We all like to think the coffee we make in the morning is as delicious as the one we get from the cafe down the road, but deep down we know it’s a farce. You simply cannot emulate the flavour and texture of a great barista-made coffee using the old instant and cup of hot water. Sure, it looks like coffee and it smells remotely like coffee, but it just ain’t the same. And rather than chase that barista high by either enrolling in a coffee course or dishing out thousands of dollars for a top of the line espresso machine, it turns out there is an easier way; cold brew coffee.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Aside from being absolutely everywhere right now, cold brew coffee is a method of producing rich, delicious coffee over time. Rather than brewing coffee with boiling water, the cold brew method allows you to gradually filter coffee through without burning or diluting the beans. Essentially, the process involves brewing coffee with room temperature or cold water over a 12-24 hour period. Because of the colder base water, you end up with a far smoother and less acidic final result. If you are wondering how to make cold brew coffee, we caught up with the Ben Irvine, trade marketing manager for Manly Vale-based roastery Seven Miles.
According to Irvine, the modern incarnation of cold brew coffee technology came from a US man named Todd Simpson. “He invented the creatively named “Toddy” brewer back in 1964. As far as inventions go, it wasn’t exactly the iPhone – it’s essentially a plastic bucket with a filter. Nonetheless, it sparked a coffee drinking phenomenon that keeps on growing to this day,” Irvine explains. So, why was it so groundbreaking?
“In terms of taste, brewing with cold water has a pronounced effect on the flavour of the coffee, reducing the perceived acidity and producing a distinct chocolatey flavour profile,” Irvine says. “Another benefit, compared to chilling hot coffee, is that cold brew remains stable for longer in the fridge. While chilled espresso will start to turn funky in a matter of minutes, cold-brew can still be tasty well over a week after brewing.”
Best Coffee for Cold Brew
While coffee, like most food and beverage, is a matter of personal preference, you have to think it takes more than just a couple of spoonfuls of the old Blend 43 to make cold brew coffee shine. A typical espresso blend will get the job done, particularly if you plan on adding milk to the final product, however, a light espresso roast will generally work better for unmixed drinking.
Irvine explains that there are some varieties of coffee that work particularly well for cold brew.”In terms of origins – for me, the heavy body & fruity flavours of natural or honey-processed coffees tend to work better with cold coffee brewing,” he says. “For example, the deep fruity sweetness of an Ethiopian natural or the heavy chocolate flavours of a Brazil Pulped-Natural are right on the money in a cold brew.” Here are the characteristics you need to consider when selecting the best coffee for cold brew;
A highly important aspect of the final flavour, roast is one aspect you need to consider deeply. “I recommend a light or medium roast for cold brew,” Irvine says. “Darker roasts, particularly those with visible oils on the bean will have a fairly one-dimensional smoky roast taste in the finished product.”
According to the Seven Miles coffee expert, ‘natural process’ coffees work particularly well with cold brewing. “The extra sweetness and deep fruity flavours of these coffees work much better than more delicate ‘washed’ coffees. A particular favourite are Ethiopian natural process coffees (like this one) or blends that are made up of natural process coffees (like our Wilde blend)”
Finally, if you are wondering how to make cold brew coffee that will actually taste good, have a think about the grind. “A coarse grind (Plunger / French Press) will produce the best results.,” Irvine says. “If grinding coffee at home is not an option, then I would avoid the pre-ground coffees in the supermarket. These are usually ground too fine, designed for either espresso or drip filter. Most local roasters and many local cafes will grind to order to suit cold brew.”
Cold Brew Coffee Ingredients
If you want to learn how to make cold brew coffee at home, the first step is to get your equipment and ingredients together. Most will be easy to find, but they will also be highly dependent on the method you use to make your cold brew. If you are using a Toddy, the equipment supplied will be sufficient, provided you have enough filters to see you through.
“While we use the classic Toddy cold brewer, some people might find its plain ‘plastic bucket’ aesthetic to be a little too functional,” Irvine says. “If that’s the case, the Body Brew is an attractive alternative with its hourglass design and reusable, stainless-steel filter. On the other hand, the Espro CB1 is a more high-end take on the Toddy design, with its stainless steel brewing vessel & UV protected glass growler to store the cold brew concentrate.”
Whatever your chosen method, the core ingredients will be the same. Here is what you need to make cold brew coffee at home;
- 400g coffee
- 2 litres water
- Filter (cloth, paper, sieve)
- Cold brew system (Toddy, Body Brew, saucepan)
For any cold brew coffee recipe, it is crucial that you use filtered water. The quality of the water you use will have a significant impact on the flavour of your cold brew. Water straight out of the tap won’t necessarily make your coffee taste bad, but it certainly won’t live up to the lofty heights it could. You want the best, right?
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
While the Toddy is perhaps the easiest method for how to make cold brew coffee at home, we’ve gone with an absolute bare essentials recipe. Provided you have coffee, water and a saucepan, you’ll be set to get this cold brew coffee recipe underway. Here is how to make cold brew coffee at home without a system;
- Add 1 part (e.g. 100g) coarse-ground coffee to a saucepan.
- Add 5 parts (e.g. 500ml) of room temperature filtered water and stir together.
- Put the lid on and leave at room temperature for 24 hours to brew
- Filter the brew twice, first through a fine sieve to remove the bulk of the grounds and then through the paper/cloth filter to remove the remaining fine grounds.
- Store in an airtight bottle in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
“This method produces a concentrate that has a punchy, almost whisky-like intensity,” Irvine explains. “You can drink it as a straight ‘shot’, however, most people prefer the serve 1 part of the cold brew concentrate diluted with 1 part still / sparkling mineral water or milk.”
Cold Brew v Cold Drip
If you’ve heard of cold brew coffee chances are you also heard of cold drop coffee. While hey might appear to be exactly the same thing, they most certainly aren’t Cold drip coffee regularly refers to coffee brewed using those wild glass towers you see at some cafes. These contraptions allow cold water to drip through the coffee grounds over a number of hours into a glass vessel beneath. They can expensive set-ups to procure, particularly when compared to the simple and affordable method for how to make cold brew coffee. Sure, the Toddy might not be the kind of instrument you’d want to display prominently, but it gets the job done.
Serving Cold Brew Coffee
Now you’ve figured out how to make cold brew coffee, you’re on to your next big question; how do you serve it? Well, much like the cold brew coffee recipe, it’s super easy. Here are three ways to serve cold brew coffee;
- Over ice: For most cold brew drinkers, simply pouring it over ice will be enough. The smoothness of the coffee makes it far easier to drink than a regular espresso shot.
- Black sparkling: If you are looking to mix things up, try adding 1 part sparkling water to 1 part cold brew concentrate. You’ll wind up with a perky brew that is sure to keep you active.
- With milk: While cold brew coffee is smooth enough to drink without milk dilution, some people can’t stay away from that sweet dairy. If you plan on adding milk to your cold brew coffee recipe, try adding 1 part cold brew concentrate to 2 parts milk. You get a smooth and creamy flavour that is ideal for ice lattes.
Common Cold Brew Coffee Mistakes
While most cold brew coffee recipes are essentially set and forget systems, you can still stuff it up. There are a number of common errors people succumb to when making the drink. Here are the common cold brew coffee mistakes you should avoid;
- Grinding the coffee too fine: Grinding the coffee extremely fine might be a force of habit, but it’s one you should try and drop hen you hit the cold brew scene. Coffee that has been ground too fine will leave you with a bitter flavour profile.
- Making a small amount: Whether you are trying to be conservative with your beans or you just aren’t sure if you are going to like cold brew coffee, you have to go big. Make a large amount and chuck it in the fridge. It lasts for up to two weeks, so don’t be afraid to leave it and come back.
- Not soaking for long enough: The process is slow, we know, but all good things take time. Make sure you leave the beans soaking for at least 12 hours before straining. Optimum timing is between 18-24 hours.
There you have it, turns out a great coffee is just beans, water and saucepan away from your grasp. If you’re looking to get the most out of your cold brew coffee experience, we highly recommend hitting up Seven Miles for their beans. The brand has just released Summer Blend, a mix specifically roasted for cold brew coffee.
Still have questions? We’ve got you covered.
What is special about cold brew coffee?
Cold brew coffee is lower in acidity, meaning that is often smoother, sweeter and easier on your stomach.
Is cold brew coffee stronger than regular coffee?
The cold brew process won’t necessarily bring out on more strength in the flavour or caffeine content of your coffee. However, it bears reminding that a regular coffee also includes a lot of milk and other additives. Cold brew coffee can be enjoyed on its own, due to the lower acidity levels, which means you aren’t diluting the final product with milk.
Is coffee healthy?
Coffee contains compounds that may reduce your risk of heart disease, however, the studies are in the early stages. Too much coffee will result in a fastening of your central nervous system, which may lead to anxiety and stress. A regular amount of coffee per day has been shown to have no long-term effects and may even help with brain function.