By Jimmy Dinsmore, @TPLcoffee
It’s been a hot summer all around the country. And when it’s hot, not everyone is fanatical about coffee and living the perk life as I am. Some want that hot coffee cooled off. Thus, iced coffee has always been an option. But, lately it seems cold brew is trying to surpass iced coffee as the cool kid on the caffeinated block.
So, what is the difference between iced coffee and cold brewed coffee? Iced coffee is, as the name says, hot brewed (regularly brewed) coffee put and chilled over ice. Meanwhile cold brew is coffee that is brewed cold and never heated. And that’s the big difference.
The heat brewing process, a time honored and delicious method, does change the chemistry and flavor of the bean/grounds. Because the grounded up coffee are never hit with high heat temperatures, there’s less acids released and thus, cold brew coffee has a smooth, less acidic taste. It’s especially good for those who enjoy coffee but often struggle with stomach and digestion issues as a result of too much coffee.
Also, by quickly chilling your coffee over ice, that actually waters down the flavor and decreases the caffeine from iced coffee. Cold brewed coffee has a high bean-to-water ratio and is much stronger and more caffeinated. Plus it’s a nice treat on hot summer days.
While cold brew is available at most coffeehouses and is even being hyped by national chains like Dunkin Donuts, the cold brew process can be done at home with no special machines or equipment. In fact, you don’t need a coffee maker at all to cold brew. You do, however, need patience as the process is long – twelve hours long.
Here’s how cold brewing at home works:
- Grind your favorite coffee bean (it matters not the roast level) to a slight coarse level, very gently grind it so that it’s at the texture of bread crumbs. A ratio of 1:8 coffee-to-water mixture is ideal, so base the amount of coffee used to how much cold brew you intend to make.
- In a mason jar, or easy-to-seal container, add the coarsely ground coffee and add the appropriate level of water. Stir briskly, and then seal and let sit for 12 hours. It’s best to store it in the refrigerator, but it can also be stored at room temperature.
- Once the mixture is properly seeped, it’s time to filter it out. Take the mixture and using a coffee filter, or a kitchen sieve, and empty into a bowl or another container. The large grounds should filter out. Remove the filter and the grounds (remember they make for great compost), and then filter back into the mason jar or container. Check the mixture for any more grounds, residue or for a murky/thick texture. If there is, filter again the same way. Once all grounds are removed, you have a delicious, ready-to-drink cold brewed coffee.
You can serve over ice (but remember that waters it down technically) or serve as is. Flavor with cream or sugar or drink black. Cold brew coffee tends to blend well with flavored creamers and that also helps to keep it cold.
Cold brewing at home is a trial and error process. Remember to just barely grind the beans. The coarser, the better for a delicious cold brew coffee.