The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee: What It Is, How It’s Made, and Why You’ll Love It
If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably heard of cold brew coffee. It’s one of the hottest trends in the coffee world, and for good reasons. Cold brew coffee is smooth, rich, and less acidic than regular coffee. It’s also easy to make at home, and you can customize it to your taste preferences.
But what exactly is cold brew coffee, and how is it made? In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about cold brew coffee, from the history and science behind it, to the best methods and equipment for making it, to the best roasts and recipes for enjoying it.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is a type of coffee that is brewed with cold or room-temperature water, instead of hot water. The brewing process takes anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the ratio of coffee to water, the grind size, and the desired strength.
The result is a concentrated coffee that has a smoother and sweeter flavor than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee also has less acidity and bitterness, which makes it easier on the stomach and teeth. Cold brew coffee can be enjoyed as it is, or diluted with water, milk, ice, or other ingredients.
The History of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is not a new invention. In fact, it has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the 17th century. The origin of cold brew coffee is not clear, but some of the earliest records of it come from Japan and Latin America.
In Japan, cold brew coffee is known as “kyoto-style” or “mizudashi” coffee. It was introduced by Dutch traders who used cold water to brew coffee as a way to save fuel on their ships. The Japanese adopted this method and refined it over time, creating elegant glass towers that drip cold water over finely ground coffee.
In Latin America, cold brew coffee is known as “toddy” or “cafe de olla”. It was invented by a Scottish businessman named Todd Simpson, who discovered a local method of brewing coffee with cold water and spices in Peru in the 1930s. He patented his own device for making cold brew coffee, which he called the Toddy Maker.
The Science of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is not just a different way of making coffee. It’s also a different way of extracting the flavors and compounds from the coffee beans. The temperature and time of brewing affect the chemical reactions that occur during the extraction process, resulting in different tastes and effects.
When you brew coffee with hot water, you extract more oils, acids, and caffeine from the beans. This gives regular coffee its bright and complex flavor, but also its acidity and bitterness. Hot water also speeds up the oxidation and degradation of the compounds in the coffee, which can affect its freshness and quality.
When you brew coffee with cold water, you extract less oils, acids, and caffeine from the beans. This gives cold brew coffee its smooth and sweet flavor, but also its lower acidity and caffeine content. Cold water also slows down the oxidation and degradation of the compounds in the coffee, which can preserve its freshness and quality for longer.
The Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee has many benefits for both your health and your taste buds. Here are some of the main advantages of drinking cold brew coffee:
- It’s smoother and sweeter than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee has a lower acidity level than regular coffee, which makes it more pleasant to drink. It also has a natural sweetness that comes from the extraction of sugars from the beans.
- It’s easier on your stomach and teeth. Cold brew coffee has less acid than regular coffee, which means it won’t cause heartburn or stomach upset. It also won’t stain your teeth or erode your enamel as much as regular coffee.
- It’s more versatile and customizable than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on your preference. You can also adjust the strength and flavor of your cold brew by changing the ratio of coffee to water, the grind size, or the brewing time. You can also add different ingredients to your cold brew, such as milk, creamer, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even alcohol.
- It’s cheaper and more eco-friendly than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee can save you money and reduce your environmental impact by using less water and electricity than regular coffee. You can also reuse your grounds for composting or gardening.
The Best Methods for Making Cold Brew Coffee
There are many ways to make cold brew coffee at home, but they all follow the same basic steps:
- Grind your beans coarsely. You want to use a coarse grind for cold brew coffee, as this will prevent over-extraction and bitterness. You can use any type of coffee beans, but I recommend using a dark roast for a richer and bolder flavor.
- Combine your grounds and water in a container. You want to use a ratio of 1:4 to 1:8 of coffee to water, depending on how strong you like your cold brew. You can use any type of water, but I recommend using filtered or bottled water for a cleaner taste.
- Stir well and cover your container. You want to make sure that all the grounds are wet and evenly distributed in the water. You can use any type of container, but I recommend using a glass or ceramic jar or pitcher for easy pouring and cleaning.
- Refrigerate or leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. You want to let your cold brew steep for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours for a stronger brew. You can either refrigerate your cold brew or leave it at room temperature, depending on your preference and space availability.
- Strain your cold brew and enjoy. You want to filter out the grounds from your cold brew using a fine-mesh strainer, a cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a French press. You can either drink your cold brew as it is, or dilute it with water, milk, ice, or other ingredients.
Here are some of the most popular methods and equipment for making cold brew coffee at home:
- The Mason Jar Method: This is the simplest and cheapest way to make cold brew coffee. All you need is a mason jar, a lid, and a strainer. You just follow the basic steps above and strain your cold brew using a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth.
- The French Press Method: This is another easy and affordable way to make cold brew coffee. All you need is a French press, which is a device that consists of a plunger and a metal filter. You just follow the basic steps above and press down the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid.
- The Cold Brew Maker Method: This is a more convenient and efficient way to make cold brew coffee. All you need is a cold brew maker, which is a device that has a built-in filter and a spout. You just follow the basic steps above and pour your cold brew directly from the device.
- The Drip Tower Method: This is the most elegant and sophisticated way to make cold brew coffee. All you need is a drip tower, which is a device that consists of three glass chambers that drip cold water over finely ground coffee. You just adjust the drip rate and wait for your cold brew to collect in the bottom chamber.
The Best Roasts for Cold Brew Coffee
You can use any type of coffee beans for cold brew coffee, but some roasts are better suited than others. Here are some of the best roasts for cold brew coffee, along with some recommendations from Aerial Resupply Coffee, a veteran-owned coffee brand that offers premium roasted coffee with amazing flavors:
Dark Roast: This is the best roast for cold brew coffee if you like a strong and bold flavor. Dark roast beans have been roasted longer and have more oils and caramelization on their surface. They also have less acidity and caffeine than lighter roasts. Some of the best dark roasts for cold brew coffee are:
- 15W40 Dark Roast Coffee: This is a dark roast single-origin Colombian beans has notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuts. It’s smooth, rich, and full-bodied, perfect for cold brew coffee.
- SPECTRE: This is a dark roast blend of Sumatran and Ethiopian beans that has notes of dark chocolate, molasses, and spice. It’s bold, intense, and complex, ideal for cold brew coffee.
Medium Roast: This is the best roast for cold brew coffee if you like a balanced and smooth flavor. Medium roast beans have been roasted moderately and have some oils and caramelization on their surface. They also have more acidity and caffeine than darker roasts. Some of the best medium roasts for cold brew coffee are:
- MOAB: This "Mother of all Brews" double caffeinated roast is 100% Robusta bean coffee. It has a phenomenal taste without bitterness while having almost twice the caffeine as Colombian coffee.
- Fire Watch: This is a medium roast single origin Colombian Supremo bean coffee is a perfect breakfast coffee that rides the edge of a light and medium roast coffee. Expect a hint of citrus at the end. This makes an excellent cold brew coffee.
Light Roast: This is the best roast for cold brew coffee if you like a fruity and floral flavor. Light roast beans have been roasted lightly and have no oils or caramelization on their surface. They also have more acidity and caffeine than darker roasts. Our best light roast for cold brew coffee is:
- Lifeline: This is single-origin light roast from Colombian Supremo beans that has notes of berry, lemon, and floral. It’s fruity, tangy, and aromatic, wonderful for cold brew coffee.
The Best Recipes for Cold Brew Coffee
Once you have your cold brew concentrate ready, you can enjoy it in many different ways. Here are some of the best recipes for cold brew coffee, from the classic to the creative:
- The Classic: This is the simplest and most popular way to drink cold brew coffee. All you need to do is dilute your cold brew concentrate with water, ice, or milk in a 1:1 ratio. You can also add sugar or sweetener if you like. This will give you a refreshing and smooth cold brew coffee that you can sip on any time of the day.
- The Latte: This is the best way to drink cold brew coffee if you like a creamy and frothy texture. All you need to do is heat up some milk in a saucepan or a microwave, and then froth it with a whisk or a frother. You can also add some vanilla or cinnamon for extra flavor. Then, pour your cold brew concentrate into a glass or a mug, and top it with the frothed milk. This will give you a delicious and cozy cold brew latte that you can enjoy in the morning or afternoon.
- The Cocktail: This is the best way to drink cold brew coffee if you like a boozy and fun twist. All you need to do is mix your cold brew concentrate with some liquor, such as whiskey, rum, vodka, or Kahlua. You can also add some simple syrup or honey for sweetness, and some bitters or lemon juice for balance. Then, shake your mixture with ice in a cocktail shaker, and strain it into a glass. This will give you a potent and tasty cold brew cocktail that you can savor in the evening or at a party.
The Best Tips for Cold Brew Coffee
To make the most out of your cold brew coffee experience, here are some of the best tips that I have learned over the years:
- Use fresh and high-quality beans. The quality of your beans will affect the flavor and aroma of your cold brew coffee. You want to use beans that are freshly roasted and ground, preferably within two weeks of roasting. You also want to use beans that are organic and fair-trade, as this will ensure that they are grown and harvested ethically and sustainably.
- Experiment with different ratios, grinds, and times. The beauty of cold brew coffee is that you can customize it to your liking. You can adjust the ratio of coffee to water, the grind size of your beans, and the brewing time of your cold brew to achieve different results. You can also try different types of water, such as spring water or mineral water, to see how they affect the taste of your cold brew.
- Store your cold brew properly. Cold brew coffee can last for up to two weeks in the fridge if stored properly. You want to use an airtight container or a bottle to store your cold brew concentrate, and keep it away from light and heat. You also want to avoid shaking or stirring your cold brew too much, as this can introduce oxygen and degrade its quality.
Cold brew coffee is an amazing way to enjoy coffee that is smooth, rich, and less acidic than regular coffee. It’s also easy to make at home, and you can customize it to your taste preferences.
I hope this article has given you some useful information and inspiration on how to make and enjoy cold brew coffee. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
If you liked this article, you might also like these other articles from my blog, The Flightline Cafe:
- How to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans at Home: This article will teach you how to roast your own coffee beans at home using an oven, a popcorn maker, or a skillet.
- 10 Military Inspired Coffee Recipes: This article showcases our Armed Forces and some of our inspirations for why we do what we do.
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
This is Brian from The Flightline Cafe, signing off.