Cold brew coffee is a special type of coffee. In the hot summer, especially here in Texas, it can be a nice, cool relief. But besides the temperature, what sets cold brew coffee apart from regular hot coffee? And what is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
A common misconception many people hold about cold brew is that it is the same thing you drink when you go to Starbucks and get a frappuccino or something similar. Cold brew coffee is brewed by letting coffee grounds sit in cold water for anywhere between 18-24 hours, and tastes just fine plain and black. It is brewed at a roughly 1:1 ratio. 5 tablespoons for 8 ounces of water.
Iced coffee is different from cold brew in that iced coffee is brewed hot and allowed to cool down before enjoyed. Iced coffee is harsher and more bitter, because it is brewed hot and meant to be consumed hot. If you’ve ever taken a long time to drink a cup of coffee, and after a while it got cold, it does not taste as good. The only way to make iced coffee enjoyable is to dilute it with milk.
Cold brew, on the other hand, can be enjoyed without anything else added to it. The process of brewing cold brew brings out more flavors.
I learned a lot about cold brew coffee by doing a taste test of different brands of them. Before I began, though, I tried my hand at making my own. I roasted a batch of light roast Nicaraguan coffee, and, with a 1:1 ratio of coffee to water, I brewed it for 24 hours in a jar and then filtered out the grounds.
The resulting coffee was rich with flavor and very strong. It was possibly some of the best cold brew I’ve ever tasted. Adding milk or sugar or anything else to it would only have masked some of those flavors.
After making my own, I went on a search for commercial cold brews.
The first one I found was Dunkin’ Donuts. The coffee comes in packs of grounds that you put in a pitcher of water and let it sit for roughly a day. Despite being a chain brand of coffee, I was impressed with the taste of this cold brew. It was strong and not overwhelmingly bitter or acidic. While I’m not one to often go for big brand coffee, it is certainly a cold brew I would recommend.
The second cold brew I found was a Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee Kit, which came with 8 coffee pods and a jar. You could either put 1 or 2 pods into the jar with water and let it sit for several hours. The instructions said to let it sit for 16 hours, but I found it to be very strong after 6-8 hours, as the acidity was too much after 16 hours.
The Chameleon Cold Brew had a great taste and was probably my favorite out of the brands I tried. With the adjusted brewing time, the acidity and strength were just right. It was delicious both black and with milk.
One cold brew I was impressed with was called Jet Fuel – and it’s called that for good reasons. The pods in this package brew very strong coffee. I’m personally a fan of stronger coffee, so I loved it. At the same time, this cold brew was still pretty smooth. I thoroughly enjoyed it and even drink it black.
Independence Coffee Company also has regular beans by the name of Jet Fuel, which are also excellent. A very dark roast, great for morning coffee.
While my preference when it comes to cold brew is to brew it myself (with my own beans), I thoroughly enjoyed these brands, and I know there are many others out there that are equally as excellent. Be sure to check them out and see what you think!