Whether you are new to the coffee world, or an experienced consumer of the world’s favorite bean, you have most likely heard of the latest trend in coffee drinking - homemade cold brew. With its smooth, velvety mouthfeel and distinctly chocolatey flavor, cold brew is making waves in the cups of coffee drinkers all over the world.
Cold brew involves the unique process of brewing coffee in cold water over a long period of time, which gives homemade cold brew a unique flavor, far different from any other brewing method.
Perfect with a little vanilla or cold foam, or even infused with nitrogen for a nitro cold brew, experimenting with cold brew is an easy and affordable way to make delicious coffee in the comfort of your home. Whether you’re commuting on a hot summer morning, need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or even just living the life of a cold coffee fanatic, cold brew is bound to be your new best friend.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND COLD BREW
So what’s the idea behind cold brew? Put simply, typical coffee is brewed hot, which usually accentuates the fruity, acidic notes of the coffee. As is the case with a hot brewing environment, oils and flavor compounds held in the coffee beans are more easily extracted, which will in turn create a more flavorful, nuanced beverage quickly, usually within a matter of minutes.
Cold brew is instead brewed at a consistent temperature, near room temperature or colder. When brewed at a consistently cool temperature, different flavors of your coffee are given a spotlight.
Less oils and flavor compounds are extracted from your coffee with the colder environment, leaving your homemade cold brew concentrate with a less bitter flavor and lower acidity, instead lending a bolder, more chocolatey aroma to each sip. However, the significantly lower temperature of brewing mandates an increased amount of contact time between the coffee and water, meaning cold brew coffee often needs between 12 and 24 hours for flavors to be adequately extracted.
This concentrate is also significantly stronger, both in flavor and caffeine, and therefore should be diluted before drinking to mimic the strength and complexity of a typical coffee beverage. Most cafes will mix a 1-to-1 ratio of cold brew concentrate to water, but your needs may vary.
BRINGING HOMEMADE COLD BREW TO YOU
While brewing your coffee cold takes a longer amount of time, most of the process of how to make cold brew is simple and inactive, making it super easy to bring the smooth and strong profile of this beverage into YOUR home. Here are a few items you will need before you get started:
- Your favorite blend of Generous coffee
- A coffee bean grinder (You can ignore this your coffee is pre-ground)
- A large container (think 32 oz Mason Jar) and cheesecloth OR a French press
- Something to stir with
That’s it! The first step after gathering supplies is to grind your coffee beans. When you want to make cold brew, how you grind your beans matters. You will want to stick with the coarsest grind possible, as it will make the filtration process a little easier, and leave you with a clear, bold coffee.
Place your coffee grounds in your container, add water, and stir it up for a bit. The ratio of water to coffee depends highly on personal preference, and might be something you will have to experiment with to find the best brew for you. If you’re not sure where to begin, a common standard ratio for cold brew is 1 part coffee to 4 parts water (For every 1 c. of coffee, add 4 c. of water).
This ratio is scalable to any size batch of homemade cold brew, so feel free to make as much or as little as you need. This ratio will give you a strong, flavorful, and bold brew, making it a good place to start when venturing into the cold brew world. If you like stronger coffee, decrease the ratio by adding more grounds or mixing with less water.
If you prefer a more subtle taste, increase the amount of water you use, or hold back on the coffee a bit. You can also affect the strength of your coffee at the end, depending on how much water you add to your homemade cold brew concentrate.
When your water and beans are in your container, the next 12-24 hours of the journey are simple. If you are using a French press, place the lid on the container, but do NOT press down.
If you are using a large container, you can cover it with cheesecloth, or just leave it to infuse at room temperature. Let the coffee steep for AT LEAST 12 hours. The longer the steep, the more caffeine and oils are extracted from the coffee grounds, meaning a 24-hour brew will give you a richer, stronger cold brew. Brewing too long can result in a muddy, flat-tasting cold brew, so it isn’t recommended to go past the 24-hour mark.
The final step! Once you’ve let your beans soak in the water for 12-24 hours, you can begin the filtration process. If you are using a French press, simply press down on the plunger. If you are using a container like a Mason jar, use the cheesecloth as your filter for separating the homemade cold brew concentrate from the coffee grounds.
You will want to have a separate container to pour the coffee into as you strain it with the cheesecloth. From here, you can store it in the fridge as-is, or dilute it with an equal amount of water to save time diluting the concentrate later. Regardless of when you dilute it, general wisdom suggests a 1:1 mix of homemade cold brew concentrate to water, though your taste is important here!
After your grounds are separated from your coffee, you can proudly call yourself a Homemade Cold Brewer. Be sure to store your cold brew in the refrigerator and enjoy it within 10 days. Sip, sip, HOORAY for Generous Cold Brew!