The Cold Brew Method

June 21, 2017

The Cold Brew Method

With summer comes iced cold beverages. We figured there was no better time to share our Cold Brew Coffee Method from our book Brew.

As Brian W. Jones notes in the book, cold-brew coffee is made by either steeping coffee grounds and cold water together or slowly dripping cold water onto coffee grounds over a period of eight to twenty-four hours. The resulting coffee (from both methods) is smooth and has a much lower acidity than hot coffee and can be poured over ice, mixed with milk, or used to make various coffee drinks. One of the downsides of brewing with cold water is that some of the coffee’s complex flavor compounds aren’t fully extracted, resulting in a less-vibrant drink. However, for this same reason, cold-brew coffee is more shelf stable, allowing it to be made in large batches and stored for later use or bottled, making it a favorite among some coffee shops.

Steeped cold brew is easy to make, and you don’t need any special equipment. You can use a French press, Mason jar, bucket—anything really—to mix coffee grounds with cold water. When the coffee has steeped long enough to extract the right amount of flavor, pour the mixture through a paper coffee filter to remove the grounds, and enjoy a smooth and clean coffee.

The cold-drip method requires a special pitcher, or tower, that slowly drips cold water over a column of coffee grounds at a rate of forty to sixty drops per minute. Seeing a cold-drip tower in action can be hypnotic, but it’s not the most practical item for a home kitchen. Fans of the cold-drip method argue that it results in much smoother coffee, but I don’t find the extra equipment worth the supposed benefits.

Cold brew is generally made as a strong concentrate that you dilute with water to achieve your desired strength. This approach allows you to make a lot more drinks with a much smaller pitcher, saving refrigerator space. The concentrate is incredibly potent and works well for making mixed coffee drinks (check out the recipe for New Orleans Cold Brew Coffee). There are many companies that package and sell cold brew in both concentrate and ready-to-drink forms, but I’ve found that most of them use lower-quality beans and don’t taste very good. You can easily achieve better results at home with your choice of high-quality beans.

For more coffee methods and recipes, grab your copy of Brew today!