Introduction: Brewing on a Budget: Hands Down - Best Cold Brew Coffee Method Without a Brewer
So, I used to say that I only drank iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts for the cream and sugar. I saved my coffee snobiness for a nice hot cup of Chemex pour over.
BUT... After a visit to Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Chicago, I discovered cold brew iced coffee and it changed my life. Hello beautifully full bodied deliciousness. I just had to have one every day! At $3-4 a pop and $20 for a growler, it was not in my budget. So, I started experimenting at home.
I tried a few different methods, and they were OK. However, I still found myself shelling out the cash for iced coffee made by professionals. I just could not get there. Take my cold brew to the next level. I thought about purchasing a fancy Yama cold brewer, which looks so cool, or something like that. But I knew there had to be a more cost effective way.
Out of the methods I've tried, I did find one on Instructables that was the best of the OK. It involved a 2 liter plastic bottle (like an old coke bottle) a piece of felt, thread and 2 large coffee filters. Considering I seem to be making a batch every few days, I hated wasting 2 filters each time! Previously, I had tried a method using a nut milk bag. And that one was OK too. I thought, hmmm... Why don't I combine the 2 methods and see what happens?
Voile!! I DID IT!!! I made the most amazing cold brew coffee at home, without a fancy brewer. I'd love to share this with you. So here goes!
Step 1: Compile Everything You Need
To complete this task, you need the following:
- A 2 liter bottle with the bottom cut off. Try to cut off as little as possible, but make sure the hole is big enough to put the nut milk bag full of grounds in it.
- A nut milk bag
- A piece of felt cut into quarters. I only use a quarter of a piece per batch. So each batch costs about 8 cents.
- Accurate digital food scale
- A decent coffee grinder - I have the Bodum Bistro. I feel like a decent grinder is worth the investment
- 6 oz of good medium-dark roast coffee. Kicking Horse is one of my favorites. It's not too expensive and you can get it fresh from Amazon.
- 6 cups of clean water. Our tap water is really good. I've tried Poland springs and our tap water and the final result tastes the same. Use your discretion on this one :)
- A container to filter and store your final product. I prefer glass. You don't get any weird taste.
Step 2: Getting Your Brewer Ready
Take the top off the bottle. Roll the felt up and stick it in the opening of the bottle. Then replace the top on the bottle. The second filter is super important.
Step 3: Weigh Your Coffee
For 1 batch, weigh 6 oz of good quality coffee beans. I think it's fun to experiment with different ones. I may try a flavored coffee just for the heck of it next time.
I prefer a dark roast, even espresso roast sometimes!
Step 4: Grind Your Beans
Grind the beans at just about the coarsest setting.
Step 5: The Secret Component Revealed - the Nut Milk Bag!!
Put the grinds in the nut milk bag and secure it shut!
I got my nut milk bag at William Sonoma because I was impatient and didn't want to wait for it to be delivered.
Step 6: Adding the Water
Make sure you put the bottle in whatever container you
decided to use as your stand. I use my Chemex. It looks cool and works beautifully. One time I didn't close the top all the way and I used a cup as my stand. An hour later, there was coffee ALL over my kitchen. With the Chemex, I never have to worry about that!
Place the nut milk bag with the grinds in the hole of the bottle and add 6 cups of clean water.
Don't worry if the bag floats to the top. It's supposed to. I kept trying to push it down the first time, unsuccessfully!!
Step 7: Let the Magic Happen
I tend to do this at night because I think it really needs to brew for 12 hours. So, it's always ready for me in the morning.
Step 8: Moment of Truth
After at least 12 hours, unscrew the cap of the bottle and let the coffee drain into the container. WARNING: This can get a little messy. Don't worry, you'll get better with practice.
Once all the coffee is drained, transfer it into the glass container and store in the fridge.
I like my coffee very strong, so 1 batch makes about 4 iced coffees for me. But you can dilute with water if you want and it would last longer.
*** I realized with this last batch, that if you wash the felt with dish soap before it dries, you can pretty much eliminate the coffee smell. I'm going to try to use the same piece for my next batch and see if it makes a difference. If you can reuse the felt a few times, that would save you even more money and you would still get an amazing cup of iced coffee!
p.s. Based on how I drink the coffee, after the investment in the 2 liter bottle and the nut milk bag, each cup costs me about $0.94 (I just edited this from $1.02 because I miscalculated, oops! But good news to my ears) and that's drinking it about as strong as it gets. I'd say that's a huge savings from the $3-$4 at the store. Yay me!!!