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The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee

RecipesStephanie18 Comments

I’m not a big coffee drinker (at least I didn’t used to be). But I would be lying if I didn’t say that coffee (and wine, duh) is one of my absolute, all-time favorite things.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee

While I typically prefer to keep the imbibing (both alcoholic and non) to a minimum, during the warmer months my obsession with coffee often reaches a fever pitch and I’m prone to run a little wild. My particular soft spot is for the cold brewed variety served on ice with honey and coconut cream. Or frozen and served as a granita. Or poured over ice cream. Or spiked with espresso. Or all of the above.

Like I said, I’m wild.

And with so many occasions for coffee, I have found that the best way to ensure you never run out is by cold brewing the beans in bulk and then storing your brew for when the craving strikes.

If you’re not familiar with the art of the cold brew or if you have just never tried it yourself, then let me give you the rundown on how to make the best cold brew coffee ever.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee
The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee

What exactly is cold brewing?

It’s the process of steeping coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for a long period of time to slowly extract the flavor of the bean. This results in a smooth, highly-concentrated coffee perfect for pouring over ice or blending in Frappuccino-type drinks.

 

Why is this better than traditional brewing?

  • Less acidity. (Up to 65% less, but who’s counting) This is good for people with acid reflux or digestion issues who prefer a mellower coffee. This also means a smoother, less bitter tasting cup of pure heaven.
  • More flavor. The long brew time allows more of the flavor to enter the water which means it’s more concentrated and less likely to taste watered down when poured over ice.
  • Stays fresh longer. When coffee is heated and then cooled, the chemistry changes and the compound 2-furfurylthiiol — which contributes to that amazing coffee smell — degrades as it cools off. Since the chemical structure of cold brew coffee doesn’t change, it should taste the same a week from now as it does today.
The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee

Here’s how to do it

  1. Buy coffee beans as fresh as possible and roasted locally if you can find them. The fresher the bean, the better the coffee. I picked up a pack of organic beans from a local coffee shop that had been roasted about a week earlier and it was uh-maz-ing.
  2. Start with a ratio of ½ cup coarsely ground, medium  roast coffee beans to 1 ½ cups filtered water (or any 3:1 ratio of water to grounds will work). I prefer to grind the  beans first, then measure to make sure I get the correct amount.
  3. Pour your grounds and water into a large glass jar. Stir with a plastic or wooden spoon (metal can affect the taste of the coffee). Cover and let steep for 24 hours at room temp. After the 24 hour period is up, you can either drink the coffee as-is or you can move it to the fridge and let steep for another 24-48 hours for a stronger tasting coffee.
  4. Once your coffee has reached the desired strength, use cheese cloth, a fine mesh sieve, or a paper filter to separate the grounds from the coffee concentrate.
  5. Store your coffee in the refrigerator for up to a week. After that, the coffee starts to break down and the flavor degrades.

Wait. I’m really supposed to wait 24 hours? Patience, grasshopper. That’s the beauty of cold brew. It takes longer to steep but you can also make a huge batch and store it in the fridge until you're ready to drink it. I like to make mine in advance, that way I never run out.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee

Finally, you can water down your coffee concentrate if you like a weaker brew or simply dress it up with the cream/milk/sweetener of your choosing. Because we’re using a higher coffee to water ratio than traditionally used in hot brewing, this coffee packs a higher caffeine punch making it perfect for any of those Frappuccino-type drinks.

Here are some of my favorite ways to drink it.

Latte

Add ice to the top of  a tall glass
Fill 3/4 with coffee
Top off with cream or coconut cream

Mocha

Combine 1 tbsp dark chocolate and 3/4 cup coffee
Stir vigorously
Add ice
Top with almond milk

Energizer

Put 1 tbsp coconut oil and 1 cup coffee in a blender
Blend on high for 20 seconds
Pour in cup and add ice

Infused

Combine the zest of 1 orange and 2 cardamom pods with 1 quart of cold brewed coffee
Allow to steep for 24 hours then strain
Pour over ice and add milk

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee