A recent comment about coffee (hi, Kate!) reminded me that A) I don’t HAVE to go out for iced Americanos when the going gets tough and 2) I actually have a really great iced coffee “technique” and C) If I got my act together, I could save $4 a pop and the gas and pollution from running up to my favorite little coffee stand practically daily.
I started making this coffee base three summers ago, but not to be zero waste — I just thought it sounded fun — but it’s turned out to have all kinds of benefits on that front. Before we get into this, I want to stress this is a technique, not a recipe. (I mean, it was originally a recipe — it’s based on The Pioneer Woman’s “Perfect Iced Coffee” — but hers calls for a pound of coffee and two gallons of water, and I just don’t have anything big enough to make or store that much. Also, she likes hers stronger so she can add more milk; I like more coffee and less milk.)
So here’s what I do (and however you like your coffee, you can tweak this to suit your tastes): 1/4 pound of ground coffee, a gallon of water, stirred up in my biggest pot. (It took me a couple tries to get the ratio right.) Then you let it sit for at least 8 hours; I like to start it in the evening and then get to it sometime later the next morning.
This next part might be easier with photo demonstration, and you’re in luck because I actually remembered to take pictures:
And that’s basically all there is too it. You store the base in your fridge, and then whenever the mood strikes, you can just whip one up. I like this because it’s already cold — I’ve tried to make iced coffees with hot coffee poured over ice, but I can’t get it to work very well. And I don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. 😉 Also, I get about a gallon out of this, which lasts us a week or so — Eric and the girls help themselves to iced coffees whenever this is available, too. It’s a good thing I love them …
Homemade vanilla syrup: I don’t like flavorings in my hot coffee, but I love vanilla syrup in my iced coffee. I don’t know, Eric says it’s one of my consistent inconstancies and what makes me such a Trisha. The problem with purchased vanilla syrup is that it has like 10 ingredients, eight of which I can’t handle because my stomach is a jerk. Also: It’s stupidly expensive for what it is. Also: Containers to deal with later.
I found this recipe from Paula Deen (no butter, though), and liked that it basically is just sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract (and water). Again, it wasn’t the point when I started making this, but it’s turned into a nice zero waste alternative — I make my own vanilla extract (that is another post for another time), sugar comes in paper wrappers, and while I can’t get brown sugar in our bulk section, I can get turbino, which is NOT a good substitute in baked goods (uh, learned that the hard way), but is great in these kinds of melty situations.
Anyway, here’s what I do: 1 cup turbino sugar, 3/4 cup white sugar and 2 cups of water (250 mL, 175 mL and 500 mL, respectively, for the rest of the world), all mixed together in a pan on my stovetop. (I’ve started using more turbino than white — that’s different from the original recipe — and can’t really tell the difference.) I bring it to a gentle boil (is there such a thing?) and then let it simmer for 10 minutes or whenever I remember to check it. (I mean, let’s be honest, right?) After it’s cooled, you add your vanilla extract (if you want exact measurements, I’d say 2 tablespoons / 30 mL, but, as I make mine and have vanilla to spare, I just give it a really, really good glug).
And then I store it in a reused Pendleton Whiskey bottle that we inherited from someone.
I’ve never made this with sugar substitutes, but I don’t know why you couldn’t. Yes, this is terribly terrible for you, natural or not. Yes, it’s delicious. I justify it by saying I don’t use it every day, nor do I use much.
So that’s that. I’m making a conscious effort to lay off my coffee trips this week — a good week to do it, actually, since all my holiday and special section deadlines are over at the paper, which means my stress level has gone way down (I’m very susceptible to stress coffee). It’s a small victory on my zero waste journey and for the planet, but I like to think that all the little things add up, and anyway, it’s not a contest — it’s just me doing my best.
Next up: Project 333!