EVERYTHING YOU EVER NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COLD BREW COFFEE
During a warm Saturday in San Francisco, you will find our Weaver’s Coffee & Tea Flagship packed with people. In the heart of the Castro district, our café sits on the corner of Market Street and Noe Street. Locals and tourists head into our cafe as they stroll through this district on their way to either Dolores Park – a neighborhood and tourist favorite park – or because they need a cold brew coffee to get them rolling before enjoying the gorgeous San Francisco sunshine.
One of the questions we get asked most often during these busy days is, “what is cold brew?”
Image Courtesy of Poverty Bay Coffee
What is Cold Brew?
When you visit our cafe and ask for a drip coffee, you will get a hot drip coffee that is brewed with water that ranges from 170℉ to 190℉.
Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, is prepared with fresh spring water at room temperature. The coarsely ground coffee is saturated in fresh spring water and steeped so that the flavor of the coffee is released with a timed process of slow dripping versus pure heat of a drip coffee. When you cold brew coffee it extracts the highly complex flavor compounds, leading your tongue on a full adventure of flavors, notes, and hints of the coffee. Cold brew coffee is steeped for 12 to 24 hours, as opposed to hot coffee which will only take a few minutes to brew.
Cold brew coffee has been proven to be 67% less acidic than hot coffee which makes cold-brewed coffee able to be enjoyed by folks with acid reflux issues.
The heat releases the flavor of coffee, but it also dissolves the fatty acids and bitter oils that give the coffee a bite. Hot coffee anesthetizes the tongue, which means subtle flavors and undertones are harder to pick out. The natural oils can become rancid as they continue to heat, which is why your hot coffee will start to taste bitter if left on a warming burner. If you do prefer hot coffee – we suggest pouring it into a thermos after being brewed to keep it hot. This is what we do in our cafes to ensure that our hot brewed coffee is perfect every time.
Another major difference between cold brew coffee is the coffee to water ratio. The ratio is 1 part coffee to 4 parts water whereas, with hot coffee, the ratio is 1:6 or 1:12 depending on how strong one wants their coffee.
Before cold brew, most “iced coffee” that you would find in coffee shops was made by simply brewing hot coffee at double strength, then pouring that over ice to cool it.
The History of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold-brew is still relatively new to the coffee world here in the United States. It has taken off in popularity in the past 10 years as an alternative to hot coffee because it is smoother yet more intense and is more highly caffeinated than iced coffee and hot coffee.
But the history of cold brew coffee dates back as early as the 17th century.
Cold-brew is also known as Kyoto coffee was introduced into Japan by Dutch traders from Indonesia (sometimes you will find cold brew coffee named Dutch Coffee). The theory is that the traders developed this process as a way of producing large quantities of portable coffee, which they could then later reheat or serve cold.
A modern Kyoto Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Image Courtesy of BeanGround.com
In the late 1800s, cold-brew also became popular in Mazagran. Mazagran was a French-occupied fortress in Algeria. French soldiers were given a coffee syrup that was traditionally cut with brandy. When the fortress was overtaken by Algerians, soldiers were given cold water instead of brandy. This change in the recipe was for the better and French soldiers were more readily available to face the heat of the desert with this new cold brew recipe. When the soldiers were released, they took this back to Paris to serve “Mazagran” coffee in their cafés.
What Kind of Coffee to Use in Cold Brew?
There are many types of single-origin coffees and coffee blends to choose from when you wish to prepare cold brew coffee. Like hot brewed coffee, French Press coffeemakers, and pour-overs, cold brew is just another way to enjoy the coffee of your choice.
There is no wrong type of coffee to use for cold brew. However, like espresso extraction, cold brew will produce an intense concentrate that will need to be diluted with water. Because the concentrate that is produced is so strong, we suggest using a coffee blend as they tend to be more full-bodied and complex than a single-origin coffee.
To learn the difference between single origins and coffee blends, check out our previous blog.
Cold Brew Coffee How to Make The Perfect Cold Brew Coffee
We serve our cold brew at all of our Weaver's Coffee & Tea locations and are about to launch a canned Weaver's Cold Brew Coffee which will be available nationwide. While it may look fancy, the recipe we use for our cold brew can also be made in your own home!
The steps to make cold brew are easy.
- Use a coarsely ground coffee, the same type of grind you would use for a French Press.
- Use a 4 to 1 cold brew coffee ratio of coffee to water.
- ALWAYS use filtered water.
- If you want more complex flavors in your cold brew coffee use a coffee blend. Coffee blends have a lot more complex flavor and will make a cold brew taste more “rounded” out versus a single origin.
- Make sure all the cold brew coffee grounds are wet. Let it sit until the cold brew coffee grounds are layered to the top and do a second stir.
- Cold-brew can be left on a counter or in a refrigerator. Steep your coffee anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, until you find the timing that works for your taste preference, before serving.
- Filter the cold brew coffee through a cheesecloth set in a fine mesh strainer. Slowly pour the cold brew coffee through the filter.
- This is your pure cold brew concentrate. You will need to cut the concentrate with filtered water. We suggest a 1 to 1 ratio.
Recipes for Cold Brew Coffee
Cold Brew Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail (makes 1)
- 2 Tablespoons of orange syrup.
- 4 dashes of orange bitters
- 6 oz of cold brew concentrate
- 1 maraschino cherry (optional)
- Orange peel (optional)
- For an extra kick – 1oz of high-end Japanese whiskey
Put Ice in your cup.
Add orange syrup, bitters, cold brew concentrate, and whiskey if you are using it.
Add maraschino cherry and orange peel to the cocktail, stir together, and serve.
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Cold Brew Tonic (makes 1)
- ¼ cup strong Cold Brew Concentrate
- ¾ cup tonic water
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- Maraschino Cherries
Combine the cold brew concentrate, tonic water, and maple syrup.
Top with maraschino cherries and serve!
Image Courtesy of Sugar and Charm