Cold brew isn’t just something you wait in line at the coffee shop for. Did you know you can make incredibly smooth, flavourful and rich cold brew coffee at home? It’s one of the easiest brewing methods, and yet surprisingly few people have tried making their own cold brew. Cold brew is coffee that’s been immersed in cold water for 18-24 hours, with a distinctly smooth profile. The coarse grind of the coffee and the colder temperatures extract the flavours at a slow rate.
Before we get to the how-to on cold brew, here are some answers to common questions.
What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?
It’s important to get clear on the difference between cold brew and other forms of iced coffee. Both terms are used interchangeably, but there’s a big difference between brewing methods and final flavour. With iced coffee in general, the coffee is initially brewed hot. An iced americano is a highly concentrated espresso poured over ice and water. Iced drip coffee is simply hot brewed coffee left to cool completely in the fridge. Both methods are relatively quick.
Cold brew is different in that the coffee is never brewed hot. It’s brewed in cold water for a minimum of 16 hours, resulting in a completely different flavour. You end up with a coffee that’s velvety and rich with very little bitterness, and very unlike any iced coffee you’ve ever tried. It’s worth the wait!
Why is cold brew less acidic?
Cold brew is a somewhat newer trend in coffee, so there isn’t a crystal-clear scientific explanation for why cold brew tastes smoother than hot brewed coffee. There are some theories, however. One theory is that coffee contains several soluble compounds, both pleasant and unpleasant, which are released in hot brewing. Those same unpleasant compounds may not be released in cold brew. The result is a silky smooth, yet rich, brew.
What kind of coffee should I use?
Technically, you can use any coffee you like for cold brew, from light to dark, from fruity to chocolatey. However, if you want to maximize the velvety-factor, we have a few suggestions. Try our El Ausol for a smooth medium roast with chocolate notes and sugarcane sweetness. La Sonrisa is another medium roast, but with notes of caramel and toasted nuts. The beans are half washed, half honey processed, resulting in a sweet profile with a clean aftertaste. For something darker, the Firebat Espresso is bold with notes of caramel and chocolate, and very little acidity.
What ratio of water-to-coffee is best?
The water-to-coffee ratio for cold brew is stronger than typical coffee methods like pour over and drip. It also depends on how you want to drink your cold brew. If you go for a standard ratio, like 1:10 (1 part coffee, 10 parts water), you’ll get a cold brew that you can drink right from the carafe. It will be smooth and delicious, and the perfect strength. If you go for a stronger ratio of 1:5, you’ll end up with a cold brew concentrate, and this opens a few more doors. You’ll get a much stronger coffee that you can dilute with whatever you want. For an iced latte, dilute the concentrate with milk or a plant-based alternative. You can even cut it with sparkling water or tonic, or use it for cocktails. The possibilities are endless.
How long will this take?
Cold brew is a bit of a timing game–it doesn’t require a lot of work, except for grinding, mixing, and straining. But you want to make sure to allow enough time for optimal extraction, and to decant it before it becomes bitter. For cold brewing in the fridge, refrigerate it for at least 16 hours, preferably 18-24hrs. An extra hour in the fridge won’t do any harm.
Let’s say you want your cold brew to be ready the next morning. Make sure you start brewing at 2 p.m. the day before. At 8 am the next morning (and 18 hours later), your cold brew will be ready to decant.
Does cold brew have more caffeine?
While there are some claims that cold brew is incredibly caffeinated, this keeps some people away for fear that they will become jittery. The truth is, cold brew has about the same amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. Even though the steeping time is much longer, the coarse grind size and the cold temperature greatly slow down the solubility of caffeine. So there’s no need to worry about your inner George Costanza making an appearance.
Let’s make cold brew coffee!
Now that you’ve considered all the factors that go into making this tasty beverage, it’s time to make some cold brew! We offer two methods: the first method uses the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brewer for an extremely convenient, mess-free brew. The second method uses a French press or a Mason jar for those who want to use what they have at home.
Method 1: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brewer
- Measure out a litre of cold tap water. If you can, use filtered water, though regular tap water will work too. Measure out 100 grams of Firebat coffee. Grind your beans coarsely, on the French press setting, or slightly coarser.
- Pour your grinds into the filter. Start pouring your cold water directly over the grinds. Pour the water through the grinds, allowing time between each pour, until your litre of water is added. Avoid pouring the cold water into the carafe first, as this will make the grinds float, and it will be harder to work with.
- Secure the lid on the brewer, and place it in the fridge. You’ll want to let it sit for 18-24 hours.
- After brewing is complete, remove the filter, and tap the spent grinds into your compost bin. Clean the filter with soap and water, or run it through the dishwasher (the brew kit is dishwasher-safe).
- Pour your cold brew into a glass over ice, and enjoy black, with milk, or with a plant-based alternative. The cold brew can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days.
Method 2: French press or Mason jar immersion
Check out our French press method for cold brew to make a versatile cold brew concentrate. If you don’t have a French press, just use a Mason jar (or any 1 litre glass container) and strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.
Now all you need is a warm breeze, a hammock, and a good book. Enjoy this easy, delicious coffee recipe all summer long.
Interested in learning more? Check out our Kyoto-style coffee article to learn about the origins of cold brew.
Undiluted cold brew will last for up to 2 weeks refrigerated; diluted cold brew will last 2 to 3 days refrigerated.