Cheap and Easy Cold Brew Coffee

When it's 90 degrees and humid, the only thing that will make me crankier than going outside is going outside uncaffeinated. And as much as I like the ritual of going to a favorite coffee place for an iced brew and pastry, the amount of money that I have spent on coffee over the last few years is probably enough to cover my MBA tuition. (Slight exaggeration, but actually the iced stuff isn't cheap.) So last year in an attempt to offset bad moods and my impending grad school debt, I started experimenting with making my own cold brew. 

I've sampled dozens of versions of "iced coffee," which range from hot coffee dumped over ice (a classic diner move) to the most delicious concoctions from Blue Bottle, La Colombe, and others. Actually one of the best cold coffees I've had was one made by my professor, and involved hot coffee poured over ice, but he had some swanky gear and a lot of patience on his side. 

Anyway, my version comes from my friend Molly, and it couldn't be easier. All you need: a French press, course-ground coffee, water. I use a 32 oz French press that I drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dark roast into. And then I fill the French press with water and leave it in the fridge over night. In the morning I press the coffee, pour into a different container -- or large cup if I want the whole thing -- and that is all. Total cost for a week's worth of coffee: about $9 at Whole Foods for just under a pound of beans. 

Of course, I like to accessorize my coffee with milk and simple syrup, and the easiest way to deal with simple syrup is to get a small oil/vinegar jar and spout from a kitchen store, fill it with a cup of cane sugar, and then slowly add to that a cup of hot water. Stir the mix with a chopstick to get all the sugar to dissolve. Once the liquid cools, stick in the fridge and it can live there for a couple weeks and you can use it for iced tea and cocktails, too.