“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cold Brewed Coffee

I love coffee. It may seem strange for someone who loves yoga to drink this dark caffeinated beverage, but I do. In fact, I drink it every morning and I will occasionally have a cup in the afternoon (but it’s mostly green and herbal teas after noon). Research suggests that like green tea, coffee is a source of antioxidants and there were several studies that came out a few years ago suggesting that coffee consumption may have positive effects on a number of ailments, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. A couple of the articles that reported on the findings can be read here and here. Of course I want to believe it’s good for me, but like anything, I believe that it should be consumed in moderation.

Recently, I rediscovered the method of cold brewing. It’s something that I tried several years ago and I was very impressed with the results. It’s a simple method for preparing coffee that just takes a little advanced preparation. Coffee grounds are soaked in cold or room temperature water for several hours to make a concentrated coffee solution (sort of like a double shot of espresso). Then to prepare a cup, the coffee is mixed with steamed water at a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio. Why bother, you ask? Because the finished product is worth the effort. Cold brewing extracts the flavors from the beans while leaving much of the bitterness and acidity behind, resulting in a very smooth cup of coffee. There is a system you can buy called the Toddy to do the cold brewing, but I found that it’s possible to make in my French press. To prepare:

1. Place ~1/2 cup of ground coffee into a French press, or large, glass jar.

2. Slowly add 2 cups of filtered, room temperature or cold water and gently stir to ensure that all the grounds are soaked. The ratio is 4:1 water to coffee, and can be scaled up.

3. Cover container and let sit for several hours on the counter, or overnight in the fridge.

4. In the morning, insert the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid (if using the French press), or strain the coffee through a fine mesh filter or cheesecloth.

5. For each cup, dilute 1:2 or 1:3 coffee concentrate to steamed water, then, if desired, add creamer and/or sweetener.

6. Store the remaining concentrate in the fridge.

This morning as a treat, I prepared my coffee with hot milk instead of water. Not really so different from making a latte or a cappuccino. In fact, I have a Bodum milk frother that I sometimes use to give it even more creaminess. I love this little tool. I usually have the best results when the milk has some fat in it and it is just forming tiny bubbles around the circumference of the pot, i.e., it’s about to boil (I’ve found that it also works great for beating one or two eggs or whipping a small number of egg whites). The result this morning, was the beautiful looking cup of coffee at the top of the page that took very little effort. And, I have enough coffee solution to last several days that I have the option to prepare in a variety of ways. I can't tell you how many mornings I've looked at my cup of coffee with gratitude. It's always something for which I am consciously thankful. : )

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