All summer I’ve been hearing people raving about cold brew coffee. Apparently its become quite the thing and I have to admit, it has a certain appeal to me. Since I mostly drink iced coffee in the summer and prepare it the night ahead anyway so that it can chill overnight the idea of having to start prepping cold brew doesn’t bother me. Its supposed to be less bitter than normal coffee and less acidic- both of which appeal to me. What has kept me from giving it a try is that it always seems so…complicated. A quick Google search brings up everything from the Toddy Cold Brew System (which is apparently quite wonderful) to mad scientist looking equipment like this:
And then there are the blog posts with recipes and instructions and ratios galore. I know how to make a pot of normal, hot coffee. Why make it anymore complicated? But over the weekend a friend shared his cold brew iced coffee with me and promised me that it was actually perfectly easy and didn’t require a bit of special equipment. So I decided to give it a try.
Guess what? It’s super easy.
Cold Brew Coffee Instructions
- Grind some coffee beans using a coarse grind (like you’d use in a French Press). All the blogs say that this is important but for my first batch I didn’t want to use the wonderful, local, artisan roasted, organic, fair trade coffee beans we had on hand so I pulled out a bag of pre-ground coffee I’d picked up at the grocery store. Its normal ground, not coarse, but guess what? I didn’t notice a problem. Next time I’ll grind my beans perfectly and we will see if its all sorts of better.
- Put your coffee in a jar. Add some water. Shake it together, put a lid on and put in the fridge. The amounts don’t have to be exact but I used 1/2 cup grounds to 2 cups water. I used a mason jar with measurements on the side so I measured right in my jar.
- Put it in the fridge and ignore for 12-24 hours.*
- Strain your coffee soup to remove the grounds**. I put a clean coffee filter in the coffee maker and poured the liquid directly into the basket and let it drain into the coffee pot. Just like making coffee the old fashioned way except I never pushed the “on” button.
- Once strained, pour it into a bottle to store in the fridge. To drink, pour your concentrate over ice and add milk and sugar. Its more concentrated than normal coffee so you may want to water it down a bit. Or just add some extra milk.
Remember my blog post about making iced coffee and how I talked about my coffee ice cubes, simple syrup and chocolate syrup? I use the cold brew coffee concentrate in the same “recipe” and its great.
Is this easy to do? Absolutely.
As easy as making a normal pot of coffee and then putting it in the fridge? Almost. The only difference is that I have to rinse out the jar that had all the coffee grounds on it rather than just dumping a coffee filter full of grounds into the compost bin. I hate it when I’m rinsing coffee grounds out of something and they get all over everything in the sink. It really makes my sink full of dirty pots and last weekend’s dinner plates look bad.
Does is taste any different? I think so. Mostly, I like that its more concentrated so I get more coffee flavor in my iced coffee without it tasting watered down.
Is it less bitter or acidic? I am not sure. I drink so much milk and sugar in my coffee its hard to tell. I wouldn’t taste the bitterness or acidity even if it was there. Maybe I’ll try it without all my coffee fixins’ as an experiment. It’s possible that if it is smoother I could do away with a bit of the sugar.
Questions I Still Have
What happens if I let the coffee grounds and water sit for longer? Do I get more concentrated flavors? Does it get nasty? Or does it just stay the same and all I’ve done is wasted time?
How long can the concentrate stay in the fridge after it is strained?
Does this brewing style affect the caffeine amount?
Is there a minimum amount of water: coffee necessary to get all the goodness out of the coffee? If I use less water will I get more concentrated coffee or will I just waste some of the coffee’s potential?
*I’ve heard you can let it sit out on the counter instead of in the fridge. I may try this sometime, but the benefit of putting it in the fridge is that its already cold so once you strain it you can drink it immediately.
**Lots of people use cheesecloth but as a cheese maker I get really tired of washing cheese cloth. Plus then I’d need designated coffee-cheese cloth and cheese-cheese cloth cause its would be weird if I mixed them up and got some weird cross contamination of flavors.