Coffee without the agida

I can't wait for the Starbucks Trenta (

Quick intro note as I wrote this on Friday: The eight-month-old to whom I serve as parent had one of those inexplicable explosions of crying on Saturday night. We rocked. We ate. We changed diapers. We bounced. We went on a 20-minute car ride. We tried letting her sleep on one of us. Yeah. Nothing. So, Sunday morning’s coffee run was both medicinal and routine,  though I wish I had some of the stuff below prepped.


“Don’t ever bring me iced coffee,” my boss says to me. “Iced coffee scares me.” Now, she has a flare for the dramatic (don’t we all), but on my morning coffee run I pick up the same thing for her. At Starbucks, it’s a tall Pike Place Roast, with about 20 percent of the cup filled with skim milk, and three Splenda. At Dunkin Donuts, it’s a medium with extra skim and two Splenda.

For me, it’s an iced coffee. The largest size possible and black. Year-round too. See, I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but I can no longer drink hot coffee. I liked hot beverages. I loved drinking hot lattes, but now it just doesn’t work for me.

Those who know me are well aware of the fact that I would build a Starbucks in my house if I could (it’s actually on the list of what I’ll do when we win the MegaPowerballMillions). It recognize that it’s not the best coffee, but it is the most consistent coffee. I was a pretty devoted Dunkin Donus visitor for a long time, but a staffing change at the location near my house plus an added stop (day care) on my morning commute rendered that difficult. Now, I go one more exit on I-690 so I can make the trip to Starbucks Armory Square. At my worst, I was three quad lattes a day and was probably spending upwards of $12-13 daily at Starbucks. Pretty bad, I know. Now, my morning trip is about $5-6, about the same amount I was spending at DD.

It’s likely that I would have continued, or made an effort to continue, my DD visits had they not eliminated the Dark Roast Iced Coffee. DD’s iced blend is bitter, in the same way Starbucks tastes burnt to some. You would have to let it sit for 5-10 minutes so the ice could melt some and dull the acidity. The Dark Roast was actually smoother, as if the beans had been roasted long enough to allow the flavor to develop. My main problem with DD, though, is the consistency from store to store. There was no average either. It was good or it was tarvia. One of the things I like about Starbucks is that everything is spelled out down to the most exact measurement. Nothing is left to chance and there is some quality control involved on their end. I know there are instructions for the DD staff to read, but the assumption is made that they know how to read. I think that’s a big leap. (At the risk of sounding racist, I’ll add that my DD is chock full of white people. Is it racist when you hate the same race as you?)

If I had the time and if I had the forethought, I would make my own iced coffee. Cold coffee in my house usually comes as refrigerated leftovers from the coffee pot, but the best iced coffee I’ve ever had comes from cold brewing. This process is lengthy and messy, but provides a richer flavor with more caffeine and less acidity.


Cold-Brewed Coffee


  • 6 cups cold water (filtered is best, tap is fine, don’t use distilled)
  • 10 ounces coarse ground beans (darker roasts are best)


  • 2 8-cup bowls (I use Pyrex measuring bowls)
  • 3-4 basket paper coffee filters
  • Whisk
  • Deep-basket colander, similar to this marvel from Oxo

Add the coffee grounds to the eight-cup bowl and pour your water over the top. With a whisk, gently stir the water in the bowl, mixing the water and grounds together. Let the coffee sit uncovered for at least 8, but up to 24, hours.

Insert your coffee filters into the colander and set over the empty bowl. Slowly pour the coffee mixture into the filter, stopping and starting to allow for liquid to escape and grounds to settle. When the contents off the bowl have been transferred, take a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and gently press down on the coffee ground to push any excess water out. Allow the basket to sit for 20 minutes to drip any remaining water, then press again with spatula.

Discard beans and transfer coffee to clean glass carafe or pitcher, cover and refrigerate. This should keep for 3-4 days.


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