How To Make Cold Brew Coffee
If you crave a good iced coffee in the summer, but loathe the way so many end up tasting watery or overly bitter, then there’s only one solution: cold brew coffee. This method guarantees a smooth and icy cup, every time.
Making cold brew coffee is no great secret, nor does it require the ninja-level skills of a trained barista in order to master. You don’t even need much special equipment beyond a cold brew jug to brew the coffee in!
Cold drip of cold brew?
When people talk about 'cold drip' they are talking about those fancy glass towers that look like they're from a drug lab, like the image below. These devices look cool but I'm not a massive fan..Purely for the fact that cold drip coffee doesn't taste great, the finished product is often under-extracted, watery and just generally…flavourless.
Cold Brew on the other hand, typically refers to devices where the coffee grounds are fully immersed in cold water. Cold brew is easy to make, cheap and really really tasty when made well!
Equipment Needed To Make Cold Brew
You’ll need a burr grinder that can produce a coarser grind size than a standard espresso grinder. It will help if you own a good retail grinder like the Ditting KR805 or a Mahlkonig EK43, BUT it is not essential and I don't want you thinking great cold brew can only be made with these pricey grinders.
You can use a manual burr grinder and just make sure the grind is coarse or you can use something in the middle like the Baratza Forte or the Breville Smart Grinder Pro both are a good choices – they’re relatively affordable, they don’t take up much space and can be used for grinding espresso, aeropress & any other brew methods you use.
If a grinder is out of the question, then you can use ground coffee – just ask to get it ground on the coarse side of a filter grind.
For a simplicity we recommend using a cold brew jug like our one. It makes the process ablot cleaner than if you are trying to do it DIY style like in a mason jar.
Don't get me wrong it can be done in your home devices, however it will take longer, be less fun and a whole lot messier...
Yes, water quality makes a massive difference. If you can use the water that has been filtered for your espresso machine, that’s a better place to start.
Suffice to say, water straight out of the tap is unlikely to give great results. However if you're just getting started try it out! I don't want making cold brew to be scientific process, I want to make it as simple as possible for you.
A typical espresso blend can work ok if you’re planning to add milk to the finished product. However, something roasted lighter, like a filter roast or a light espresso roast, is usually better for serving straight up.
In terms of origins – for me, the heavy body & fruity flavours of natural or honey-processed coffees tend to work better with cold coffee brewing. For example, the deep fruity sweetness of an Ethiopian natural or the heavy chocolate flavours of a Brazil Pulped-Natural are right on the money in a cold brew.
I have complied a list of our top coffee blends for pour over coffee & cold brew here, if you wanna check it out.
Cold Brew Ratios:
If you’re not familiar with a ‘brew ratio’, here’s a quick run down.
A brew ratio is a way to compare the weight of the amount of ground coffee, to the amount of water you use to brew the coffee. We use ratios so you can easily adjust the exact amount of coffee & water you use to match the size of the brewer you’re using.
For example, a ratio of 1:15 is 1 part ground coffee to 15 parts water. So, if you use 50g of coffee, you multiply that number by 15 to get 750g water (or 750ml, if you prefer to measure it that way).
The right ratio is subjective and depends on how you like your coffee & what kind of flavours you prefer.
There are two main ratios for brewing cold brew, they are 1:5 brew ratio & 1:15 brew ratio.
1:5 brew ratio:
That is 1 part coffee to 5 parts water. This kind of brew style will give a more concentrated cold brew (stronger) which makes the style more versatile, meaning more you can dilute the coffee with milk or honey and still have a nice tasting coffee. You can also use this coffee for cocktails and cooking!
1:15 brew ratio:
That is 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. This is more of a ready-to-drink product straight out of the brewer & works great if you’re only planning to serve it black, or with small amounts of milk. If you’re used to drinking heavy, espresso-based coffees, you might find the body (mouthfeel) too light for your tastes using this recipe.
STEPS FOR MAKING COLD BREW COFFEE
Here’s how it works: 1:5 ratio
1. Grind 200 grams of coffee coarsely, which you can do yourself at home or wherever you buy the beans.
2. Pour the ground coffee into the cold brew filter basket.
3. Pour 1 Litre of water into the cold brew jug over the coffee grounds
4. Let it steep overnight, or for around 12 hours.
During this time, the coffee slowly infuses into the water, creating a strong, concentrated brew. Strain the next morning, and you’re ready to go.
WHY SHOULD YOU COLD BREW YOUR COFFEE?
This coffee-making method has a few things going for it:
- The slow infusion pulls all the great coffee flavor from the beans (and, yes, the caffeine – not to worry!).
- But it also leaves behind most of the compounds that can make coffee taste bitter and sour.
- This means that cold brewed coffee is incredibly smooth and almost sweet-tasting. Perfect for iced coffee.
You can also adjust the concentration of your cold brew coffee, making it stronger or less strong to suit your taste. Start with one cup of beans steeped in four cups of water. This will make a fairly concentrated coffee on its own, but it’s perfect for pouring over ice or mixing with milk – or both. If that ratio of beans to water isn’t quite to your taste, adjust it up or down until you hit the perfect balance for you.
I also really love that this method for making coffee actually saves me time in the morning. I make a big batch over the weekend, starting it on Saturday or Sunday night and straining it the next morning, and then stash it in the fridge for an easy coffee fix all week long.
HOW TO SERVE COLD BREWED COFFEE
Cold brewed coffee can be served iced or piping hot, dealer’s choice. You follow the same method for making the coffee either way, and then either serve it over ice or warm it up in the microwave for a hot cup. When warming it for hot coffee, I often add a splash of water to dilute the coffee before warming. But this, again, is a matter of personal taste.
Too strong for your taste? Iced coffee does make a particularly strong cuppa joe! If you’re serving it iced, the ice is meant to melt and dilute the coffee a little. If it’s still a bit too much for you, just dilute your glass with some water or milk to taste.
Ready to give cold brew coffee a try? Below is everything you need to know to make your own batch at home.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Make sure your beans are coarsely ground: Beans that are ground to a sandy powder, like for drip coffee, can result in an over-infused coffee and make the strained coffee gritty and muddy. Your beans should look like coarse cornmeal, or even slightly rougher.
- Use filtered water, if possible: This is just good coffee advice in general, really. Your cup of coffee will have a cleaner, sweeter flavor if you use filtered water to make it.
- Steep for at least 12 hours: It’s fine to cut this time a little short, but don’t get too stingy. The coffee needs this full time to fully infuse the water. Straining too early can give you a weaker cup of coffee. Also be careful of over-steeping, which can start to extract some of those bitter flavors we’re hoping to avoid. I’d say not to steep for more than 15 hours or so.
- Chill your cold brew with coffee ice cubes: Want a totally undiluted coffee experience? Make coffee ice cubes to chill your iced coffee!
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