I don’t usually drink a lot of hot coffee, or even iced coffee for that matter; I find the taste to be much too acrid and pungent. If and when I do drink it, it’s usually because I’m absolutely dead tired and need a jolt of caffeine, and/or it’s completely loaded with sugar and cream and any other yummy thing that’ll disguise the bitterness.
I love the smell of coffee, and I love coffee flavoured things, and I love Iced Capps (since they’re mostly milk and sugar), but when it comes to actual drip coffee, I tend to avoid it.
BUT… This heatwave that’s been blessing Vancouver these last few days (30°C, never leave, I ♥ you) has made me crave iced coffee. Now, why someone who hates coffee would be craving it so hard is beyond me. I think it’s because the idea of an iced cold cuppa joe on a scorching hot day just seems so right. Ya know?
So, I did a little digging. Googling “Why can’t I like coffee” or “Why does coffee taste like sour feet” didn’t help. Then I got to thinking, maybe I’m just drinking it wrong? Maybe there’s a secret to brewing perfection in a pot?
Turns out, there is. It’s called cold-brew coffee and it is where it’s at.
I discovered the method of cold-brew in my research on iced coffee recipes. At first I assumed they were the same thing, but they’re really completely opposite.
Iced coffee is coffee that’s been brewed with hot water, as normal, and then slightly cooled and poured over ice. It’s what most people think of when they think of drinking cold coffee. The result is a quick, easy iced coffee, but the taste can be quite bitter and sharp.
Cold-brew coffee is simply coffee that’s been brewed cold, and never exposed to heat. It requires a bit more forethought and patience – the coffee needs to steep in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but oh my, it’s so worth it. Essentially, letting the beans steep naturally in cold water makes the coffee less acidic, resulting in a sweeter, smoother tasting coffee.
So to sum up: Iced coffee = coffee on ice. Cold brew = coffee brewed cold.
I was skeptical when I tried it. I ground up the beans – or, more specifically, I made Matt ground up the beans for me because I have never before used a coffee grinder (thanks hun) – and mixed them with water in a large jug.
A whole 15 hours later, I took the jug out of the fridge and marvelled at it’s rich brown, caramel colour. I strained it through a fine-mesh sieve (luckily the beans were ground coarsely enough) and tried a bit of it with milk. Then with cream. Honey. Sugar. Maple syrup.
I have never liked coffee, but I would inject this stuff into my veins if I could. It’s definitely true: cold-brew coffee comes out sweeter and less bitter than regular coffee. My first thought when I took a sip? Where have you been all my life?
Don’t get me wrong, if you were to drink the cold-brew coffee black, it would still be bitter, just less so. Cold-brew is pretty concentrated, so you’ll need to dilute it with an equal(ish) amount of water or milk, but wouldn’t you do that anyway with cold coffee? Plus, since it’s naturally a bit sweeter, you don’t need to add as much sugar to the drink to counteract the bitterness.
After a bit of experimenting, I found what I like best in my cold-brew coffee: a vanilla bean-infused honey. It sweetens the coffee naturally and adds the warm, fragrant taste of vanilla. It’s a cinch to make – just stir together some honey and vanilla bean paste. You could also use vanilla beans if you really wanted to splurge, but I find the paste works just as well.
It takes a bit of patience to mix in the honey with the coffee; add honey to your glass and a splash of the coffee. Use a whisk of a fork to stir it together until most of the honey has dissolved. Then, add the rest of the coffee, ice, and milk/water.
This recipe makes a lot of coffee, about 8 cups worth of straight black coffee, but it will keep in the fridge for up to a week. I like to make a big batch on Sunday so I have easy access to this delicious drink throughout the week!
Remember, it’s pretty potent stuff, so unless you want the jitters, don’t forget to dilute it! I prefer the coffee to milk ratio listed below, but experiment to your personal taste.
|Cold-Brew Vanilla Honey Coffee|| |
- Cold-Brew Coffee:
- 2 cups coarsely-ground coffee beans
- 8 cups cold water
- Vanilla Honey
- 1 cup raw honey
- 4 tsp vanilla bean paste*
- To make one Iced Coffee:
- 6 ounces cold-brew coffee
- 1-2 Tbsp vanilla honey
- 6-8 ounces milk (or to taste)
- 3-4 large ice cubes
- To make the cold brew coffee, combine coffee beans and water in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or up to 24). Once steeped, place a large coffee filter over another large bowl and slowly pour the coffee mixture over the filter, OR, if your beans are course enough, strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the grounds. Store coffee in an airtight container or pitcher in the fridge.
- To make the vanilla honey, combine honey and vanilla bean paste until combined; store in an airtight container.
- To make the iced coffee, combine coffee, vanilla honey in a large glass and stir until honey is incorporated. Add a few ice cubes to the glass, then top with milk. Serve.