Cold brewing coffee is the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for a long time, usually 12 hours or longer. (Starbucks steeps its coffee grounds for 20 hours!) The grounds are strained out and the result is a coffee concentrate. The concentrate can be diluted with milk or water and served hot or cold with ice. It has become increasingly popular to use for iced coffee.
Cold brewed iced coffee vs. hot brewed iced coffee:
Cold brewed iced coffee has never been heated. Fans would say that because it has lower acidity it tastes smoother and sweeter than coffee that has been heated. There are higher levels of caffeine in a cup of cold brewed coffee than a cup of hot brewed coffee.
Hot brewed iced coffee is made as regular coffee then poured over ice or chilled in the fridge. It is not a concentrate. A risk of ordering iced coffee from a restaurant is if the coffee has been sitting for a while it might have turned bitter due to oxidation. To make good hot brewed iced coffee, the hot coffee must be cooled as quickly as possible.
I use cold brew to make iced coffee. I have both decaf and caffeinated cold brews. I keep the bottles of cold brew concentrates in the fridge, and the ice coffee they make is rich, dense and delicious! Most ice coffee is made from coffee that has been hot brewed and then chilled. It truly tastes different from cold brew iced coffee, and to my taste, not as good.
Cold brewed coffee is definitely having a moment. Cold brewed coffee can easily be made at home. All you need is a French press.
Recipe for making cold brew (courtesy of The New York Times):
- Use a ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part coffee grounds.
- Put grounds at bottom of French press* and add room temperature water (preferably filtered tap or bottled water).
- Put the mixture in the fridge for 8 – 15 hours, letting everything steep.
- Remove from fridge – it is ready to drink. How much water or milk you add to dilute the concentrate is a matter of taste.
- You may opt for filtering it through a paper filter which will result in a clearer, slightly more refined drink.
- You may add sugar and/or milk and ice.
If you want to purchase ready made cold brew concentrate, try these:
Installation Cold Brew is an all-natural coffee concentrate which has been brewed for 24 hours. It is ideal for iced coffee and iced lattes. It can also be heated up and enjoyed hot. Get two 32 oz. bottles for $37.00. Each 32 oz. bottle has 12 servings and each bottle is brewed to order.
Seaworth cold brewed coffee, from Newport Beach, CA, was started by two surfer dudes. It has no acidity but lots of richness. Its grounds are steeped for 18 hours then double strained and bottled. It can be enjoyed cold or hot. Two fresh 32 oz. bottles of Seaworth Single Fin Sludge for $25.00.
I’ve been enjoying Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee. It has low acidity and a mild taste. A 32 oz. bottle makes twelve 8 oz. cups of coffee. It is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans. One 32 oz. bottle is $16.67.
For a decaf cold brew coffee try Best of the Bean. There is no bitterness but lots of flavor. It does not require refrigeration so you can take it anywhere. One 10 oz. can has 40 servings and is $16.40. One note of caution, it is delicious, but be wary of the spray nozzle. Best to add the coffee concentrate to your cup in a sink in case the spray goes everywhere.
*Note: ASE subscriber Robin K was frustrated with the dregs in the French press method and the fact that it didn’t make enough coffee to get her through a summer weekend. Instead she had better luck making her own coffee bag. She used cheesecloth to hold a 1 ¼ cup coffee to 4 cups water ratio. She tied the coffee up tight in cheesecloth and dunked it in a water pitcher. She got larger yield and no dregs. Pull out the bag after the overnight soak. “It was a great solution.”