What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Basically, cold brew coffee is a method of producing rich, delicious coffee over time.
Rather than brewing coffee with boiling water, the cold brew method allows you to gradually brew coffee without burning or diluting the beans. Essentially, the process involves brewing coffee with room temperature or cold water over a 12-24 hour period.
Because of the ‘cold’ base water, you end up with a far smoother and less acidic final result.
“In terms of taste, brewing with cold water has a pronounced effect on the flavor of the coffee, reducing the perceived acidity and producing a distinct chocolatey flavor profile”Ben Irvine – Seven Miles
Irvine says. “Another benefit, compared to chilling hot coffee, is that cold brew remains stable for longer in the fridge. While chilled espresso will start to turn funky in a matter of minutes, cold-brew can still be tasty well over a week after brewing.”
Cold Brew vs Ice Coffee. What’s the difference?
What is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
Simply put, the difference between iced coffee and cold brew is that iced coffee is brewed hot and then cooled down, while cold brew is brewed with cold water and never heated.
How is cold brew different from iced coffee flavor wise?
Iced coffee often has the same bitterness and acidity as hot coffee, often resulting in the desire to add more sugar and cream to your refreshing concoctions.
On the other hand, the smooth, nutty silkiness of cold brew lends itself to a quieter blend. It’s great for people who want a a more stomach-friendly summer drink choice than iced coffee.
That said, cold brew differences in flavor can depend a lot on how long you brew, the ratios, and what you put in your drinks.
However, the general consensus is that cold brew produces a nuttier and far less sharp and less bitter drink than traditional iced coffee.
Equipment: what you need to get started with cold brewing
The bare basics of what you need is: coffee, a brewing container, and water.
For the best cold brewed coffee, there are a few ‘extra’ tweaks you can make to get the best results.
You will always get the best brew using freshly ground coffee so a good grinder is a handy tool if you want to become an at-home coffee specialist.
You’ll want a coarse grind for cold brew – basically a texture similar to bread crumbs. We’ll talk about the best type of coffee to use below.
Next, you’ll need a brewing vessel that can be anything from a large mason jar, a french press or a specially made cold brew bottle. If you are using a jar then you will also need something to strain the coffee with – cheesecloth works a treat or you can even use a paper filter. We will discuss this more later.
Lastly, to make a great brew, you’ll need filtered water. I know it sounds bougie, but there is sound science behind using filtered water for coffee. It just tastes better.
If you want to check out the science read this article.
Which is the best coffee for making cold brew?
Well Java Momma of course!
While coffee, like most food and beverage, is a matter of personal preference, the better the coffee you use – the better the final product. A typical espresso blend or dark roast will get the job done, particularly if you plan on adding milk to the final product; however, a light espresso roast will generally work better for unmixed (straight) drinking.
Light or medium roasts produce the nicest cold brew. Darker roasts give a smokier flavor due to the large oil content on the surface of the beans. You can also use flavored coffees if you want to take it to the next level.
Of course we also have our own Java Momma Cold Brew Stand Tall blend in convenient brewing pods to make cold brewing super easy!
Decisions: Cold Brew Ratio
Well here is where we get a bit ‘sciency’ – the ratio you use will depend on what final result you want.
At home most people brew what is considered a cold brew concentrate. This means that they use one part cold brew to one part water, sparkling water or milk over ice to drink.
This is generally made with a 1:3 ratio. So that’s 1 part coffee to 3 parts water. The exact amount that works out to will depend on the size of the container you are brewing in. Take the volume of the container and divide it by 3 that will give you the amount of coffee you need and then you add the water. This will make a nice strong blend that can be diluted down.
If you don’t want it quite so bold then use a 1:5 ratio which will still be strong but not over the top.
Drink it Straight
Making a straight cold brew uses a ratio of 1:15 and makes an immediately drinkable cold brew. No need to dilute it down with any additives – take it straight over ice.
This will have a similar taste and texture to regular filter coffee. If you like heavy espresso coffee, this will likely be too weak for your taste.
Cold Brew Coffee Recipe: a Step-by-step guide
While there are several types of cold brew container products these days for making cold brew coffee at home, we’ve gone with an absolute bare essentials recipe. Provided you have coffee, water and a saucepan, you’ll be set to get this cold brew coffee recipe underway. Here is how to make cold brew coffee at home without a system;
- Add 1 part coarse-ground coffee to a saucepan.
- Add 5 parts of room temperature filtered water and stir together.
- Put the lid on and leave at room temperature for 24 hours to brew.
- Filter the brew twice, first through a fine sieve to remove the bulk of the grounds and then through the paper/cloth filter to remove the remaining fine grounds.
- Store in an airtight bottle in the fridge for up to a week.
OTHER COLD BREW METHODS, TIPS and FAQ’s
We should probably mention that there are multiple methods for cold brewing.
- Immersion Method: What we’re describing in our recipes is the immersion method for making cold brew. Coffee is immersed in water for a long time — that’s it. We like it because it’s super-simple; you only need a jar/pan and a filter. Measure out you coffee using preferred ratio, top with water and leave to brew. When it’s ready filter the cold brew through paper/cloth filter and serve. If you want to make it even easier use cold brew pods like these Cold Brew Stand Tall blend – the coffee is measured out for you all you need to do is throw the pods in with water and wait!
- French Press Method: Another legit option is to use a French press. Cold brew coffee French-pressed is basically the same as the immersion method, only you’re using a fancier brewing contraption. It requires less time (about 12-15 hours), and people like to use a lighter 1:5 or 1:8 ratio for cold press coffee.
- Purpose built Cold Brew container. There are lots of options for cold brew containers now like this fancy bottle with inbuilt filter. You measure out your coffee into the filter then fill the bottle with water – throw it in the fridge overnight and wake up in the morning to your cold brew concentrate ready for the day!
- There’s less acidity in cold brew. Some estimate that there’s around 60% less acid in cold brew versus a regular cup of brewed coffee.
- It has a smooth flavor. As a result of the acid and other chemical differences that occur during a cold brew, you get less of that sharp taste and end up with something very creamy and calming.
- It stays good for longer. Leftover hot coffee goes bad after a few days, but cold brew stays good for up to two weeks.
- It’s versatile. You can use it for all kinds of recipes, especially sweet ones.
- It’s refreshing without being watery. No drowning in ice cubes for you, beloved coffee!
Serving cold brew by the glass
Serving (without milk):
- Add ice to a chilled glass
- Add one part cold brew concentrate
- Add one part cold still or sparkling water
Serving (with milk):
- Add ice to a chilled glass
- Add one part cold brew concentrate
- Add two parts milk or milk alternative
Even more ways to serve Cold Brew
Check out this great infographic from the folks at Death Wish Coffee – they’ve compiled some amazing cold brew drink recipes you can try!