It’s the last weekend in August, and a half-gallon glass jug of highly caffeinated, room temperature sludge sits dormant on the kitchen counter. The entire concoction is reminiscent of the bottom of a cup of Turkish coffee – an undrinkable slurry of coffee grounds and water. Rather than nearing the end of its life, however, this batch of coffee is only getting started.
Most people think of coffee-making as a five minute procedure: pour a scoop or two of grounds into a coffee filter, dump in a few cups of tap water, press a button, and watch the pot fill with the steaming beverage. This method is okay for brewing hot coffee, but hot coffee is not always desirable during the warmer months of the year. For those willing to wait for something more temperature appropriate, there is a lesser-known way to make ice-cold, delicious, summer-friendly java.
Cold brewing coffee is an exercise in extreme patience. Contrary to the quick prep time associated with a hot pot of coffee, cold brewed coffee takes at least an entire day to prepare. To make a good pitcher, one must coarsely grind the appropriate amount of coffee beans, add a measure of water, stir, and let the grounds steep for anywhere between twelve and sixteen hours. After the coffee beans have leached fully into the water, the grounds need to be separated from the liquid. This results in a rich coffee concentrate with sweet, mellow undertones. Mixed with water or milk and served over ice, the blend creates a smooth, refreshing drink fitting for the hottest of days. Simply put, cold brewed coffee is inconvenient to make but very good to drink.
Lots of worthwhile things are difficult and time-consuming. Reflecting on the many steps of cold brewing coffee reminds me of how long it seems to take to get anywhere “meaningful” in life, especially before I perceive myself as having “arrived.” It is easy to get frustrated with the unknown nature of what may lie ahead – what is my future career actually going to be? Am I ever going to pay off these loans? Will I get married? It appears likely that our culture of instant gratification and quick fixes pretty easily mistranslates to our concept of how life is supposed to progress.
Allowing this state of mind to rule your way of life is like pouring hot coffee over ice cubes; the result is both a stunted, diluted version of what was and a subpar manifestation of what could have been. Instead, like coffee grounds steeping in a cool jug of water, be who you are, where you are – call it “cold brewing life.” Life is the process of living, and the person you will one day be is influenced by the way you live right now. Consider today as being invaluable to the person you are becoming, regardless of whether or not you see its ultimate purpose in your own life narrative.
Drinking a sludgy pitcher of cold brewed coffee after only two or three hours of brewing is pointless and gross. So is worrying about your life for the sake of maintaining some illusion of control. Steep contentedly in the water of your current world, creating opportunities to add your flavor to your surroundings along the way – it will make you a better person. Live life cold brewed.