The 1 Trick That Helps Me Use Less Sugar in My Morning Coffee
It also shaves about 10 minutes off my a.m. routine
I am a coffee person, but I am a function-over-form coffee person.
Yes, I want mine French-pressed, with fresh beans I coarsely grind to order in a Burr grinder. Sure, I take the water off the boil for precisely 25 seconds before I pour it over my beans, timing the stir and the press. I am too much of a hot coffee snob to deal with instant or drip (though I wish I wasn’t).
Cold brew, thank goodness, saves me from myself—and helps me use about a quarter of the agave syrup I’d typically use, to boot.
If you haven’t heard, using room-temperature or cool water to brew coffee overnight makes it much less acidic (and less bitter) than brewing it with very hot water does. For those of us who take our coffee with milk or sugar and don’t mind burying coffee’s subtle acidity—which can be quite beautiful and delicate—that’s a real boon.
Lots of experts think the cold-brew trend is getting out of hand, and that people are missing out on excellent pourover brews featuring all the nuanced notes of various beans.
There’s a time and a place for that, I’d argue, and that time and place is your fanciest local café, when you have 10 minutes to stand and wait for the barista to make you a very special pourover on an excruciatingly slow timeline. My brain doesn’t wake up until I’ve had coffee, so come spring and summer, I am relieved by the advent of cold brew season.
I don’t own a toddy; I don’t have some exotic setup. I use the same darn French press, coarse-grinding a bit of extra coffee, then adding about four or five times as much room-temperature, filtered water. (Lots of folks like to use a pound of ground beans for a gallon of water, but this is my go-to ratio.) I stir it carefully, cover it, and set the mixture aside for 24 hours. I press the whole thing the next morning. I cut the resulting concentrate in half with 2% milk, although you could use water. I add the tiniest drizzle of agave and reserve the rest of the concentrate for the following day.
It’s a relief not to babysit the boiling water and the hot coffee for one minute before stirring, then another three minutes to press it. It shaves about 10 minutes off my morning routine. And I’m grateful that—because cold brew tends to have very little acidity—I can chop that extra little bit of sugar out of my morning.
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So if you’ve been buying your cold-brew out and paying a ton of money for it, remember that you can easily do it home using the same sort of equipment you use for the hot stuff. For bigger volumes, consider a pitcher you use for lemonade, which could easily be filled with a 1-to-4 coffee-to-water solution, then strained through a cheesecloth-lined sieve the next morning.
Best of all, you don’t have to go near anything hot. All hail cold brew.
Alex Van Buren—follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alexvanburen—is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and content strategist who has written for The Washington Post, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and Epicurious.