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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


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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