It would be very hard for me to decide which is my favorite coffee brew method, it normally depends on my mood at the moment. But without a doubt one of the methods that is on my top list is cold brew. The flavor that comes out is simply unique, probably one of the most differentiated flavors if you compare between different methods.
Some people get confused between cold brew coffee and iced coffee, it is not the same thing, iced coffee is actually any coffee after you pour ice in it, whether it was extracted with a french press, an espresso machine or any other method, (including cold brew coffee of course). On the other hand, cold brew coffee means that the coffee was extracted using cold water instead of hot water, which as you can imagine is a much slower brew than you could expect otherwise. But in the end you can drink cold brew coffee either hot or cold.
On this post I am going to talk more in depth about cold brew coffee, what I like about it and of course, how to make the best cold brew coffee at home, if you are curious about other methods go here to read a post where I describe most of them.
Why Cold Brew Coffee?
One of the main things that make cold brew coffee unique is that when you brew in cold water the acid components don’t get extracted. So what you are left with is a super sweet and soft coffee, but still full of flavor. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about acid components, in fact they are a huge part of what makes coffee so complex and delicious. So I don’t say this as a mere positive attribute, but as a distinctive attribute.
As I always say, it all comes down to preference, or in my case it comes down to mood, I sometimes just am in the mood for cold brew, it is just a different experience than most other extraction methods.
The actual good thing about having low acidity is that it s softer to your stomach, so for people who like coffee but have acidity problems, this can be a good option. In my case if I have an empty stomach when I drink my first cup, I prefer cold brew, it’s just, well… softer.
But Let’s go on about how to make cold brew coffee, and at the en I will talk about the pros and cons of it.
How to make cold brew
Even though there are several types of cold brewers here I am going to write about how it is made, because it is basically the same principle.
First the grind you need for cold brew is a very coarse grind, coarser than with a french press, so go ahead and put your grinder on the coarsest setting, if you don’t have a grinder I highly recommend you read my article about why to have a coffee grinder.
The idea is pretty simple, you mix the ground coffee with cold water and let it sit in the fridge for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours, I usually go for 48. As of the amount of coffee vs water, I suggest to start with 1/4 as much coffee as there is water, for example 250gr of coffee for 1 Lt of water. This is what I usually use.
And then you have to separate the coffee from the water, and this is where the different types of equipment come in place, they differ on how they do this, but in principle they all do. I usually do it at home with a mason jar and then separate it by pouring it in another container and making it pass through a cheese cloth or a very fine mesh screen. But there is great equipment out there, I will soon write a post making a few recommendations of cold brewers.
What you are left with is a highly concentrated coffee that you can then dilute with water. I usually do 1/3 cup with concentrate and the rest with boiling water. Plus this concentrate can be kept in the fridge and it will remain fresh for two weeks.
The quantities I mentioned can vary without problem this is also a very noble method in which there is little risk of over brewing or under brewing. Since the process is so slow, it is more likely that you will hit the right spot anyway.
What I like about cold brew coffee
There are several reasons why I like cold brew coffee, some of them I already mentioned and there are a few more.
First it’s the fact that I get a different and also delicious flavor out of it, as I said it doesn’t have the acidity and what is left is a sweeter and softer flavor. I really enjoy that. Of course, it depends on my mood and preference at the time.
Second I like how fast it is to get my cup done, once I have my concentrate in the refrigerator. I just pour it in a cup, add hot water and it is ready.
I also like the fact that what I have is a concentrate so I have full control and decision about how strong I want my coffee to be, if I am looking for a serious caffeine boost I add little water and if I am in the mood for softer coffee I add more water. This is actually convenient, because with other methods it can get a little tricky to change the strength while avoiding an under brewed or an over brewed coffee.
Last of all, despite what I said at the beginning, cold brew coffee makes a heck of an iced coffee. It is also great for mixing with milk, which I don’t do very often, I like black coffee, but whenever I want to add milk my favorite option is doing it with cold brew coffee. Milk really mixes well with the sweetness of it. And of course as you might suspect it also makes a good milk iced coffee.
One of the most obvious cons about cold brew coffee is the fact that it takes so long to brew, if you don’t have your concentrate prepared you won’t drink coffee unless you brew it another way.
Another thing I don’t like much about it is that I will never get a truly hot cup. Since the concentrate is in the fridge, I mix cold coffee with hot water, which makes a decently hot cup with the ratio I normally use, (1 part of coffee for two parts of water), but still not boiling hot.
It is also not a very good Idea to heat up the concentrate because you can burn some components and alter the flavor. I sometimes actually cheat on this one, I warm it up a little in the microwave, JUST A LITTLE, so it stops being cold, it can get a bit warm but never actually hot. I do this specially when I am going to use a bigger ratio than my usual.
Last of all, and this depends on taste and preferences, many coffee experts will say that cold brew is not such a good way to brew coffee, because it lacks the acidic components. And this is true, because it is those components that actually round up the flavor and give every different type of coffee it’s own characteristics.
It’s all a question of taste
I hope you don’t get me wrong I am not saying that cold brew is better than other methods, I myself enjoy every flavor that coffee has to offer, and love to taste the true differences between different coffee beans. I see cold brew coffee as a very nice alternative when I want something different, which is as enjoyable as coffee brewed in any other method.
Go ahead, give it a try and let me know what you think, if you have any questions please let me know!! I’ll be happy to answer.