What is Cold Brew?

Cold brew is much more than just a better flavour and a higher price tag, it is a new technique for brewing coffee which uses cold or room temperature water to extract the flavour, oils, sugars and caffeine from ground coffee. Yikes! You might be thinking, ‘Well there’s nothing worse than room temperature coffee’, and you’d be right! Except, the room temperature coffee becomes bitter after getting oxidized and tastes funky because it was brewed like regular coffee.

Cold Brew however, uses coarsely ground coffee and allows cold water to extract the essentials for over 12 hours! This is enough time for getting a large batch of smooth, infused and since it is not made with hot water, it is much less acidic and very mellow. Cold Brew also has a gradual caffeine hit compared to a high attack feeling experience with regular brewed coffee. However, it can be a bit flat in taste, but it is compensated by requiring very less effort to make than regular iced coffee other than a lotta patience!

Why do I want it?

You may be thinking, ‘I can save a few bucks and just have the regular iced coffee from the nearest coffee shop’, you can surely do that. However, Cold Brews have their plus sides too –

  • They are less acidic and chemically diverse than hot brews. This makes Cold Brew coffee to be easier on people with gastrointestinal symptoms such as ulcers or sensitivity issues.
  • The texture is very smooth and tastes incredible.
  • It can be made in large quantities with little effort and since it has lesser acidic compounds, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a month!
  • There is no caffeine rush and the hit is gradual which makes it much more relaxing as an experience.
  • Since you need a greater coffee to water ratio, Cold Brew coffee is STRONG without being bitter in taste.
  • It can be customized into any cold coffee or beverage and even heated up to make hot coffee. It also tastes great with milk or cream!

How can I brew my own Cold Brew?

Brewing your own batch of Cold Brew is amazingly simple (if you have the patience to wait for 12 – 24 hours). Bear in mind you will need a more coarser coffee grounds to make straining it after the steeping period more easier. The texture of grounds used in French presses are acceptable to use, but it is better to keep the consistency even and coarse.

Here is a list of materials you will be requiring –

  1. Fresh roasted coffee beans (you can try this)
  2. Grinder – Burr preferably (here)
  3. A large mason jar
  4. Strainer – cheesecloth or a Toddy system which you can find loads here
  5. Room temperature water

Here are the steps –

  1. Measure the coffee beans you would need. It is advisable to maintain a ratio of 1:8 or 1:5 (depending on your taste and preference of strength) coffee to water while preparing your brew and pour the grounds into the mason jar.
  2. Just pour the water over the grounds, give it a nice slow stir to mix it evenly. Seal it and set it aside in a dark room or the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Preferably 24 hours if you want to keep it in the fridge.
  3. Now the straining, you can go about this is in a number of ways. The easiest would be to use a big batch brewer or a Toddy system, which has inbuilt filters to strain it over a period of time. However if you don’t have either of those, you can simply use a cheesecloth or a high grade coffee filter and let it drip like regular coffee.
  4. Depending on the quality of grind, you may need to strain it again to get rid of the finer grit and once it’s clean, you can put the jar back in the fridge or pour some ice over it and enjoy it immediately!

Alternatively, you can also use French presses for small batches of cold brew, just follow the same procedure and let it steep for 15 or 18 hours before plunging. It also makes it easier to store in your fridge!

Additional Tips

Note: DO NOT use cheap beans to make Cold Brew, unless you want a painfully flat tasting coffee with zero texture. I know it sounds elitist, but Cold Brews really extract the most subtle favours out of your coffee beans. Hence, it’s better to go for better beans.

Different coffee beans will make your brew’s flavour change. It’s fun to mix it up and see what works best for you, as well as tweaking the ratio of coffee to water. Generally, if you like your coffee without milk, you’re good with African beans like Ethiopian and Kenyan. If you want it with cream and milk, it’s better to go for stronger beans like Colombian or Costa Rican beans.

Here are some recipes you can try with your new Cold Brew – link.