How to make cold brew coffee

Intro

In our previous blog post, Gary discussed the fundamentals of cold brew coffee and shared the tale of how we were first introduced to it. For our second post we thought we’d provide you with a guide on how to make cold brew coffee at home. While it may sound daunting, it’s actually really simple, fun and an overall rewarding experience.

The pros of cold brewing

I’ve always had a fascination with trying to figure out how to replicate the recipes of things I enjoy, to such an extent that I’ve delved through many cookbooks, baked numerous types of breads, and even gone as far as to produce my own cheeses and beers.

Compared to these previous endeavors, I find making cold brew coffee far more gratifying, as it requires a lot less effort, and yet due to what’s often referred to as cold brew’s forgiving nature, the output is almost always impeccably delicious coffee. Of course, one must remember that like anything in life, the quality of your inputs will have a direct impact on that of your end product. Fresher higher quality beans will always give you a superior brew.

In addition to the above, the cold brew process doesn’t require any expensive equipment, and you end up with a brew full of distinctive flavours that are uniquely different from those found in coffee prepared the traditional way (using heat).

What’s Required

Search online and you’ll find a vast collection of cold brew systems available for purchase. They look really snazzy and they do simplify the brewing process, especially when it comes to filtering. To start with though, there’s really no need to go out and buy any specialised gear. Rather, try your hand at a few batches and then perhaps consider purchasing a cold brew system.

250g bag of Coffee Beans
Coffee Filter Papers
a 2 liter container

Bean Selection

Cold brew’s unique flavour and forgiving nature means that you don’t necessarily require the most expensive bean to develop an enchanting coffee. If you have a bean/blend that you’re familiar with, my recommendation is start there so you can experience the difference in flavour that comes with cold brewing. Alternatively, pick a medium roast of an off the shelf bean and give that a go.

To get started you’ll need:

  1. Coffee beans – 250 grams is a good size. If you’re buying your beans pre-ground, be sure to go for a coarser grind.
  2. A filter – You can use coffee filter papers, cheese cloth or a very fine mesh colander.
  3. A 2 liter jar/container

Note: Items 2 and 3 can be replaced with a French press if you have one lying around.

Steps – How to make cold brew

Step 1 – Grind your coffee at the coarsest setting

Grind size has a direct impact on the rate at which flavour is extracted from your coffee. A finer grind has a greater exposed surface area and hence leads to an increased rate of flavour extraction. The reason most sources recommend a coarse grind setting is because along with cold brew’s extended steeping period, a finer grind may lead to an over extracted harsh bitter coffee.

Of course, taste is subjective, and I’ve read a few posts online by people who prefer the flavour produced by a finer grind size.

For now, start with a coarse grind and if at a later stage you decide that you want to tighten your grind, go for it!

If you’re using a french press

Mix the grinds and water inside the French press and leave to sit for 18 hours. Be sure to cover. After 18 hours remove from the fridge and plunge as you would normally.

Step 2 – Immerse your ground beans in water

We recommend a Coffee Brew Ratio (the ratio of coffee grinds to water) of 5, which is 1g of beans to 5mls water. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can play around with the ratio and see how it impacts your brew. A higher ratio of beans to water should lead to a stronger more concentrated coffee.

Be sure to stir your grinds until they are completely submerged in the water.

Step 3 – Cover container, place in the fridge and leave steeping for 18 hours

Well, 18 hours is our recommended time. Just like grind size and CBR, steeping time is something you can tinker with. In fact, look online and you’ll find posts recommending anything from as low as 3 hours to as high as 48 hours. The longest I’ve ever pushed steeping time was to 22 hours (I overslept for a meeting and ended up rushing out the door), the coffee definitely had a slightly more bitter flavour, but it was still delicious.

Step 4 – Filter

Pour the solution slowly through your chosen filter. Be sure not to let your filter paper (if you’re using one) overflow or tear. Also be wary of coffee grinds clumping at the top of the jar while you’re pouring and creating a seal. This happened to Gary once, and as the flow of liquid slowed down he tilted the jar further up… following which the seal broke and coffee exploded everywhere.

Step 5 – Enjoy                                         

The ways in which cold brew can be consumed are almost endless. It’s delicious both as a hot or cold coffee, and I find myself going through phases wherein my preference alternates between the two. You can also get creative and use it as a cocktail mixer, serve it over vanilla ice cream as an affogato or even use it for baking brownies (check out our recipe section for more ideas).

As a starting point try it as a coffee by mixing down two and a half parts water (either hot or cold) to one part cold brew. Taste and adjust the water/brew ratio to your personal preference.

So, that’s the end of our guide on how to make cold brew coffee. Please feel free to share your own cold brewing experiences, tips, questions and whatever else with us in the comment section below.

Happy brewing 🙂