Monday, August 20, 2012

The perfect pre-workout coffee

If you like to drink coffee before your workout but you hate the resulting tummy ache and reflux, you are going to LOVE this post! The secret? Cold brewing. This method yields a delicious cup that has about 70% less acidity than conventional heat-brewed coffee. According to Scott Rao, hot brewing produces a higher amount of chlorogenic acid whereas cold brewing does not. Moreover, as it sits, the chlorogenic acid breaks down into qunic acid which tastes sour. Cold-brewed coffee is smooth, sweet, and delicious. If you like your coffee hot, you can always heat it up directly before drinking and still get the benefits of cold brew.

You can purchase a Toddy system if you'd like, which is expressly designed for cold brewing. However, I prefer to just use my French press. It works just as well and makes for easy straining. Plus, I can also use it for hot-brewing if I want, and it takes up far less counter space than the Toddy. How does it work? Let's get started!

Step 1: Select your coffee beans

You can use any coffee you want; if you're only after the low acidity and don't particularly care about taste or freshness, go ahead and use pre-ground Folger's. I am pickier, though, and I want a cup of coffee that I can really appreciate. I buy all my beans from Buddy Brew which is a local coffee roaster. They display a "roasted on" date on their retail beans, and usually they were only roasted a day or two prior to my purchase. Try to find a local coffee roaster if you're into that sort of thing; additionally, Buddy Brew sells some of their beans for shipping. I like to experiment, but I've had consistently good results from Columbian or Brazilian beans. Columbian coffee has kind of a nutty, caramel-y flavor and Brazilian beans have some chocolatey notes.

Step 2: Grind your beans

I like to grind my beans immediately prior to brewing. A cheapie whirly-blade grinder is fine for cold brewing because the grounds have all sunk to the bottom by the time it is done anyway (for regular French press brewing, you need a special coarse grind from a burr grinder or the resulting coffee is very muddy). I grind it to a pretty fine powder for this.

For a regular-sized French press (mine is 1.2 quarts) I use 2/3 cup of coffee beans. This makes a very concentrated brew to which I add additional water before drinking. So grind up about 2/3 cup of beans and then dump the grounds into the bottom of your French press.

Step 3: Add water and stir

Pretty self-explanatory. Fill it up most of the way with water. Use filtered water if you hate the taste of your tap water. If you like the taste of your tap water then it will be fine in coffee. Stir it up well; I use a chopstick.

Step 4: Stir again

After 10 minutes or so the coffee will have formed a raft of grounds at the top, like this:

Just stir those in. If you are using very freshly-roasted beans, this will yield a thick tan layer on top called the crema.

At this point I like to rinse off any grounds that have stuck to the carafe above the coffee, but that's up to you.

Step 5: Let it sit overnight (I like to steep for 12 hours)

I just put the plunger on top but I don't press it down. If you lack vertical space, you can just cover it with plastic wrap or buy a cold press that comes with a seperate lid.

Step 6: Filter and drink!

With a French press, you filter simply by depressing the plunger. If you used my suggested amount of coffee beans, you will want to dilute at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of water or milk to coffee. I use my homemade So Delicious coconut milk, particularly because I like to get some MCTs pre-workout! I use a 1:1 ratio of coconut milk to coffee, but then I also add ice cubes which dilute it further.

Enjoy, and train hard!


Mike said...

Coffee, preWO, training, and geeky science? Perfect post!

Erica said...


@vikosek said...

Its good in summer for a start of workday -

Erica said...

@vikosek: love it!!!

Heather said...

Hi I’m Heather! Please email me, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

Gary Conway said...

wow really interesting post, I'll have a try a cold one

Justin T. Dolan said...

I use a French Press all the time for coffee but use a very coarse grind or the coffee gets "muddy."

When you use the finely ground coffee beans, as above, and just use the plunger to filter them, do the grounds stay filtered out at the bottom b/c of the 12 hour steep?

Erica said...

@Gary: Hope you like it!

@Justin: The grounds sink to the bottom because of the long steeping time. It definitely gets muddy if you attempt to hot brew with the fine grind (and it's also difficult to plunge) so for hot brew or Japanese-style iced I use my Chemex.

Mama Pongkey said...

I found you through ChowStalker! Thank you for this recipe. I am thinking this will also be useful on long road trips to fight off sleepiness. I always get sleepy while driving long distance so I drink coffee, but then I get tummy ache because I haven't eaten properly (food at the R n R stops where I live have too much MSG, so I normally skip it).

Erica said...

@Mama Pongkey: It would be perfect for long car trips! Just keep it cool in a thermos and it should last for a while :)

bubblegum casting said...

wow this stuff is amazing!!!

bubblegum casting

deny lost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cckern928 said...

How long can it sit in the Press? This is more than I can drink in a morning. Can I keep it in the Press or pour off into a pitcher? Then store on counter or fridge? For how many days? THANKS!!

cckern928 said...

How long can it sit in the Press? This is more than I can drink in a morning. Can I keep it in the Press or pour off into a pitcher? Then store on counter or fridge? For how many days? THANKS!!

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