The weather is starting to warm-up as spring moves closer to summer. A transition is in progress right before your eyes as more flowers pop out from all corners of the lawn. This also means a transition from hot brewed coffee methods to ice cold coffee adaptions. But which one is the best for your taste preference? I got your back on this folks! We will discuss cold brew, iced coffee, and an iced shaken espresso, providing pointers and products along the way. Identify the transition, make a plan for it, and then enjoy the ride.
Cold brew is an adaptable drink that you can make either as concentrate or as ready to drink. The difference between concentrate and ready to drink is the amount of water added to the coffee grounds. Cold brew is an immersion coffee version similar to the French press. The coffee and water are mixed together in a specific ratio and time period. When we make Vulcan Death Watch as our cold brew, we use a ratio of 5 gallons of water to 2.5 pounds of coffee. Then the coffee is drained from the grounds, can be filtered, and then enjoyed. This ratio is considered ready to drink, and that is exactly what we do.
PROS: Smooth, low acidity, can be created in concentrate or ready to drink, easily personalized, can be made in a variety of jars and pitchers.
CONS: Takes more time to brew (approximately 8 hours), uses more coffee than hot coffee
There are so many great products on the market for making cold brew. Below are four types of cold brew equipment we recommend to purchase. Watch the video below for a quick how to make easy cold brew. Trust me, if I can make some delicious cold brew, so can you.
HELPFUL COLD BREW HINTS:
Pay attention to the length of time you steep the coffee. Too long and your brew will be bitter. Not long enough, and it will be weak.
The grind is important. Consensus of sources say for the coffee to resemble coarse salt. Now, this is where you can play around. Too coarse, not enough surface area and the coffee will not brew properly. It will be weak. Too fine, you will have a layer of sludge at the bottom of your vessel.
When your beautiful cold brew is done brewing, transfer the liquid to another vessel. But, do not pour the very last amount into the new container. No matter which way you chose to brew, there will be some sludge in the bottom and that sludge is bitter.
Iced coffee is a nice step from cold brew, as cold brew can be a bit strong for some people's taste. What does strong mean in terms of coffee to you? Leave a comment in the comments section on what you think the term strong coffee means.
Back to the topic, iced coffee is the most misunderstood coffee version. Why? Because the ratios are all off, mostly people make coffee and then add some ice. But what happens is the last amount, which many times is so different and delicious, is watered down.
PROS: No special equipment required, easy brewing, very versatile, no special grind required.
CONS: Watered down coffee at the end of the drink, many times has an acidic taste (why people add so much milk and sugar).
Not much in the way for wowing equipment, except for one piece, an ice tray. There are two ways I have made iced coffee in the past. First, increase the concentration of coffee to water in the machine you use for regular coffee. The ratio we use for our coffee is 16 millimeters of water to 1 gram of ground coffee. What you are trying to accomplish is stronger brewed coffee (there is that word) so when you add the ice, it does not dilute.
The second and best way to make awesome iced coffee is make ice cubes from coffee. So, get setup with your coffee bar and make some delicious coffee. I recommend you use our Sumatran for an iced coffee, hints of dark Chocolate, cherry, brown sugar. It holds up really well adding a milk or plant based creamer adding a creamy dark chocolate taste and lingering brown sugar. My mouth is salivating. Coffee made and now pour it into the ice cube tray. Only downside of this is the waiting for ice to become ice. What this also does is allows the brewed coffee to cool to room temperature, which is much better for a long lasting iced coffee.
HELPFUL ICED COFFEE HINTS:
If you go the way of increasing the coffee to water ratio, weigh out the coffee or really know how much more you are adding. If you make double strength coffee, it will come out more acidic or bitter than desired. A coffee machine is standardized per it's instructions and double the amount puts the whole brewing out of whack.
If you use the coffee cubes as the iced coffee method, let the rest of the brewed coffee cool to room temperature. Because the cubes are made of coffee, by the time you get to the end of the drink it will not be diluted. But, put hot coffee on the cubes with definitely add a layer of dilution.
The shaken espresso is my favorite cold coffee drink. It has bold flavors, creaminess, chilled, but not like bold mouth cold brew. This flavor and mouth feel comes from brewing coffee at the hot water temperature extracting the complex acids that make great coffee so beautiful. Then the ice cools all those yummy compounds, with cream or some sugar, into a refreshing pick me up. The good news is you can make this at the office or on the road.
PROS: Brings out all the complex flavors of the espresso blend, better mouthfeel, more overall balanced flavors, bangin!
CONS: Espresso machine or Aeropress or any other method that uses pressure to extract the coffee.
Equipment you are going to need is cocktail shaker (or smoothie maker plastic bottle thing), glass or cup to drink from, sugar (I recommend liquid sugar for this one), some type of your favorite creamer, and ice. If you are lucky enough to have an espresso machine then this is easy. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, pull the shot, put it in the cocktail shaker, seal with the top, and shake for 15-20 seconds.
PRO TIP: When I was a bartender and it got busy, sometimes you forget to put the metal cap on the top of the cocktail shaker. Remember to put that on or espresso colored shirt here you come.
After done shaking, strain the espresso into your cup filled with more ice for a refreshing coffee drink. If you want some sweet with this then add the liquid sugar to the cocktail shaker and any creamer you may desire. Shake that whole mixture together and then strain into your cup. Here is another interesting addition I have tried enhancing the coffee flavor. Before you add the espresso to the shaker, add a dash of salt to the ice, then add the espresso. A little salt enhances the coffee flavors and brings them out even more.
The AeroPress is my favorite espresso type method. I know this is not true espresso (that is a different article), but it is so easy to use. I do recommend getting the Prismo top with the AeroPress. The Fellow filter is really nice with an insert in the top of the press to add more back pressure. The Breville is a great all around machine with the grinder built in to the machine. Stove top espresso is fun to use without having to plug something in that is electrical.
HELPFUL SHAKEN ESPRESSO HINTS:
If you buy a cocktail shaker, I find it easier to purchase one with a built in top strainer. This is just easier to use than a separate metal strainer. The shaker below is also insulated making the drink extra cold.
When building this drink, add the ice first and then the espresso. This way you are ready to put on the top and shake away. I have made this drink with ice second and well, you get it on you. I have made the mistakes so you do not have to.
A little bit of planning goes a long way. At least then you have a plan to deviate from. I have learned life transitions are somewhat the same. You have to identify where and when the transition is coming. What I do is take some time everyday looking at the calendar and where those moments are coming. For example, my daughter is graduating from college and then moving home for a period of time. We identified a change in our house and what this would affect. It changes breakfast time, more food needs to be prepared, and more laundry. So, we designated laundry days, we ordered more food, and we will be having an expectation conversation for the entire family.
Just start and practice, practice, practice. Many times life transitions find me when I am not looking or planning. Because I have practiced building these plans, then I take deep breath and thank the universe for this opportunity. Previously, I did not have this positive attitude and when circumstances did not go the way I thought, I would get mad and have a really bad attitude. Maybe this is what I learned from and through the pandemic. We all had plans last year and then boom, COVID stopped most of them. There was nothing we could do but devise backup plans for the backup plans. Then it would change again and we all had to pivot to the next plan. Things I did not have control during COVID:
Not seeing and being physically with my family and friends
No toilet paper (this is still weird)
Hard to find consistent food
Not going out to a movie
Wearing a mask all the time
You get the point. Now everyday, I spend that time going over the calendar to look a bit into the future. But I do not spend too much time because life is awesome. I can see people smiling without a mask on, I have been to a movie for the first time in a year, I can spend time with family and friends, and it just keeps getting better. I have a smile on my face all the time as I realize how amazing is this life. And I get to share it with you, which is a privilege.
If you have found meaning in this article, share it with a friend, and help spread the word. Share your comments below about iced coffee, what the word strong means for coffee, or your stories from the lock down. We all have stories to tell, share them with us all, so we can all grow together in the space.