What's so special about the beverage, and is it the same as iced coffee?
You can't be a certified coffee lover if you don't know the difference between the two. While they are both served cold, they are worlds apart when it comes to taste. Cold brew coffee is smoother. The fact is it is less acidic than hot-brewed coffee by about 67 percent, so you would love it despite being sensitive to acid.
But they are all coffee, so why do they taste different? To make an iced coffee, you need brewed hot coffee, which you will chill for a few hours or pour over ice. The beverage will taste differently once the ice starts to melt. On the other hand, if you chill the freshly brewed coffee, it won't taste as good as having coffee immediately after preparation.
Cold brew is actually brewed cold and never uses any hot water in the process, so the entire flavor profile is totally different than coffee brewed using hot water.
This is why it is a blessing to know that you can make cold brew coffee in the comfort of your own home.
Easiest Basic Recipe for a Cold Brew Coffee
Before explaining the whys and the other complexities to make you understand the process thoroughly, here's a look at a basic cold brew coffee recipe.
The following ingredients can yield four cups of cold brew coffee:
- 3/4 cup whole coffee beans (not pre-ground)
- 3 cups cool water
- Equal parts milk (optional)
- Sugar (to taste, but completely optional)
You have to prepare the following equipment to get started:
- Pitcher (with plastic wrap or foil as cover) or a jar with lid
- French press (or a jar with fine mesh strainer)
Here are the steps to start making cold brew coffee:
- Pulse the coffee beans in a grinder or food processor.
- Transfer to a jar, cover with cool water, and stir. Place the jar's lid and leave for up to 16 hours at room temperature. You can cut short the waiting time for a minimum of 12 hours.
- Strain to remove the solid parts.
- Top the beverage with equal parts milk (if desired) or water. Add sugar, if preferred, and mix until dissolved.
- Add some ice and enjoy the drink.
A Brief Guide about the Process
Now that you have an idea about the basic way to make cold brew coffee, here are some essential pointers you can apply on your next try:
- If you intend to make it often, it is recommended to buy a kitchen scale.
- 1/4 cup of whole coffee beans can make half a cup of ground coffee,
- Use 1 ounce of coarsely ground coffee for every cup of water.
This step is crucial since it will dictate how strong your final product will taste. Some coffee enthusiasts steep their ground coffee beans overnight, or 12, 18, or 24 hours. Starbucks does theirs for 20 hours.
Don't panic if you exceed the 24-hour duration. This will only make the beverage stronger and more bitter than usual. In this case, you can add more liquid to the drink until you attain your preferred taste.
Straining Your Cold Brew
It's okay if you use a French press filter of a fine-mesh sieve in straining the coffee grounds for starters. But you have to upgrade to ensure that the final coffee concentrate won't be sludgy or murky.
If you want the beverage to taste similar to popular brands, you have to make them like a pro. You can place either a vintage handkerchief or a thin coffee filter made of paper on top of a fine-mesh sieve before straining your coffee. These two options are way better than using a cheesecloth that can somehow end up messy.
Professional Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
This recipe will yield five cups. Some of the steps are different from what you did with the basic recipe, and the final product also tastes richer.
Prepare the following ingredients to get started:
- 3 cups of filtered water
- 85 grams of coarsely ground coffee
- Put water and ground coffee in a jar and stir. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before giving it another quick stir.
- Cover the jar with its lid and leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours or up to 18 hours.
- Top a small fine-mesh sieve with a vintage handkerchief or a thin coffee filter made of paper. Strain the coffee concentrate into a pitcher or measuring cup. Leave it for 5 minutes to rest.
- Fill your serving cup or glass with ice and add water up to its half part. Then, fill the remaining portion of the glass with the strained concentrate.
- Stir and enjoy the drink.
You can keep the prepared cold brew concentrate in the fridge for up to two weeks, but to enjoy the richness of its taste, it is best to consume it within a week.
Now that you know how meticulous it is to prepare cold brew coffee, you may already understand why it is priced higher than regular cups. Some coffee shops sell pre-packed cold brew concentrates, making the process easier for those who want to enjoy the beverage any time they want to. In this case, ask for the kind of coffee beans used and always check the expiry date on the label.
Since you already know the process, it is best to stock on good coffee beans and complete the needed equipment. This way, you can flex your coffee-making skills whenever you have guests or simply enjoy a cup or two whenever cravings hit you.