Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Rules!
I know this "Buzzed" column is typically about alcoholic beverages, but I'm writing today about a different kind of buzz--the one we get from really good coffee. I had to speak out on this after reading this absurd post on the Atlantic Monthly website. He lurches off to talk about acidity and flavor in both coffee and wine, a subject I don't think he has much of a grasp on. Acidity doesn't have flavor per se, it more affects the perception of balance and brightness. Too much acidity in coffee can result in harshness. That's one of the reasons why so many people add milk or cream--to soften the texture and dilute the harshness.
See, I've been experimenting with cold-brewed iced coffee all summer, after having enjoyed it several times at Blue Bottle and especially after being rocked by the stuff they're (cold) brewing over at the Piccino coffee closet near my house. And, yes, it works. The Atlantic Monthly writer who calls cold-brewed iced coffee "weak and insipid" and "not strong at all' has clearly never had properly brewed iced coffee, because the stuff they're pouring off at Piccino is black as motor oil and as peppy as an adrenaline cocktail with a smelling-salt rim. The only downer about it is that it's $3.50 a cup, which I can't really afford to do every day.
So, I've been brewing it by the pound at home (1 lb coffee to 2.5 quarts water). Just mix the two and put it in the fridge for a day or so. By the way, a medium roast coffee makes for a more flavorful, complex cup than a super dark roast. I decant it off the grounds and run it through some cheesecloth to get out the sediment and, eureka, it's damn good iced coffee. I store it in mason jars and keep a bottle of 2-1 simple syrup around and a little cream or soy milk. It's strong, delicious stuff, and I plan to keep enjoying it for as long as this warm weather persists.