Lord have mercy, is it hot out there or what? My grass is dying, my garden is shriveling and my will to venture outside after 9:00 a.m. has diminished. It’s funny how every year, I think it’s the hottest it’s ever been. If I were inclined to look at some sort of complicated graph or tedious almanac, I could probably see if my theory is right; eh, I’ve got other things to do. It’s hot. End of story.
When it’s this hot outside, the thought of drinking hot coffee or hot tea is rather unpleasant. Who wants to be hot and sweaty, and sip on something that makes you hotter and sweatier? But then how are you supposed to get that essential caffeine fix? Energy shots? Nervous system poison. No-Doz? What am I, a trucker? I know: Coffee – on ice.
I started drinking coffee at an early age. And by early age, I mean a sippy cup identical to this one, with equal parts coffee and evaporated milk and two tablespoons of sugar. (Dad, what were you thinking?!) I loved the sweet, toasty flavor of coffee and the jolt of energy that accompanied it.
My coffee habit waned in my later childhood, but picked back up in my tweens. I have a vivid memory of being 12, marching into Arsaga’s (in its original Block Street location) and ordering an “expresso shot”. I’d never had espresso. I’d never tasted espresso. I didn’t even know what espresso WAS. But there I was, tiny cup in hand, Nirvana t-shirt tucked into my Umbro shorts, determined to attempt sophistication and sip my drink with the other hipsters. The taste was horrible, but I downed it without too much puckering or shuddering. I was cool. I was cosmopolitan. I was WIRED.
My coffee habit morphed into a tea habit when I was 17, during my summer abroad in Germany. My host family taught me that the ritual behind tea drinking is methodic and soothing – the way you steep the leaves, bob the bag up and down, squeeze it out with the back of your spoon. I was a convert. Tea was the new coffee.
To this day, I still drink my cup of tea in the morning. But when I’m looking for a real pick-me-up, I turn to coffee. Around our house, we make a cold-brewed coffee concentrate for cold drinks, and brew the hot stuff in a French press. I know coffee is a very personal thing to many people, and everyone has their own way of doing it. If my way isn’t your way, or if my way is sending you into epileptic fits of indignation, sincerest apologies.
For the cold-brewed coffee, I start with a good quality dark brew (we like Global Beans around our house) and steep it in water at room temperature for about 24 hours to achieve a super dark, ultra-leaded coffee concentrate. Once it’s strained, I combine the concentrate with sweetened condensed milk (a/k/a nectar of the gods) and regular milk, and top it all off with plenty of ice. A quick stir and it’s good to go – creamy, sweet and oh-so-caffeinated – the perfect cold reviver on a hot summer day. Enjoy!
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Cold Brew Concentrate (recipe to follow)
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Cold Brew Concentrate:
4 1/2 c. cold water
8 oz. coarse ground coffee
In a large mixing bowl, combine the coffee with the cold water and stir to combine. Cover the bowl and allow to steep for 24 hours at room temperature. Strain with a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Refrigerate the concentrate for up to one week.
In a tall glass filled with ice, pour 2 oz. sweetened condensed milk over the ice. Add 6 oz. of cold brew concentrate and 4 oz. of milk. Stir well and top with more ice.
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