Cold Brew Coffee: Unraveling the Cool Trend
Coffee is a language in itself.” — Jackie Chan
Cold brew coffee, also known as cold water extraction, is a method of brewing coffee that involves steeping coffee grounds in water at cool temperatures for an extended period. This method is taking the world by storm due to its unique flavor profile. It can be enjoyed both hot and cold.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold-brewed coffee is made by steeping ground coffee in room-temperature water for several hours, usually 12 to 18 hours or even longer, then straining out the grounds and chilling it before serving it either as-is, over ice, or diluted with water. This process extracts the flavor along with the caffeine from the coffee beans, producing a rich, flavorful, and stimulating brew.
Even though it’s brewed with cold water, cold brew coffee can be heated up after the brewing process if you prefer a warm beverage.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
Cold brew coffee and conventional iced coffee are not the same. While cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds at room temperature for a long time, conventional iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee using a standard method and then chilling it either by refrigerating it or pouring it over ice. The trouble with pouring it over ice is that it can taste a bit weak since the ice dilutes the coffee as it melts.
How to Make Cold Brew
To make cold brew coffee, all that is needed is cool or room-temperature water, preferably filtered, plus some freshly ground coffee beans; a vessel, like a pot, pitcher, or jar to brew in; as well as some way of filtering the coffee. Cold brew can also be prepared in a French press coffee pot or in dedicated cold brew coffee makers.
The ratio of coffee to water for making cold brew coffee can vary depending on your taste preference. Here are some commonly used ratios:
- A 1:5 proportion of coffee to water creates a nice balanced drink that you can enjoy straight.
- For a strong cold brew coffee, you can use a 1:4 ratio (one part coffee to four parts water).
- For a smooth, mild coffee, you can use a 1:8 ratio (one part coffee grounds to eight parts water).
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines, and the perfect ratio can depend on your personal taste.
Keeping it in the Refrigerator
The duration for which cold brew coffee can be kept in the refrigerator varies depending on the type of cold brew:
- Cold Brew Concentrate: Cold brew concentrates, which are made using more coffee grounds or less water, can usually be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. However, once you dilute the concentrate, it should not be stored for more than 2 to 3 days.
- Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew: This type of cold brew uses the right amount of coffee from the beginning to give you the desired strength and flavors, so no dilution is needed. Ready-to-drink cold brew can stay good in the refrigerator for up to a full week.
These are general guidelines, and the exact duration can vary based on factors like the freshness of your coffee grounds and your refrigerator’s temperature. Always make sure to store your cold brew in a closed-top container (sealed glass or plastic) in the refrigerator.
Cold brew aficionados will tell you that the flavor of cold brew is much smoother and milder and lacking in the acidic quality of ordinary brewed coffee. This is because cool water doesn’t bring about the chemical changes that produce the acidity as well as the bitter flavor associated with hot brewed coffee. It’s all in the chemistry.
Nitro Cold Brew
Nitro cold brew is a variation of cold brew coffee that uses the addition of nitrogen gas to create a smooth texture. It was created in the early 2010s. Production of nitro cold brew coffee begins with the making of cold brew coffee. Once the grounds are adequately steeped, the coffee is put into a room-temperature bottle or keg. As the cold brew is poured, it is charged with nitrogen to give it a rich, creamy head of foam, similar to draft beer.
Cold brew coffee offers a unique and refreshing way to enjoy coffee. Its smooth, less acidic flavor and versatility in serving methods make it a popular choice for coffee lovers. Whether you prefer your coffee hot or cold, sweet or strong, there’s a cold brew method that’s perfect for you.