Making great cold-brew iced coffee involves some trial and error. For two guys on Long Island, their respective experimentation led to comparisons and taste tests during their kids’ kung fu practices, which in turn, earlier this year, spawned Ace Coffee Co. Founders Mike Troast and Brian Lentini say they realized that while many share their love of the highly caffeinated beverage, few widely available commercial products satisfied their tastes — or wallets. “There’s a lot of good coffee in the world, and it’s all just too expensive,” says Troast, an advertising production director by trade. “We wanted to bring a premium product at a reasonable price so that normal people don’t have to drink crappy coffee.”
Troast and Lentini, a New York City public-school teacher, work with a roaster near their homes in Mastic and source organic, fair-trade beans from Peru and Honduras (Lentini says that most cold brew involves coffee from South America because of the dark-chocolate notes).
Launched this spring, Ace is available in gallon jugs as concentrate, or ready-to-drink 12-ounce bottles. Because they’re not food-and-drink-world vets, the duo took an unconventional approach to marketing the coffee, selling it first at skate shops and explaining to fellow skateboarders that iced coffee can make for a cleaner alternative to sugar-laden energy drinks. Ace is also available in bars on Long Island and in New York City, and increasingly, in area coffee shops and markets.
Their entry into the market comes at a time when big-name coffee brands, specifically Stumptown and Starbucks, are devoting more time and shelf space to cold-brew products. But the guys from Ace are unfazed, convinced that their smooth, naturally sweet cold-brew coffee is better than the rest. They’re so confident, in fact, that they’ve shared their home technique so you can make great cold-brew iced-coffee concentrate at home.
What you’ll need: a French press, grinder, whole coffee beans (preferably South American dark roast), a sieve and cheesecloth or a filter, and a sealable container
Step 1: Grind the beans
Use a coarse grind to avoid silt from the French-press process.
Step 2: Measure
The standard ratio for cold-brew concentrate is a pound of coffee to a gallon of water. If you’re using a 32-ounce French press, use approximately four ounces of coffee. Here’s where the trial and error comes in: try different high-quality beans for different flavor, or increase/decrease the water ratio for strength. You can also experiment with added flavors like cinnamon or chicory. Generally, a 32-ounce French press will yield 4-8 servings depending on these factors.
Step 3: Pour over and stir
Pour lukewarm to cool water over the grounds in the French press, then stir to ensure that the grounds are wet. Do not plunge yet.
Step 4: Let stand
Once all the grounds are wet, leave the French press undisturbed for 16-24 hours on the counter (unrefrigerated). This will allow the coffee to become concentrated, offering a richer experience than pouring hot coffee over ice, which dilutes the beverage.
Step 5: Press and filter
After plunging the French press, pour the coffee into a sealable container through a sieve lined with either a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any stray grounds or silt.
Step 6: Serve
Pour the cold-brew concentrate over ice and add water or milk to taste, or a combination of water and milk. But try it without milk and sugar first; if your batch came out well, it should be naturally sweet and have a slightly creamy texture on its own.
Step 7: Save
Pour remaining cold brew in a resealable jar or container. It will keep for two to three weeks if refrigerated.