French Press Cold Brew

French Press and Coffee BeansWhen I first heard mention of cold brewed coffee, I was disdainful. It just sounded like another insipid trend to me at the time.

Then one day were at a Stan’s on a warm Chicago afternoon, and there was nothing on the drink menu that appealed to me, so I tried an iced black cold brew. The first sip knocked my taste buds on their butts. It was sweet, and refreshing and had a depth of flavor for which I was completely unprepared.

I remember saying “wow” or something equally banal, gushing about it being “really delicious” and insisting that Mrs. Noe try a sip. She was not particularly inclined to do so, but humored me, and was also taken aback.

After some research online, and consulting Annie, our coffee expert cousin, we decided to brew some at home. After a couple of delicious (but time consuming) attempts that required straining, I turned to my trusty French Press, and that’s the way we’ve brewed it ever since.

The tricks to a successful batch of cold brew are grind, proportion, water quality and timing. We use a Hario hand crank grinder set for a course grind. The proportions are 1/4 cup of beans to one cup of cold filtered water, which sits in the press overnight on our kitchen counter. It needs to go at least twelve hours, but not more than sixteen. I usually stir it a time or two along the way, but not immediately prior to pressing and decanting.

That’s pretty much it. The hardest part other than the hand grinding is waiting for the first batch to finish. After that, we try to keep a couple of three cup batches in glass jars in the fridge, and get another batch started when one is close to empty.

To serve, we like it over cracked ice, diluted a bit with water or milk (my favorite is oat milk). You could certainly add flavorings or sweetness of some sort, but it’s really so surprisingly sweet on it’s own that we don’t find that necessary.

So, I’ve learned my lesson about judging a book too hastily by it’s trendy Bougie cover.


Yogi Tea

Good for grounding, energy, digestion and detox, “Yogi Tea” is one of our favorite beverages.

Our friend (and Kundalini Yoga teacher) Warren Armstrong introduced us to this marvelous tea. It was popularized in America by followers of Yogi Bhajan. Warren serves it after Gong Healing sessions to help restore balance and equilibrium. It is also excellent for reducing inflammation. I sometimes drink it to help with joint pain or muscle soreness.

I researched recipes online and brewed several batches before arriving at our variation on the process. We brew two quarts at a time, and keep it in the refrigerator to drink either cold (diluted with a little water) or hot (warmed in the microwave with almond milk and honey or raw sugar).

  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 20 green cardamom pods
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 bags black tea

Get two quarts of water boiling while preparing the ingredients.

Crack open the cardamom pods with the flat of a chef’s knife, and cube up a five or six inch piece of ginger. There’s no need to peel the ginger first.

Once the water is boiling, add the cloves and let them boil for a minute or so before adding the other ingredients. Add everything else except the black tea, return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for thirty minutes. Remove from heat, add the tea bags, and cover to steep overnight (or at least six hours). Strain into a container, and add water to replace what has evaporated to make two quarts.

If serving cold, I dilute about half and half with water. For hot tea, the ratio is 2/3rds tea and 1/3rd milk. You may sweeten either, if you’d like. I prefer it without sweetener when cold, but with just a taste of honey or raw sugar when hot.