Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity over the past few years, with many mainstream and independent coffee retailers now offering it as part of their menu.
Hold tight, because you’re about to learn everything you need to know about making cold brew coffee.
You’re probably thinking – “cold brew coffee, that’s just iced coffee, right?” but (luckily) we’re here to tell you that you’re wrong. Compared to iced coffee, the creation of cold brew coffee is completely different. In fact, that’s probably why many people are finding that they like it a lot more.
Iced coffee is prepared hot and then chilled, whereas cold brew is made at a low temperature and relies more on time. The science behind this method means that cold brews tend to be less acidic than regular coffee. You’ll also experience less of a caffeine hit. That explains why your friend who “hates coffee” loves cold brew.
We weren’t exaggerating when we said there was a science behind it, but making cold brew coffee isn’t exactly a major operation.
Coffee beans contain about a thousand different chemical compounds, including those that are sour and those that are sweet. Making the perfect cup of coffee is a process of extracting these compounds from the beans with water. Thus, there are two important factors involved in this: time and temperature.
When you brew coffee with hot water, the compounds in the coffee are released rapidly meaning that the process is complete in only a few minutes. A higher temperature means that the coffee’s oils and acids degrade and oxidise more quickly, so you’ll be left with a coffee that’s bitter.
On the other hand, cold brewing relies on the amount of time it takes for these compounds to be released therefore creating an entirely different flavour, which is a lot more smooth and mellow.
There are several ways to create cold brew coffee, and the method that you choose will depend on your personal preference and the equipment that you have to use.
Your standard French press coffee maker can come in handy if you’re looking to try your hand at cold brewing. This is definitely the cheapest way to make cold brew, but you have to do it carefully so that you don’t end up with a mouth full of coffee sediment. Just measure and grind your beans, add them to your French press, fill it up with water (without stirring!) and let it sit at room temperature for no less than 12 hours. Once that time has passed, pour and filter your cold brew.
Ditch the fancy equipment and instead throw some coffee grounds into a mason jar, pour over some room temperature water, and let it sit for 24 hours. You’ll need to strain the coffee once or twice to get rid of the sediment, and you may need to dilute the concentrate so that the coffee suits your taste.
If you’re a seasoned coffee drinker, it's likely that an Aeropress will already be one of your closest friends. Again, measure out your coffee to your personal preference, invert your Aeropress and add the grounds. Room temperature water will work well for this method too and will mean you won’t have to put your cold brew in the fridge to help the process along. Give it a gentle stir to ensure that all of the grounds are in contact with water and then let it sit for 24 hours. Of course, you’ll have to filter the coffee accordingly before you enjoy.
This is definitely the simplest method of making cold brew because it’s a piece of equipment that does what it says on the tin. A cold brew coffee maker is also a great option for those who are looking to get serious about their brewing and, contrary to what you may believe, they aren’t fully automating so there’s still plenty of fun involved in your brewing.