In my past, I spent 9 or so years of my life working as a barista (that would be my 20’s), spending my days making countless shots of espresso (and not using a fancy-pants lazy auto machine either!) at an espresso shop on an island in Washington State. We even won “Best Of” a couple of years for our drinks. I took pride in my job – I really liked my customers and what I did for a job.
If it taught me anything, it was that coffee is a fool’s paradise full of snobbery and being fake. Your coffee won’t go magically stale in 4 hours after you open the bag of beans nor will you die of shame and embarrassment if you *gasp* buy pre-ground coffee. You can spend hours and $ to buy a top home machine, high-end beans and still get the worst bitter & watery espresso you ever imagined. Every year, right after Christmas, I would have customers tell me about their machines that they had received (usually by a loved one concerned with their daily trip ($$) to the Caffeine Hut to get their fix) and how they no longer needed me. They’d load up on beans and syrups and wander off. And I’d see them in 1-3 months, treading the walk of shame back in. I’d never say anything and ask them if they wanted “their regular” (I had a great memory of drinks). Most gave up because the machines were either not good enough – truly this is where brand and cost do come into play – pressure is everything and cheap machines don’t do it. Or they just couldn’t face the work involved every morning, with the cleanup. Or worse, to get a cold blended drink they would brew espresso shots and chill, then they would be watery and bitter – due to the coffee oils being delicate.
Kirk and I are daily frappe drinkers. If you want a go-go fix, you need cold coffee. But you don’t want weak coffee – as in normal strength. It dilutes your drinks! A shot of espresso is 1 to 2 ounces, depending on taste/need to wake up. A cup of coffee is 6 ounces (a cup that isn’t a cup…hah!) So you say, why not brew coffee 4X strength and chill? Well…you lose the wonderful aromatic oils that are so great when the coffee is hot. The easy/lazy way to Wakeyville? Cold brewed. Call it what you want – cold brewed espresso, cold brewed coffee, cold brewed coffee concentrate, cold brewed espresso concentrate, and so on. It is so easy you will wonder why you didn’t do this before. Because what you get is smooth, non-acid coffee. Yum!
I’ll admit it: I have been lazy and we’d frantically run around to the restaurant supply stores here in the Seattle area that sell pre-made cold brewed concentrate (and espresso supplies). A 64 ounce jug runs us about $10 plus the gas and time to go get it. To make the same amount I need 8 cups water and 2 cups ground coffee. That simple. As Kirk and I continue to change our families way of eating and buying food, I realized that while the concentrate is made two towns over, I have no idea what they use in it. How “clean” is the coffee? What country does it come from? How well are the workers treated? Pesticides? And so I had to find a new way to make our morning drinks.
Beyond quality, there is price – which can convince even those who don’t care about the beans. Even if I pay $10 a pound for organic coffee beans, I only pay $3.755 to make 64 ounces. Well, compared to $10 for the same already made, that is a bargain! And even if you don’t want the concentrated flavor of cold brewed espresso, you can add water to it to make a cup of iced coffee. 2 ounces of the cold brewed concentrate is a serving, add water to taste, say 4 to 8 ounces, over ice, with sweetener and milk if desired. The concentrate is 2-3 times strong when you make it. And on cost…it can go lower depending on the beans you buy. Ethics aside.
Or do as we do – use it when making frappes. You’ll feel all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in no time…..
So what to buy coffee wise? Pick an organic one, that smells good to you. A medium to medium-dark roast is a start. See what you like. Personally I don’t like dark roasts, some may like the lighter, pale roasts. Frankly, it is OK if you buy it pre-ground. Drip coffee grind works fine. Or if you like, get whole beans and grind at home. Just go for a course to medium-course grind, don’t go super-fine. But no matter what, buy Arabica beans and not Robusta beans – it is the type of bean. Robusta is lower quality, has less aromatic oils and flavor. If you are buying a good coffee it will state on the ingredient list “100% Arabica Beans”. You don’t want any other ingredients. Seriously! No flavored coffee beans either. All those fancy names are just describing the roasting process if you get confused. So if you see “100% Arabica Beans” and is titled “Yoga Retreat Blend” that is OK….hah! Instead, read the description for what kind of roast it is. And squeeze the bag to smell the beans. If it smells good, well….you might like it!
Once opened, store your beans or coffee in a mason jar. Personally, I store mine in the fridge. It is up to you.
Cold Brewed Espresso
- ¾ cup medium-ground Arabica bean coffee, preferably organic
- 3 cups filtered water
Add the filtered water and coffee grounds to a 1 quart narrow mouth mason jar, seal and shake till mixed. Set aside and ignore for 4 hours.
Strain through an unbleached coffee filter or a fabric Jelly Strainer Bag (these work really well) into a second mason jar, a wide mouth works well for this. Once strained, rinse the narrow mouth jar and pour the coffee into it, this will make pouring easier later when using. If using the jelly bag, you can squeeze out the grinds for even more coffee. Dump the grinds into a compost bin if you have one and rinse the bag out.
Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, using 2 ounces per serving.
Makes about 20 ounces.
Now get out there – and get wired!