The last few weeks have been hard. Like, I’m-not-even-sure-how-I’m-awake-and-functioning-right-now hard. In an attempt to make ends meet when moving back to Boston, I took a job at a cafe, which was part-time, and worked as a temp through a temp agency. This worked out well for a while but then I landed a 9-5, M-F desk job through my temp agency. Yeah! But since it’s a temp job, I still needed to keep the cafe job. Which is how I ended up working every single day for the past 30 days- Desk job Monday through Friday, Cafe job Saturday and Sunday. Surprisingly, it’s the cafe job that has been the most exhausting. 8 hours on your feet running around, making sandwiches and coffee and being ‘on’ for the customers is a long day. This is why the recipes haven’t been pouring out. Mostly when I come home, I’m putting my energy toward seeing all my friends that I have missed over the past nine months…or I’m sleeping. Ok, it’s mostly sleeping. Energy for dinner? Does an apple with peanut butter and chocolate chips count? How about left over chips and salsa and pumpkin beer? There’s veggies in salsa! Despite the hectic, hectic schedule I’ve been leading, I have had time to consistently make one thing: Cold brew coffee. Yes, please! It took me a little while to get used to and to work out the proportion of water to coffee I like but it’s so easy. I can prep it on Saturday night, strain it on Sunday night and have coffee all week. It’s perfect. Because clearly, I am running on nothing but caffeine at this point. So here is the thing about cold brew coffee: there are a lot of different ways it can be made and everyone seems to have a different strategy. Some people suggest freshly grinding your beans but leaving them fairly course- others say to grind them super fine. Some say let your grinds sit in water at room temperature, others say in the fridge. You have to find what you like best. The below recipe is a combo of everything I read and found online and what works for me. What you have to remember though is that this is a concentrate. It doesn’t have the bitter, acidity that traditional coffee has so it may be easy to mistake the smoothness for it not being “strong”. So not the case. There was definitely a day when I didn’t cut the coffee and boy was I jittery at my desk! Another thing to note is cold brew coffee is naturally sweeter. American Test Kitchen suggests replacing your sugar with a pinch of sea salt to bring out that sweetness. I haven’t tried that but I can tell you that when I’m not using the below flavored sweeteners (which I use a very little of!) that I’m not adding any sweetener at all. It’s a great way to cut that morning sugar rush out. OK, Enough Talk! Here’s the coffee and flavored syrups I’m loving right now :
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate with Pumpkin Spice Syrup or Chocolate Syrup
- 1 cup of whole coffee beans, medium roast is ideal
- 4-5 cups of water depending on your preference (American Test Kitchen recommends 1 cup of grinds:4 cups water. I like 5 just as much and it’s a little cheaper. Stretching that buck!)
- Grind your coffee beans to a “fine” consistency* (To grind my coffee, I use something like this)
- Transfer grinds to a large bowl, french press or mason jar. I use a large 1/2 gallon mason jar
- Add your desired amount of water. Give it a quick stir to make sure all the grinds get mixed in. Cover.
- Let sit for 24 hours, preferably in the fridge.**
- Strain out coffee grinds. If you are using a french press, the french press does the bulk of the work for you. Depending on how fine your grinds are, though, you may still need to filter them. For everyone else, you can line a strainer with a coffee filter or you can use a single-serving drip coffee cone, which is what I use. So cheap and so effective. I’ve also done the mesh strainer/coffee filter combo over a bowl as well and both work fine. See the two photos above for these two options.
- Serve over ice or heat up. Either way, Enjoy!
*”espresso or turkish” consistency is how everyone describes it online but seriously? My coffee grinder is the cheapest out there and there aren’t settings. Just grind it really well. According to American Test Kitchen, the fine grinds release more flavor **You can let it sit for longer. I’ve left mine for 36-48 before in the fridge and it was totally fine. Just don’t go less then 24 hours or it will be too weak. Some will argue that letting it sit at room temperature produces better results but I like mine in the fridge because I almost always drink my coffee iced. Try both ways to see if you have a preference. Chocolate Syrup from Vegan in the Freezer
- 1 cup of water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar.
- Stir until the sugar dissolves, which should be about a minute.
- Stir in cocoa and salt. Reduce heat so the mixture is simmering. Continue to let it simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Let cool. It will thicken as it cools.
Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup from The Messy Baker
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves (I used 1/4 cause I don’t love the taste of cloves)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 TBS vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan, add water and both sugars. Simmer on medium-low until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes
- Turn the head down to low and whisk in cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or a very thin, clean tea towel. If you are too lazy/too busy for this (um, me!), then skip this step. The spices and the pumpkin will sink to the bottom of the storage container leaving the syrup at the top to scoop out. You could also give the syrup a stir before using and include the pumpkin and spices in your coffee. I actually don’t mind it like that. I think it’s more flavorful! Just make sure you don’t forget step 4 below.
- Allow the syrup to cool to room-temperature before stirring in the vanilla extract. Store in a mason jar or airtight container. The syrup with last for 1 month at room temperature or 3 months in the refrigerate.
So there are 3 recipes for you! Does that make up for the fact that I have been negligent for the past month? Probably not but I just gave you Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup so that should count for something! Seriously, these recipes are so versatile! I use the chocolate syrup in hot and cold coffee (though I prefer it in hot I think), drizzled over ice cream or really, drizzled over anything! As for the Pumpkin Spice Syrup, come on! This is about 10x better then that crap you buy at Starbucks. 1. It taste better. A confession for you: I really hate Starbucks PSL. And I love Starbucks and Pumpkin. It taste so chemically to me! This stuff does not, 2. There is actual pumpkin in it! 20 bucks says the PSL does not have real pumpkin and 3. You can also use it in black tea, which is delicious, or over ice cream. Really, you can’t go wrong with either and I think you should go ahead and make these now. Also, if you could send a jar my way that would be awesome. God knows, I can’t get enough coffee lately!