What’s Cooking at Third Coast? Brew Up Your Own Cold Brew With Our Secret Ingredient

Image courtesy Poverty Bay Coffee Company.

I love iced coffee and drink it most of the year, not just in warm weather. Cold brew is my drink of choice, and I’ve made my own for years. But what a journey.  I used to just chill and ice leftover coffee, and that will do in a pinch. Then I discovered the rich flavor of cold brew coffee and wanted nothing else. This is a two-part article about making your own cold brew: First the equipment and then the recipe.

Cold Brew Equipment

My Hario pot, ready to brew.

Twenty years ago, my early attempts to make cold brew involved mixing coarse ground coffee and water in a large bowl (or a giant pitcher) and letting it brew overnight.  (The bowl was too large to go in the refrigerator.) The next day, I carefully poured the coffee through a large colander lined with cheesecloth. No matter how careful I was, I had a big mess—if I was lucky, it was confined to the sink and countertop and not all over the floor.

The original cold brew coffee maker is the Toddy. I never bought one of those, because it looked potentially as messy as my method. Here’s a review.

You can also make cold brew in a French press. Put in the coffee, add cold water and let sit overnight before using the plunger to press the grounds to the bottom of the pot. I like French press coffee but it is never as clear as filtered coffee, hot or cold brew.

Third Coast Review posted an article a couple of years ago about making cold brew with the Aeropress. Games & Tech editor Antal Bokor writes about how to easily make a cup of hot coffee or cold brew using the Aeropress.

I prefer to make a larger quantity, and for the last few years I’ve been using the Hario Mizudashi Coffee Pot, which makes four to six glasses of cold brew coffee. (It keeps in the refrigerator for a week or more.) The coffee grounds sit in a filter cone lined with fine mesh. You don’t need any extra filters, and you can easily (and neatly) dump the used grounds in the garbage when the brew is ready and then wash the filter. My cold brew sits in the refrigerator door from 12 to 24 hours to brew. Then I remove the filter and enjoy my first glass.

These days there are many comparable cold brew coffee makers. Check these options.


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Cold Brew Recipe

That seems like a silly title because the usual recipe is just: Ground coffee. I prefer to grind coffee beans, as close to freshly roasted as possible. Just as for a French press, you need coarsely ground coffee. I have a basic coffee grinder and grind beans for about 18 seconds. I use about eight coffee measures (an 8-ounce cup) of coarsely ground coffee and my secret ingredient (of which more later) for my 1000ml Hario pot. You get about 840ml or 28 ounces of cold brew this way.

Dark roasts like Sumatra or French Roast or Metropolis Coffee’s Redline Espresso are great choices. Metropolis also offers a Cold Brew Blend and Cold Brew single-use brew packs. My secret ingredient is chicory—ground chicory root combined with coarse ground coffee. It gives the coffee a rich, caramelly flavor that is addictive. Chicory is cheaper than coffee, so you may save a little on your home coffee budget

My chicory inspiration came in a trip to NOLA in 2015. I found the Ruby Slipper, a stylish café near my hotel on Canal Street, and had my first meal the day I arrived, before the theater critics conference started. New Orleans is a great place to visit, of course, and it’s hard to find a bad meal. I had brunch and the most amazing glass of cold brew I ever drank. During the first conference break, I went back to the Ruby Slipper and sat at the bar so I could chat with the bartender. He told me how he made the coffee—cold brewed in medium-sized batches, using a chicory-coffee blend, and shaken with milk and cream. I bought a pound of coffee with chicory to take home. That made great cold brew; because it was a blend, the coffee was already ground and mixed with chicory.

Back home, I was on the hunt for chicory. Treasure Island (RIP, I miss you) had New Orleans-style chicory coffee.  Nice, but no.  They also had Coffee Partner, a 6.5-oz package of coarsely ground chicory root. That was perfect, and I experimented for a while to get the proportion I liked. When Treasure Island closed in 2018, I lost my chicory source. I bought Coffee Partner a couple of times in cases of 12 6.5-oz boxes. This year I sought out a New Orleans source and bought a five-pound bag from New Orleans Roast.

My recipe for cold brew coffee in my Hario coffee pot is about 2.5:1 coffee to chicory. I put the coarsely ground coffee and chicory in the filter, mix it up a bit, then pour cold water over the coffee until the water partly covers the filter. I stow it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, then remove the filter. This coffee is strong but not quite a concentrate. You may want to add some milk, cream or cold water to get it to the strength you like. Now that is great cold brew.

(It’s called cold brew, of course, because the coffee is never subjected to hot or boiling water. You can heat cold brew to make a hot cup of coffee. By the way, claims that cold brew is less acidic than hot coffee may not be valid. Recent research indicates that dark roast coffee is less acidic than light roast and the water temp doesn’t make much difference.)

Have you had some great cold brew experiences? How do you make yours—or do you prefer to buy it from your neighborhood coffee shop? Let us know in the Comments.

Third Coast Review is one of 43 local independent media that are members of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance. You can help #savechicagomedia by donating to our 2021 campaign. Support every outlet or select your favorites to receive your support. Thank you!

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