A Common Sense Guide to
Cold Brew Coffee
The perfect step-by-step to making cold brew coffee.
The story of cold brew is an unlikely one. Shipped to Japan’s aristocracy in the 17th during the first boom of coffee, the Japanese didn’t quite know what to do with coffee beans. They ended up storing them in large ceramic jars, soaked in water. The result? The world’s first cold brew. They would continue to drink coffee like this for quite a while until they adopted the Western way of brewing coffee — and it would also be a couple of centuries before we discovered the wonders of cold brew.
Of course, nowadays, we make infinitely better cold brew thanks to refrigerators and inventions specifically for making cold brew coffee.
Before we get into the juicy details, we must clear a common misunderstanding: iced coffee and cold brew. It’s not the same; as we pointed out before, cold brew is coffee brewed at low temperatures. Iced coffee is regular coffee that is then cooled down. They are very different in terms of aroma and flavor, as well as chemically different. Cold-brew, for example, is less acidic than regular coffee.
With that out of the way, let’s go over how to make cold brew coffee:
What you’ll need:
● 125 grams of coarse ground coffee
● 500ml of distilled water
● A mason jar, or an airtight container, preferably made of glass
Cold-brew has one of the closest coffee-to-water ratios, making it quite expensive compared to other brews. In this recipe, we’re using a 1:4 ratio. This is why cold brew blends often contain robusta, a slightly less flavorful but cheaper type of coffee bean. Alternatively, you can use a 1:2 ratio to make a concentrated cold brew, which you can then dilute with milk or water. This is ideal for those who don’t have much space to spare.
● Grind your selected beans to the coarsest setting possible.
● Next, and this is very important: sift the grounds. This will filter out fine loose particles (of which there’ll be more than you think), threatening to make your cold brew too bitter. If you skip this step, you risk your brew to become a little too bitter and acidic. Plus, a small clump of mud-like grounds will form at the bottom of your mason jar.
● Pour the grounds inside your container.
● Using distilled or filtered water, preferably already cold or at room temperature, pour 500ml of water.
● Stir lightly with a wooden stick, then seal the container.
● Wait a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 24 hours.
● Before serving, transfer your brew to another container using either a paper or cloth filter to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.
● Store or serve immediately. The colder, the better!
Now you can enjoy delicious, syrupy cold coffee. Tasty cold brew is hard to find around since it takes a long time to make, so many coffee shops don’t even bother. Your best bet is to make it yourself!
What about cold brew coffee makers? If you happen to arrive at this article right after buying one --or right after having seen one online that you want to get, we’ll also give you a short guide on how to make cold brew with one of these specialized devices.
The newer cold brew makers are almost all based on the original design for the French press, but instead of having a plunger that pushes grounds downward, it has a chamber that sits in the middle of the cold brew maker. This chamber is made of a fine mesh -ideally, stainless steel- which ensures that the grounds and the brewed coffee don’t get mixed when pouring.
Cold-brew makers are a convenient solution to the often tiresome process of making cold brew — it does most of the work for you. Case in point, to make cold brew, you only need to:
● Pour ground coffee into the filtered chamber
● Fill the cold brew maker with water
● Put the chamber in place
● Secure the lid
…And that’s it! Compared to the previous guide, it’s incredibly more straightforward.
When shopping for a cold brew maker, you should pay extra attention to the material and quality of the mesh filter and the cold brew maker’s capacity. Ideally, you’ll want a coffee maker that can brew, at the very least, four cups of coffee in one go.
Tips for cold brew
In this section, we’ll let you on a few small but beneficial tips for making better cold brew coffee!
Syrup instead of sugar
Obviously, cold brew is always going to be cold. If you use sugar regularly, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get it to dissolve in cold brew, leading to a bunch of sugar at the bottom of your cup, and a bitter coffee.
To remedy this, it’s best to have a few different syrups at hand before making cold brew- a trip to the store will give you more than one idea. Caramel syrup, maple; the sky’s the limit. For a more “original” flavor, you can always get plain sugar syrup or liquid sweetener. Stevia, in particular, goes well with cold brew.
Use a cloth strainer
If you’re making cold brew in a mason jar, it can be frustrating not to be able to get all the coffee out of the coffee grounds. As much as you try to filter them as you would with a pour-over, the grounds are too coarse, and they hold on to water.
In these cases, we find that the best weapon is using a cloth strainer. Like the ones that are made to strain vegetable milk, a nut bag is the best one for this purpose. Your hands will get a little cold, though!
Cold-brew isn’t like the other brewing methods. With other methods, once you’ve mastered one, you have an idea of how to work most other brewing methods — except for this one. Our advice to you is that, first of all, you start out small. Start making about 200ml worth of coffee, try it, and see what you did wrong (and what things you got right).
Keep doing this a few more times until you feel ready to make a big batch.
And, most important of all: have fun!
Making cold brew is probably one of the most fun ways to make coffee at home because of all the anticipation. You have an entire day to think about how your coffee is gonna turn out. The expectation is half the experience!
Happy brewing! And if you’re in the market to buy a French press coffee maker, we highly recommend the Takeya Cold Brew Maker!
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