I made it over 30 years without coffee. Somehow, within months of having my first iced mocha, I've become hooked on the stuff.
It started in Hawaii. We were passing through the Kona coffee fields, and I wanted to try a sample to see what the fuss was all about. We stopped in at a local coffee shop, and I ordered an iced mocha, thinking that the cold and dash of chocolate would make the bitterness more palatable.
To my surprise, there was no bitterness to be found. Instead, this coffee tasted like coffee smelled (translation: delicious!). I found myself wishing for less chocolate and more of the intriguing taste of the Kona beans. Heresy!
Only after ordering some iced coffees back home did I realize how special the Kona version was. Either the bitterness had returned or the flavor was flat or, in the case of mochas, it was essentially chocolate milk with barely a hint of coffee. Add to this the mounting calories (300+ in some cases!) and $3-4 price tag, and my new habit was getting less appealing by the second.
But I still wanted more.
My idea to solve the problem by buying Kona beans and making my own drinks came to a screeching halt when I learned that 100% Kona coffee sells for upwards of $30 per pound. Um. Yeah, that's not gonna work.
Plus, making iced coffee wasn't as simple as brewing a cup and adding ice cubes. Apparently, chilling hot brewed coffee brings back the dreaded bitterness. No wonder my iced drinks were so loaded up with milk and chocolate. Hiding beneath the additions was a pretty unpalatable cup of coffee.
My friend John referred me to a New York Times article on cold brewing. As I read more, I realized that this might be my solution. Not only is the method (essentially "add coffee and water to jar, wait, strain") easy, it doesn't require fancy equipment and is perfect for iced drinks. Even better, the process removes both acidity and bitterness from the coffee.
While purists say some subtle flavors are lost, most reviews claim that cold brewing creates the best cup of coffee they've ever tried. If you don't like cold drinks, you can add water to the coffee concentrate you create and microwave it. Super high quality instant coffee!
Now that I've solved that issue, all I need to decide is which brand to try. And whether to grind myself. Oh, and what kind of grinder I need to do the job.
Who knew coffee was so complicated?
Photo by CurryPuffy