by Joseph Molloy December 13, 2022 4 min read
Cold brew coffee is a super simple and easy way of making coffee in the warmer months at home. You can do it without spending much on equipment and set it up, so it brews overnight. Some people struggle with cold coffee, but after a hot summer’s night, there is nothing better than waking up knowing you have a cold brew in the fridge.
Cold brew is exactly what it says. You brew the coffee with cold water.
When we usually brew coffee, we use hot water and the heat extracts many of the flavours, acids and other compounds that make coffee amazing.
Brewing with cold water is different. Without the heat, you can’t get the fruitiness and acidity of great filter coffee but develop more chocolate flavours and a bigger body.
Are cold brew and cold drip coffee the same?
Not at all. They are quite different methods. Both use cold water, but cold drip uses a tall, glass tower that you often see in cafes. The coffee drips out at a set rate and this results in a strong coffee concentrate that many people love.
By using cold water with coarsely ground coffee over a long brew time (like overnight), you can produce a rich, chocolate coffee with low acidity.
When we use the term iced coffee, we mean a coffee that was brewed hot (like iced filter or iced espresso) and then served over ice, In our roastery espresso bar, we brew hot filter coffee in the Moccamaster, pour it into bottles and then serve over ice the next day.
We also serve iced long blacks and iced lattes that use hot espresso coffee poured over ice and then topped up with cold water, dairy, oat or almond milk. (If you want to learn more about alternative milks and coffee, read our explainer here)
Cold brew can have a high caffeine content as the coffee spends so long in contact with the water and caffeine is quite water-soluble. For some people, that is a benefit. If you are trying to minimize caffeine, then try brewing with decaf. Our own sugar cane decaf holds up well and is a strong option.
This is where it gets interesting. If you like to drink your cold brew black, maybe over ice, then a filter roast is the best coffee to start with. We like washed processed coffees as they are clean and sweet and don’t have any of the funkiness that can develop in natural processed coffee.
If you add milk (dairy, oat and almond milk work well) then an espresso blend is worth trying. Our Haymaker blend is a fantastic all-rounder if you are making cold brew for both black and white.
A brew ratio is the amount of coffee to the amount of water you use. For cold brew concentrate, we like a 1:5 ratio. A good place to start is 100g of ground coffee to 500ml of cold filtered water. This produces a strong, almost boozy concentrate that you then dilute with milk or serve over ice with added cold filter water.
For straight up, ready-to-drink cold brew, a good ratio is 1:15. This brews a cleaner, sharper coffee that you can drink undiluted or over ice.
Anywhere from 10 to 24 hours can be used in different recipes. We like from 10 to 12 hours as it’s easier to manage and doesn’t result in an over brewed coffee.
Brewing a delicious cup of cold brew coffee is simple, but it requires a bit of time and patience. (If you have a coffee shop or are brewing cold brew constantly, then we recommend the Toddy Cold Brew System. It’s a commercial cold brew coffee maker and has everything you need to brew a big batch)
To get started, you will need a few basic items:
Coarsely ground coffee beans (about 100g)
Filtered water (about 500 to 1500ml)
A large jar, jug or container (a French press/plunger can work well)
Cheesecloth or a coffee filter
Once you have gathered your brewing equipment, you can start the brewing process.
Begin by coarsely grinding your coffee beans. You want the grind to be slightly coarser than you would use for regular hot coffee, as the grounds will steep in cold water for a longer period. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, then pre-ground will work fine.
Place the coffee grounds in your jar or jug and add the filtered water. Stir the mixture well to make sure all the grounds are fully saturated with water.
Cover the jar or pitcher with a lid or plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. A good way to do this is to make it in the early evening and leave overnight. Then it’s ready when you get up the next day.
After the steeping period is complete, it’s time to strain the coffee. To do this, line a strainer with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, and place it over a large bowl. Slowly pour the coffee mixture through the strainer, allowing it to drip through into the bowl.
Once all the coffee has been strained, you can transfer it to a jug or jar and store it in the fridge. Ideally, use a container with a lid on it.
Cold brew coffee can be enjoyed over ice or mixed with milk, and it can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Make sure all your equipment is super clean, as that helps it last longer.
Brewing cold brew coffee takes time but little effort and the result is a delicious and refreshing cup of coffee that is perfect for a hot summer day. Try it and experiment with fresh coffees and different brew times. The end result is up to you.
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