Coffee Break: Cold Brew
Updated: Mar 17
There is no denying that for many of us, coffee is life. In fact, some of us consider it an “approach at your own risk” type scenario to try to come at us before we've had our morning brew. While few things can beat a steaming cup of coffee, sometimes it's just too hot for something warm! It's much more refreshing to sip on something cold. That's when it's cold brew to the rescue.
It's important to note that cold brew is different from iced coffee. Yes, both are chilled and delicious, but cold brew requires a whole other preparation method. It also tends to taste fresher, smoother, and be less acidic than iced coffee. Got questions? Well, we've got the answers. Read on and let us tell you all about the joys of cold brew, and how to make it at home.
What Is Cold Brew?
It would seem like the name alone would dispel a lot of the mystery as to what exactly cold brew is. But, there's a bit of a trick here. It's all about the preparation. With iced coffee, all you do is brew your coffee as normal and then cool it down and pour over ice. Cold brew however, requires you to steep your beans.
Coarsely ground beans are left to steep in cool for no less than six hours, though twelve hours is more ideal. The longer the beans sit, the stronger the flavor. While the beans are chilling in their cold bath, all those lovely sugars, caffeine, and oils are slowly being extracted. This creates a coffee concentrate that is incredibly smooth, and far less acidic than coffee brewed with hot water.
Will It Still Wake You Up Or Give You That Much Needed Energy Boost?
You may be curious as to where cold brew comes in on the caffeine scale. Especially with it requiring all that time spent in water. Not to worry, there is still plenty of caffeine in cold brew. Just how much caffeine there is, depends on your own preferences. Factors like blend, roast level, grind size, and the variety of bean itself all play important roles in caffeine level in general. A hot water coffee preparation does tend to extract more caffeine. However, cup to cup comparisons of hot coffee versus cold brew doesn't show an alarming slip in the pick-me-up department. Cold brew may have slightly less caffeine, but you're not going to be falling asleep at your desk in an hour if you switch it out for the hot stuff.
How Long Does It Stay Fresh?
Cold brew can stay completely fresh, and at peak flavor, for anywhere between 24-48 hours.
Additionally, it will still stay good for up to two weeks if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. This is typically a much bigger window than iced coffee. Iced coffee rather notoriously starts to turn “stale” tasting rather quickly. With cold brew, you'll be able to enjoy a nice smooth finish, free of that bitter taste, for much longer.
Is It Easy to Make?
While you can certainly go the route of nifty cold brew gadgets, you really don't have to. It's totally easy to make at home. All you really need are some jars or bottles, a coffee grinder, and some cheesecloth or an ultra-fine sieve for straining.
The How To:
So, we've totally got your curiosity piqued when it comes to cold brew. Now, all you need is the how to. Once you've selected the type of bean you'd like to use, you'll want to get your cold brew on.
Step 1: Grind
You can use a spice grinder, a coffee grinder, or have the beans ground for you at the store. No matter what approach you take, you'll want to make sure the coarsest setting on the grinder is being used. If your grounds are too fine, you'll end up with cloudy cold brew. You're going to want breadcrumb sized grounds, not a powder. Pulsing works best.
Step 2: Add The Water
Next, transfer your grounds to a large jar or container that you want to make your cold brew concentrate it. Then, it's time to add the cool water. You can go room temperature with your water, or full on cold. You'll want to use a 1part coffee to 8 parts water ratio. So, for 4 ounces off coffee, add 32 ounces of water, etc. If you prefer your measurements in grams, you'll want 80-90 grams of coffee for ever liter (or 1000 grams) of water. Give it a good stir. Seal it up, and pop it in the fridge.
Step 3: Wait
Obviously, this is the hardest part. Let those delicious beans steep for anywhere from 6-12 hours. The longer they sit, the deeper the flavor. You can even steep your beans for up to 24 hours.
Step 4: Strain
Once you've completed the waiting game, it's time to strain out those grounds. You can do this using either a fine mesh wire sieve, or a bit of cheesecloth. Once you've strained it the first time, if you notice some grounds still remain, you can strain it again through a coffee filter.
Step 5: Serve
Fill up a glass with some ice and add your desired amount of cold brew. You can drink it black for a super concentrated kick.
Sippy is all about pure coffee, without any additives that might impact or mask the coffee's natural flavor profiles. But, we won't judge you if you add cream and/or sugar. You can even put some of your cold brew into ice cube trays and freezing them to use in place of regular ice cubes, if you feel the latter waters down your coffee too much. Add sauces, syrups, sugars, and whipped cream as desired. Oh, and just in case you do want a cup of hot coffee, you can totally heat cold brew up. Any way you go about it, you're about to be in cold brew heaven.