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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Cold Brewed Coffee

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

IT IS EARLY JANUARY and there is very little snow remaining from our pre-Christmas blizzard. The ten-day outlook has only one day of snow in the forecast. I have been trying a “no-knead” bread recipe in my new convection oven with some nice success.

Out of the blue, I decided to try cold brewing coffee. It does seem that every month some new study either is “for” or “against” coffee. I won’t enter that debate, but I am interested in trying this lower-acid cold-brewing method to experience firsthand what I’ve been reading about.

My first recollection of coffee as a youngster came from observations at the lunch counter at my local drugstore. After completing my morning paper route, I would pedal my bike to the corner bakery where my favorite baker placed a few day-old glazed donuts in a waxed paper bag for me. I would then head next door with bag in hand to read comic books at the drugstore. During my loitering, I frequently eavesdropped on customers. One regular customer was a tall cop who donned a low-slung holster and gun as he sauntered past me to a favorite counter seat. Like clockwork, he would place a thin dime on the countertop and ask the waitress, “Do you have something for me?” She’d serve him his steeping cup of coffee and remark, “Of course, and it’s wet and hot.” They then would both laugh out loud. I was not in on the joke but today I am aware of its double meaning. I was very innocent in 1961.

The lasting impression for me at the drugstore was the very low price for a cup of coffee – only ten cents. And it was even served in a porcelain cup placed on a saucer.

My parents rarely made coffee at our house except for dinner parties. It perked in some huge aluminum contraption that my mom always worried was on its last legs. It sputtered and shook as if it were about to blast off, finally silenced when the orange button glowed. In my apartment in grad school, I began drinking coffee. I brewed it each morning in a white and blue coneflower Corning percolator. It became bitter after about five minutes. For the last forty years, I've used various Mr. Coffee® models at home and work trying to limit myself to two cups in the morning.

The coffee craze that Starbucks® championed over the last three decades never really caught on with me. I’m thinking it might have been the price of their coffee not sitting well with me. Additionally, the special language needed to order coffee required a skill set I resisted, and the noise of the expresso machine annoyed me. I needed a cup of black coffee but not at Starbucks® became my mantra.

With these memories, it is clear to me that I’m hooked on coffee as my beverage of choice. I did give up carbonated sodas in my fifties opting for various herbal-flavored green teas, but this is only an occasional event for me. I’m a coffee drinker looking for a new approach and this will entail my adventure into cold-brewing coffee this new year.

I researched the available vessels used in the process of making one’s cold-brew coffee. I settled on a Primula-Burke glass infusion coffee maker I purchased this week at Meijer®. It is in the above photo taken as I was preparing my second batch trying to create the new perfect cup of coffee. I also drove to Glen Arbor to purchase a pound of Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co.’s whole coffee bean (Blend 25). I am keeping my roasted beans in my freezer per their recommendations.

My first attempt at cold brewing had some issues. I misaligned the pour spout after removing the spent grounds that had been placed for 24 hours in the refrigerator in cold tap water. This made me smile knowing there is a learning curve in all new approaches. I tasted my Krups® hot brew coffee comparing it with the new cold brew that I gently heated in my microwave and the difference in smoothness was very evident. My son, Rob, just introduced me to one of his San Francisco buddies who manufactures a neat steeping device.

This learning involves lots of science, I suspect, but I’m of the school that we’ve had enough science the last two years living through the pandemic. I just want a great cup of coffee and I’m working at it.

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