Humans have been consuming coffee for as long as the written word has existed, but cold brew coffee has only recently become popular in western societies. Many consumers confuse cold brew with iced coffee, but there is a huge difference in how we brew these two caffeinated beverages.
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
People often confuse cold brew for iced coffee, which is an espresso-based coffee with syrup and milk over ice. Cold brew coffee, however, has a completely different production process. To prepare cold brew, we leave the coffee grounds in cold water for 24 hours or longer to let the coffee infuse with the water. Brewing coffee in cold water (as opposed to hot), helps extract a range of distinct flavors and compounds. Many coffee connoisseurs say that cold brewing gives their favorite beverage a mellower, sweeter taste than traditional brews do. Cold brewing is also an environmentally-friendly option, as it does not require any electricity.
The process of cold-water brewing gives coffee a unique different taste for good reason. Some components of the coffee bean, like caffeine, fatty acids, and oils, are more soluble at higher temperatures. Using a cold brew method will result in a coffee that is lower in caffeine and fatty acids than a traditional hot brew or iced coffee.
Cold-brewed coffee has become a favorite drink in western countries in recent years, and major high street shops have hopped onto the bandwagon with their own varieties, but the drink has been around for many years. The first clear records of cold brew coffee date to the 1600’s in Kyoto, Japan. Many presume that the Japanese learned this technique from Dutch traders who needed to cold-brew on long sea journeys. Although historical records of cold-brewing are unclear, people believe that using cold water to brew coffee predates our traditional hot brews. This is possibly due to the effort we needed to make hot water before we had electricity and gas.
Make The Best Cold Brew Coffee
The art of making an excellent cold brew coffee is relatively straightforward. However, the relative ease of preparing this coffee hasn’t stopped enterprising individuals in pushing the flavor envelope further and creating a range of specific coffee-making equipment.
As with any coffee, choosing the right bean is a personal decision. Dark roasted beans are best for cold-brewing, as they are low in acids and produce a mellower flavor. These beans do contain more sediment, though, so you need a good filter to allow them to roast. A medium roast will provide a more vibrant flavor, and doesn’t risk any burnt beans. Using a lightly-roasted bean require that you steep the beans in water for a longer time to get the flavors out. You may notice that this brew has a more acidic note.
Ingredients For Cold Brew Coffee
1 cup of coarsely ground beans of your choice
7 cups of room temperature water
A French Press or coffee filter
A container for storage
To make cold brew coffee, you need to add coffee grounds and water into your container or French press. To start the infusion process, stir the grounds into the water, then refrigerate the vessel 16 – 24 hours, depending on how strong you like your coffee. The longer it steeps, the stronger it will taste. All you need to do after your coffee has steeped is filter it with a fine mesh and then a paper filter if possible, which is to eliminate any sediment that’s still in the drink.
Unlike iced coffee, you will not need milk or sugar for your cold brew, but a small pinch of salt will help to bring out its sweetness. Once you make it, your cold brew coffee can stay in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so you can make a large batch and use it as you need to.
As you can see, making a large amount of cold brew coffee requires little effort. Plus, since cold brew can keep for a long time, you only need to make a batch every week or two. You can use your existing coffee equipment to help filter, or if you really love this style, look online and buy specialized cold brew equipment to ensure that you have a consistent, sweet-tasting coffee when you need it.