Sunday, September 7, 2008

Adventures of Johnny Coffee-Bean

Photo by Andrew Scrivani
of The New York Times
I've had iced coffee several different ways, and most are unexceptional... usually they are made by just chilling coffee that you've already made from a drip coffee machine or a french press. And this is pretty vile until you add large amounts of sugar and half-and-half to cut the coffee.

However, a couple years ago, I discovered cold-brewed iced coffee at Cafe Kopi in Champaign, IL. Making cold-brewed iced coffee is simpler than you would think: you simply add lukewarm water to coffee grounds and let it all sit in a container for about 8 hours (see the linked easiest recipe in the world ever)*. By never using hot water to extract the flavor from the beans, the resulting coffee is amazingly smooth, not bitter, and surprisingly sweet. Indeed, I almost always prepare it by just adding water and ice and drinking it black.

So after years of drinking this concoction in Champaign, I was very disappointed to find that none of the coffee places in town actually serve their iced coffee the cold-brewed way. As the self-appointed Johnny Coffee-Bean -- spreading the good news of the cold brew method -- I have traveled far and wide through this town with a Nalgene of my iced coffee, and sharing it to whoever I can without solicitation. Apparently my efforts are beginning to show dividends. Mitchell, one of the managers of Krankies, has recently been sighted drinking cold-brewed iced coffee around the store, and word on the streets is that cold-brewed iced coffee should soon be on the menu. So I recommend that the next time you head to Krankies (or indeed, any coffee shop), you ask "do you have cold-brewed iced coffee?" If they say no, throw on your best dejected hangdog look. But if they say yes, enjoy!

*Alternatively you can by a "Toddy" iced coffee maker. This is a huge waste of time and money. Seriously.


sarahsouth said...

omg you are revolutionizing the coffee culture of our great city! love the krankster.

vergelimbo said...

I second the motion and will ask for cold-brewed when I'm next at Krankies...I have another great tip:

After you have made your coldbrew, fill one ice-cube tray with cold brewed coffee...when frozen, add to your glass- alas, when the ice melts there is no dilution!


o said...

I've been working on a recipe for the shop. Hopefully we will have it available soon. I'm trying to decide on whether or not I should make a concentrate or make it full strength. I've tested both and I'm having trouble making the call.

Stay tuned for updates. FYI our Iced Jasmine Green Tea and Black Iced Tea are now cold brewed. If you haven't tried them then do it!


Lori said...

Months ago I was one of the lucky benefactors of your Nalgene o' Love and Sharing, and I must say, I was quite impressed. I always add a ton of creamer and sugar to my coffee, but you're right--cold-brewed coffee isn't nearly as bitter as standard coffee. I haven't made it myself, but now you've got me vowing to track down real ground coffee (instead of instant stuff-NARSTY) in Korea so I can make some good ol' cold-brew at home.

Incidentally, my sister used to work at a cool little coffee shop in Athens, GA called Cups, and they made cold-brew coffee every night before closing up. They called it "toddy"--like a hot toddy. Not sure where that name comes from, but there ya go. :c)

-DW- said...

There is a contraption called the "Toddy" that you can pay a lot of money for to help you make iced coffee. The existence of this Toddy thing threw me off the scent for how to make iced coffee for months. I thought the Toddy kit was necessary, but it was lies! A glass jar and a regular coffee filter is all you need.

Anonymous said...

People should read this.