I let it cool overnight, then pour some into my cup with ice cubes for the day and stick the leftovers in the fridge for use the next day.

I've noticed that my coffee has been a bit bitter lately (even after regular cleanings with vinegar of my coffee maker and trying a new coffee), so instead of chucking out my old coffee maker and buying a new one, I decided to try something that my mom has been doing a long time...cold-brewing coffee! I come from a long-line of Italians that love their strong espressos and dark, rich roasts, so I knew I could trust my mom for advice on cold-brewing coffee (without any fancy equipment). Plus, I had tasted her amazingly strong concoction on visits home, so I knew it was going to be good!

My mom recommends using 1 cup of coffee for every 2 cups of filtered water. The smallest batch you want to make will be 2 cups ground coffee to 4 cups water, which will yield approximately 4 cups. You can use any kind of ground coffee you like - my mom prefers the Kirkland brand coffee at Costco (the kind you can get in a big tub). I like using Starbucks' Caffe Verona or one of their other dark roasts. You can even use the cheapest coffee you can find and it will still be tasty!

Use a big glass pitcher or metal pot (please don't use plastic or a groddy plasticky flavor will ruin your brew, not to mention all the nasty chemicals that will seep into it!) and mix the ground coffee and filtered water (should be room-temperature, but it's okay if it is cold, too). Give the grounds and water a few good stirs, then cover and leave on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours.

Once the 24 hours is up, strain the coffee sludge out of your cold-brewed, concentrated coffee. To do this you'll need to use a fine sieve (I use this one). Put a coffee filter in the sieve and place over a small pot or bowl. Pour your cold-brew a little at a time (take it slow and steady!) through the filter/sieve. The coffee will be thick and sludgy, so take your time and change out the coffee filter if it gets clogged (I always have to do this a few times since the sludge has a tendency to clog the filter/sieve).

After you are done filtering, pour your cold-brew coffee into a carafe and chill! Or enjoy right then and there with some ice in a glass. This will make some really potent iced coffee (this is essentially coffee concentrate!), so if it is too strong, you can always dilute it with some water. It is common to dilute the coffee with a one-third coffee concentrate, two-thirds water). For a stronger cup of coffee, use a one-to-one ratio or don't dilute at all! You can also add some almond, coconut or your favorite non-dairy milk/creamer if you prefer.

The cold-brew method yields an extremely smooth, flavorful coffee that is perfect for making iced coffee. I don't think I'll ever go back to using my coffee machine after trying the cold-brew method! Remember to listen to your mothers, cuz Mom is always right!

Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Mom! Love you!


  1. 2 "cups" of ground coffee is quite a bit of coffee. I'm more of a 1 oz. of coffee to 1 cup of water...

    1. It is A LOT of coffee, but that is because this is making a concentrate that can be diluted w/ water (or creamer or milk) later. I like my coffee really, really strong as well, but if you need to adjust for taste that is fine!

  2. This turned out sooooo well, I used my French press to steep it, since it doesn't see a lot of use this time of year & has a glass pot. I made 12 cups of coffee concentrate, which lasted a week, amazing in my house of coffee-guzzlers!


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