It’s the middle of July, and here in Edmonton we’re starting to hit the REALLY hot, humid days of summer. A hot coffee just doesn’t seem as appealing when you’re sweating in the heat. Try cold brew instead! It’s the perfect summer drink for coffee lovers; not only is it super refreshing on a sweltering day, but the slow extraction of the cold brewing process results in a rich, smooth flavor.
What Is Cold Brew?
Cold brew is similar to iced coffee, yet brewed differently. While conventional iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then pouring it over ice, cold brew is made by slowly steeping the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for several hours.
Cold brewing reduces the acidity of coffee, in turn enhancing the natural flavour notes of the beans. The lower acidity is great for those with sensitive stomachs or who prefer a smoother brew. Many who typically add cream and sugar to hot coffee are happy to drink their cold brew straight. Plus, regular coffee usually tastes stale after a day, while cold brew coffee stays fresh for up to a week when refrigerated.
Caffeine levels are generally a bit higher in cold brew than regular coffee, due to the longer steeping time, however cold brew can be just as tasty with decaffeinated beans.
How To Make Cold Brew
You don’t need any fancy gear or instruments to make your own cold brew; chances are you already have everything you need at home. Though, the better quality your coffee beans are to start, the tastier your drink will be. A simple container, a coarse ground coffee and a way to filter out the beans are all you need, though if you have it, a French Press can make the whole process even simpler.
Cold brew is just coffee beans and water, right? Simple. At least in theory.
In reality, every new search for a cold brew recipe will give you a different ratio of ground coffee beans to water, everything from 1:3 parts ground coffee to water (i.e. 1 cup coffee and 3 cups water), all the way to 1:16 parts coffee to water.
At our cafes, we typically use a 1:5 ratio to make a Cold Brew concentrate (1 cup whole beans to 5 cups of water). Then when we’re ready to serve it, we mix 1 part cold brew concentrate to 2 parts water.
Starting with a concentrate gives us the flexibility to easily switch up drink recipes; if you’re going to make iced lattes with your cold brew, it’s good to start with a stronger concentration so the milk won’t dilute the coffee too much.
Try different ratios and see which works best for you.
Cold Brew ‘Gear’
- – Coffee grinder (optional)
- – Cold or room temperature water
- – A large jar or container for soaking the coffee grounds. You may also want a second container to store the cold brew.
- – A strainer: You can use a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter. A French Press is perfect if you have it.
1. Grind your beans on the coarsest setting. If you’re a Doorstep Barista subscriber and happen to be in the Edmonton area, we’re happy to grind your cold brew beans for you at either of our Square One cafes.
2. Combine your water and ground coffee in a large, covered jar or French Press. You can use a long handled spoon to press the beans down into the water to ensure they’re completely saturated.
3. Cover the container and let it steep in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours (or up to 24 hours if you prefer a stronger brew). If you’re using a French Press, mix the coffee and water in the chamber and then, without pressing the plunger down, place the French Press in the refrigerator to steep.
Blooming the coffee: Some people like to steep the grounds in a cup of hot water for up to 10 minutes before topping the beans off with cold water, a process called ‘blooming’. It’s thought by some that this gives the coffee a more developed flavour. Try both ways and decide which you prefer!
4. Strain the beans. With its built-in filter, a French Press makes cold brewing super simple. When you’re done steeping, slowly press the plunger down. You can drink as is, or pour the brew through a second, finer coffee filter to remove any leftover sediment.
If you’re doing the jar method, simply strain the coffee through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. You can also pour the mixture through a coffee filter, cheesecloth or even a clean dish towel if you find yourself stuck without a sieve. Discard the used coffee grounds.
5. Store your freshly made cold brew in a sealed, air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.
How To Drink Cold Brew
Cold brew is delicious, no matter how you drink it. Serve the coffee plain or over ice. It’s delicious black, or add a dash of milk or cream. If you prefer your coffee a bit sweeter, honey, maple syrup or a simple syrup will mix into your cold coffee easier than granulated sugar.
And if you make a concentrate, it’s really nice to mix with club soda. You can also add gin or other bitters to cold brew to make a great, fun cocktail!
We hope we’ve inspired you to give cold brew a try! You don’t need to be a professional barista to enjoy cafe-quality cold brew at home and it makes the summer heat a lot more bearable. Make a fresh batch before you go to bed and wake up to delicious cold brew for your morning coffee fix.