When we think of cold coffee, we often think of coffee
chains like Starbucks serving up chilled drinks filled with artificial
sweeteners and topped with whipped cream, however, that’s not always the case.
Enter cold brew coffee.
Despite what a lot of people think, cold-brew doesn’t
refer to an iced coffee or a frappe. Cold brew is made when coarsely ground
coffee is steeped in cold or room temperature water for several hours,
producing a concentrated coffee which is then diluted when served. Hot water
pulls more acids out of ground coffee than cold water, so because it is less
acidic than its hot counterpart, cold brew tastes different to what’s normally
served at cafés. When we talk about the chemical composition of coffee, we’re
talking about the alkaloids, aminos, lipids, carbs, acids, and many more
compounds that are inside your drink. All of these combined create your
coffee’s flavour and aroma.
Cold brew takes time to make, which is why a lot of
cold-brew drinkers make their coffee overnight (although how long you let it
steep is entirely up to you – some people let it brew for up to two days!). We’ve
got a method for a concentrated cold brew that’s easy to make at home or at the
office. All the equipment you’ll need is a coffee grinder, a large container
with a lid, a sieve and muslin cloth.
Set your grinder to the setting which will produce the most coarse coffee. Do a test run first before grinding all your coffee – you’re aiming for the same consistency as breadcrumbs. Then grind all your beans.
Clean a large mason jar, or any large container with a lid. Place your grounds in the jar and, working with a rough 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio, pour cold water into the container.
Gently stir your brew until its well mixed, then cover and leave it to steep either at room temperature or in your fridge. You can leave it overnight, but we recommend leaving it for between 18-26 hours.
Once you’ve left your coffee to steep, strain your brew into a large bowl with a sieve to remove the large grounds. Then strain your brew back into the jar using muslin cloth and your cleaned sieve.
Repeat this straining process two or three times. At the end of this, you shouldn’t be seeing a cloudy residue at the bottom of your container. If you are, it means you ground your beans too finely. Don’t worry if this happens – practice makes perfect!
Serve your coffee as desired. Often cold brew drinkers serve theirs over ice with milk and sugar. If your brew is strong enough, and you like your coffee hot, you can also mix yours with boiling water.
Cover your brew and refrigerate the rest.
When it comes to making cold brew, the more you do it,
the better chance you’ll have at making a brew that’s perfect for you. While you should always aim for the breadcrumb coffee ground consistency, other factors – such as the coffee-to-water ratio, and the length of time you let your coffee steep – can be played with and slightly altered to your liking.
As mentioned before, cold-brew is less acidic and is
often sweeter. That means you may be able to skip adding sugar or sweetener if that’s what you normally do. But because taste is ultimately subjective, and some people have less of a sweet tooth than others, the fact that cold brew is less bitter may not convince you to try it.
Cold brew is great because the chemical process doesn’t change, because the temperature always remains the same. That means you can make a large amount of quantity and drink the same batch a few days later without tasting any difference. In fact, it can last for up to a month in the fridge if you store it properly.
Coffee in itself is a delicious drink, and it’s only natural that people keep finding new and innovative ways to prepare and drink it. Cold brew may just seem like the current trend in coffee consumption, but it definitely seems like it’s here to stay. Our suggestion – don’t knock it before you try it.