BYOB: Be Your Own Barista

I’ve spent the past two summers working as a barista at Starbucks — which means two things. One, I have a crippling caffeine addiction. Two, I know how to recreate most of the drinks at home. Cold brew has been a necessity for me this semester. 

However, just a grande cold brew with some flavor and milk at Starbucks is over $3, and that adds up quickly (I would know). Furthermore, baristas and coffee shops are overworked and understaffed right now because of the virus. So, I started making my own cold brew.

The difference between iced coffee and cold brew is that iced coffee is brewed hot — like regular coffee — and then refrigerated until it’s chilled. Cold brew is brewed by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time. This results in a richer coffee flavor that you don’t experience with iced coffee.

The supplies I use to make cold brew at home are regular coffee filters, coffee grounds, rubber bands, a pitcher and water. At Starbucks, we use one massive coffee filter and fill that with an obscene amount of coffee grounds. It’s then placed in a toddy and filled with water and left to chill overnight. I took this general process and shrank it to fit better in my tiny kitchen. I promise it is simpler than it sounds, and it is so worth it.

The first step is to fill about eight to twelve coffee filters with two tablespoons of coffee grounds of your choice. I just bought a three-pound tub of coffee grounds from Costco that will last me for months. Next, twist the filters into little pouches and rubber band them tightly. Place all of the coffee pouches into your pitcher. Then, fill your pitcher with cups of water equivalent to the amount of coffee pouches you made (10 pouches = 10 cups of water). Make sure all the pouches are submerged, then put the pitcher in the fridge and forget about it. The next morning, you will have delicious cold brew that you made yourself!

I like to dress mine with Silk almond milk creamer, but you can do whatever you want with yours. If you really love a certain type of syrup that you can only get at Starbucks, you can actually buy syrup bottles directly from your nearest store for less than $20. You may have to buy a pump for the syrup somewhere else, but it is still so much cheaper than making a Starbucks run every day.

I cannot express enough how  better my mornings are now that I just have to go to my fridge for a cold brew pick-me-up. I understand it is still fun to make Starbucks runs every now and then. Try to make it a point to tip your baristas – especially if you find yourself in a drive thru “pay it forward” chain. If the person in front of you paid for your order and the person behind you has an order that’s too expensive, tip your baristas with some of the money you had ready for your order! They need it now more than ever.

There are many advantages to making your own cold brew, including costs, convenience and the pride you’ll feel from doing something like this yourself.