Cold Brew Coffee at Home

Cold Brew Coffee is hanging on as an in-thing for coffee lovers. Everyone from Starbucks, to Dunkin’ Donuts to your local artisan coffee stop has a version of it. While there are plenty of cold brew kits out there, some starting as low as $18 dollars most people already own everything they need to make it.

There is a lot of information out there too. A quick search will reveal coffee enthusiasts discussing – and sometimes arguing – about what beans to use or filtered water vs. tap water or whether one should subscribe to the 8 or 12 or 24 hour soak.

However, the basics are simple and you can probably whip up a batch without buying anything but some decent coffee beans. This simple overnight process should give you a very drinkable cold brew at a fraction of the coffee shop price.

All you need is a Mason jar and a fine-mesh sieve or nut-milk bag, some tasty beans, and some coffee filters. Add water to your coffee in the Mason jar, stir, cover and leave it out overnight. In the morning filter the grounds through the sieve and use a coffee filter to pick up the silt. You’ll want to experiment with your grounds to water ratio and many recipes can be found online. Some say the perfect ratio is about 56 grams of coffee to 600 ml water.

The filtering process only takes about five minutes. You may want to cut the coffee with regular water if you make a stronger concentration. For bonus points, try making some coffee ice cubes with your homemade cold brew. A great way to keep your drink cool w/o diluting it.

How Much Butter in Your Coffee?

While it is not an entirely unheard of practice in the West, many might turn their nose up at the concept of mixing butter into their coffee or tea. However, this unusual combination is popular around the world. The practice is popular in places like Tibet where heavily salted yak butter is mixed in strong black tea.

This traditional beverage is probably a little intense for first-timers. However, fear not. Nutritionist Lily Nicholas (RDN, CDE, CLT), has some recipe suggestions and some information about the potential health benefits of using butter in your coffee or tea.

Nicholas suggests that newbies start with a low dose of butter as many people are no longer used to “real food fats”. Too much at once can trigger cramping or diarrhea. A newbie’s digestive system will need time to adjust.

She also suggests that some people may prefer coconut oil as an alternative to butter to get those good fats (and MCTs), but the beverage won’t whip up in a creamy fashion if you use only coconut oil. Nicholas states that using high-quality, unsalted butter from grass-fed cows is ideal. Regular off-the-shelf butter may not produce a high-quality beverage—Nicholas admits to being a butter snob, however. Finally, blend-blend-blend is her mantra if you want a beverage that resembles a latte and not a cup of coffee with oil blobs of butter floating around.

Nicholas notes that those who have trouble eating breakfast in the morning might find this unusual beverage beneficial because:

  1. It doesn’t overwhelm your digestive system with a heavy load of food, but does provide some necessary calories (from fat) to carry you through part of your morning.
  2. Because that energy is coming from fat, it does this without giving you rebound hypoglycemia (or in real talk, crazy hanger, low energy, and cravings that you usually get after a typical high carb meal, like cereal or oatmeal).

Next she suggests the coffee-butter-beverage to those who, despite their best efforts, are always starting before lunch. She writes, “Since fat stabilizes your blood sugar without raising or lowering it, adding it to your coffee or tea is the perfect addition to make breakfast more satiating long term. It’s fantastic for those of us who easily go hypoglycemic (ahem- me!).”

While it might not be the most pleasant thought, Nicholas suggests the beverage as a possible, natural cure to frequent constipation as fats are essential to keeping your digestive system working smoothly. She also suggests butter as an additive that will benefit people who are hyper sensitive to caffeine, “Anecdotally, having fat along with your morning dose of caffeine can dampen its effects.”

She notes also that this beverage could be a major boon to those trying to lose weight. She notes that in the morning the body is less efficient at breaking down carbs and that the body favors fats as morning fuel. She also notes that such a beverage could be part of a ketogenic diet, which relies more on fats than carbs. Nicholas also back tracks to remind readers that this beverage should help people hold out until lunch with fewer snacks.

Finally, she notes that while both coffee and tea have excellent antioxidant levels, milk proteins negate their benefits. Butter, on the other hand, contains very few milk proteins making it an excellent real dairy substitute for those looking to benefit from antioxidants in coffee and tea.

Jody Victor: Engineering a Better Bean

Nick Brown from Daily Coffee News wrote about a new genome sequencing project – however this isn’t the human genome, but rather that of a coffee bean. Coffea arabica, to be precise. Researchers believe their work will lead to “new high-quality, adaptable coffee varieties.”

The research is being done at the University of California, Davis. University researchers collaborated with Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics farm in California’s Central Coast Region near Santa Barbara.

23 samples of Geisha coffee trees at varied levels of development were collected from Good Land Organics to be sequenced along with 22 other Geisha samples within 13 alternative varieties. Researchers’ goal was to best understand genetic diversity within the various varieties.

The research looked at 1.19 million base pairs—to give you an idea of the magnitude of the project, that is about 1/3 of the base pairs examined in the human genome. This initial study, while one of a kind, found little genetic diversity among the samples.
The new genome sequence has been posted to Phytozome.net, the public database for comparative plant genomics.

Considering the Cost of the K-Cups, To-Go Coffee and Traditionally Brewed Coffee

To say that the K-Cup has been a zeitgeist in the world of coffee wouldn’t be an overstatement. Keurig has revolutionized the way we drink coffee at home, at work and presumably has affected the amount of to-go coffee some people purchase. But are K-Cups all they are cracked up to be?

While there has been small, quiet, but growing public outcry over the additional waste created by K-Cups versus brewing coffee at home or the office, K-Cups are undoubtedly creating more waste than traditional brewing when at home or the office and some of the pods are not recyclable.

If you want to recycle your K-Cups the first thing to check is the bottom of the K-Cup for that trusty recycle symbol – note the number and make sure your local recycling program takes that kind of plastic. Next the foil top has to be completely removed and the K-Cup rinsed out thoroughly. If you are familiar with recycling practices you know that you can’t recycle dirty food containers.

There is even a company now offering a cutting tool to help ease the process. If you love your single cup maker, the easiest way to “go green” while drinking your coffee is to purchase a reusable filter cup in which you place your own ground coffee. There are also several options on in the market for off-brand single cup makers that only use a reusable filter cup.

The Atlantic reported: “The best estimates say the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would actually circle the Earth … more than 12 [times]…last year [Keurig Green Mountain] sold 9.8 billion Keurig-brewed portion packs.”

The 2015 article notes that, “K-Cups are extremely profitable, selling standard coffee grounds for around $40 per pound.” Which means consumers are paying more per pound for their K-Cup coffee than some highly sought after coffees like Jamaican Blue Mountain.
A New York Times article estimates K-Cup coffee can cost consumers as much as $50 a pound and states that most high-end coffees cost around $20 a pound.

While what about those who are replacing their morning Starkbucks with K-Cup coffee? A Fox Business article states that:

“While Keurig-brewed coffee costs more than traditionally brewed coffee, consumers still save a significant amount of money over the long run by using a Keurig brewer rather than buying a daily drink at Starbucks. You would save roughly $1.25 a day or $456 a year assuming you would forgo a daily $1.75 twelve-ounce cup of coffee from Starbucks and instead make a ten-ounce cup of coffee from your Keurig. After subtracting out the cost of the Keurig machine, you will still end up with hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket at the end of the first year.”

The Fox Business article also noted that even if consumers bought their morning coffee at McDonalds, K-Cups would save them $183 dollars a year.

A CNN Money article tells readers that to-go coffee drank from a disposable cup is good for the environment either as the cups are almost exclusively non-recyclable do to the mixture of paper and plastic products in the cups. The article claims that nearly 60 billion paper cups get thrown into the garbage each year in the US.

It seems the best over-all option is to brew your coffee traditionally or from a completely reusable single-cup solution.

Coffee and Cooking: Amish Pot Roast

While coffee is probably one of the most common beverages in our world, presumably being consumed by millions of people every morning, coffee can play more roles than that of a beverage. In fact, coffee is often used as an ingredient in baking and cooking.

One recipe including coffee as an ingredient that has made the rounds on the internet is one called “Amish Pot Roast”. While you are sure to find many variations on this recipe if you search, the recipe found below is standard recipe based on Google’s top hits for “Amish Pot Roast”. It is straight forward and sure to become a family favorite. Especially for anyone who is a “meat and potatoes” person.

Ingredients
• 3-4 lb. beef roast (rump)
• 1 tbsp. oil
• ¼ c. soy sauce
• 1 c. coffee
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 garlic clove minced
• ½ tsp. oregano
• 2 onions, sliced

Instructions
1. Sear roast in 1 tablespoon oil on all sides in heavy Dutch oven.
2. Pour sauce over meat.
3. Put half of onions on meat, the other half in sauce.
4. Cover and roast 4-5 hours at 325 degrees.

Experiment with the amount of coffee. Some recipes call for instant coffee rather than regular grounds. Many people elect to include carrots and potatoes to the recipe so you’ve got a “one pot meal”. You can add these veggies straight to the pan with the roast, though 4-5 hours is a long time for carrots and potatoes. You can also substitute a round or tip roast if you prefer – with the price of beef these days you may want to buy whatever is on sale. Remember that in cooking spices are all “to taste”. If you want a bit more garlic or want to leave out the Bay leaves, go for it! Make the recipe your own.