Coffee culture has become more and more like wine culture as it has started to put more emphasis on origin, process, and flavor. However, no matter what the reason for it increase in popularity, cold brew coffee has been in style for quite some time. And given that your local coffee shop might charge you as much as $4 to $5 for a cup of cold brew, you should probably learn how to make cold brew coffee at home.
Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee – What Is the Difference?
First thing’s first. What’s the difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee, and why should you invest any time in learning how to make cold brew coffee at home? At the most basic level, iced coffee is coffee that was brewed hot and poured over ice. Making iced coffee takes about as long as it takes you to make hot coffee. Just add a few seconds to pour the coffee over a cup of ice.
Cold brew, on the other hand, is never heated. This difference in the process leads to a big difference in flavor and intensity. The process of brewing hot coffee involves infusing the beans in very hot water. And since the coffee will then need to be diluted in ice, you need to brew a really strong cup in order to counteract the dilution. Rapidly brewing with hot water often leads to a bitter-tasting cup.
In contrast, when you make cold brew coffee, you steep the coffee beans in cold water, extracting the flavor slowly over several hours. The result is a less-bitter, less-diluted, and naturally-sweeter beverage. It’s worth waiting for, and learning how to make.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home
- Gather the necessary materials and ingredients. The good news is you probably don’t need to buy anything. You’ll need cold water, ice, medium-roast coffee beans, a stirrer or spoon, a jar, a bowl, a sieve, and a muslin cloth or roll of paper towels. If you have a coffee grinder at home, use the coarsest setting to grind the beans. If you don’t have a grinder, make sure to buy coffee beans that have been ground specifically for cold brewing or the coarsest beans you can find at the store. Coarser beans will make the process of straining the coffee a lot easier. If you use beans that have been too finely ground, you will have a hard time straining the coffee after brewing.
- Place the ground coffee in a jar, and pour cold water on it. Make sure to maintain a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water.
- Gently stir the coffee and the water until well-mixed.
- Leave the coffee to brew in the fridge overnight, or at least 12 hours. Some recipes allow for out-of-the-fridge brewing, but brewing in the fridge will produce colder coffee, meaning it will be less diluted when you pour it over ice. You could, of course, brew the coffee outside the fridge, and then stick it in the fridge later to cool it before drinking.
- After brewing, strain into a bowl using a sieve. Discard any remaining beans. Then strain the coffee back into the original jar using a paper towel or muslin cloth to catch any remaining beans. Repeat several times as necessary to make sure you get rid of all the bean residue.
- Pour over ice and enjoy! If you brewed the coffee outside the fridge, you might want to stick it in the fridge for a little while to cool it down and avoid dilution when you pour it over the ice. You should also experiment with a few recipes to jazz up the drink. If you like sugar in your coffee, try using simple syrup because it will absorb better in a cold drink than granulated sugar. Regular dairy milk always works. But if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer milk alternatives, almond milk and coconut milk can make tasty additions to cold-brewed coffee.
That’s it! Once you’ve learned how to make cold brew coffee at home, you’ll never have to shell out another $5 for a cup at the coffee shop. The process takes a while, but it makes for a much tastier cup than simply brewing hot coffee and pouring it over ice. And if you’re a real coffee aficionado, you might even want to pour the cold brew coffee over boiling water for a hot cup.