Since I began working from home, I have no doubt I have saved a ton of money by not buying those yogurt-granola cups and salad bar lunches everyday. What I haven’t saved even a penny on, however, is my iced coffee habit. If anything, it’s gotten worse.
Or better, depending on how you look at it. The first month, I spent a lot of time at Starbucks, yet not because I am addicted to their coffee, but the other unspoken the Opiate of the Freelancing Class: Free wireless. But after a few weeks, the loud and generally awful music (greatly compensated for by playing Hallelujah often, however, they’d play the John Cale version and that’s the wrong one and yes, I have digressed this far) and the fact that even at 9 a.m., the bathrooms smelled like a barn. An overcrowded one.
Enter my newly-purchased wireless card, and suddenly I have freedom to work at wonderful coffee shops with from Joe to 9th Street to Grumpy to you-name-it, I’ve been to them all. Fair Trade and Clover-made and Sumatra blended coffees, my habit is spiraling blissfully out of control.
As you can see, I was long overdue to try what will now be, quite possibly, the most complicated recipe on this site: Cold-brewed iced coffee. I started with the iced coffee blend from Joe’s (about 1/3 Sumatra, 2/3 Vienna roast), coarsely ground, mixed it with water, let it sit at room temperature for about 12 hours, strained it, poured it over ice cubes, added water and cream and proceeded to hop and skip around the apartment. And not just from the caffeine.
Where has this been my whole life? If you are an iced coffee drinker, the difference between cold-brewing it and just letting hot coffee cool off is remarkable. The coffee is less bitter, harbors no acidity and all of those background flavors–chocolate, a dark caramelization and even slight smokiness–come through.
2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.
It’s important to cop to this now, because not a summer goes by that he does not painstakingly remind me, a rabid iced-coffee drinker, that he’s the one who introduced me to the wonders of cold-brewed iced coffee. The funny thing is, when the subject came up we were holed up in a summer rental with three friends off the coast of Puerto Rico, on a tiny island not exactly swimming in upmarket coffee houses.
Our first morning there I brewed a blend from the local grocery in the coffeepot, laced it with a little half-and-half and sugar, then let it cool. Classy, I thought, carrying the pitcher to the table. “I’ll just take it hot,” he mumbled, while I blinked in disbelief.
For five days we watched him sullenly sip his hot coffee on a broiling Caribbean island in the dead of summer. We chided him for his pretensions, ridiculed him, tried valiantly to break him, but he patiently waited us out. Once we tried it we would understand, he explained. Like friends disputing a baseball stat in a bar with no access to Google, we had no way to settle the argument.
Two weeks later, back in Brooklyn, I saw a sign: “Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Served Here.” Fine, then. I threw down two bucks and took a sip. Though it pains me to admit, the difference was considerable. Without the bitterness produced by hot water, the cold-brewed coffee had hints of chocolate, even caramel. I dropped my sugar packet — no need for it. The best brews hardly need cream. It really is the kind of thing a gentleman might spend five days in hot-coffee solitary confinement for.
Most days I’m too lazy to hunt down the elusive cold-brewed cup. But recently I discovered an interesting little fact. Cold-brewed coffee is actually dirt simple to make at home. Online, you’ll find a wealth of forums arguing for this bean or that, bottled water over tap, the 24-hour versus the 12-hour soak. You can even buy the Toddy cold-brew coffee system for about $30.
But you can also bang it out with a Mason jar and a sieve. You just add water to coffee, stir, cover it and leave it out on the counter overnight. A quick two-step filtering the next day (strain the grounds through a sieve, and use a coffee filter to pick up silt), a dilution of the brew one-to-one with water, and you’re done. Except for the time it sits on the kitchen counter, the whole process takes about five minutes.
I was curious to see how it would taste without all the trappings. The answer is, Fantastic. My friend Carter, something of a cold-brewing savant, turned me onto another homegrown trick: freeze some of the concentrate into cubes. Matched with regular ice cubes, they melt into the same ratio as the final blend.
Did you know that coffee has benefits besides just tasting great? Coffee, your ‘best friend’ from college days when you pulled those all-nighters, really does enhance alertness, improve memory and reasoning skills and even helps put you in a better mood. And physically active individuals should know that coffee can improve physical stamina, reduce muscle pain and improve reaction time.
This coffee banana smoothie is a smart snack before a workout. Yogurt is a stellar source of calcium, the banana adds potassium, wheat germ kicks in extra vitamin E, and coffee contributes some vigor. All the way around, this is a healthful snack. Remember, research shows that caffeine improves physical stamina and may even reduce muscle pain. So enjoy it and then get moo-ving.
This luscious Coffee Choco-Mint Milkshake is a great breakfast-in-a-glass to start your day. Research shows that the coffee in it enhances alertness, improves memory and can even help put you in a better mood and you get a calcium boost from the milk and ice cream.
Stir together in a large bowl: the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon till mixed well. In a small bowl, whisk together the espresso, milk, egg yolk and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and beat till dough forms. Stir in nuts and chips.
Knead the dough on a floured surface till no longer sticky, then halve the dough. Flour your hands and shape each piece into a flattened log 12 inches x 2 inches and arrange the logs at least 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 350° for 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then cut biscotti on the diagonal into 3/4” slices. Arrange biscotti cut side down on the sheets and bake 5-6 minutes on each side till they are pale golden.
There used to be a commercial for
Choc Full O Nuts coffee that called it “that heavenly coffee.” You’ll find this coffee angel food cake heavenly—it is low in calories and low in fat, so you can splurge and top it with some low fat
frozen yogurt. Coffee gives the traditional angel food cake a little extra zip.
In a large grease-free bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and cream of tartar and mix on low speed till foamy. Increase speed gradually to medium and beat until whites are stiff and shiny, but not dry. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla and coffee extracts, whisking in once or twice by hand.
Carefully lift the wax paper holding the dry ingredients and sprinkle the flour mixture gently into the egg whites. Using a spatula, carefully fold the dry ingredients into the whites till just incorporated. Do not stir hard or the batter will deflate.
As soon as the cake is done baking, invert it (if your tube pan doesn’t have ‘feet”, hang the pan upside down over the neck of a bottle.) Allow the pan to hang upside down for several hours until completely cool. (If it cools right side up, gravity will make it sink and become dense.)
Per Serving: 113 calories, 4 g protein, 24 mg carbs, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol
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