Summer Morning Simplicity: Cold-Brewed Coffee and Overnight Oats

As much as I love my Keurig, I don’t think it’s going to be getting a lot of use for the next few months: when the mornings are already hot and sticky, the last thing I’m craving is hot coffee! Sure, there are iced coffee pods out there, but I’m picky about my iced coffee. I don’t want it diluted with melted ice cubes, so cold-brewing it is!

Aficionados may prefer the complicated drip method, but when I started cold-brewing coffee last summer I wanted something simple and low-tech. A method that would be forgiving and set me up with at least enough coffee for the week. This is how I do it.

Cold-Brew Coffee Components:

  • Ground coffee
  • Water
  • Some sort of vessel to hold it all
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Coffee filters (optional, but recommended)

My vessel is one of those insulated coffee carafes you see at hotels and diners: simple and straightforward. It holds about 44 ounces or so.

Your coffee to water ratio may vary, but I use the 1 Tbsp per 6 oz water + 1 Tbsp “for the pot” as it were. Or, I start there and round up or down to easy to use numbers. Since my carafe holds about seven 6-oz portions when full, I opted for 1/2 cup of ground coffee to 40 ounces of water. (2 Tbsp per ounce, 4 ounces in 1/2 cup, 8 scoops… a little more than needed, but stronger isn’t a bad option, here.) Combine, stir, and let sit at least overnight in the fridge.

Grounds for good taste?

Grounds for good taste?

Once it’s had a good spell to steep, then you want to strain out the grounds before you rinse your carafe and put the coffee back in for doling out during the week. I use a large measuring bowl and a mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter. I think the sieve would catch most of the grounds, but I prefer the added securing of the filter, and usually change it about halfway through. I also don’t like to rush the straining: I’ll pour a cup or so out and let it drip through while I do something else, checking to see when to top it off. Overall the straining ends up taking about an hour.

But! If you get pressed for time or just run into a lazy streak, I can tell you that once I left the grounds in the carafe and just strained out what I needed each morning. Slightly tedious, especially when I got towards the bottom, but the awesome thing is that, since the grounds never touch hot water, they didn’t develop any sort of bitterness! And this was just using Millstone Hazelnut decaf from Publix, so you don’t have to spend a fortune on your coffee for this to work. Again, super forgiving.

Now, if you like your coffee black, you’re done. And this carafe might not last you a full week if you fill a travel mug each morning. Not only do I not drink my coffee black, I like my coffee drinks sweet. And since sugar won’t easily dissolve in cold liquids, I make up a batch of simple syrup to top off the carafe, or buy flavored syrups in the beverage aisle, or even use maple syrup in a pinch (or, again, if lazy). You can make your own flavored syrups by starting with a simple syrup and adding extracts, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, or whatever flavoring agent you prefer.

And in the mornings I fill my travel cup half with cold-brewed coffee and half with milk and I’m ready to go before the Keurig would even wake up!

As to the overnight oats, that’s not necessarily seasonal, but I got burned out on them a few months back and wanted something more substantial in the mornings. Once again, the heat has me craving colder, lighter fare so this weekend I whipped up a batch of my basic overnight oats mix to make night-before prep even easier.

My Overnight Oats

  • Rolled oats, 1/2 cup per serving
  • Brown sugar, to taste per serving (~1 Tbsp per)
  • Powdered Vanilla, ~1/2 Tbsp per serving
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Cinnamon, a generous sprinkle per serving
  • Chia seeds, optional, ~1/2 Tbsp per serving

The powdered vanilla is what really makes this stand out. It’s something I learned about when I reviewed the Meals in a Jar book way back when and it’s something I keep well-stocked, now. I order mine from Amazon, but you can usually find it in specialty food stores as well. The above mix can be used as-is or with additional mix-ins. Right now I’m doing dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips, but citrus zests and dried fruit combos (blueberry+lemon, cranberry+orange, lime+coconut) are also favorite choices.

Some overnight oats recipes have you adding yogurt and milk and maybe a mashed banana. I don’t mess with the extra, I just use 1/2 cup milk to 1/2 cup dry mix and call it done. And when I travel, I use powdered milk in the dry mix so all I have to add is water! (I use powdered coconut milk in the absence of a readily-available lactose-free powdered milk option and it works fantastically!)

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