Cold brew is great in the summer, especially here in Texas. Personally, I’ll drink cold brew any time of year.
Before I got into cold brew, I never really understood it. I’d had iced coffee before and wasn’t especially impressed. A couple years ago, however, I tasted cold brew that completely changed the way I looked at it. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
Cold brew and iced coffee are not the same thing. Iced coffee is coffee that is brewed while hot and then poured over ice, often diluted with milk. It tends to be more acidic and has a much more “in-your-face” boldness.
Cold brew, on the other hand, is brewed cold, typically for around 16 hours. It has more caffeine and is much more smooth in flavor.
But how do you make it?
The first step is finding the right beans. Cold brew is best brewed with a light roast, since the caffeine content is higher and you’ll get more fruity flavors. When you grind the beans, you want the grind to be coarse rather than fine. Grind them too fine, and it’ll brew too quickly, turn out cloudy, and be more difficult to filter.
To brew the coffee, you want to find the right ratio. In reality, the correct ratio is completely a matter of personal taste. I’ve done a lot of experimenting myself. I’ve found that a safe ratio is 1 ounce of coffee to 1 cup of water. I get pretty precise when making coffee, and I use a scale to measure coffee, but 1 cup of whole beans equals (not ground) around 3 ounces of beans. You can scale your amounts up or down from there.
If you’re looking for more precise ratios, you can use 12 ounces of coffee to 64 ounces of water, or you could use 1.5 cups of whole beans to 8 cups of water. Typically, you want about 5 times more water than coffee.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your ratios! I like my cold brew to be very strong and tend to get very liberal with the amounts of coffee I use. It’s all a matter of taste.
Cold brew can be made in a French press, a mason jar, or any type of container — that fits in your refrigerator, of course. A French press makes it easier to filter out the beans later on, but it limits how much you can make at a time.
Your cold brew will need to brew for anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. 16 hours is a good standard, but it depends on the type of coffee and how much you are brewing. Brewing cold brew is usually an overnight thing. I would advise against brewing for longer than 20 hours.
When your cold brew is done, you will want to filter out all the coffee. You can do this easily with a French press, or you can pour it through a paper coffee filter.