Paying a bunch of money for cold brew coffee is a crime, make this instead


I was in a New York coffee shop that shall remain nameless (okay, a clue: it was an uber-precious branch of an uber-precious chain that was started in Portland and tends to have super-serious baristas with tattoos of super-serious stuff, like, say, vintage woodworking tools. The shop was going hard on ironically normal decor. It was designed to look like an ’80s bank branch, like old, but not 200-year-old New York vintage old, rather, ugly/hip not-super-old old, like high-waisted acid-washed jeans. And, incidentally, the place wasn’t even an authentic ’80s bank, but it was instead just designed to look like one. Someone should invite these fools to Anchorage, because we are so totally normcore. ANYWAY. ) In this coffee shop, I came across a milk carton, like an elementary school-sized milk carton. It was cold brew coffee. And it was, like, $5.

Here’s the thing, my friends, I am a total coffee snob, like almost to that point of snobbishness where you are just a nerd. I make my coffee by the cup, pour-over style, with water heated to 208 degrees and I like African single-origin beans. And I will pay for coffee. Like $14+ a pound. Even when I’m broke. And at the time I was in New York, I was pretty broke. But I bought that $5 shot of coffee anyway. And I drank it. And it was good. Sweet and smooth and all the things that make cold brew better than iced coffee. But $5 good? No. No it was not.

That might be because I knew that you can make a pretty great cup of cold brew coffee at home for pennies. I make it all the time. Maybe it isn’t fake ’80s bank good, but it’s good enough for my coffee nerd palate. And cheap. And easy. And super caffeinated. And plentiful. And refreshing. I ask you: what more do you REALLY need?

So, if you’re are interested in keeping your $5 in your pocket, follow my imprecise instructions:

1) Begin the night before you want to drink this coffee.

2) Get yourself some pretty decent beans. Not $14 special beans. Just decent beans. I use the Silverhook coffee from Costco. ( I have also used Pete’s Coffee. Even the ground stuff in a pinch. Other people swear by Cafe Bustelo.)

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And, get yourself a great, big French press. This is key. I use this bad boy:

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Now, I’m making about an 8-cup pot. So for that I am going to fill my grinder all the way up to the top and grind the beans just a tad bit less than I do for my regular coffee in the morning. Lots of ground coffee, baby. This is why you don’t want to pay a lot for it. Here is my weird hand holding said grinder:IMG_1689Now I dump that grinder into the pot and fill the pot up with cold, artisan Anchorage tap water.

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Then I give it a stir and put it in the fridge. Behold, my fridge:

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Here it is in the morning, top view:

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I stir it one more time, put the plunger in the top, push it down, and then pour myself a glass over ice. If I’m feeling festive, I add a splash of milk and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. Some people make ice cubes out of the coffee so the ice won’t dilute it. Anyway, look:

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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