It’s no secret that coffee is one of my great loves, but it may surprise you to know that I don’t actually drink that much of it. Yes, I do have at least a cup (“a cup” = one container of finite size, not necessarily measuring 8oz) of it a day—sometimes two—but it’s not as though I’m guzzling it constantly or anything. I do think of coffee as a real pleasure, not just for the perkifying aspects of the caffeine it contains, but also the routine of preparing the coffee. The daily ritual. And it tastes darned good, too, provided it’s made right.
From around mid-May until mid-September, 95% of the coffee I drink is iced. While some people like to enjoy a cold beer when the air turns sultry, I prefer to sip on cold coffee (through a straw, please—bendy if at all possible). Sometimes I buy one on the go, but most of the time I make my own. Until recently, I’ve always followed a basic set of instructions: Brew a pot of coffee using double the amount of beans as you would for hot coffee, let cool, and serve over ice (or coffee cubes, if I’m getting fancy).
For the past few years, though, I’ve been hearing a lot of yammering about using a cold-brewing method for making coffee (most notably this New York Times article, Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, and the many accolades for the Toddy system). I tried it out a couple of times using a pitcher, a jar, and a strainer as depicted on Smitten Kitchen, but I honestly found the whole operation kind of unwieldy and messy…and the end result wasn’t fabulous enough to warrant the effort. So I went back to hot-brewing/cooling.
Enter the Bean Iced Coffee Maker from Bodum, previously seen on my “it list”. I’m a sucker for just about anything Bodum makes (beyond the classic French press everyone has, they also make an awesome toaster and the most practical laundry bag I’ve ever owned), so when I saw that they’d introduced a press specifically geared toward making iced coffee, my curiosity was piqued.
(Four paragraphs in and I haven’t even started the “review” yet. This is why it takes me so long to write posts!)
What, may you ask, makes this new press different from a regular French press for hot coffee? Well, for starters, the size. The largest hot coffee press Bodum makes is 34oz, but the cold-brew press has a 51oz capacity. That’s a pretty huge difference! There are also two lids included—one without a plunger in top so the whole thing can fit nicely in the fridge pre-plunge while the coffee is brewing. Both lids make an airtight seal so the cold coffee will keep fresh for days (no, really, it does!). And it looks cute, which is always nice.
Let’s get to the important part now: HOW DOES THE COFFEE TASTE? Friends, cold-brewed coffee, when done right, tastes awesome. Strong without being bitter, rich and full and caramel-y and with no aftertaste whatsoever. It’s like what you always imagine coffee is going to taste like with none of the disappointment.
The only real con when it comes to cold-brewing is that it does have to be done in advance. The grinds have to sit for at least 12 hours before pressing (we wait a full 24 hours because that works with our schedule—we usually only have coffee at home in the mornings), so it’s not like you can whip up a pitcher of coffee on a whim. Granted, you do wind up with several days’ worth of coffee at the end of the process, but it’s something to keep in mind. Also, I’ve never found washing French presses to be much fun…but it’s not so bad if it isn’t every morning.
I should also note that the coffee that cold-brewing produces is, at least in theory, concentrated. You can, therefore, be able to add water to it in your glass to create a beverage of exactly the strength you like. The reason I say “in theory”, though, is that apparently Evan and I are deranged freaks because we just drink the concentrate straight up—or at least straight up with some ice cubes and soy creamer. What can I say, we like strong coffee.
I can’t say that I’m likely to use cold-brewing as a substitute for regular drip coffee during colder months (I’m happy with my Cuisinart, and the thought of having to reheat cold coffee in the morning—before having consumed said coffee—is just too much for me to comprehend), but for iced coffee it really is a no-brainer.
And on that note, I’m heading off for the fridge now to pour myself a glass. Fortunately, we have a whole box of bendy straws on-hand.
Here’s the method I use for cold-brewing in my Bodum press:
• Measure 12 level scoops (scoop included) of medium/course-ground coffee into the pitcher
• Fill pitcher halfway with filtered water; stir until saturated using a wooden spoon
• Fill pitcher to 1/2″ from the top, put lid on
• Stick in fridge for 12-24 hours; press