Feeding Frenzy | Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

After the second New York Times article in as many months on cold brewed iced coffee, I figured I had to give it a shot. Cold-brewed coffee is the traditional method for making iced coffee in New Orleans and has also been bantered about in online food forums like Chowhound and eGullet for several years. Instead of brewing coffee with hot water and letting it cool, you combine coarsely ground coffee with cold water, set on a counter for 12 hours and then strain it. For your labors, you get coffee syrup that can be refrigerated for several weeks. Any time you desire an iced coffee, you pour a shot of syrup into a glass and top with water or milk, and ice.

I'm a true coffee fanatic — I freshly grind beans and set up a self-timed coffee maker every night right before bed. In the morning, I wouldn't dream of getting up without my first cup or two in bed. Although I have this deep love (or addiction?) of coffee, I have never liked iced coffee (except for Vietnamese Ice Coffee!) — it has always tasted burnt to me.

So, I was eager to put cold-brewed iced coffee to the test and see if I could be swayed. By nature, I'm a gadget girl, so I used the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System.

And the results? Cold-brewed coffee is UNBELIEVABLE — all the hype is justified. The purported beauty of cold-brewed coffee is that it has 67% less acid than hot-brewed coffee — this translates into a smooth-tasting coffee with hints of chocolate and caramel. Mixed with milk and ice, it's like drinking a (highly caffeinated) milkshake. I made my friend Martin taste it — instead of saying "yum" or offering some other profound culinary insight, he looked covetously at the Toddy system and asked "how much did that cost?" (about $30). You can certainly make cold-brewed coffee with readily accessible items, but I find the Toddy system convenient and the carafe for storing coffee syrup both attractive and useful.

I drank cold-brewed iced coffee several times a day for the last week or so, and I even took a couple of quarts to a 4th of July party. Although most of the acid is removed, little of the caffeine is — which makes for very lively parties.

Vietnamese-Style Iced Coffee
Combine equal parts cold-brewed New Orleans-style coffee syrup (coffee with chicory) with sweetened condensed milk. Stir well, and serve over ice. For an after-dinner coffee drink, add a shot of vodka.

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