Coffee Concentration

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

Whether you’re a slave to coffee or if you just enjoy the occasional java jolt, there’s something fun about putting this brew on ice. It’s a cool way for this workaday cup o’ Joe to lighten up for the summer months. Trouble is, when you want a glass right away, your usual brew often isn’t up to strength. Instead of settling for a watered-down version, try improving your coffee’s concentration. This is a recipe for a big batch of coffee concentrate that you can enjoy within minutes, and will be at-the-ready all week. If you’re a real coffee connoisseur and prefer the trendy cold brew method, you can use the same coffee-to-water ratio, (16 cups cold water; omit the boiling water) and let the grounds steep overnight.

Once you’ve strained your coffee concentration, you’ll want to relax and mix a cup to taste. For a quick and easy way to add creamy texture and sweetness, I like to take a cue from the traditional Vietnamese dessert coffee and stir in some sweetened condensed milk. To be even fancier, you can put the condensed milk and coffee—ice and all—in a blender and make your own Frappuccino. Serve some up at your next soiree and everyone will be buzzing about your great caffe concoctions.


Iced Coffee Concentrate


1/2 pound medium-ground coffee (about 3 1/4 cups)

8 cups boiling water

8 cups ice water

1 can sweetened condensed milk


Pour ground coffee in a large heat proof bowl or pot. Add in 8 cups boiling water, making sure to get all of the coffee grounds wet. Let the coffee bloom for about five minutes or longer, depending on your preference.

If you have a French press, or “press-pot” coffee maker, put the coffee and grounds through the press in a couple of batches, pouring the filtered coffee into a large pitcher or carafe. Otherwise, line a fine mesh strainer with six layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large heat-proof bowl. Carefully pour the coffee and grounds through the strainer into the clean bowl; transfer to a pitcher or carafe. Discard the coffee grounds and add eight cups ice water to the coffee. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, fill a glass or mason jar almost to the top with ice. Pour coffee concentrate to the top of the ice. For a 12-ounce serving, add about two tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, to taste and stir to incorporate. The coffee concentrate will keep, refrigerated, up to three weeks.