Cold Brew Coffee: Compromise

So, cold brew coffee.  As I reported a couple of months ago, it is a gigantic pain in the ass to make.  Despite following the same steps every time I make it, each batch varies in strength and flavor.  But, oh, my gosh, it tastes SO GOOD.  I made cold brew coffee religiously from a few days before I wrote about it until about three weeks ago, when my work and leisure travels and what I now suspect was a sinus infection (diagnosis courtesy of WebMD) prevented me from being able to engage in the process.  It sounds sad (ha) until you remember that I own a Nespresso machine, which churns out reliable, swoonworthy coffee with the push of a button.

I figured out why I love cold brew so much, and it has to do with its concentration and the amount of milk the concentration invites.  A couple of years ago, Jane, my college roommate, posted a link to a story about adult chocolate milk.  Apparently, somebody added booze to chocolate milk and bottled it or canned it or whatever (the concoction looked gross, so I refuse to look up the original article or search for the product and provide a link) and called it “adult.”  Cold brew

coffee with whole milk is my adult chocolate milk.  This may sound as disgusting as the commercial, boozy version, but cold brew coffee concentrate diluted with whole milk tastes like chocolate milk without any sugar. Think about it for a minute, because I know that in your heart of hearts, you believe that chocolate milk is too sweet and wish there were a less sweet alternative.  That alternative, my friends, is cold brew coffee.

Katy, after reading about my adventures in the tedious cold brew process, posted a picture from a recent trip to Trader Joe’s of their bottled cold brew concentrate.  I like TJ ok; I don’t feel the intense affection that a lot of others do.  TJ shines at delicious, “fresh,” prepackaged food.  I’ve learned from Italian cooking school that the less the food industry touches or handles your food, the better.  Also, prepackaged equals processed, and processed usually equals food that will do bad things to my blood sugar and triglyceride levels.  Also also, I worried that a commercial version wouldn’t be any good.

My Nespresso and Aeroccino excel at hot beverages, but after making cold brew coffee, my iced lattes didn’t satisfy.  With my recent illness, I couldn’t face the cold brew process, so when an errand took me by TJ, I swung in and grabbed a bottle of theirs.  Here’s my analysis:


  • “Concentrate” is accurate – I can feel my heart racing and skipping beats after two, sixteen-ounce mugs.
  • It tastes pretty good.
  • Process for possession:  (1) drive to TJ and walk in; (2) purchase cold brew concentrate; (3) drive home; (4) pour into a mug with milk; (5) repeat 4 for seven more mornings.


  • Concentrate – two, sixteen-ounce mugs of homemade will also cause my heart to race and skip.
  • It has superior, more balanced flavor that fools taste buds into misinterpreting it as chocolate.
  • Process for possession:  (a – optional) grind beans on manual burr grinder – takes 30 minutes but counts as upper body workout; (1) pour ground coffee into French press with an equal volume of water; stir; wait ten minutes for grounds to saturate and stir again; (2) wait 24 hours; (3) filter liquid gold into bowl; (4) wring out liquid gold from a handful of grounds; (5) repeat 4; (6) repeat 4; (7) repeat 4; (8) repeat 4; (9) clean up coffee syrup trail from bowl to trash; (10) scrape filter with a spoon for at least 20 minutes to get concentrate through filter and into bowl, leaving coffee silt behind; (11) carefully ladle concentrate from bowl to jar(s); (12) refrigerate concentrate overnight and take to bed to recover; (13) pour into a mug with milk the next morning; (14) repeat 13 for four more mornings.

If you also love cold brew coffee or think chocolate milk is too sweet, but want to avoid the massive pain in the ass process that America’s Test Kitchen advises, I recommend the Trader Joe’s version.  As long as the temperatures stay warm enough for iced coffee, TJ cold brew concentrate is my new lover.

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