Nicole Kornher Stace’s Archivist Wasp was breathtaking and her sequel, Latchkey vividly asks so many of the right questions about what memories linger after an apocalypse, for worse and for better. I was delighted when Nicole said she’d like to share a post about writing fuel. (Oh, sibling of my heart regarding coffee.) Welcome, Nicole!
Technically, there is food in Latchkey, but nothing you could really call a recipe. Three years after the events of Archivist Wasp, Wasp has reclaimed her given name of Isabel, her ghosts are gone, and her town is in trouble. The overthrow of the Catchkeep-priest at the end of the first book has left her town open to opportunistic invaders who, like many, assume that the goddess Catchkeep would never have let Her priest fall from power if She still held the town in Her favor. So Isabel helps hide the young and injured townspeople in the tunnels underground while the rest of them fight to keep what’s theirs. What Isabel finds in the tunnels ends up being a whole lot more than she expected, and she’s kept on her toes pretty much constantly, in no position to be putting a whole lot of thought into food.
So I thought I’d go at this from a different angle entirely! I put more work into Latchkey than I ever have into any single piece of writing, and that includes my first novel, which had an entire 5-act play embedded in it. (I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.) Latchkey got fully restructured and rewritten so many times I lost count. As such, I needed lots and lots of writing fuel!
I’ve been a coffee drinker since age 7, but since I figured out how to make my own coldbrew coffee some years ago, I’ve never looked back. It’s less acidic than regular hot coffee of every variety and brewing method I’ve tried, it’s super delicious, it’s cheap, and it’s perfect for summer! You do need some equipment, but I never bought anything fancy. Quite the contrary, as you will see.
It looks like a lot of setup but overall it takes a whole lot less time than making a pot of coffee every time your brain starts crying for caffeine.
Writing Fuel! (homemade coldbrew coffee)
makes about 1.5 gallons of coldbrew concentrate
You will need:
— 3 10 oz bricks espresso-grind coffee
— a 2-gallon glass jar (I think mine is supposed to be a cookie jar??)
— a big soup pot
— a colander that fits in said soup pot
— some bottles (you can pick up used flip-top bottles at your local bottle recycling center)
— a funnel that fits in the bottles
— a piece of fabric for straining (I use a piece of an old gauze curtain but you do you. Cheesecloth might work if you do a few layers of it — espresso grind coffee will slip through the holes of a single layer)
- Dump your coffee grounds in the 2-gallon jar.
- Add water to the top, stirring as you go to prevent dry pockets.
- Let sit at least overnight, up to a few days.
- Strain. The way I do this is probably not the best way, but I wanted to try to make this work with stuff I already had in my kitchen. That is: put the colander in the pot, line the colander with the fabric, pour over and wait. You will probably come up with a far more elegant and dignified solution. I believe in you.
- Bottle your concentrate! It will keep at room temperature for at least a couple of weeks, but you’ll drink it way before that. Refrigerate the currently-in-use bottle, though, because it tastes best cold.
The concentrate is STRONG (remember there are 3 whole bricks of coffee in this) so what I do is: in a pint glass, 1 inch of concentrate then fill with water, add creamer/sweetener/etc as desired.
This sounds weird, but one time I saw a prepackaged coffee drink that was coldbrew with coconut water instead of water water, so I replicated that and it’s great! Also: electrolytes. So: 1 inch coldbrew concentrate + ½ tall can coconut water (I like the C20 brand because the coconut flavor is really really mild) + a dash of creamer. Also ridiculously tasty with a splash of Kahlua, Bailey’s, anything that usually goes with coffee.
Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of Desideria, The Winter Triptych, and the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp. She lives in New Paltz, NY. She can be found online at http://www.nicolekornherstace.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @wirewalking.