Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to replace my soda habit with a coffee habit. I figure if I have to have a caffeine habit (and I really do *need* my caffeine habit, at least for now), coffee would be preferable to the chemical cola concoctions I’ve become reliant on. I’m not a huge hot coffee fan — I sip far too slowly, and my drink gets cold and weird before I’m done. In the winter, I like a good café au lait or latte, but here in Texas, it’s often too hot for regular coffee anyway, so iced coffee is the way to go. A friend sent me the link to The Pioneer Woman’s website, where Ree posted her perfect iced coffee recipe, and I’m here to tell you it is both perfect and simple.
I had always found iced coffee to be complicated to make. Most people think you could simply pour hot brewed coffee over ice, but the reality is that that method leads to melted ice cubes and watered-down, luke-warm coffee. Another method is to put brewed hot coffee in the fridge and wait for it to cool, then pour over ice, but I’ve always found the result to be bitter, and it takes too long to get your beverage. The following cold brew method gives you a smooth, rich coffee concentrate that you can store in the fridge tightly sealed for up to 3 weeks and is ready to be poured over ice at a moment’s notice.
How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee
Pour one pound of ground coffee (the richer, the better) into a large, 2-gallon pitcher or container. Pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water, and stir it to make sure all the coffee grounds are fully saturated. Cover the container and let it steep for at least 8 hours. When the time is up, use a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or chlorine-free paper towels to slowly strain the liquid from the grounds into a fresh container. Use a spoon to gently press the last of the liquid through the cheesecloth. You can store the liquid in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.
To serve, pour over ice with your favorite iced coffee mixers. I like a splash of half-n-half or a little liquid cinnamon creamer. You can also use milk, sugar, a little chocolate syrup to make a mocha, or flavored creamers or coffee syrups. To avoid watered-down iced coffee, freeze some of your coffee concentrate in an ice cube tray and add coffee cubes to your drink instead of regular ice.
To make less coffee concentrate (2 gallons is a bit too much for me!), try 2 ounces of ground coffee for each 32 ounces (4 cups) of water.