The cold brew method involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water (or at room temperature), for an extended period of time, in order to produce a coffee concentrate. The cold brew method can take anywhere between 12 to 24 hours to finish brewing. This method is different from traditional methods that use hot water to steep ground coffee through a quick brewing process. The cold brew method produces coffee that is smoother and less acidic than coffee made with traditional hot brewing methods.
We compiled a list of tips and tricks to making amazing cold brew coffee at home:
Tip #1: Experiment with adjusting the variables
To truly understand the coffee brewing process, you must experiment. Try brewing the same coffee while adjusting the variables. Adjust the grind size, the coffee-to-water ratio, and the water. You can even adjust the temperature by brewing in the refrigerator versus brewing at room temperature. You will begin to understand the effect that each variable has on your coffee, will begin to develop a palate for distinguishing between over and under extraction of coffee flavors, and will inevitably become a better home barista.
Tip #2: Use quality water
Do not forget that water makes up over 98% of your coffee. If your water tastes bad, so will your coffee. Use clean filtered water to make good coffee.
Tip #3: Use medium-dark roast
Use medium to dark roast beans if you are looking for the traditional cold brew taste. You can try lightly roasted coffee for a milder, almost tea-like, cold brew flavor.
Tip #4: Grind the beans yourself
Avoid buying pre-ground coffee beans. Instead, grind the coffee yourself to get the freshest cup of coffee each time. Fresh coffee begins to lose its aroma as soon as you grind it. The best tasting coffee is ground immediately before the brewing process.
Tip #5: Use a coarse grind
The beans should be ground very coarsely. If the grounds are too fine, it will end up over-extracting the flavors. Because you are steeping cold brew coffee for 12-24 hours, the over-extraction of finer grounds would result in more bitter and cloudy coffee.
Tip #7: Understand concentrate vs. ready made
If you make cold brew with a high coffee-to-water ratio, you are making cold brew concentrate, which is intended to be mixed with water or milk before serving. If you decrease the coffee-to-water ratio, you can make ready-to-drink cold brew coffee. We recommend the following ratios to start experimenting:
- For ready-to-drink cold brew coffee, use 3 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 8 ounces of water.
- For a cold brew concentrate, use 1 cup of ground coffee for every 4 cups of water.
Tip #8: Dilute the concentrate
Depending on your coffee-to-water proportion, cold brew concentrate will be intensely flavored and caffeinated, and may contain up to twice as much caffeine and hot drip coffee. When you are ready to drink, dilute the concentrate with water or milk.
Tip #9: Brew slowly
As a general rule, cold brew coffee should be refrigerated anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. But not more than that, as over-brewing could lead to really bitter coffee.
The extraction should be reduced if you are brewing the coffee at room temperature as opposed to refrigerated, or if you are using finer grind as opposed to a coarser grind.