The Art of Cold Brew Coffee
They say that slugging a hot drink on an even hotter day is a sure-fire way to cool you down. Personally speaking, I have yet to find hot coffee at 2pm in the Florida sunshine overly pleasurable. No judgement if that’s your bag.
I am a morning coffee guy.
I like it dripped, poured over or pressed. And it’s got to be hot.
It wasn’t until recently that I was swayed towards the alternative to the aforementioned. Sure, I’ve thrown a few ice cubes in my mug to satisfy an afternoon pick-me-up. It wasn’t half bad but it wasn’t something I ever really stuck with.
Like most of you, I too was subjected to the relentless propaganda surrounding the cold brew hype. The internet was in love with it, and it soon became packaged like something straight out of a craft beer subreddit. Beautiful bottles, growlers and bearded and flannel-flanked millennials were seemingly all the internet needed to fall head over heels with it and the process.
Then they got to me.
We’ve got a great gang on our Instagram profile (you should follow) and the DMs and stories poured in.
“Have you tried the cold brew?”
“Love the cold brew!”
“LOX + Cold Brew = Pure Bliss”
“My go-to cold brew”
Flattery aside, I was intrigued. I started asking questions.
“Why cold brew?”
“Did you always make cold brew?”
“What’s your favorite way to brew it?”
“Can I try it?”
While the responses were somewhat varied, the climate here in Florida came up multiple times. It’s hot here, we like coffee, so we cold brew it.
I figured I might as well try it for myself.
Being a self-proclaimed cold brew luddite, I gathered some gear recommendations.
I browsed Amazon but was impatient for it to arrive (yes, that impatient). I skipped down to Target, grabbed what I deemed to be the best product for the job and embarked on my first brew.
The contraption I ended up with resembled a French press. This should be easy.
Here’s the steps I followed and what I learned along the way.
Finding a Container
Most people I chatted with had a store-bought cold brew brewer. These vary in styles, mine is a French press style brewer but I have seen others that work similar to a diffuser. I can honestly say I think it matters not, but the purists might disagree.
Speaking of purists, they would opt for a large pitcher and a package of cheesecloth to get this done. In some circles they will use what is referred to as a 'dumpling'.
A dumpling is created by scooping the coffee grinds into a paper coffee filter and tying it closed using string, lining a pitcher with mesh and placing that package underneath. This creates two layers of filtration during the brewing process. While it sounds incredibly effective it's much too tedious of a process for me.
OK, depending on which corners of the internet you peruse, you’ll find a lot of differing opinions on this as well. Some recommend a similar ratio used for drip coffee, some call for equal ratios that are easy to remember such as 8 ounces of ground coffee to 8 cups of water.
As a reference point, drip coffee uses about ½ an ounce of coffee per cup.
I will, in the very least, double up on grinds in what I would use for a similar-sized pot of drip coffee. Often a bit more.
There’s not much contention on this. You’ll need a decent sized grind to get this done. We use a fairly coarse grind setting for all of our ground product and I use that same grind for cold brew. I haven’t yet had to contend with grinds in my teeth.
Time heals all wounds and it also makes for a better concentrate. I’ve tried what I consider the minimum of a 5-hour brew. It was good but 12 is better and 24 is the best IMO.
If you’re in a pinch, you won’t necessarily be disappointed. Otherwise, plan for at least a 12-hour brew – that’s where the magic lives.
- Grab your container, add your grinds, stir, cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Strain your concentrate. Some folks will cut it with water (crazy, right?).
- Fill a glass with ice, add concentrate, milk, syrup and whatever else blows your hair back.