What is cold brew coffee?

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Making coffee is certainly not a simple process and there are many methods of brewing depending on what you want to create. While a lot of coffee drinks are served hot, there are those that rely on a much lower temperature to get that beautiful coffee flavour. If you’re looking for something different you should give cold brew coffee a try.

Cold brew coffee is a way of brewing a drink using time as opposed to temperature. Where many coffee drinks rely on hot water to extract the flavour, the cold brew method sees the coffee steeping for much longer and using ambient or cold temperatures to create a refreshing and very different beverage.

If you’re new to cold brew coffee, let us tell you that you’re about to have a taste sensation like nothing else. Because cold brew coffee is brewed so differently, the drink you end up with is worlds away from the traditional flavour of hot brewed coffee. Let’s spend some time getting to know this drink a little better.

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How is cold brew coffee made?

Cold brew coffee is typically made using coarse coffee grounds and is steeped for anywhere between eight and twenty-four hours. Of course, there is some variation on this depending on the recipe. Later we’ll look at some tips for getting the most out of your cold brew coffee.

The key is to allow the coffee too steep for several hours at an ambient or cold temperature. The result of brewing this way is that you end up with a taste that is very different to hot brewed coffee. Many people agree that cold brewing gives a much more mellow and less acidic tasting drink. But the result will depend on the beans that you use.

Instead of relying on temperature to ensure good extraction, the cold brew method relies on the use of time. What’s interesting is that you don’t necessarily have to brew a single drink at once. It is also common practise to create what is known as cold brew concentrate. This highly concentrated version is brewed and then watered down to taste.

The great thing about cold brew coffee is that the coffee to water ratio can be played about with quite a bit. This means that you are more easily able to make a drink that caters to your tastes. So, if you’re not blown away by your first attempt try and try again. Once you nail it, you’ll be delighted you persevered.

To make things easier you can use a cold brew coffee maker. Here are this week’s best-selling models (article continues below the table)

Bestseller No. 1
Cold Brew Coffee Maker Iced Coffee Maker Cold Brew Coffee Maker Brewer Ice Glass Stainless Steel Filter Double Mesh Cold Brew Coffee Maker (1500ml)
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Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pot Mizudashi 1000ml, Brown, Large
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Cafe Du Chateau Cold Brew Coffee Maker - 34 Ounces - Air Tight Seal with Faster Steep Time - Ice Tea and Coffee Glass Pitcher - Stainless Steel Iced Coffee Maker Press - Iced Coffee Brewer
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Bestseller No. 4
Cold Brew Coffee Maker - Large Glass Infusion Pitcher 1500ml - Iced Coffee & Iced Tea Pitcher with Stainless Steel Lid and Mesh Filter - Extra Fruit Infusion Tube - Perfect for Home and Kitchen
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Bestseller No. 5
Asobu Coldbrew Portable Cold Brew Coffee Maker With a Vacuum Insulated 34oz Stainless Steel 18/8 Carafe Bpa Free
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  • HASSLE FREE- Use your standard medium course coffee grind and with our fine mesh you don’t...

Is cold brew coffee stronger than standard coffee?

Our previous point takes us onto one of the most commonly asked questions about cold brew coffee; is it stronger than regular coffee. A lot of people are under the impression that it is far stronger and contains seriously high levels of caffeine. But in reality, cold brew coffee is only as weak or strong as you make it.

That said, it is worth keeping in mind that since cold brew coffee concentrate is usually made using a higher coffee to water ratio, it may have much more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. And this includes a shot of espresso.

But this concentrate is almost never consumed on its own. Once the coffee is brewed, drinkers will add things like ice, milk and even more water. When these ingredients are added, the caffeine level comes down and is more in line with a ‘normal’ cup of coffee.

So, is cold brew coffee just iced coffee?

Another of the most common musings surrounding cold brew coffee is whether it is the same as iced coffee. You could be forgiven for thinking that the two were one of the same but there is a very clear difference.

As we have learned, cold brew coffee is left to steep for a much longer time. But iced coffee is more often than not brewed in the same way as hot coffee before simply adding ice and serving it cold.

However, this is quite an outdated technique when it comes to making iced coffee and now many baristas are using the flash brew method which involves two simple steps.

Firstly, the water to coffee ratio has to be reduced in order to make way for the ice that you’ll add. If you don’t do this then you’ll end up with seriously diluted coffee. Secondly, hot coffee is brewed as normal before being allowed to cool down quickly by adding ice. The main difference between this and cold brew coffee is that the latter allows for the extraction of more flavours and compounds.

bottle of cold brew coffee

Why drink cold brew coffee?

One of the best reasons to drink cold brew coffee is that the taste is far more mellow and much less acidic than hot coffee. If you find that regular coffee is too much for your palate then this may be a better option for you. What’s more, you can still use the same beans and get that smooth taste.

If you have some old coffee beans lying around that really need to be used up but that might not brew very well using traditional methods, they may still be suitable for cold brewing. This is because the technique is a lot more forgiving where beans are concerned. What’s more, this is a great way of making larger quantities of the drink so while it does take some time, you’ll then have plenty of coffee prepared when you’re in a rush.

The health benefits of cold brew coffee are astonishing. As well as being kinder on the taste buds, this type of coffee is also much gentler on the stomach. This is because the acids in cold brew coffee are far weaker, even when using the same beans. It’s all to do with the extraction process but in short means that, if you have a particularly sensitive stomach, cold brew coffee might not cause you as many problems.

What’s more, cold brew coffee is bursting with antioxidants which are essential for a healthy immune system, among other things! Oh, and did we mention that cold brew coffee contains no calories as a raw drink. If you choose to add ingredients like milk, this will boost the calorie count, however.

Another great thing about cold brew coffee is that it stays fresher for longer. When you produce cold brew concentrate, you can keep this in the fridge for up to a week without the quality being affected. You’ll need to make sure it is stored correctly, of course, using an airtight container and if you’ve already added milk, we would suggest drinking it within a few days.

Cold brew coffee recipe tips

Making cold brew coffee is different to the more traditional hot brewing method and so when you first start out with this, you might need to go through a little trial and error to get your coffee just right. But there are some great ways to improve the quality of your cold brew to get excellent results every time.

Choosing the right coffee

When it comes to making cold brew coffee, it is essential that you choose your coffee wisely. This is often the first stumbling block for many coffee lovers during their first attempts at making this brew.

The most important thing is choosing coffee of the best quality as this will allow you to get the most out of the bean. We aren’t saying that you have to go out and spend a small fortune on the most expensive coffee in the world (although if you want to, there’s nothing stopping you). The important thing is to find a bean that appeals to your personal tastes.

It is also just as crucial to choose the right roast. If you like a more floral or fruity flavour then you may be better off choosing a light roast. On the other hand, dark roasts are much smokier and bitter but tend to have less caffeine. This is because, during the roasting process, the high temperatures burn much of the caffeine out of the darker roasts.

You’ll also need to make sure that the coarseness of the coffee is right. Now, you have two options here; you can either grind your own beans, which we would always recommend, or buy pre-ground coffee. In any case, you’ll need to make sure that the grind is coarse; fine coffee isn’t suitable for this preparation method as the extraction won’t be as good.

Getting a good water to coffee ratio

We have talked about the water to coffee ratio several times throughout this post and while there is room for movement, there’s still that all-important sweet spot. In order to limit the amount of trial and error you go through; you should abide by the standard 15:1 water to coffee ratio for regular cold brew coffee.

On the other hand, if you are brewing cold brew concentrate, then you will need to adjust this and typically, the best ratio is 10:1. Some people want to make a much lighter drink and the versatility of cold brew coffee allows for this. For the best results, we would suggest using an 18:1 ratio. Of course, everyone has different tastes so you are free to try out different ratios until you find the perfect brew for you.

It’s essential to keep in mind that making cold brew coffee takes time. You cannot expect to have as fast results as hot brewed coffee so you’ll need to employ a little patience. This is probably one of the most important tips for making cold brew as a lot of people try to rush the process.

Generally speaking, you could make a cold brew coffee in as little as four hours but other methods require you to wait twenty-four hours. Just be sure to always follow the correct time for the method you are using. Of course, the advantage is that you can make larger batches so you won’t need to brew as often.

To make the perfect cold brew coffee, you need to maintain your standards when it comes to quality and the water you use is no exception. It’s worth sourcing your water from somewhere other than the tap as water that isn’t high quality may interfere with the flavour of the coffee.

Cold brew coffee recipe

As you’ll have seen earlier there is a plethora of cold brew coffee makers out there that work in a similar way to the filter coffee machine. However, it is not necessary to have one of these in order to brew this drink. Let’s take a look at a simple yet effective cold brew coffee recipe:

● You will begin by adding a ratio of 16:1 water and coffee to your French press. Don’t forget to use coarsely ground coffee for the best results.
● If you don’t have a French press, you can just as easily use a mason jar or other container.
● Now stir the mixture using a spoon to fully blend everything together.
● The coffee should be left to brew at room temperature for a minimum of 16 hours.
● When your coffee is steeped, you’ll need to strain it which can be done by using a cheesecloth over a clean container. Simply pour the coffee through the cloth to filter out the grounds.
● When you’re ready to drink the coffee, add in some milk and ice cubes for a chilled drink or add milk and warm it up in the microwave for something more comforting.

The final word on cold brew coffee

Cold brew coffee differs greatly from normal coffee in that it is brewed using time as the main factor as opposed to temperature. While a lot of people assume that it is stronger than regular coffee, this is not strictly true and you have far greater control over the coffee to water ratio, allowing you to brew a drink to your personal liking.

Quite often, people will make cold brew coffee concentrate which can then be further diluted when you’re ready to drink it. This drink is far less acidic and has a much milder and mellower taste which is great for those with a more sensitive palate as well as those who have a delicate stomach.

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