How to make Cold Brew Coffee

August 4th, 2015

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How to make

Cold brew coffee is one of those things that people like to tell you they knew about before it was cool.

Geddit? Cool? Forget it…

cold brew coffee source: Dennis Tang on Flickr

I wasn’t one of those people – when I first heard about cold brew coffee a few months ago, its street cred had already been well-established. Now that cold brew has become available from behind the counters of international caffeination conglomerate Starbucks (to less than universal acclaim), and can even be found on tap, cold brew coffee has started to hit the mainstream in a big way.

Whether you’re hearing about cold brew coffee for the first time, or are sick of people talking about it, here’s our quick guide to exactly what cold brew coffee is, and how you can make it at home:

What exactly IS cold brew coffee?

The clue is in the name – cold brew coffee is coffee that’s brewed at a colder temperature than everyday coffee.

cold brew coffee bottlesource: media.digest on flickr

Why exactly would anyone do this when brewing coffee the traditional way (whether that’s boiling up some grounds or blasting them with high-pressure water and steam for espresso) has done us just fine for hundreds of years?

Essentially, it’s to change the coffee’s taste. By exchanging the rapid high-temperature process for something more gradual, you can bring out the subtler flavours of your coffee beans. Cold brew coffee is typically sweeter and more floral tasting than traditional coffee, which means you don’t need to add sugar to mask the bitterness.

Isn’t cold brew coffee basically iced coffee?

Nope! Iced coffee is regular coffee, prepared in the usual way, then served over ice as a refreshing summer pick me up… sometimes with cream added too.

568px-Australian_iced_coffeesource: MusikAnimal on Wikimedia Commons

While cold brew coffee fills a similar need to iced coffee (my first cup of the stuff was on a rather warm day at the tail end of summer, and its refreshment was much appreciated), the cooler and slightly sweeter texture of cold brew coffee can make it a better choice for quenching both your thirst and your caffeine cravings on a hot day, if your tastes run that way.

Plus, the ice in iced coffee tends to slowly dilute the flavour of the coffee used to make it, whereas cold brew coffee is full-flavoured from the get go.

Is cold brew coffee the same as cold drip coffee?

Similar, but not quite.

Cold drip coffee is another very cool (geddit?) coffee brewing technique that involves slowly dripping water through your coffee grounds, allowing each drop to infuse with flavour as it passes through them. Once the water drips out of the grounds, it is collected and consumed.

The whole process is basically the opposite of espresso, which very quickly (hence the name) blasts hot water and steam through coffee grounds to achieve a similar result.

cold drip coffee makers source: Austin Keys on Flickr

The biggest difference between cold drip coffee and cold brew coffee is the equipment used to make it. Cold drip coffee often requires an elaborate setup to manage the process – if your local trendy café has a large glass setup on the counter that looks like something out of a mad scientist’s lab, that could very well be its cold drip coffee supply.

Making cold brew coffee is a much simpler process… as we’re about to find out!

How do I make cold brew coffee? Do I need a coffee machine?

It’s very easy to make cold brew coffee at home, without the need for special equipment.

cold brew coffee with grounds source: media.digest on Flickr

All you need is some ground coffee (store-bought is fine, though you can also run some beans through a grinder if you prefer), some water, a container to hold the lot, and a means of maintaining a stable temperature, such as a fridge.

511px-Preparation_of_cold_brew_coffee_06 source: Sage Ross on Wikimedia Commons

Combine your ground coffee with water in your container. The exact proportions will vary depending on your preferences for the end result – the more grounds, the stronger your coffee’s flavour will be.

According to Five Senses Coffee, a good starting ratio is 80 grams of coffee for every litre of water if you plan to drink it black, or 120 grams per litre to retain a strong flavour if you’ll be adding milk (FYI, 5 grams is approximately one tablespoon).  Adjust this up or down depending on how strong you like your coffee.

800px-Preparation_of_cold_brew_coffee_08source: Sage Ross on Wikimedia Commons

Stick your bottle full of water and coffee in a place with a stable temperature. If the weather is being consistent, you can leave it alone in a shady spot, but if things are more hot and cold than a popular Katy Perry song, you’ll be better off keeping it in the fridge. Leave it there for at least 12 hours – the longer you steep your brew, the more flavour at the end.

Once your coffee has had time to steep, decant it into another container for storage, using a fine strainer to separate it from the grounds.

cold brew coffee aeropress source: Roland Tanglao on flickr

Enjoy on a warm day, telling passers-by at length about your credentials as a coffee aficionado.

Do you have any thoughts on cold brew coffee? Were you a fan before it was cool? Interesting in trying this interesting new thing out? Share your thoughts!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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