Chef's Last Diet-cold-brewed coffeeNancy Lowell of Chef’s Last Diet calls cold-brewed the “sun tea of coffee.” We love it because it’s a low-acid brew that has a mellower taste than traditional iced coffee. It’s perfect on a hot day…like tomorrow. (And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow because the process takes overnight.) No fancy equipment required, so, get going. And when you go to bed tonight you can look forward to having a great treat in the am.


If you’ve never had cold brewed iced coffee, stop what you’re doing right now, and make some, then you can thank me tomorrow because it won’t be ready until then. I am not a daily coffee drinker, especially in this hot weather, but I love cold drinks, like iced coffee and tea. I go through a pitcher of iced tea every other day, a simple mix of green and peach teas, unsweetened, I guzzle it all day. Iced coffee is a real treat for me, and when I really want to splurge I walk around the corner toFederal Donuts , and grab a cup, with plenty if ice and an obscene amount of half and half, and I’m in heaven.

Cold brew coffee is kind of the sun tea of coffee. According to Wikipedia the method originated in Japan in the 17th century where it was introduced by the Dutch (so maybe it originated in Holland, or in Indonesia where the Dutch had settled) , but other sources say it originated in Java, or Peru. So clearly I’m not being very helpful… In 1964 Todd Simpson had a cup of coffee while traveling in Guatemala, and came home and created a contraption that eventually became The Toddy a sort of bucket with a cork in the bottom that made the cold brew. If you search, there is no shortage of cold brewers, but you don’t need any of them. I made mine using two pitchers, several coffee filters, and a strainer.

Federal Donuts as well as some other remarkable coffee places in Philly have very elaborate contraptions to brew their iced coffee. But I’ve been doing some reading, and apparently you don’t need to invest $300 in a special, cold brew system, you can make it at home in a big container. There are a number of things that make cold brew so sublime, the most notable (to me) is the complete lack of any bitterness. It is rich and packs quite a jolt, which is why I made mine half-caf, that way I can drink it and continue to function without acting like the chameleon Val in the Valspar commercial.

There are numerous recipes and techniques on the internet, but my friend Jill did the work for me, and I used a recipe she recommended, then did some adapting myself, so I’ll tell you my adaptation. Though this is a time consuming process, most of it is waiting time. It may be quicker if you use the recommended cheesecloth rather than using a small strainer with a small coffee filter…

I didn’t want to make a gallon, so here is what I did, and how it all worked out:

  1. Weigh out eight ounces of coffee, half decaf, half regular coffee (coarse ground is preferable)8 ounces of coffee
  2. Put the grounds into a pitcher, or two quart container (I recommend a wide mouth container)coffee in pitcher
  3. Add five cups of cool or cold water, and stir well Pretty sludgy right now
  4. Cover container and let sit at room temperature at least twelve hours
  5. Stir well before strainingready to strain
  6. Put a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher or jar and line with a coffee filter (use cheesecloth if you have it, I didn’t)
  7. Pour enough of the coffee mixture into the strainer to leave some room at the top, and let drip (this will take a ridiculous amount of time). You’ll need to stir it to help it along, I used a chopstick, but feel free to use whatever you have handySlow dripping
  8. When most of the liquid has dripped through, carefully pick up the filter and gently squeeze to get more liquid out, discard that filter and start again with the coffee remaining. I had to do this three times, and this process went on for about three hours (really).
  9. You have now made a coffee concentrate, so when you finally make your lovely glass of cold brew use plenty of ice, and a good deal of whatever you choose to lighten it. I use half and half, and if you’re going to make this and then you’re going to ruin it put skim milk into it, please don’t tell me about it.
  10. If you want to sweeten it use simple syrup, or perhaps some chocolate or vanilla syrup! But even if you plan to sweeten it, please taste it first, to see how good it is without any sugar.

My very rustic system yielded a fine cold brew, and though I had planned to go get a cup from Federal Donuts to do a side by side comparison, I never made it. I promise to go this week and update this post, so stay tuned. The cold brew will be fine in your fridge for at least two weeks, but you probably won’t have it around that long.


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