Cold brew coffee is an eye opening coffee experience. This blog will go over the benefits of how cold brew coffee is made and how to make a recipe for cold brew coffee at home. When coffee is cold brewed, there are more complex flavors that surface than what you get from hot brewed coffee. Cold brew coffee is significantly less acidic and it provides an iced-coffee experience that is not watered down, while retaining all of the caffeine content of coffee.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
What is cold brew coffee? While regular coffee is brewed with hot water that’s 170℉ to 190℉, cold brew coffee uses water at room temperature. When you cold brew coffee it releases the coffee flavor using time, as opposed to heat.
Heat releases the flavor of coffee, but it also dissolves the fatty acids and bitter oils that give coffee a bite. This acidic bite of hot brewed coffee actually anesthetizes the tongue leaving out the enjoyment of more subtle flavors. Also, the oils can become rancid over time as they continue to heat which is why your hot coffee starts to taste extremely bitter if left to sit on a warmer for a long period of time. When you cold brew coffee it extracts the desirable flavor compounds.
Another major difference is the coffee to water ratio. When making cold brew coffee, the ratio is 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. Hot coffee, the ratio is 1:6 or 1:12 depending on how strong one wants their coffee.
The time it takes to cold brew coffee is also much longer. One cup of hot coffee can be brewed in less than a minute. Cold brew coffee is steeped for 12 to 24 hours. Longer steeping time is needed if the coffee is refrigerated.
What is the Science of Cold Brew Coffee?
“Coffee solubles dissolve best at an optimal temperature of 195-205°F”
In a report from Science and Food at UCLA, there is a marked difference between cold brewed coffee and hot brewed coffee.
Hot brewed coffee has more dissolved acids, oils, and antioxidants. One of the biggest differences for coffee drinkers is that hot brewed coffee has a greatly increased bitterness.
Cold brewed coffee, in spite of longer contact with the ground coffee, has less of these dissolved oils and acids, which makes the coffee less bitter. Cold brew coffee can be much better for people whose stomachs cannot handle regular hot coffee.
On the downside, oxidation and degradation also occur more rapidly at higher temperatures.
"Oxidation and degradation will still occur in cold brew methods, but this happens much more slowly; bitterness and acidity are just about absent in cold brew coffee, especially if it is kept cold.” - Ibid.
In short, when you speak to coffee people, they will tell you that cold brew coffee is just as flavorful as hot-brewed, but much less bitter. The science supports this impression.
How do you make Recipe for Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate?
Making cold brew coffee is incredibly simple. There are lots of different devices that can help you cold brew coffee, but to start with, you need just a Mason jar.
Best Basic Recipe for Cold Brew Coffee:
- Start with a clean Mason jar.
- The cold brew coffee ratio is - coffee to water ratio which is 4 to 1 - 4 parts water to 1 part coffee.
- The coffee should be a medium coarse grind. It will be about the same grind as corn meal.
- Let the cold brew coffee sit on a counter for 12 to 18 hours. In the refrigerator, leave it for 24 hours.
- You will want to filter the cold brew coffee concentrate twice. You can use a fine sieve, a French press, or any other screen type of filter.
- The second filter should be a coffee filter or cheesecloth. The goal is to get the fine particles out of the cold brew coffee concentrate.
- You can store cold brew coffee in the refrigerator for up to three days. Be sure to put a tight lid on the coffee to keep the volatile oils in the coffee.
Some cold brew hints from our blog, 11 Cold Brew Coffee Tips:
- Stir the coffee grounds in the water. The ground coffee can sometimes clump and you want as much of the coffee’s surface touching the water as possible.
- If the coffee is too smooth, use the Hot Bloom Method. Use just enough boiling water to bring out the complex flavors. Then add the coffee to cold water to the cold brew.
- Cold brew coffee is often stronger than hot-brewed, so feel free to dilute to taste. Use coffee ice cubes to keep the strength of the coffee, but still be able to cool the coffee. Cold brew coffee is perfect for making coffee ice cubes.
- Add a dash of salt to bring out the flavor of the cold brewed coffee.
- When our customers drink our cold brew they say there is more caffeine in our cold brew coffee, which is true, because we brew it strong. Remember you can always cut cold brew coffee with pure water if it is too strong for you.
Cold Brew Coffee as a Base for Drinks and Cocktails
Cold Brew Coffee makes an excellent base for drinks.
Here’s a coffee recipe from HomeGrounds:
Cold Brew Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail
- 2 Tablespoons of orange syrup.
- 4 dashes of bitters (bonus if you use orange bitters)
- 6 oz of cold brew coffee concentrate
- 1 maraschino cherry (garnish)
- Orange peel (garnish)
For an extra weekend kick - 30-50 ml of high end bourbon whiskey
This is a simple variation on a classic drink. You can have it very low alcohol (the bitters contain alcohol) or you can add a shot of bourbon. Either way, this is a great summer drink that gives you the coffee you love with a lot of other interesting flavors.
Cold brew coffee may be used for everything from coffee sorbet to coffee puddings to nearly any variation of a cold drink.
Why Try Cold Brew Coffee?
If you are any kind of coffee drinker I'm sure you've probably noticed your favorite market now stocking cold brew coffee and your local cafe offering cold brew coffee.