Thanks to those of you who discovered this blog through through Chow, Serious Eats and Blogging New Orleans. After detailing the perils of my CulinaryCorps/Katrina service trip, I’m ready to move on to the highlights of New Orleans cuisine. When you think of New Orleans food, you probably gravitate towards gumbo, neon-colored king cake or funny French things like etouffee. Not coffee, right?
Among New Orleans’ many food secrets is cold-brew coffee. It’s as low-tech as you can get: no coffee maker, French press or special equipment is needed. Heck, you don’t even need electricity. Just combine coffee grounds and cool water in a bowl. After 12 hours, strain the solids out, and iced coffee is at your call — no extra chilling required. Yes, you need the long soak, but prep it before you go to bed, and coffee will be waiting for you in the morning. Once you try it, you’ll see how backwards it is to brew coffee with hot water and then wait for it to cool down.
“Heat brewing releases acids and oils, and as the coffee sits in the refrigerator, the bitterness intensifies,” according to a NY Times Magazine article. Cold-brew coffee is 67% less acidic, making it smooth, rich and naturally “sweeter.”
For better or worse, I can now enjoy coffee! For the longest time, regular cups would dehydrate me like crazy. I switched to decaf, and still no dice. The culprit, as I found out, wasn’t caffeine. It was the acid. I also would take my coffee unsweetened, since sugar somehow made it sour (the exception: coffee from Dunkin Donuts and Oaxaca, Mexico). Again, the culprit was the acid.
For an authentic experience, try a coffee-chicory blend from Cafe du Monde, French Market or Blue Bottle Coffee company. During their civil war, the French ran short on coffee, so they used chicory as an extender. Chicory is the root of the endive plant. It tastes chocolatey, is caffeine free, cleanses the blood and improves your liver’s health.
Note: today’s Times article on cold-brewed coffee is purely a coincidence. The NY Times Magazine ran a similar (but better) article way back in May.