Iced Coffee Concentrate
Last summer I heard for the first time about “real” iced coffee, and I cannot believe I did not come across this sooner. Iced coffee should not be made by simply chilling hot, brewed coffee. Neither should it be made by sticking an ice cube into a cup of old coffee left in the pot from the morning. (Shame on me.) It should be made using a coffee concentrate.
The concentrate is made by pouring room temperature water over freshly ground coffee and allowing it to steep. Strain it, refrigerate it and voilà: iced coffee concentrate. A bottled concentrate is available from Trader Joe’s (and with Vermont’s first Trader Joe’s newly opened nearby, it IS tempting to grab it there.) However, it seemed pretty easy to do at home so I gave it a go.
I tried two test batches: one using 2 parts water to 1 part coffee and the other with equal parts water and coffee. I did the same grind on the coffee beans that I would normally do for drip-brewed: medium-fine. The 1:1 batch was very strong – and very good, but the yield was low. I only got about 1 cup of concentrate from 2 cups of water and 2 cups of ground coffee.
I was happier with my next batch, made 4 cups of water and 2 cups of ground coffee. This ratio of water to coffee grounds gave me 3 cups of concentrate. Though made with more water it still had a great, deep flavor to it.
For my iced coffee I mix equal parts coffee concentrate and very cold water, along with ice and just a splash of half & half. (No sugar tonight, or ever in my coffee.) The taste is bold, smooth, strong, and so satisfying! With the first few sips I feel an immediate lift, a bounce back in my step. The world looks like a brighter and happier place. Potent stuff is this!
This iced coffee is also noticeably better than what I would get from McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. Their iced coffee itself tastes flat and watery in comparison (and both chains have an unfortunate habit of filling the cup with more cream than coffee.) Homemade iced coffee made with this concentrate tastes more in line with what I would get at a local coffee roaster. I love it at Uncommon Grounds.
As for the 1:1 concentrate, I decided to add to it an equal amount of half & half and freeze it into ice cubes! They are perfect for chilling and adding more flavor to iced coffee.
I also made some ice cubes out of sweetened vanilla-flavored coffee creamer: Christian’s favorite coffee add-in. Now he can join me in perfect, real iced coffee bliss.
Iced Coffee Concentrate
- 2 c. freshly ground coffee, medium-fine grind
- 4 c. room-temperature water
- In a large pitcher or glass measuring bowl with a lip for pouring, combine the ground coffee with the 4 cups of room-temperature water. Stir well until all the coffee grounds are moistened. Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-15 hours.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth or several coffee filters arranged with edges overlapping each other. Place the strainer over a large bowl.
- Slowly pour the coffee-water mixture into the strainer. Allowing the liquid to seep through leaving the coffee grinds in the strainer. Use a rubber spatula to press and gently stir the grounds to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the grounds. (If a few grounds or sediment remain in the liquid, you can strain it a second time through a clean coffee filter.)
- Pour the concentrated coffee into a large mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3 cups.
For a glass of iced coffee: In a tall glass combine 3/4 c. coffee concentrate and 3/4 c. very cold water. Stir. Add regular ice cubes (or Iced Coffee cubes – see below) and milk, half & half, creamer, sugar, etc. to lighten and sweeten the coffee to your preference.
Iced Coffee Ice Cubes:
Coffee-Cream Cubes: Combine equal parts either cold, strong coffee or coffee concentrate along with your choice of half & half , cream or sweetened creamer in a pitcher. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight.
Black Coffee Cubes: Pour cold, strong coffee or coffee concentrate into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight.
Sweetened Creamer Cubes: Pour sweetened, liquid creamer into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight. These cubes will be sticky – I found that using a flexible, silicone ice cube tray made it easier to pop them out.