Cold Brew Coffee Makes Sarasota Summers Survivable

Cooper Levey-Baker pens an ode to the cold stuff.

By Cooper Levey-Baker May 30, 2017 Published in the June 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Cold brew helps us get through summer's hot, hot heat.

Image: Shutterstock

Cold coffee used to be terrible. Coffee shops would recycle old brews by chilling pots that had been simmering for hours or pouring a hot blend over ice, which simply melted the ice and produced lukewarm, watered-down sewage.

Luckily, those lackluster liquids are a thing of the past, now ensconced in the Culinary Hall of Shame alongside Jell-O salads and hydrogenated oils. Instead, a new beverage has emerged, and it’s perfect to carry you through Sarasota’s excruciating summers. I’m talking about cold brew.

Simple enough to make at home and tasty enough to justify dropping some coin at a good coffee shop, cold brew has everything going for it. Made correctly, cold brew has a thick, formidable body and a nutty, intense flavor—delicious on its own, but powerful enough to stand up to mixers like cream and even tonic water. The drink is lower in acidity than coffee made with hot water and also higher in caffeine, making it both gentle and potent.

Like I said: perfect.

The recipe is just beans and water, but the variations are endless. Drop a dose of coarsely ground beans into a pitcher and add water, doubling the amount of beans you’d normally use for that much water. Stir it and let it sit for at least 12 hours before straining and chilling. Too strong? Just mix in some water before pouring the concoction into a growler and packing it up for the beach.

That simple method is known as the Toddy style of cold brew. For a sample of the more complex Kyoto style, visit Perq Coffee Bar, where every morning, staffers prepare a drip-drip-drip that relies on gravity to pull individual drops of water slowly down through a dense nest of grounds. The result is a purer flavor and a clearer texture, more distilled than steeped.

Or request an off-the-menu Perq flash-brew. The barista does a traditional pour-over with hot water, but halves the amount of water and adds ice to the container below. The heat brings out the bright acid of the coffee, while the melting ice below slams down the temperature. Compared to the Kyoto, the flash-brew is lighter in color, almost the hue of tea.

You’ve got options. And the freedom to never, ever drink plain iced coffee again.

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