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All About Coffee – Cold Brew

Bored of rituals or just want a nice cup of coffee that’s cool? Check out all there is to know about a tasty cold brew!

While cold brew has a long history, its widespread popularity in cafes and consumer recognition are recent developments.

Cold brew coffee utilizes a slow steeping process (12-24 hours) with cold water, differing from the traditional hot water extraction method. This method results in a distinct flavor profile: smooth, less acidic, and with a fuller body compared to hot-brewed coffee.

It’s important to highlight that cold brew is not iced coffee.

Cold Brew Preparation

Cold brew coffee offers a unique brewing method suited to those new to home coffee creation. Unlike other methods, cold brew prioritizes convenience over precision. The process requires only a brewing vessel, coffee grounds, water, and patience.

A simplified cold brew recipe involves coarsely grinding coffee, adding water, allowing it to steep, and then straining. One key aspect of cold brew is that it produces a concentrate. This concentrate can be diluted to our preferred strength with water, milk, or ice. This flexibility allows for less strictness regarding the exact amount of coffee and water used initially.

Cold brew coffee offers a smooth, delicious beverage enjoyed year-round. Made with coarsely ground coffee steeped in cool water for 12-24 hours, it creates a concentrated brew with unique benefits.

Coffee Beans

Choosing high-quality coffee beans aligns well with cold brew’s naturally smooth, low-acidity profile. This is often accentuated by beans from South and Central America, which baristas may recommend due to their inherent chocolatey notes.

However, cold brew can also be a delightful way to explore fruitier coffees. Experts suggest that the lighter acidity of these beans can be highlighted by the cold water extraction, creating a unique flavor profile. The intended consumption method can also influence bean selection; lighter roasts may be best enjoyed black, while heavier roasts can hold their own with milk and sugar. Ultimately, personal preference and how one enjoys their coffee should guide the choice.

Even more crucial than the coffee itself is the water used for brewing. Since coffee is primarily water (around 98%), selecting water with a pleasant taste is paramount. If the tap water has an off-putting flavor, filtered water is a good alternative.

Cold Brew Caffeine Content

While cold brew coffee often contains more caffeine than hot coffee, this is primarily due to the ratio of coffee grounds to water used during brewing, not an inherent property of the cold brew method itself.

Hot coffee typically employs a ratio of 14-18 grams of water per gram of coffee. In contrast, cold brew utilizes a more concentrated ratio – experts recommend starting with a 12-ounce (340g) coffee to 64-ounce (1814g) water ratio. This higher coffee-to-water ratio naturally results in a more concentrated final product.

It’s important to note that this concentrate is often diluted with water before consumption, creating a final beverage with slightly more caffeine than a standard cup of drip coffee. However, the dilution process reduces the caffeine content compared to the undiluted concentrate.

Ultimately, the caffeine content in any coffee beverage depends on the amount of coffee used and the brewing method’s efficiency in extracting caffeine from the grounds. Cold brew offers the flexibility to adjust the concentrate’s strength and subsequent dilution, allowing for individualized caffeine control. Decaffeinated coffee can also be used in the cold brew process for those seeking to minimize caffeine intake.


Why Choose Cold Brew?

  • Effortless Brewing
    Unlike some coffee methods requiring specialized equipment, cold brew is simple to prepare at home. A single batch can last a week, allowing us to explore different bean varieties.
  • Reduced Acidity
    Cold brew is known for its lower acidity compared to hot-brewed coffee. This is ideal for those with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux.
  • Versatility for Flavor Exploration
    Hot coffee offers limited variations, while cold brew shines in its adaptability. Create cold brew lattes, refreshing summer sodas, or even cocktails for a delightful taste adventure.
  • Enhanced Caffeine Content (Optional)
    Cold brew offers up to three times more caffeine than hot coffee simply due to the amount of coffee used to prepare it. The extended steeping process extracts more concentrated caffeine from the grounds. This concentrate can be easily diluted to our preference.

Cold Brew Equipment

  • Coffee Beans
  • Cold, Filtered Water (Tap water can alter the taste due to chlorine and minerals)
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Spoon
  • Filter (Cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer, or coffee filter)
  • Large, sealable container (Mason jar is ideal)

How to Prepare Cold Brew

  1. Measure Precisely
    Accurate measurements are crucial for a balanced flavor. A ratio of 80g coffee to 1 liter of water is a good starting point. Feel free to adjust quantities based on the desired strength.
  2. Grind for Smoothness
    Coarse grinding is essential. This simplifies filtration and avoids a bitter taste. Fine grounds can over-extract, resulting in a harsh flavor.
  3. Combine and Steep
    Mix the coffee and water in the container, stirring to ensure complete saturation. Cover and refrigerate for optimal steeping. Room temperature steeping is acceptable if the container doesn’t fit comfortably in the fridge. Remember to refrigerate the concentrate after steeping.
  4. Straining the Brew
    Place a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter over a bowl. Slowly pour the coffee mixture through the filter. Rinse the container thoroughly and transfer the concentrate back in for storage.

French Press Option

  1. Add coffee grounds to the press and pour in water.
  2. Partially press the plunger down, ensuring all grounds are submerged. Let it steep for 12-18 hours.
  3. Strain the coffee concentrate using the French press plunger and a coffee filter or mesh cloth placed in a separate strainer. Transfer the concentrate to an airtight container for storage.

Serving Cold Brew: Hot or Cold

Cold brew coffee offers versatility in both brewing and consumption. This delicious beverage can be enjoyed hot or iced, allowing for personal preference.

For a hot beverage, the cold brew concentrate can be utilized in several ways. Conventional heating methods can be employed, or the desired amount of concentrate can be added directly to a mug and topped with hot water or milk (depending on preference). This heating process may slightly alter the taste profile, but experimentation is encouraged to find the perfect serving temperature.

For a refreshing cold brew experience, a glass filled with ice provides the perfect base. The cold brew concentrate can then be added and diluted to achieve the desired strength. Milk or milk alternatives can be incorporated for a creamy and smooth texture. Experimentation with different milk options is recommended, including ½ to 2 tablespoons of dairy milk, cashew macadamia nut milk, almond milk for a hint of sweetness, or coconut milk for a unique tropical flavor.

Cold Brew Brewing Common Pitfalls

  • Insufficient Steeping Time
    Inadequate steeping time results in a weak cold brew concentrate. Following recommended steeping times ensures optimal extraction of flavor and caffeine.
  • Straining Too Aggressively
    Resist the urge to rush the straining process by squeezing or pressing the grounds. This forceful approach can introduce coffee particles into the final product, leading to bitterness. Allow for a slow and gentle straining process.
  • Excessively Fine Grind
    Coffee grounds that are too finely ground can contribute to a bitter taste in the cold brew. A coarse grind is recommended for optimal brewing results.

Cold Brew Storage

Cold brew coffee offers a convenient storage life of 7-10 days when refrigerated. However, any noticeable changes in taste, such as an unpleasant flavor, indicate spoilage. In such cases, discarding the brew is recommended.

If the cold brew appears to spoil more rapidly than anticipated, cleaning the brewing equipment may be necessary. Residual coffee oils can adhere to surfaces and accelerate spoilage in subsequent brews. Maintaining clean equipment is essential for optimal results.


Cold brew’s versatility allows for customization based on individual taste preferences. Certain coffee beans may excel at a higher concentration, resulting in a robust and syrupy beverage. Conversely, other beans may shine at lower concentrations, where additional water unlocks unique flavor profiles. A fun and informative exercise involves preparing several cups from the same batch, diluted to varying levels. This comparative tasting allows for the identification of the most enjoyable dilution level for individual palates.

Ultimately, cold brew brewing embraces a relaxed approach. There’s no single “correct” method, allowing for freedom and exploration in the brewing process. While patience is required during the steeping phase, the reward is a delicious and refreshing cup of cold brew coffee, easily achievable at home.

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