There’s nothing quite like the smooth and naturally sweet taste of cold brew — especially now that temperatures are rising and summer is around the corner. The only problem? It comes with a pretty hefty price tag, and if you routinely purchase it at your neighborhood coffee shop or café the costs can add up quickly. Fortunately, it’s easy as can be to make at home and, better yet, to make in bulk. This way, you can always have a stash of refreshing and deeply flavorful cold brew on hand for a caffeine pick-me-up any time of day.
Here’s everything you need to know for DIY perfection, every time.
First things first, what exactly is cold brew?
It’s a term to describe immersion brewing or the slow process of extracting flavor from the coffee beans by pouring over cold water over and letting it sit for a day or so. Think of it as a slo-mo version of the same chemical process that occurs during hot brewing to extract the oils, acids, minerals, sugars, and proteins.
Besides temperature, does cold brew taste much different from hot coffee?
The difference in brewing speed does affect the taste — with hot, expedited brewing drawing out more acids to lend a floral flavor to the coffee and cold, slow brewing lending a naturally sweeter but slightly more muted flavor to the coffee.
What makes cold brew so special?
For one, cold brew has a longer shelf life (up to two weeks in the refrigerator). Many also prefer its smoother, sweeter flavor which carries very little acidity or bitterness and is easier on the stomach than hot coffee. And then, of course, there’s the benefit of its refreshing, cool temperature, a welcome thirst quencher during the hot summer months.
How do I make it at home?
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Coarse coffee grounds (yes, you can use ours!)
- Kitchen scale
- Cold water
- Mason jar
- Filter (coffee filter, cheesecloth, or fine mesh)
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Grind coffee beans into a coarse grind, or use a French press grind coffee. For cold brew, it’s best to have a larger, coarser grind to keep the brew from getting bitter overnight. You may need to work in batches.
- Measure out coffee grounds and water, sticking to a ratio of one to eight by weight.
- Mix water and coffee grounds in a mason jar, stirring well to ensure the grounds are evenly distributed. The coffee may float the top, which is totally okay as long as everything gets sufficiently wet.
- Cover the container and let it sit at room temperature at least 18 hours, and up to 24 hours.
- Remove grounds from the coffee by slowly pouring mixture through a filter. Avoid the temptation to squeeze the coffee grounds, since that’ll extract the bitterness you don’t want! If there are still grounds in the coffee after first round, you may need to repeat the process.
- Serve chilled or on ice and store leftover in the fridge for up to 14 days.
Pro tip: Plain old cold brew is delicious as if, but if you’re feeling fancy, try jazzing it up with different sweeteners and spices. Our favorites? Cinnamon and honey, vanilla, or sweetened condensed milk.