The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee: Tips, Techniques, and Equipment
Cold brew coffee has gained immense popularity for its low-acidity taste and smooth flavor. Unlike traditional brewing methods that use hot water, cold brew is prepared by steeping coffee grounds in cold water over a longer period of time.
In this guide, we will dive into the basics of cold brew, provide valuable tips, and review popular cold brew brewers. Whether you're a seasoned barista or someone exploring new ways of enjoying coffee, you'll be making delicious cold brew in no time with these guides!What is Cold Brew Coffee, Tips and Tricks
Cold Brew Coffee Ratios
How to Make Cold Brew in a French press
How to Make Cold Brew in a Jar with Mesh Filter
How to Make Cold Brew in a Toddy
How to Make Cold Brew in a Mason Jar
How to Prepare the Perfect Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee has captured the hearts and palates of many coffee lovers. Its distinct characteristics like a lower acidity taste and smooth body make it a delightful beverage to enjoy. Even for those who typically prefer adding cream and sugar to their coffee! Making cold brew involves steeping coarsely ground coffee in cold water for 12-24 hours, resulting in a concentrate that is mixed with water for the final beverage.
Pros of Cold Brew Coffee:
- Easy to make: Cold brew is simple to make and requires minimal hands-on effort.
- Cold Brew for days: These brewing methods make a good amount of cold brew concentrate, and can be stored in the refrigerator for easy access each morning.
- Customize the strength: Cold brew concentrate provides the flexibility to adjust the strength of your coffee according to personal preference. So you can make it as strong as you like!
Cons of Cold Brew Coffee:
- Cleanup challenges: Some brewing methods may have a messy cleanup process.
- Potential for sludge: Certain brewers may allow fine coffee particles to pass through the filter, resulting in sediment at the bottom of the brew.
- Quality of coffee grounds: The taste of your cold brew is heavily influenced by the quality of the coffee grounds you use. This can be a pro OR a con! Keep experimenting until you find your favorite.
Choosing the Right Coffee Beans
To achieve a flavorful and aromatic cold brew, selecting high-quality coffee beans is crucial. Opt for freshly roasted coffee that is ground just before brewing, or choose coffee ground by your local roaster.
When it comes to roast level, medium to dark roasts are more popular for their full body and richness. However, be cautious not to go too dark, as it may result in an overpowering roasty flavor. Medium and lighter roasts offer a delightful balance of fruity and sweet notes, which can be enjoyed even without cream and sugar.
Grinding Coffee for Cold Brew
The coarseness of the coffee grounds plays a vital role in the cold brewing process. Since cold brew is an immersion method, where the grounds steep in water for an extended duration, a coarse grind is essential. Coarsely ground coffee has a larger surface area which minimizes the risk of over-extraction (over-extracting coffee can result in a bitter and unpleasant taste).
The Ideal Water for Cold Brew
The quality of water used for cold brew significantly impacts the final flavor. Opt for soft filtered water that contains some minerals. A Brita pitcher or similar filtration system works well to ensure the water is free from impurities. It is advisable to avoid using hard or distilled water, as they can negatively affect the taste of your coffee.
Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio: 1:5 or 1:6 ratio by weight. This will give you a strong concentrate to mix with water. Example: 12 ounces of coffee with 64 ounces of water.
(or about 4 cups of coffee to 8 cups of water, may vary based on coffee and equipment)
The recipes for the French press, Toddy, and mason jar below will provide you with cold brew concentrate, so you would pour this over ice and mix with water. This method allows you to really customize your drink, making it as strong as you like each day.
Ready to Drink Cold Brew Ratio: 1:12 to 1:18 ratio, adjust to preference. Example: 4 ounces of coffee with 48 ounces of water.
(or 1 1/3 cups of coffee to 6 cups of water)
Ready-to-drink cold brew uses less coffee to water, so after brewing is complete, there is no more mixing! Once your coffee is filtered out, simply pour it over ice and you're ready to go! The only downside with this method is you cannot customize how strong your cup is - unless you brew another batch. The jar brewer with the metal mesh filter is best for this method.
The French press is a versatile brewing device that many of us have at home. The French press can also be utilized to create delicious cold brew coffee! To prepare cold brew concentrate using a French press, follow these steps:
- Coarsely grind 170 grams (approximately 1.8 cups) of coffee.
- Add the coffee grounds to the French press and pour half of the required water volume (2 cups). Stir the mixture.
- Then add the remaining water (2 cups, for a total 4 cups of water) and stir again.
- Place the plunger on top of the French press but do not press it down (if brewing at room temperature). If you’re brewing in the fridge, cover with plastic wrap since the extended plunger is probably too tall to fit.
- Allow the coffee to brew for 12-24 hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator. We like 16-20 hours at room temperature.
- After the desired brew time, gently press the plunger down but do not apply pressure to the coffee grounds.
- Pour out the cold brew concentrate to another container to prevent further extraction.
- For a smoother result, strain the concentrate through a paper coffee filter.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!
For a ready-to-drink cold brew, use 70 grams of coffee (about ¾ cup) per 4 cups of water. Adjust the brewing time according to your preference.
The jar brewer from Amazon is a popular choice among cold brew fans. While it offers an affordable price and convenience, it comes with drawbacks.
First, there is not much room in the filter for coffee, so it is tough to make a concentrate using this brewer. We recommend making ready-to-drink cold brew. Follow these steps to make cold brew using the large (64 ounce) jar brewer:
- Place 100 grams (approximately 1 1/4 cups) of coarsely ground coffee into the filter of the jar brewer.
- Slowly pour water through the coffee to ensure thorough saturation.
- Fill the brewer up to the 6-cup mark with fresh, filtered water.
- During brewing, gently swirl the brewer to enhance extraction and make sure all the coffee is saturated, but do not shake.
- Brew at room temperature or in the fridge for 12-24 hours, we recommend 24 hours in the fridge!
- After brewing, lift the filter out of the jar brewer slowly. This will allow the concentrate to drain fully.
- Compost or dispose of the coffee grounds and clean the filter thoroughly.
- Store coffee in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Please note that the mesh filter may allow more fine particles to pass through, resulting in a bit of sludge at the bottom. To avoid bitterness, do not let the coffee continue to steep after the brewing time. Remove the filter, and consume the coffee within a week or two.
The Toddy cold brew system is well-loved for its ability to produce exceptional cold brew concentrate. Follow these steps to brew using the Toddy system:
- Place the reusable filter followed by the paper filter in the Toddy brewer, and rinse them.
- Insert the plug at the bottom of the brewer to secure it.
- Add 12 ounces of coarsely ground coffee into the brewer.
- Slowly pour 8 cups (64 ounces) of water into the brewer and give it a gentle stir.
- Allow the coffee to bloom for a few minutes, then stir once more before covering and brewing.
- Let the Toddy brew for 12-24 hours at room temperature, or fridge if you prefer.
- When the brewing is complete, remove the plug while lifting the brewer directly over the decanter to facilitate easy drainage.
- Store the cold brew concentrate in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The Toddy system's double filters do a great job preventing fines from entering the concentrate, ensuring a clean and smooth brew.
You don’t need any fancy equipment, but you will still need a way to filter out your grinds with this method. The easiest way to do this is to use a coffee dripper and paper filter (a pour over) to strain your mixture after steeping.
If you don’t have a dripper, you can use a paper coffee filter placed inside of a small flour sifter, or cover the top with cheesecloth and a rubber band to pour. Use this recipe to make cold brew concentrate. For ready-to-drink coffee use the ratio at the bottom of this section.
- Use a 2 cup / 16 ounce wide-mouth mason jar for this recipe.
- Weigh out 60 grams of coarse ground coffee, or about 2/3 cup, and place into your mason jar.
- Slowly pour in 350 grams of water, or about 1 1/2 cups.
- Cover the jar and let it sit on the counter or in the fridge for 12-24 hours, we prefer 16-20 hours at room temperature.
- After your desired brew time, strain the concentrate.
- Place a rinsed coffee filter in a coffee dripper, and place this over another jar.
- Pour the cold brew and grounds slowly into the filter, gently scoop out the wet grounds and let your coffee concentrate drain through.
- Discard or compost the grounds. Your cold brew concentrate can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks!
To make ready-to-drink cold brew, use 30 grams of coffee (5 to 6 Tablespoons) and 1 ½ cups of water.
After brewing, it's essential to filter your cold brew concentrate to remove any sediment and achieve a clean and refreshing taste. Do not keep the grinds steeping in the coffee - this will lead to bitter coffee very quickly! Keep the coffee refrigerated and consume within 2 weeks.
To serve your cold brew concentrate, pour it over ice, dilute it with water or milk, and add any desired flavors or sugar. A general guideline is to use a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of concentrate to water, but feel free to adjust it according to your preferred strength. Refrigerate the remaining concentrate for future use.
Whether you prefer the French press, a jar brewer, or the Toddy system, each method has unique characteristics that can make exceptional cold brew coffee. Enjoy the journey of experimenting with different brew times, coffee-to-water ratios, and serving styles to find your perfect cup of cold brew! Give it a try with our signature Cold Brew Blend!