Sorry for the clickbait, but I know what sells around here. Now if you came here today expecting to read about beer and are going to click off because this is about coffee, stay for just a minute. About a month ago, a coworker noted how much coffee I drink, which started a conversation about how little she drinks. “It’s just so bitter.” I explained the virtues of the cold brew method and this past week she told me how it completely changed her view on coffee. Every time she makes a cup she waits for the bitter bite but it never comes and is now drinking more coffee than ever. So stick with me if you think coffee is too bitter as we explore what cold brew coffee is and how you can make it at home.
So what is cold brew coffee? Is it just another hipster fad to sell expensive coffee to basement dwellers? Well, yes and no. I know hipsters get a lot of flak here, but they have pushed the boundaries of good food and drink. CB coffee does have some chemistry to back up the hype of superior coffee in the cup. Some people are under the impression that CB coffee is just cold coffee. Although you can serve cold brew coffee over ice, you can also serve it hot, in coffee based drinks or use it for cooking. What makes cold brew cold is the brewing process, not the way it is served. Cold brewing extracts coffee at a lower temperature over a longer period of time. The real magic that the CB process brings is lower tannic acid. Tannic acid is responsible for the bitter/burnt flavor some people find off putting in coffee. Cold brewing also extract less caffeine, although it is not “caffeine free”. Less caffeine and less acid mean less stress on the stomach and a smoother, sweeter cup. Interested in trying it yourself? Read on friend.
To make your very own cold brew at home you will need a cold brew coffee maker, obviously. Now before you say “Florida Man, I just blew my last paycheck on Blue Mountain Jamaican and a conical burr grinder,” take a breath. A decent cold brew system can be had for 15-20 bucks. I don’t know what that is in shekels so OMWC will have to do his own conversion. A cold brew coffee maker consist of a tube filter inside of a pitcher. The process is simple and pretty much fool proof. You’ll want to stick with a coarse grind, because it will give you a cleaner finished product and a fine grind will heat the coffee defeating the whole purpose. If you haven’t bought a conical burr grinder yet, fear not. Most specialty coffee shops and grocery stores will grind your whole been coffee to order. I would also suggest looking for a medium roast bean if you are trying to avoid that burnt taste. If you want even lower caffeine content, select a dark roast. Now that you have your coarse ground beans, simply fill the filter with ground coffee and fill the pitcher with filtered water. Some people use room temperature water and leave it to brew on the counter for 24-48 hours. I use cold water and let it brew in the fridge for 48 hours. Try it both ways and see what works for you. After the 24-48 hours you remove the center filter and now have a concentrated smooth, low acid coffee. “Now what, Florida Man?” Glad you asked.
If you want a regular cup of Joe, just add hot water to your cold coffee concentrate. I fill half my mug with CBC and top it off with hot water. Add cream and sugar to taste. If you enjoy cold drinks, pour over ice, add cold water or cream and sugar to taste. I don’t make specialty coffee drinks, but if you do, just remember that this coffee is concentrated and make adjustments accordingly. Feel free to post recipes in the comments for drinks, desserts or even cooking with coffee. So on to the pros and cons of this system.
Taste: Smooth, sweet coffee
Reduced Acid: for those with sensitive tummies (lower caffeine)
Convenient: you don’t have to baby sit this while it brews.
Cost: The system is cheap.
Clean up: Carafe does double duty, less to wash
Taste: Hey wait! Yes I put it in both pro & con. Some people like bitter (see IPA drinkers)
Inefficient: The coffee to water ratio is higher than hot brew systems.
Time: You can’t make a quick cold brew. You need to plan 24 hours in advance.
Flexibility: This could be a pro. There are less variable with cold brew. You can adjust grind and steep time, but that is about it.
Because of the warm response I received for my last article, I have invested my hard earned dollars in not one, but seven brew methods. I’ll write up a “how to” for the others with my famous pro/con opinions. Then, for a grand finale, I plan to do a blind taste test and crown a winner for best brew method. If you have any questions let me know in the comment section.