Spiced Cold-Brew Iced Coffee
Happy Monday! Hope you all have had a great weekend.
When I started working on my Capsule Kitchen I realized that one of my goals was to cut down on the amount of pre-made or processed food that I was buying if the product was something I could easily make at home. I was so often reaching for products out of convenience or novelty, but when I took the time to reflect on my food philosophy, a lot of those things didn't line up with my desire to feed my family healthy, fresh food and make wise financial choices.
So, it has actually been pretty fun to experiment with making some of our go-to's, like creamy hummus and squeeze yogurt, myself. (And I'm learning that, for me, other things, like sandwich bread, aren't really worth the effort compared to the store-bought version . . . maybe someday!)
I've also been thinking a lot about rhythms and habits (Thanks to Gretchen Rubin's book on habits, Better Than Before.) And one of my favorite new routines is this: after I put the girls down for their naps at 1:00 and breathe deeply of my first quiet, alone moment of the day, I pop in my headphones and clean for 30 minutes and then, as I sit down to write or read, reward myself with an iced coffee.
For me, there is really no better daily, summertime treat than an early afternoon iced coffee. I like mine super cold, milky, sweet, and intensely coffee-y. I have found some amazing cold brews both at local coffee shops and grocery stores that come pretty close to perfect. Except that as a daily habit, they are insanely expensive. Enter my quest to master the cold brew at home.
A couple of weeks ago I saw this Vietnamese Coffee with Sweet Vanilla Cream version on Modern Proper, and I knew it would be a winner. I made it, and it was great. I love that they added cardamom to the coffee grounds while steeping, but I wanted to experiment with some of my favorite spices: cinnamon and cloves. The spice comes through just enough and balances really well. The combination of intense coffee and sweetened condensed milk is happily nostalgic for me of my time living in Spain. This is the kind of habit that I have no problem making.
Spiced Cold Brew Iced Coffee
2 cups course ground coffee
8 cups filtered water
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
sweetened condensed milk (optional)
milk or half & half
Pour 8 cups cold, filtered water over 2 cups of coarsely ground coffee and the cinnamon and cloves. Make sure you get all the grounds wet as you are pouring or stir it gently if needed. (We have a large pitcher that worked perfectly for this, but you could also use a large Tupperware or any other container that will fit 8 cups of water.) Cover the container with a lid, or with a cloth or paper towel secured with a rubber band. Let the coffee “brew” at room temperature for 24 hours.
There are several ways that I have seen for filtering the coffee, including using a nut milk bag, but one of my biggest goals in sharing recipes on this blog, is to help readers figure out how to make it work with what you have, rather than feel like you need to run out and buy something every time you want to follow a recipe or make something new. So, the main criteria you should look for in your filter is that it will be small enough to keep out the grinds, and will be able to hold up to the job. You could try a nut milk bag, paper filters, a couple layers of cheese cloth . . . let me know what you come up with! We have a pretty large collection of coffee-making gadgets, and happened to have this reusable filter for our Chemex pour over. It worked pretty great. I filtered the coffee right into the Chemex, dumping the grinds out once mid-way, and then back through the filter again to pour the coffee back into the cleaned out pitcher. My goal was not only to filter out the grinds themselves, but also the silty stuff that settles in the bottom.
The sweet vanilla cream on Modern Proper’s version is a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, half & half, and vanilla, and pairs really well with this. On my second batch, I decided to try mixing the coffee with sweetened condensed milk and milk right in the pitcher as a large batch. It’s definitely easier that way, but less adaptable. Either way, the brew is fairly concentrated, and I like a ratio of about 2/3 coffee to 1/3 milk. You could also add simple syrup, honey, or good-old fashioned sugar to sweeten it. Or if you are truly a minimalist ;), just add a bit of cold water and ice! I can’t wait to hear how you make it your own!