Most people are too intimidated to make a cold brew at home. For many, cold brew remains the realm of fancy coffee shops and specialty providers who know the ancient arts. The truth is, there’s nothing really special about the cold brew process, and really; it’s probably the simplest way to make coffee. The issue is that it takes significantly longer to brew than your typical cup of coffee, as much as 18 to 24 hours. That means you’ll need to plan out your cold brew if you hope to have it ready for guests or for Monday morning.
Cold brewing coffee is particular in a few ways. For one, you’ll obviously be using cold water, which is essentially what makes the process so much longer. The reaction needed to steep the coffee happens much faster at higher temperatures, but that also has an effect on the final product. When you’re using hot water you’re also subtly cooking the coffee, which can add some of the negative compounds we generally associate with a coffee tasting stale or bitter. Cold brew on the other hand, tends to leave these negative flavors in the coffee grounds, leaving you with a final cup of coffee that will typically be sweeter and more flavorful, while accentuating the natural flavor notes within the coffee beans. While cold brew usually has less caffeine than a hot brew, this is countered by the fact that most people typically use substantially more coffee grounds when preparing a cold brew, making it a favorite of the strong coffee lover.
For cold brews you’ll want to use about 4 servings of coffee to 1 serving of water but some people like to use as much as 8 servings of coffee per serving of water. Experiment a little and figure out what best suits your tastes. You’ll also want to use a coarse grind to make sure you can filter out all the coffee grounds once you’re done steeping. My favorite way to do this is to just buy some empty tea bags and fill those with coffee, then throw those into a large mason jar and leave it in the fridge overnight. But you can just as easily use a French press, a cheesecloth, sieve, or even a disposable coffee filter to filter out the coffee grounds in the morning.
Hot To Make Cold Brew Coffee – Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare the Coffee: For best results pick your favorite fresh coffee beans and make sure to grind them as coarsely as you can.
- Pick a Container: It’s best to pick something with a lid to avoid absorbing any of the flavors within the fridge. I like to use large mason jars but any container will do. At the minimum, you’ll want to cover it with plastic wrap if you don’t have a lid.
- *Optional* Put Your Ground Coffee Into Tea Bags: This will make removing the ground coffee a breeze later on. Empty tea bags can be found easily online or at tea shops.
- Add Coffee: Add the coffee into your container and let it settle at the bottom. Remember you want 4 – 8 parts coffee, to 1 part water.
- Add Water: Pour in your water. Make sure you have enough to fully submerge the coffee grounds.
- Stir It: Gently stir up your mixture until it is well combined.
- Refrigerate: Now that your mixture is ready, cover your container and put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. For best results, aim for 18-24 hours, any less than that and you’re sacrificing some of the flavor.
- Strain It: If you didn’t use tea bags earlier, you’ll now need to strain the coffee grounds out of the final product. There are many ways to do this, the easiest of which is to use a French press. You can also use a sieve, cheese cloth, coffee filter, or anything else that can help you remove those fine particles of coffee. You will want to filter it a few times to make sure you’ve gotten all the coffee grounds out. If you end up with a murky final product, you ground the coffee too finely. Don’t get discouraged, just adjust accordingly next time.
- Serve It Cold: Your cold brew is now ready to be served. This coffee concentrate is very strong, so it is typically cut with either water or milk. For a really nice treat, try cutting it with sweetened condensed milk. Many enjoy serving this over ice as well.
- Serve it Hot: Yup, cold brew can be served hot as well! This preparation actually lends itself well to being mixed with hot water. And because there’s no coffee grounds left in the mixture you won’t risk getting any of the unpleasant flavors in your cup.
- Store it!: Cold brew coffee keeps remarkably well in the fridge. Provided it’s in a sealed container it will remain fresh and taste great for 2 – 4 weeks! Sometimes I like to prepare a big batch and keep it in the fridge to use in my morning coffee. Another great option is to use an ice cube tray to make coffee ice cubes. You can use these the next time your serve a cold brew over ice to make sure it doesn’t become diluted!