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Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

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I recently read a short story, by an unknown author, that teaches a simple, yet incredible lesson about life.  Since I’m sharing a recipe for coffee with you today, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this parable with you as well.

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

“Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

“Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

~Author unknown

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Since we’re concentrating on the coffee here, let’s talk about this recipe, which really lets coffee shine.  Allowing the coffee to steep at room temperature overnight yields a strong brew devoid of any of the usual bitterness you get when percolating it.  I have never been able to tolerate the bitterness of strong coffee, which is why I steer clear of Starbucks.  I still prefer a milder coffee, but cold-brewing makes it so much smoother that I can even enjoy a strong cup prepared this way.  You can control how strong your cup is by adding more or less water to the coffee concentrate.

Unless you are averse to sweet coffee drinks, I highly recommend you use some of that leftover sweetened condensed milk from my pound cake recipe to try a Vietnamese-style iced coffee.  It is out of this world!

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 cups water
2/3 cup ground coffee

Optional additions:
Milk &/or Sweetener
Sweetened Condensed Milk

In a 4-cup measure, add 3 cups water and stir in coffee.

Unless you are super cool like me (are you laughing?!?!) and have Tupperware measuring cups, you will have to measure two 1/3 cups, or use one of those one-cup measures that have marks on the inside/outside to show where 2/3 is.  I’m so happy to now have 2/3 and 3/4 cup measures for the first time since I left home!! Thank you, Tupperware! (Wait, am I already losing sight of the lesson by concentrating on the measuring cup and not the coffee?)

Cover your measuring cup with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.  Line a sieve or colander with a large coffee filter, cheesecloth, or a double layer paper towels, and prop inside a bowl.  Strain coffee through the sieve.

As you can see, my measuring cups are way cooler (why are you laughing?!?!) than my colander, which I’ve had longer than I’ve been married, and I’m pretty sure I bought it for 10 cents at a garage sale, where the owner was getting rid of it because it was the first colander ever made.  So, you see, I can’t get rid of it.  It is a piece of living history, in my very own kitchen.

Besides, it’s all about the coffee (or life, if you will), so whatever colander I use really doesn’t matter because it won’t alter the resulting brew, or my life. Wow, this “life is coffee” philosphy is so empowering!  :)

Pour strained coffee concentrate into a jar, or rinse out the measuring cup and pour it back in to store.  Keep refrigerated.  To serve, fill a glass with ice, and add equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste.  Stir in milk and sweetener, if desired.  For a Vietnamese iced coffee, stir in a tablespoon or two of sweetened condensed milk.

Bada-bing, bada-boom!  If you like sweet stuff, you have to try it this way!  I’m hooked.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups coffee concentrate, usually good for 4-5 servings.

Recipe source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

32 responses »

  1. This is interesting. Does’nt the coffee go sour if let outside overnight or for 12 hours? How long will it keep?

    Cheers

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    • No, it doesn’t go sour. Just be sure to refrigerate the leftover coffee concentrate after straining it, and it will last at least a week in the fridge, if not longer.

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      • It will definitely last longer if you keep it refrigerated. We’ve been doing it for years. Make sure the container you put it in is air tight. We actually purchased a special set for both making and then storing the concentrate on E-Bay for cheap. It was under “cold press coffee maker”.

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  2. That is a great story :) I am a lazy instant coffee drinker but maybe someday I will redeem myself with cold brewed coffee ;)

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  3. I’m not a very big coffee drinker but when I do drink coffee, I love it iced! This looks delicious – I will give this a try. Thanks!

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  4. Coffee with condensed milk is the bomb . . . it’s really big in Spain, where they call it a ‘bonbón.’ Thanks for the tip about the cold brewing–I’m not a fan of a lot of bitterness either. And the story is giving me food for thought–it’s an analogy I’ll definitely remember.

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  5. Cold brewed coffee is THE BEST! You get the smooooooooth coffee flavor without the acidic aftertaste.

    I would highly recommend it if you’ve never tried! :D

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  6. This is how we make our coffee all the time, in a concentrate, then heat the water for hot coffee or add water and ice (and whatever else is wanted) for cold coffee. We also blend it with ice cream to make a coffee shake.

    As for adding the sweet condensed milk, that is really yummy but totally kills my appetite for hours.

    I actually lost about 30 pounds just drinking one of those really strong vietnamese coffees a day.

    However, I do not recommend you lose weight that way because the body really does need good food throughout the day.

    :-)

    Kathy

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    • I’ve been dreaming of making a coffee shake since I started cold-brewing! I guess adding the sweetened condensed milk made me think of adding ice cream instead. :) I bet it’s so good. I can’t believe you lost so much weight drinking Vietnamese iced coffee! Although it’s certainly not the healthiest way to lose weight, I can vouch that it isn’t the unhealthiest, either. LOL! I’ve done some cuh-razy diets in my time. So many that I’m not even tempted to try the vietnamese coffee diet. LOL!

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  7. I used to make mine the same way, but after a few early morning coffee fails, it dawned on me to make it in my French Press coffee maker so that all I have to do in the morning is push the plunger down…voila…strained and no grinds and just one thing to wash.

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  8. Cool! I have never had coffee like this. I will definitely try it. :) Looks refreshing!

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  9. Loved the parable today – a great way to put life into perspective!

    I love iced coffee, although learned today that I can add powdered creamer to iced coffee – it never dissolved! :(

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  10. on weekends, my hub and I looooooove to start our day with condensed-milk sweetened coffee!!!! it doesnt “kill” my appetite nor has it help me to lose weight…maybe too much condensed milk? u know what else we love to do with it…… baguettes torn bit by bit and dunked to sop up as much milk as possible! yummy!!! just had both yesterday as a matter of fact!!!! i will try this coffee your way as soon as i buy some coffee!

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  11. Veronica, it’s late and only quickly glanced your post quick – but that story is fab! Great anecdote to pass on. It’s made me smile and very much want to reflect on this some more!
    [by the way, on an aside, the email you sent me about dates the other day - i thought it was on a comment so sorry no reply. But the date problem, high intolerance, let's just say they make me sick.... very sick! thanks for getting in touch though!]

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  12. Interesting, I think I’ll set up a brew tomorrow night. :)

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  13. I love coffee but I don’t like it too sweet. I actually really love Starbucks. :) I could put less of the milk in though! Sounds delish!

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  14. Dennis Miller

    Old Chinese idea, the usefulness of the cup is in it’s emptyness.

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    • I know what you’re saying, about approaching things with an “empty cup,” so that you can learn rather than having a full cup and thinking you know everything already, but that doesn’t apply here, honey! An empty cup in this case would mean you have no life, only the trappings. Thank you so much for commenting for the first time in a million years, even if you didn’t read the story. ;)

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  15. Out of curiosity, what grind of coffee did you use? I am assuming (though we all know what THAT means) the grind might make a difference, like it does when you brew. This sounds wonderful, and I love that folks have used it for both hot and cold coffee.

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    • Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends medium/coarse grind but until I saw your comment, I assumed that was to make straining easier. Perhaps I’m correct, but I wonder now. Anyway, I just use whatever comes in the cheapest of cheap generic coffee cans and it still tastes wonderful, at least to me (however, I’m obviously not a coffee connoisseur), so that grind seems to work well. It seems to be the normal grind, like the kind you find in Folgers.

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  16. So glad that you posted this. I just recently found out about this glorious way of brewing coffee, but the recipe I have makes a gallon of coffee or more! This seems so manageable, I could even make some on the weekend when we are out of town at our parents’ house! My morning addiction can now be indulged in 7 days a week! Thank you!! <3

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    • LOL, you must have found PW’s recipe! I saw that one, and was reminded of Deb’s recipe which is half the amount of mine. I chose to go with the smaller one, as it didn’t require purchasing any special containers.

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  17. With how hot it is, i could really use a cup of this! Great blog!!!!

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  18. What a great story! Thanks for sharing that, Veronica…it really brought a smile to my face. LOVE cold-brewed iced coffee and I’ve been making it this way for a couple years since I saw it in the NY Times…seriously delicious. :)

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  19. Delicious! I love iced coffee and spend $2.91 a day on a large from Dunkin’ Donuts. This has to be a cheaper method!

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