Much like an automated coffee maker, we’ve been programmed to use hot water each and every morning to brew a decent cup of coffee.
But one alternative brewing method is staying strong; a method in which time – not temperature – is used to forge a flavorful brew.
Cold brew coffee is all the rage in coffee shops and cafes – and even dots the refrigerated shelves of your local grocery store.
More and more coffee-lovers have begun making cold brews at home, too. And with good reason – the process produces a balanced and extremely flavorful concentrate that is both healthy and eco-friendly and can be stored and enjoyed for up to a week at a time.
But if you’re going to attempt to make cold brew coffee at home, you may want to have a glass of water to tide you over. The process can take anywhere from 12-24 hours to do correctly. It is typically an overnight affair, in which coffee is steeped in refrigerated or room temperature water.
While hot water is a more expedient solvent, heat can cause some of the oils in a coffee bean to dissolve; oils that are believed to contain beneficial elements such as fatty acids and antioxidants.
Cold brewing takes its good, sweet time to produce a concentrate, but it eschews coffee’s negative traits – such as acidity – while holding onto all of the positive qualities.
There are a number of different methods available to aid you in your quest for the perfect cold brew.
- The Immersion Method. Several companies now manufacture products specifically for cold brew, but all you really need is a sealed vessel that keeps oxygen out and keeps water and coarsely-ground coffee in, simultaneously. The coffee is immersed in water in the jar, and left to seep for 12-24 hours, before the concentrate is poured through a sieve into a separate container to filter out coffee particles. Commercial brewers primarily serve the same purpose and are ideal for brewing large batches of concentrate.
- Slow drip – Yielding a slightly different flavor than full-immersion, a slow drip device allows water to gradually drip from a top compartment containing ice or water into a middle compartment containing ground coffee. The resulting concentrate is collected in a third, bottom, chamber.
- French Press, simply store the press in the refrigerator for 12 hours or more prior to plunging the ground coffee.
Additional benefits and attributes of cold brew coffee include:
- A balanced flavor and a silkier consistency. All of the bitterness that is often associated with coffee
is left behind, yielding a sweeter, more chocolaty beverage that has low acidity.
- A reduced reliance on sweeteners. Because cold brews are naturally sweeter, they ultimately cut down on
sugar consumption, making for a healthier beverage.
- A reduced carbon footprint. Cold brew coffee makers are analog devices. No electricity is required
(assuming you grind your coffee by hand).
- A gift that keeps on giving. Perhaps the best feature of cold brew coffee is that it lasts for up to a
week, when refrigerated. That means you can make coffee once and enjoy the result multiple times.
Cold brews are typically served cold, over ice – but they can certainly be reheated. Keep in mind, the concentrate that results contains about twice as much caffeine as regular coffee. Be careful and cut with water or milk if necessary.
Care to try? All you need to get started is a mason jar, a cheesecloth, water, and your favorite coarsely-ground Orinoco roast. Have fun and stay cool.