Making cold brew at home for lazy people
It is the late July doldrums, the time when iced coffee is really the only solution to my caffeination needs. (Sorry, haters.) The thought of turning on the kettle for the French press in my un-airconditioned Brooklyn apartment is excruciating, so cold brew is the preferred method. But here's the thing: cold brewing coffee, at least in the traditional sense, is messy. First, you have to soak the grounds in water overnight, and then there's the straining process, extracting the precious cold brew concentrate from the floating grounds. No matter what implement I used to strain it—cheesecloth, a metal sieve, a series of coffee filters—I would still get some floating layer of grit in my homemade cold brew. And that is not something you want to deal with first thing in the morning when you're staggering towards your fridge in search of a caffeine fix. But after some googling around for other sufferers of gritty cold brew, I hit upon the simplest, most elegant hack for making your cold brew delicious and fragment-free: a nut milk bag.
A nut milk bag, as you might suspect, is an implement used to make almond milk and the like at home. You put crushed up pistachios, almonds, or cashews in the bag to soak in water and, voila, your own at-home nut milk. I found mine on Amazon (for under $5!), but big grocery stores and health food stores also stock them. These clever things are really just giant fine-mesh bags, and you can use them to infuse water with whatever you want. (And possibly also sangria, if you want sangria without fruit chunks.)
It turns out that they make cold brewing incredibly easy and effective for those who can't deal with the whole straining mess, like me. It acts like a giant looseleaf tea bag: no muss, no fuss. The cold brew recipe I use is about 1/4 cups of coarsely ground coffee to the bag for every one cup of water you're steeping it in. (I usually put in a cup of grounds to make a four-cup pitcher of cold brew.) Let it steep in the fridge for about 12 hours, take out the nut-milk bag full of grounds, and voila: cold-brew concentrate. Cut the pitcher in the liquid with water or milk unless you like it crazy strong (and sometimes I do.) But that's it. Easy, lazy cold brew. All you have to do is open the fridge.