Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Goodbye Starbucks Hello Home Brewed Iced Coffee!

Hello friends. It's Summer! Of course that means pool, fun, travel...wait...hmm gas prices are up over $4.00 gal again. For me that means less going out and more staying home by the pool. But what do I do when my 'bored' kids want a frappuccino, or I want a refreshing iced coffee? Considering the cost of those drinks and the cost of gas it's not very practical to drive to Starbucks, at least not very often. Many of you know I worked at Starbucks for a time so I can say, with certain confidence, that I can make a better drink at home!

If anyone has researched making coffee at all you will see there are more arguments on the correct way to brew the coffee than in a political debate! Some argue that cold brewed is the best while others say the Japanese method of brewing double strength over ice is best.
The theory of cold brewed is that it allows the true flavor of the coffee to come through without leeching out all the acids and oils with hot water.
Those that brew over ice say that when the hot coffee hits the ice it instantly cools it and locks in the flavors.
I have not tried the Japanese method simply because I prefer to make a big container of coffee that will last me a few days. I can't afford some fancy machine and I have no idea if I could do it with my regular coffee maker or if that would shatter the carafe. So I use the cold brewed method.
It's really a personal preference. Brewing the coffee one cup at a time just doesn't work for me at the moment. I know, that is not very 'connoisseur' of me!

Let's get started cold brewing our coffee!
The ratio for cold brewing is 1 part coffee to 4 parts water.
The size of the container you use depends on how much you want to make. I have been re-using a large iced tea bottle but have now moved up to a 1 gallon container. Make sure it has a top or have plastic wrap to cover it completely.
You will need something like a wooden spoon, long enough to reach the bottom of the container so that you can mix the grounds. A second container to strain the coffee into. A fine mesh strainer and either white paper towels or cheesecloth.

I am using a 1 gallon container so adjust your measurements accordingly.
Pour 2 cups medium grind coffee into the container. Add 8 cups cool, filtered water, gently stir to make sure all the grounds are wet. Wait about 10 minutes then give them another stir. Cover and let steep for a minimum of 8 hours up to 24 hours. YES that long but trust me its worth it! Honestly though I brewed one batch 8 hours and one 24 hours and really didn't notice a difference but I used a different type of coffee for each batch so that may be a factor. Also keep in mind that the longer you steep the stronger the brew.
Ready to filter? OK. Take out that other container. Get your strainer and line it with your cheesecloth or paper towels (make sure you use double thickness of either) and start pouring. I won't lie this is time consuming. The coffee has to filter through all those grounds and sediment. After doing this you will understand why I brew a lot at one time. Pour your strained coffee into a pitcher or other container and store it in the fridge.

To use pour over ice and flavor as you like. Remember though that this is very strong so, depending on your personal tastes, you will probably want to dilute it a bit with water. I usually go somewhere around 60/40 coffee to water, but that is all up to you!
My favorite way to fix my iced coffee is to fill my cup with ice, add a little bit of water, some *sugar free simple syrup, the coffee and a splash of half n half.

For a frappuccino you will need a blender, cold brewed coffee, ice, *flavored syrup (like caramel or hazelnut), milk, xantham gum and whatever other add ins, like choc chips or coffee beans. Put it all in the blender whip it into a wonderful frozen drink. For about a grande/venti size (give or take as I don't measure) you will want to use about 2 cups of ice, a cup of your coffee, 3/4 cup milk, 5-6 pumps of syrup and about 1/8 tsp of xantham gum. Just remember it's your drink and it should be as sweet and strong as YOU like.  As for the xantham gum, Starbucks frappuccino is made from a powder mix. It is mixed with milk and stored in the fridge until ready to use. It uses xantham gum as a stabilizer to keep the frappuccino from separating. If you don't care about separation and stirring your drink then you can skip it. Xantham gum is natural and flavorless.
You can get xantham gum from most any store, or in bulk from stores like Whole Foods or WinCo. Try Bob's Red Mill from the baking isle.
Smart and Final sells bottles of the Torani caramel sauce as well as chocolate so you can drizzle those inside your cup and on top, with or with out whipped cream, to make it a more 'authentic' frappuccino.
I use both *Torani and *DaVinci syrups. I prefer the DaVinci because they have a non-flavored sugar free simple syrup. Both brands make a ton of flavored syrups both with and without sugar. Smart and Final carries Torani, as does World Market. I purchase my DaVinci syrups from their website.  Or you can make your own.

*One thing I would like to mention, thanks to a friend for the reminder, I use the sugar free syrups in moderation and only in my cold drinks. Since they are liquid they mix well in cold beverages, unlike other sweeteners that may not dissolve. One thing I really hate are clumps of sweetener at the bottom of my drinks and having to stir so much melts the ice too fast and dilutes the drink. But they are, after all, made with Splenda and you by no means have to use them! I am showing you how to copy Starbucks. They use these syrups. So go ahead and use your favorite natural sweetener in your drinks. Also you can certainly use almond milk or coconut milk for your drinks as well. Go ahead and whip up some coconut cream for topping those frapps, yum!

I do believe my next kitchen experiment will be to make a natural simple syrup. Maybe even flavored ones. I will post that if it works out :)

Enjoy your coffee and your Summer!