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No, It's Not Iced Coffee! The Cold Brew Coffee Craze

Cold brew coffee is all the rage these days. Starting around the summer of 2013, cold brew has been lurking on the periphery of coffee trends and it has been growing in popularity ever since. In 2017, cold brew even surpassed iced coffee as a search term on the internet.   But what exactly is cold brew coffee? Is it just a way to make iced coffee? No, not exactly. Let’s take a look. cold brew coffee makers

What is Cold Brew?

First, let’s start with what it is… cold brew coffee is made by combining coffee grounds and water in a vessel and allowing it to steep for 12 to 24 hours. After filtering out the coffee grounds, you’re left with a highly concentrated—both in taste and caffeine—coffee. This is then cut 50/50 with water, or some combination of water and milk/creamer, to make your coffee drink.

Typically, cold brew coffee is extremely smooth and lacks any bitterness or acidic flavor. Of course, this depends on the time you let the coffee brew and the type of bean you use. You may need to play with the time you let the coffee sit in the water as well as the coffee to water ratio to get the taste you like.  

Making Cold Brew

The process for making cold brew coffee is fairly simple and straightforward. The beauty of cold brew is that you don’t need any special equipment to make it. All you need is:  
- Ground coffee – any kind, but NOT flavored
- Fresh, filtered water - A vessel to hold the water and coffee grounds - A place to keep the vessel (either a cool countertop or the refrigerator) - A way to filter the coffee

 

We’ll begin with the coffee. You do not need to use super expensive coffee beans for this process. This is actually a great way to use up some coffee beans that have been around for a few weeks. In other words, it isn’t necessary to purchase freshly-roasted beans specifically for making your cold brew. If you are grinding your own beans, do not grind them too finely. A coarse grind will give you better flavor and makes it less likely to end up with any bitterness (which finely ground coffee could give you, even in a cold brew).

To make a large batch of cold brew, the ratio is one pound of coffee grounds to one gallon of water. But for most homebrewers, a quarter pound of coffee to four cups of water will be sufficient. The temperature of the water is the next option to think about. Room temperature is the standard, but if you need to speed up the process or you want to try to extract some extra flavors, you can start with hot water.

What do you put your coffee and water in? Anything that will fit the amount you are making and has a lid. A large Mason jar is perfect. A pitcher you can fit a lid onto works well, too. Again, no need to be fancy about it. If you want a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, check out this simple version. Of course, you can also get some elaborate cold brew coffee makers. But getting started can truly be as simple as a large jar, some coffee grounds, some water, and your storage space.

Now, let’s talk about time. The range is 12 to 24 hours, but some people may only brew for 6 to 10 hours. This is all dependent on taste. The longer the brew time, the more flavor that is extracted. You may want to play with this a little.

That’s it. At the end of the time period you choose, you will have a strong coffee concentrate that can be diluted for iced coffees or, if you use hot water to dilute, any number of coffee drinks. Add in your modifiers—milk, cream, sugar, really whatever your heart desires.

See? Simple!  

What Else Do You Need to Know?

As you can see, making cold brew can be very easy. Just remember you may need to play with timing, the coffee/water ratio, and the type of coffee bean you use. Another thing to keep in mind… depending on how quickly you drink coffee this may be a non-issue. Unlike your usual brewed coffee which can lose its taste within a few hours, cold brew coffee concentrate can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you pre-dilute the coffee it will greatly reduce the keeping time to two or three days. If you want to keep your cold brew for a while, don’t dilute it until you’re ready to drink it.

Like I said earlier, you don’t need to have some super expensive coffee grounds to make good cold brew. However, there may be some coffees that are more suitable than others. Again, it all depends on taste, but some of the African coffees like our Ethiopia Longberry or Tanzania Peaberry might be a good place to start.

If you already make cold brew, let us know in the comments your recipe. With a hot summer just around the corner, we look forward to trying out this cool coffee.

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