How To Make Cold Brew Coffee
If you've tried cold brew coffee, you probably have some questions: Can I make it at home? If so, how?
Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have large machines that make many varieties of iced coffee and serve drinks in a flash. However, these machines also use cold brew concentrate, which is infused for 10 to 24 hours. Good news: You can make cold brew concentrate at home!
There's no need to spend extra money on a cold brew in a coffee shop when you can make it yourself. All you need is filtered water, high-quality coffee beans, and patience.
Scroll down to read our guide for more information on making cold brew coffee. Here you will find helpful tips on preparation, recommendations for coffee-to-water ratios, and recommendations for which beans to choose.
Features of Cold Brew Coffee
Concentrated cold brew is comparable to espresso in its flavor saturation. To obtain cold brew concentrate, you need to mix ground coffee and cold water in a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio, leave for 24 hours, and filter. This concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cold brew won't taste the same as espresso, though. Cold water dissolves fewer complex acids than does hot water, so cold brew is a unique-tasting drink.
Which Coffee Should I Use for Cold Brew?
The answer depends on your individual tastes. But in general, avoid using cheap beans. Cold brew is good at revealing the intricacies of coffee, so choose something with a unique flavor profile.
If you like fruity notes, try Kenyan or Ethiopian beans. If you like nutty and chocolatey flavors, try Colombian or Brazilian beans. If you drink coffee with milk, then try a medium or dark roast blend for a pleasant, balanced taste.
Grind size doesn't play such a huge role in cold brew as it does, for example, in espresso. But because larger grinds are easier to filter out of the finished concentrate, we recommend using a coarse grind, the size of brown sugar or sea salt.
Plus, because cold brew extracts for so long, a finer grind can lead to over-extraction and a less tasty drink. Coffee lovers recommend grinding the beans with a manual coffee grinder so you get an even, coarse grind that will result in a delicious cup of cold brew.
For cold brew, the choice of water is especially important. Don't use chlorinated or boiled water. Soft bottled water with a mineralization of about 150 mg/L is most suitable.
Cold Brew Coffee-to-Water Ratio
The most important part of making cold brew coffee is the ratio of coffee to water. If you don't use the right ratio, your drink will be either weak and tasteless or much too strong.
There is still a raging debate on the web about the exact amount of beans to use: some coffee lovers call for a 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, others recommend a 1:3 coffee-to-water ratio.
A 1:3 ratio is actually convenient when making a concentrate. The more ground coffee you use, the stronger the concentrate will be. As a result, you won't have to use as much concentrate in each diluted cup of cold brew, so you'll get more servings of coffee overall.
So what's the best ratio for cold brew coffee?
Objectively, a 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio produces a well-balanced drink. Then, to dilute the concentrate, mix in equal parts, water, milk, or any other beverage that you like.
For a milder taste, mix at a 1:2 ratio.
For cold brew to be drunk “clean” without diluting, brew at a 1:12 or 1:15 ratio, and infuse for 12 hours or more. Keep the drink in the refrigerator while it's infusing, so the finished drink will have a smooth, clean taste.
Another aspect that significantly affects the taste of cold brew is the extraction time, also known as infusion time. To be precise, extraction time affects not so much the taste itself, but the aftertaste, which is just as important.
This nuance is most noticeable when brewing with darker roasts. An interval from 8 to 16 hours will give the drink a light, juicy aftertaste with a less bitter tinge.
Each subsequent hour of extraction will add a richer and deeper flavor. An interval of 16 to 24 hours will give a perfectly rich taste but can cause a dry aftertaste.
Making Cold Brew Coffee at Home
To make cold brew coffee at home, you need just a few tools and ingredients:
- Coffee grinder (preferably manual)
- Coffee beans or coarse pre-ground coffee
- Sieve or special filter
- Two large-volume containers (one with a lid)
- Cold drinking water
Brew Time: 15-24 hours
Yield: 4 Cups
What You Need
1. Take your favorite coffee and weigh out the required amount. For a well-balanced cold brew concentrate, the usual coffee-to-water ratio is 1:5, but the ratio can be changed.
2. Grind the coffee beans coarsely.
3. Mix coffee and water in your first container (the one with a lid). Stir thoroughly so that the ground coffee is in full contact with the water.
4. Cover the container with a lid and put it in the refrigerator.
5. Set a timer and wait. The infusion process has just begun. When using 1:5 ratio, the extraction time is 14-20 hours. If you don't infuse long enought, your concentrate will be weak and watery. And if you leave it for too long, it can taste bitter or astringent. The best option would be to infuse your cold brew for 15-16 hours.
6. Remove the concentrate from the fridge and strain it until no visible coffee grounds or particles remain. Filtering is important because it stops extraction and gives a smooth, clean drink.
7. Your cold brew is ready. You can add water, ice, milk, cream, or various syrups or juices to the concentrate.
- If the coffee is too strong, just add water. If you want a stronger coffee, add less water.
- If the coffee is too acidic, it pmeans that you have not extracted for long enough. Try adding 1-2 hours next time and see how the taste changes.
- You don't need to use beans that are too fresh for a cold brew—ideally, the beans should have been roasted 2-5 weeks ago.
- Select the grind carefully. Using too fine a grind will lead to over-extraction. Depending on the infusion time, use a coarse or very coarse grind.
- Keep track of the expiration date. Cold brew concentrate must be stored in the refrigerator, and for no more than 2 weeks. Don't dilute the whole batch at once, especially with milk, or it will only have a shelf life of 2 days. Only dilute a small portion of the concentrate right before drinking it.
- You can make cold brew at room temperature, as many large cold brew devices like the Filtron or Toddy won't fit in your home refrigerator. You'll just have to increase the extraction time, maybe even up to 24 hours.
Toddy Cold Brew
Toddy was the very first cold brew device. In the 1960s, engineer Todd Simpson, who tasted cold brew in Guatemala, was so impressed with its taste that he invented the device for making such coffee.
Although the Toddy is made almost entirely of plastic, the reusable filter compensates for the environmental impact and the glass decanter is very durable and works well as a storage and serving container. The simplicity of design and ability to work with a relatively large volume (up to 2.5 gallons) allowed the Toddy to gain a foothold in the market.
Using this recipe, you will get a complete cold brew drink, not a concentrate. Therefore, the ratio of coffee to water will be 1:14 instead of 1:5.
Toddy Cold Brew
Brew Time: 24 hours
Yield: 4 Cups
What You Need
1. Grind the coffee (medium-coarse).
2. Insert the rubber stopper into the bottom of the brewing container.
3. Moisten a paper filter and insert it into the brewing container.
4. Add coffee to the container with the filter and then add water. Pour the weater slowly, in a circular motion, until you've reached the 1:14 ratio. This will prevent the ground coffee from sticking to the filter at the edges and help the extraction to be even. You can use a spoon and stir everything gently. Make sure the coffee is completely soaked in water.
5. Next, cover the container with a lid and let it brew at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Make sure that the coffee maker is not exposed to sunlight, as this will spoil the taste.
6. After 24 hours (or more), remove the rubber stopper, and let the coffee drain into the Toddy carafe. You will get a drink with a mild, rich taste. This coffee can be stored in the refrigerator for upto 3-5 days.
Cold brew coffee is a very versatile beverage that can be consumed in many different ways. The correct ratio of water to coffee is very important. The perfect cup of cold brew coffee is a matter of trial and error.e
However, by following the steps above, you can learn how to brew your best cup of coffee. Delightful glasses of homemade cold brew are waiting to be enjoyed.