Iced Coffee + Cacao

August 20, 2014

It’s all happening right now.

I mean, right now. It’s like we’re riding on the most wonderful endless carousel (with non-annoying music-box sounds) of exciting opportunities, things to explore, and projects to take on and we don’t want to get off or pass up anything. But, we might actually need to get off because we need to change the laundry over, respond to that mountain of emails that we’ve been meaning to get to, to hang those shelves/organize the basement/plan that birthday party we’ve been plotting. I swear, we were just in control of things a minute ago and now….the pile (that I can see from my magical elephant adorned with flowers on this carousel) really adds up fast.

And it’s not just in a general in-life sort of way, its in a day-to-day way as well. These days just fly by for us. Maybe (probably) they do for you too.

A friend reminded me the other day that Labor Day was the next-to-last hurrah here in Boulder, before the temperatures started dropping, the outdoor pools were drained and the ice cream trucks all went into hibernation (wherever it is that they do that, right?!) She had intended to get to the pool – to, ya know, just lay there and read a book – but never got that chance because the snow flurries arrived shortly afterwards. No, they didn’t stick or stay but…..still. She reminded me that summer will be gone before we know it.

Cacao Beans Ready To Grind

And so, it seemed time to try to recreate this favorite delicious thing that I’ve meant to tackle for a while. This iced coffee is literally one of my favorite things about San Francisco; I used to treat myself some weekends by making a special trip to the Mint Plaza -regardless of the season but especially in the summer – to have a New Orleans Iced Coffee and a Snickerdoodle Cookie. Or an Anise Cigar. But always the coffee. It was my way of reminding myself to slow down, take pause, and appreciate little things about this big place we lived in because they were what made each day so special. In this time of craziness, (when I also seem to be able to use a little extra caffeine in the afternoon,)  I dug up their iced coffee recipe and made it my own. 

Grinding the Cacao

Blue Bottle Coffee‘s original recipe for New Orleans Style Iced Coffee calls for chicory in the brew, but I couldn’t think of any reason why cold cacao wouldn’t be just as good if not better. I love the round taste of the cacao + coffee together, and appreciated not having as much caffeine in the brew when I enjoyed a tall glass as a recovery drink after a late afternoon ride. (This leads me to believe that Teecino would also be a great addition to an iced brewed coffee blend, but that will have to wait till next time.)

SO! The recipe! I hope that you use this formula below as a jumping off point for playing with your own favorite blend. In the several times that I’ve made the batch over the past weeks, I’ve used different ratios of coffee and cacao — sometimes out of curiosity, other times based on what I had on hand. This is by far the most coffee-forward formula but you could increase the ratio to almost 50% cacao and it’s still delicious. The best part about this process, this special summertime drink, is that, like so many things that are homemade, a little forethought is the most important ingredient. That and something special: cacao beans.

Cacao beans are increasingly available these days at natural foods stores and specialty markets. These are – literally- the foundation of all chocolate products, friends! Cacao beans are the seeds of the tropical cacao fruit and are about the size of an almond. They taste rich and creamy, and are full of complex flavor notes ranging from berry to coffee. You could also order them from this online purveyor. If you read the bag that your little cacao beans come in, it might suggest that you could toss them in your trail mix, or your breakfast cereal…but I didn’t find these appropriate places for them. I used a simple coffee grinder to blend mine up and make them more brewable. (FYI: if you don’t want to hunt down whole cacao beans, you could also likely use cacao nibs but be warned that this would be a more expensive venture!)

One more note on equipment: to be precise you’ll need a kitchen scale, a coffee grinder (for grinding the cacao beans, and coffee of course) and a fine metal sieve or strainer. If you leave out the scale you could likely eyeball the blend…..but I wouldn’t recommend leaving out the sieve! It’s recommended that you grind the beans just before you start the brewing, but you could grind the cacao beans a day before if you like. Brew on! – xo L 

Iced Coffee + Cacao
  1. one pound of coarsely ground coffee
  2. 42g of coarsely ground cacao beans
  3. 1/3 cup of honey (of to taste) at room temperature
  4. milk of your choosing
  1. a kitchen scale
  2. a large stockpot
  3. a fine metal sieve
  4. a wooden spoon, for stirring
  1. Add both the coffee grounds, and the ground cacao beans, to your stockpot. Pour 2.5 cups of cold water into the stockpot and give the mixture a few gentle stirs so that all of the grounds are immersed in the water. Then, place the lid on the stockpot and allow the mixture to steep for 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. After the coffee has steeped, set the fine mesh sieve over a deep bowl. Then, break the coffee crust with the wooden spoon (this will make it easier to pour!) Slowly strain the steeped coffee with the sieve into the bowl. You'll have roughly 4-5 cups of coffee concentrate. The concentrate will be deeply dark and may (unappetizingly enough) look like used motor oil.
  3. Next, add 3 oz/1/3 cup of honey to the concentrate and stir it completely with the wooden spoon.

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