It’s no secret that coffee can come in many forms – espresso, cappuccino, latte, or frappe are just a few examples. Lately, one of the most popular types of coffee has been cold brew coffee. But what exactly is it? And is it as refreshing as many claim it is? Let’s find out.
What Is Cold Brew?
Cold brew coffee is simply coffee that is made by steeping ground coffee beans in room temperature water for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. Most people don’t steep it for more than 18 hours, but of course, you can keep it as long as you think is suitable. As a result of this whole process, you will be left with a cold brew concentrate that you can then adjust to how you like your coffee.
So, you can see that rather than referring to how it’s served, cold brew coffee refers to the way the coffee is made.
Cold Brew vs Regular Coffee
And what is the difference between a regular coffee and a cold brew concentrate? Well, the main one is their coffee-to-water ratio – normal drip coffee usually has a ratio of 1 part of coffee to 16 or 20 parts of water. Cold brew concentrate, on the other hand, often has a ratio of 1 part coffee to 4 or 8 parts water, which makes it a lot stronger.
As you can deduce, this also means that cold brew concentrate has more caffeine content – you would need to drink a lot more cups of regular coffee to get the same amount of caffeine.
Those who tasted both regular and cold brew coffee claim that cold brew has a smoother flavor when compared to regular coffee and is not as bitter.
How to Make Cold Brew Concentrate
We told you a little bit about how the process looks, but let’s get into more details. To prepare a cold brew concentrate that you will then need to prepare your cold brew coffee, you need just two ingredients – water and ground coffee beans. You will also need somewhere to brew the concentrate in – a pot, a pitcher, or a large mason jar should work just fine.
Tip: If you can, use filtered water instead of unfiltered one, as it can affect the taste of your cold brew coffee.
So here’s how you can make cold brew concentrate:
- Grab the container in which you want to brew your concentrate.
- Prepare the ground coffee and water – we can’t tell you how much of each because it all depends on how you will use your concentrate and how strong you like it.
- Add the coffee to the container, followed by water. Cover it with something (for example, a cloth).
- Let the mixture sit for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours.
- Strain the coffee two times – first through a fine, mesh strainer into a bowl, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then the second time through a cheesecloth – this will ensure that your concentrate doesn’t contain any granules of coffee.
- Refrigerate the concentrate.
How to Store Your Cold Brew Concentrate
Sometimes, you just prepare too much of a cold brew concentrate, and you don’t want it to go to waste – in this case, you can store it. There are two ways of storing cold brew concentrate – one of them will make it last for about a week, up to two weeks, while the other will make it last as much as a few months.
First, you can simply put your concentrate in a fridge – there, it should be good for about a week to ten days. If you notice that your coffee spoils quicker than it should, it might be a sign that your brewing equipment needs to be cleaned.
The second way to preserve your cold brew coffee is to freeze it the same way you would prepare regular ice cubes so that you can have single-serving drinks.
How to Prepare Cold Brew Coffee
Once you have your cold brew concentrate, you can prepare your coffee. How you do it truly depends on how you like your coffee. If you prefer for it to be a little weaker, you can add some water to dilute it, as well as some ice which will water it down even more.
If you prefer sweet drinks, you can add flavorings such as vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or other coffee syrup. You can also add sweetener or sugar, as well as milk or some milk alternative. As we said – it all depends on personal taste.
Cold Brew Coffee – Preparation Tips
Here are some tips that can make your cold brew coffee even tastier:
- Use freshly ground coffee beans if you can. It’s no secret that things are always better when they are fresh, and coffee is no exception. No matter if you’re making hot brewed coffee or cold brew coffee, if you have the option to make it out of freshly ground coffee beans, you should go for it. Why do they taste better? It’s because, during the grounding process, coffee oils are released. Once the beans are ground, the oils become drying out, so the more you wait to use them, the drier they are. That’s precisely why you want to use them as fast as possible.
- Use coarsely ground coffee. When you’re grinding the coffee beans, make sure to ground them coarsely – that way, it will be easier to strain out the pieces.
- Adjust the ratios to your personal preferences. One of the reasons we didn’t provide you with exact measurements when giving you the recipe is that they are a very personal matter. Some people prefer their coffee strong, while others prefer it to be weaker. The beauty of making a cold brew at home is that you can adjust each cup of coffee to your personal taste. Too strong? Add a little bit of milk or water. Bitter flavor? Add coffee syrup or sugar.
Cold Brew Coffee – Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew coffee?
You might be wondering – what is the difference between a cold brew coffee served cold and an iced coffee? The main difference is the way they are made. As we already mentioned, preparing cold brew coffee is not a quick process – quite the contrary.
Iced coffee, on the other hand, is usually a normal drip coffee or an espresso with added ice – so, as you can tell, not the best quality coffee. However, lately, there’s been an increase in something called “Flash brew”, or “Japanese iced coffee.” How do you make it? It’s actually quite simple, and here is how:
- Prepare some ice and put it in the brewing container. Place a filter on your container.
- Ground coffee beans and put them in the filter.
- Put enough hot water to saturate the coffee, but stop before it starts filtering. Let the coffee expand for about a minute.
- Continue pouring water in stages, ensuring that you keep the coffee saturated at all times.
- Once you add all of your water, stir and let the filter drain entirely. Remove the filter, and you’re done!
As you probably noticed, the method is very similar to brewing cold brew coffee, with the major differences being how long it takes to prepare and the fact that you need to use hot water instead of room temp or cold water.
What kind of coffee should I use for my cold brew coffee?
There’s no specific coffee that you should use to prepare cold brew – as long as you like it and it’s within your budget, it should work just fine.
However, if you want to feel like a real barista, then you should lean more towards coffees that have a rather heavy, chocolatey flavor (those mostly originate in Central and South America). On the other hand, you might also want to go for a more fruity flavor, as those tend to flourish in cold brewed coffee.
Is cold brew coffee good for those who have never brewed coffee before?
The short answer is yes, it is actually perfect for them. That’s because brewing cold brew coffee doesn’t require as much precision as some other brewing methods.
Can I make my cold brew coffee in a french press?
Yes, a french press is actually perfect for it because you can filter the grounds with the plunger. One thing we can tell you is when you’re brewing coffee using a french press, you might want to run your cold brew coffee through a paper filter – this way, you can catch any fine grinds and oils that might cause your coffee to have a heavy mouthfeel.
Do I need special equipment for brewing cold brew coffee?
No, you don’t need any special equipment – if you have a carafe or a larger mason jar, then you should be just fine.
Can I buy an already-made cold brew concentrate?
You should be able to, although it depends on the supermarket you’re shopping in, as not all of them carry them. If you need it, look in the refrigerated beverages section – some are stored in bottles, while others are in cans.
Keep in mind that while your own cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks, a store-bought cold brew will have a “best by” date on the container.
Can I heat up my cold brew coffee?
Yes, you absolutely can. The easiest way to do it is in a microwave or a saucepan. If you’re worried about the coffee changing its taste due to being heated up, then we can tell you that you have nothing to worry about. The taste doesn’t change.
On the other hand, if you made the concentrate, then you can simply dilute it with hot water instead of cold water.
The Bottom Line
Whenever you go to a coffee shop, you see a number of different coffee options available – espresso, cappuccino, or latte macchiato are just a few of the more popular ones. However, in the last couple of years, there’s been another type of coffee that’s been gaining many fans – and that is cold brew coffee. Although, as you can see, it takes a bit of time before the coffee is brewed, it is definitely worth it, considering the taste.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better idea of what cold brew coffee is, how it’s made and how you can store it. Next time you have a little bit of time to spare, why don’t you try doing the cold brewing process on your own? Then you’ll be able to see what the fuss is all about. Doesn’t it sound good?
Barry Konkin is the founder of HotShot Coffee Sleeves. With over 30 years experience in commercial offset printing, Barry utilized his diverse printing background and creativity in developing new coffee sleeve designs that were granted Patents in both the USA and Canada. Barry’s goal is to assist businesses with brand promotion through the use of high quality custom printed cup sleeves. With an understanding of your marketing and operational objectives, Barry can recommend the ideal coffee sleeve solution for you.