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Cold Brewed Coffee

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

IT IS EARLY JANUARY. There is very little snow remaining from our pre-Christmas blizzard and the ten-day outlook has only one day of snow in the forecast. I have been trying a “no-knead” bread recipe in my new convection oven with some nice success.

Out of the blue, I decided to try cold-brewing coffee. It does seem that every month some new study either is “for” or “against” coffee. I won’t enter that debate, but I am interested in trying this lower-acidic, cold-brewing method to experience firsthand what I’ve been reading about.

My first recollection of coffee as a youngster came from an experience at the lunch counter at my local drugstore. After completing my morning paper route, I would pedal my bike to the corner bakery where my favorite baker placed a few glazed donuts in a waxed paper bag for me. I would then head next door with my bag in hand to read comic books at the drugstore. During my loitering, I frequently observed this tall cop who wore a low-slung holster and gun saunter past me to an open counter seat, and like clockwork, he would place a thin dime on the countertop and ask the waitress every single time, “Do you have something for me?” She’d serve him his steeping cup of coffee and remark, “Of course, and it’s wet and hot.” They then would both laugh out loud. I was not in on the joke but today I can only guess the double meaning. I was very innocent in 1961.

The owner of the drugstore would let me eat my day-old donuts while reading comic books. I learned to keep one set of fingers free from the sugary glaze. It was difficult, but I mastered it out of necessity, or the comic books would not be salable. I knew the pharmacist’s tolerance for me was because my dad was a pediatrician and prescriptions were the pharmacist-owner’s money-maker. I would also give him a few leftover newspapers to sell because it was hard to put up with my older brother who needed the “exact count” of papers for our Saturday meetings with our route supervisor.

The lasting memory for me at the drugstore was the very low price for a cup of coffee – my goodness, ten cents. And it was served in a porcelain cup placed on a saucer to boot.

My parents never made coffee at our house except for dinner parties. It perked in some huge aluminum contraption that my mom always worried was on its last legs. It sputtered and shook during brewing as if it was about to blast off. In my apartment in grad school, I began drinking coffee. I brewed it each morning in a white and blue coneflower Corning percolator. It was bitter after only about five minutes. For the last forty years, I've used various Mr. Coffee® models at home and work.

The coffee craze that Starbucks® offered over the last three decades never really caught on with me. I’m thinking it might have been the price of their coffee not sitting well with me but also the language needed to order coffee required a skill set I resisted, plus the noise of the expresso machine annoyed me. I needed a cup of coffee but not at Starbucks® became my mantra.

With these memories, it is clear to me that I’m hooked on coffee as my beverage of choice. I did give up carbonated sodas in my fifties opting for various herbal-flavored green teas, but this is only an occasional event for me. I’m a coffee man looking for a new approach and this will entail my adventure in cold-brewing coffee this new year.

I researched the available vessels used in the process of making one’s cold-brew coffee. I settled on a Primula-Burke glass cold-infused coffee maker that I purchased this week from Meijer. I drove to Glen Arbor to purchase a pound of one of Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co.’s whole coffee bean offerings (Blend 25). I am also keeping my roasted beans in my freezer per their recommendations.

My first attempt at cold brewing had some issues. After removing spent grounds that had been placed in the refrigerator in cold tap water for 24-hours I had issues aligning the pour spout. This made me smile knowing there is a learning curve in all new approaches. I compared my Krups® hot brew with the cold brew that I micro-waved and smoothness was my first impression that really differentiated the two methods. This isn’t very scientific, but I’m from the school where we’ve had enough science in the last two years.

I just want a great cup of coffee and I’m working on it.

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