Cold Brew Coffee: the Last Post

I know, I know – this is my THIRD POST on cold brew (I wrote about it here and here), but I promise it will be my last. Future cold brew information will be shared as a drib or a drab. But after several weeks of spotty traveling during the week and on the weekends, I’ve hit a lull where I’m home for two solid weeks, which means there’s time to make and drink cold brew. Before this, I’d only been home for a few days at a time, so I drank Nespresso. I love Nespresso, but the temperatures haven’t dropped enough to make me happy to be drinking hot lattes. And I was too lazy to make a special trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up their cold brew (which I’ve been informed Susan, not Katy, originally told me to buy). Now that I’m home for a good stretch, I have the will to go to TJ, but Ingrid sent me some amazingly delicious Kona from Hawaii a while back; I used half to make a batch of cold brew and stashed the rest in the freezer. Coffee won’t last forever in the freezer, so the stars aligned for me to make cold brew again.

Since the last time I made cold brew, I made two major process improvements: first, I had a glass and a half of wine before straining, and second, I bought a bigger French press. JC Penney was selling their Bodum stuff for 75% off last weekend, so I jumped all over that and bought a 12-cup press. You could argue that no single woman needs both an 8-cup and a 12-cup French press, and you’d be right, but it’s SO NICE not to worry about having to slosh coffee and grounds all over the place. If you would like to own an 8-cup French press, only lightly used, please let me know.
I hoped that the larger surface area of the press would render wringing coffee grounds unnecessary. Alas, no, because I could see the saturated grounds sitting in and trapping liquid. I wondered, though, whether the wringing was absolutely necessary – do I get a substantial amount of additional coffee from it, or could I skip it?

My usual process is to pour the available liquid into a strainer lined with a coffee filter, and then I scoop out grounds into a jelly-straining bag and twist. This time, I waited until the easy part was done, marked my bottle, and then scooped and wrung. Someone asked me how I know when I’ve wrung enough liquid out of the grounds. The answer is that when you dump the spent grounds from the bag to the trash, the grounds should be loose with no clumps. I discovered on this go-round that instead of shaking the grounds clinging to the bag out, if I twisted again, I got a surprising amount of additional concentrate out. I also discovered that the whole process takes half the time and effort if I wait until the available liquid has finished straining before wringing in the siltier liquid from the grounds.

I got an additional two servings from wringing the grounds, which means I can’t bring myself to skip this step. Even though I am a notorious spendthrift, two servings exceeds my tolerance for waste. What hurts is that I used a single container to hold all the concentrate, and from four cups of water and four cups of grounds, I extracted eighteen ounces. I lost fourteen ounces.

Every time I make cold brew, the process enrages me until I drink some of it, and then I’m forced to let the rage go because it tastes so good. Letting the rage go has the contradictory effect of making me even madder, if that makes sense, because the stupid, lengthy, painful process pays such big dividends. TJ’s cold brew has a bitter note to it that homemade doesn’t have; TJ’s also has less body, although I suspect that what I describe as body is actually coffee silt.

The worst part of cold brew is that it highlights my two worst characteristics: laziness and selfishness. If you come and stay with me, I will happily pour you all the Nespresso and TJ cold brew that you care to drink, but I’ll little red hen* all the cold brew. Sorry, y’all. If you want to try my cold brew, you’re going to have to wait for me to grow as a person before you visit.

*You know, the little red hen who asked for help planting seeds, harvesting wheat, milling flour, and making bread and whose children brutally rebuffed her so they could continue to play and frolic. She sliced up, buttered, and ate that fresh-from-the-oven bread right in front of her kids and wouldn’t let them have even a bite because they refused to help her. That story always bothered me as a child, because it struck me as mean and not very mom-like, but after cold brew, I totally get it now.

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