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Serious Cold Brew Coffee

I somehow tricked myself into thinking that DC wouldn’t show its true colors this summer. We’ve been coasting on 75-degree days these past few weeks, toasting the end of the workday with glasses of Lillet on the deck. All along, I’ve wondered whether real DC summer weather — think swampy, sticky, hot mayhem — might just pass us by. Of course, that was silly. It’s 7:30 am and already 92 degrees outside. We’ll be hitting 100 today. The chard and lettuce are doing great on the deck, but if I went out there, I’d wilt.

That’s why I’m sitting inside, in cutoffs and a tank, doing not much of anything. On days like this, there’s nowhere else to be.

And then there’s this coffee. This coffee, which requires not a single appliance, not even a second’s worth of a lit stove. On days like today, it’s a godsend.

If what you’re seeking is a cold beverage to take the edge off the heat, look no further. Below, you’ll learn how to “brew” coffee in cold water overnight. The result has all the complexity of regular coffee, but with much less acidity, if any. It’s smooth as a baby’s bottom.

But if you’re a serious coffee drinker, the type who likes to be challenged by your morning beverage, well – I’ve got just the thing.


Would you believe me if I told you I salted my coffee this morning? Not only did I skip the milk (I’m turning more and more into my grandmother every day), but I actually added a pinch of salt to this morning’s cup. Dan Souza, over at Test Kitchen, is apparently the boss of cold brew coffee, and he told me to add salt, so I did. He didn’t even explain why, but he told me to “just trust” him, and I did. And my coffee is pretty delicious.

I guess salting coffee is sort of like salting food. It awakens your palate to the flavor. Tomatoes taste much better with a pinch of salt, so it’s no surprise that coffee does, too.

So…am I converted? Not sure. I’m sure there’s regular coffee with milk in my future. But this whole black coffee with salt feels pretty badass. And on a day like today, when my clothes stick to my skin and I can barely muster the energy to turn on the stove, feeling badass is a very good thing, indeed.

Serious Cold Brew Coffee
Adapted from Dan Souza at America’s Test Kitchen

8 oz. coffee, ground fine
1 1/2 quarts room temperature water

Add water and coffee to a large pitcher (preferably one with a cover), and give a stir until the two are combined. You’ll see some of the coffee immediately float to the top; stir this back into the water.

Now, cover the pitcher and leave it alone. No more stirring. Let the mixture sit on the counter for 24 hours.

Put a coffee filter in a strainer or funnel, and set over the container in which you plan to store the coffee. (If you want to store it in the same pitcher in which you steeped it, just strain the coffee into a bowl, and then pour it back into the pitcher once you’ve cleaned it.)

Pour the coffee concentrate through the filter slowly; it may take a while to drain. Store the filtered concentrate in the fridge until you need it.

To drink, pour equal amounts concentrate and water into a glass with plenty of ice. Add a pinch of salt, stir to combine, and drink up.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Elisha June 23, 2012,

    Could you do this in a french press and use it as your filter after 24 hours?

    • rivka June 25, 2012,

      Elisha, so sorry for the delay, but the answer is definitely YES. You can use a french press, and just filter it through that when the steeping is done.

  • Rebecca June 25, 2012,

    Sorry for the silly question, but do you mean 8 oz as in 1 cup, or 8 oz as in a half pound?


    • rivka June 25, 2012,

      Not a silly question! I have a digital scale, and I measured out 8 oz. for this recipe. Not sure how much that’d be in cups, but if I remember correctly, it was probably a bit more than 1 cup. You need a lot more coffee grounds to make cold brew than to make regular drip coffee, but the results are worth it. My cup this morning honestly tasted like dark chocolate. Delish.

  • Rogue Unicorn June 27, 2012,

    Have you made Erin H (of Food 52)’s Magic Coffee? Because it is awesome. I make it (with the addition of a few cardamom pods) all summer.