Cold Brew Coffee: Everything You Need To Master It
- Cold Brew vs Ice Coffee
- The Science Behind Cold Brew (and why it tastes better)
- How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: 4 Ways That Work
- COMMON COLD BREW MISTAKES
- MORE COLD BREW POSTS
- Cold Brew Coffee Maker Reviews
You are about to learn everything that you need to know about mastering cold drip/brew coffee.
Sure. You could just go down to the local coffee store and buy a pre made bottle, but where's the fun in that?
Not to mention, its expensive, and you can save a lot of money by learning to make it yourself.
And yes - you will be able to home brew it so it tastes BETTER than the stuff your local barista brews. It just takes a few small hints and tweaks, which I reveal below.
I'll show you how to brew it with just about anything you can find lying around in your home, and finally, you'll see some reviews of the best cold brew coffee makers (THIS is our current favourite)
I've also put together some mind blowing cold brew recipes - do not miss those.
Don't forget to grab this free COLD BREW WATER : COFFEE RATIO TABLE before you go. Getting the ratio right is one of the secrets to making awesome cold brew.
Cold Brew vs Ice Coffee
Ice coffee and cold brew coffee are NOT the same thing. I hope you already know this, but if not: this graphic will show you why. Both have pros and cons, but to be honest, cold press/brew coffee is what its all about.
Cold brew coffee has been exploding in popularity during recent years, and for good reason. Compared to regular old iced coffee, the cold brew is a very different beast, and many coffee fans are finding that they actually like it more.
When it comes to preparation, iced coffee and cold brew are polar opposites. While an iced coffee is prepared hot and then chilled, a cold brew is made at a low temperature, relying on time instead of temperature.
The science behind the brewing process means cold brews are generally less acidic and more mellow than regular coffee.
- Easy and quick to make - you just need hot coffee, ice cubes and 15 minutes
- No need for a special coffee maker
- Hot water extraction creates acidic and bitter flavour compounds
- Temperature change makes it spoil faster
COLD BREW COFFEE
- Straightforward to make
- Smooth flavour profile, low in acidity
- Strong and prolonged caffeine kick
- Patience required - takes up to 24 hours to make
- You need a cold brew coffee maker
Whats all the hype around cold brew?
- It's more mellow and less acidic than hot and iced coffee...making it easier to drink.
- You get a slower releasing caffeine hit, when compared to hot brewed coffee. No caffeine crash!
- Some people also find it more stomach-friendly for the same reason.
- Properly brewed cold brew lasts for up to two weeks, so you can make a huge batch at once and make up for the long brewing time
- You can also make a cold brew extract, which can be diluted or used in various recipes.
- There are tonnes of recipes ideas you can experiment with once you have a big batch of concentrate.
The Science Behind Cold Brew (and why it tastes better)
A lot of nice sounding benefits are attached to cold brew - it tastes awesome, it’s smooth and non-acidic, it’s better for the stomach...
You might be wondering if this is all just marketing talk to sell a new form of coffee. Its not!
There are actually simple, scientific reasons for the positive attributes of a cup of cold brew.
As you may know, the science behind a good cup of coffee is actually quite complicated.
Coffee beans contain roughly a thousand different chemical compounds, including malic acid (a sour compound also found in green apples) and Furaneol (a sweet compound also found in strawberries).
Making coffee is really the process of extracting these compounds from the beans into the water, thus turning it into the beverage we know and love.
There are two important factors to control in the brewing process:
TIME and TEMPERATURE.
This is where cold brew is interesting, because the brewing process is completely different from a traditional brew in both aspects.
Let’s take a look at what actually happens during the brewing processes:
In hot water, the coffee compounds are released rapidly, meaning the brewing process is completed within just a few minutes.
On the flip side, the higher temperature also causes the coffee acids and oils to degrade and oxidize more quickly.
This can accentuate the acidity and bitterness of the coffee.
Conversely, the cold brew method relies on a long brewing time instead of high temperature. This produces a completely different flavour profile, one that is smooth and mellow. This is because many of the sweeter flavour compounds are soluble even in cold water, but the oils and the acids are not.
Cold brew coffee is definitely “strong” in terms of the grounds-to-water ratio and caffeine content, but it does not taste harsh or bitter. This is why it turns out that cold brewing is an excellent method of extracting coffee beans. It is even possible to get a decent cold brew from older beans that would otherwise produce a terrible cup of hot coffee.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: 4 Ways That Work
There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. No, I'm not recommending you take to your household feline with a knife - its an expression.
I'm trying to say there are plenty of ways to make cold brew coffee. The method you ultimately choose depends on what you have available to you, and your style.
Wondering how to make cold brew coffee? Here are 4 ideas/tutorials that will get your there.
#1 - Use A French Press
Yep - thats right. All you need to make great quality (and super strong) cold brew coffee is coffee grounds, water, and your standard french press coffee maker.
Chances are you have all these items lying around right now, so why not get started right now? You'll be sipping DIY cold drip coffee in no time.
This is the cheapest and easiest way to make cold brew. Thats the good news. The bad news, is that you have to take a few precautions to make sure it does not end up a sediments mess. Pay attention.
- Super simple method
- You likely have all the tools already
- No need to go out a buy a new brewer
- If you screw it up, it will be full of sediment
- Hard to brew large batches
- Wont work if you have a small fridge
What You'll Need
- A french press - something larger than a single serve french press
- Coarse ground coffee
- Filtered water
- A fridge with a high shelf
Sounds like it will work for you? Great! Click here to read this tutorial on how to make cold brew coffee in a french press
#2 - Use A Mason Jar
Making a cold brew doesn’t necessarily require fancy equipment. You’re literally just chucking some coffee grounds in water and waiting for the magic to happen. This is also called an “immersion method” of brewing.
You can probably find everything you need for this recipe in your kitchen. And even if you don’t, it’s not going to break your bank.
Making cold brew coffee at home is both fun and economical - no electricity required, either!
Be prepared to wait for your coffee. Don’t let it sit for too long, though, unless you want to make coffee concentrate.
- Easy and cheap way to make cold brew
- Perfect way to use older, slightly stale coffee from your cupboard
- The strainer and filter treatment is kind of a hassle and might get messy
- It can be difficult to get all the grounds out of your cup
- Requires a lot more coffee grounds than a hot brew
What You'll Need
- Coffee grounds (coarse)
- A mason jar
- Strainer (a tea strainer will do fine)
- Coffee filter
Want to try this simple method? Great! Click here to view this walk through on how to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar!
#3 - Use An AeroPress
As a coffee drinker, the Aeropress is your best friend - it’s portable, easy to use and capable of producing an excellent brew. It’s also more versatile than you may think.
Did you know, for example, that you can make cold brew coffee with your Aeropress?
There are a few different ways to make cold brew with an Aeropress, but all of them are simple and don’t require much equipment. Some recipes just work with a “regular” inverted Aeropress brew, while others make use of tools like mason jars and plastic bottles.
Just get experimenting and you’ll find your favourite way of transforming that trusty Aeropress into a cold brew machine!
- if you have an Aeropress already, you have all you need to do this.
- Simple and straightforward
- Won't take up much space
- It might get messy - some practice is needed to find the perfect method
- You can’t make a large batch, which is usually the best thing about making cold brew
What You'll Need
- Aeropress and filters
- Depending on the recipe, basic kitchen stuff like a mason jar, a carafe or a plastic bottle
Interested in trying it out? Check our guide to making cold brew with Your Aeropress Here!
#5 - Whip Up Some Quick And Easy DIY Cold Brew
You don't want to spend money on a cold brew coffee maker. You don't own an Aeropress. You don't even own a French press. And you can't be arsed to go to the store and buy a bottle of pre-made cold brew.
All you have is coffee grinds, water, and some common household items.
Some would call you stubborn. Not me, though. I'd call you a resourceful SOB. You KNOW that you can make great cold brew with a little creativity. And you're right.
If you have coffee beans, chances are you could whip up some cold brew TODAY with a few items you have lying around.
- This is cold brew in its most simple form
- Cheap - you won't need to spend a dime (of course, you'll need coffee)
- Chances are, you'll feel like Bear Grylls after doing this.
- Can get messy!
- You won't be making grade A cold brew, but it will still taste good
What You'll Need
- Ground coffee
- Something to strain with; a sieve, a coffee filter, even an old (but clean) handkerchief
Interested in trying it Making DIY cold brew? Click here to read our guide and start doing it!
#6 - Stop Messing Around: Use A Cold Brew Coffee Maker
If you want to get serious about making some damn good cold brew at home, you should probably invest in a cold brew dripper designed for that purpose.
Some of the most popular options include the Filtron, the Hario Mizudashi, the Toddy and the Yama glass set. There’s a wide range of sizes, prices and designs available, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits your preferences.
Cold brew drippers don’t take the fun away from brewing - they aren’t fully automatic. This means that you still get to enjoy the craft of it. At the same time, they make the whole process more convenient and consistent.
- This shit will taste BETTER than the stuff you an buy in a store!
- Easier to control the brewing process while leaving space for experimentation
- Ability to brew large batches
- You'll have to spend $20+ for a cold brew maker
- Some cold brew makers are large and look terrible (but others look beautiful)
- It can be confusing to choose between so many options (but we have a guide to help you!)
What You'll Need
- The essentials: coffee beans and water
- A cold brew coffee maker from the list we are about to share with you.
Read our guide to the best cold brew coffee makers on the market here, choose one, and get brewing!
COMMON COLD BREW MISTAKES
Ready to start cold brewing? Just read through this list of the most common mistakes first, so you’ll be wise enough to avoid them from the get-go!
MISTAKE - Using the WRONG Grind Size
Grind size is one of the most important factors when you want to achieve a perfect cup of coffee.
Cold brew is no exception.
In this case, you want to make sure your beans are ground coarsely and as evenly as possible.
I'll repeat that: YOU WANT A SUPER COARSE GRIND
If you use fine grounds, they will extract too efficiently, resulting in bitter coffee.
Moreover, using fine grounds in an immersion brew will result in a very sludgy cup (although double filtering can fix this)
You’ll need a good grinder to ensure an even grind size. If your grounds are uneven, you will probably end up with some sneaky coffee particles in your cup and this blows.
AVOID THIS COMMON MISTAKE EASILY: USE A SUPER COARSE GRIND TO MAKE COLD BREW.
MISTAKE - Using The Incorrect Ratio
Making cold brew is forgiving, so its tempting to just throw mathematics out of the window.
If you want to make cold brew that melts in your mouth, you should be aiming for a 7:1 ratio of water to coffee grounds.
If you’re making concentrate, the ratio is usually 1:1.
The most common error is skimping on the coffee grounds. Yes, you really do need that much.
If it feels like a waste, don't use the most expensive coffee beans you can find, use something mid range.
If you make it too strong, it’s no big deal, because you can always dilute it with ice or water before drinking.
Weak cold brew is much trickier to salvage, so it’s best to avoid this mistake altogether.
AVOID THIS MISTAKE: FOLLOW THE CORRECT RATIO
MISTAKE - Impatience (while steeping)
The home coffee brewing game is no game for an impatient brewer. If you're the impatient type, you should be drinking instant coffee. Im not sure you how ended up reading this in the first place.
Because cold brewing relies on time, not temperature.....you should be prepared to wait.
If you are impatient in nature, and you want cold brew NOW, go and buy a bottle of it, drink it, and then start brewing your own. This will stop the urge to end the steep time prematurely.
Cold brew coffee is beloved for its rich and smooth intensity, but you’re not going to achieve that flavour profile if you rush it.
In this case, patience is rewarded - but don’t overdo it either, because it will over-extract and turn bitter or stale.
As a rule of thumb, you should be waiting between 12 and 24 hours.
AVOID THIS MISTAKE - ALWAYS STEEP FOR 12-24 HOURS.
MISTAKE - Wrong Beans!
Some people say that you should make cold brew with cheap quality beans - because you'll be using a large amount of coffee beans, and thus, using good beans can get expensive.
I don't agree with this.
If you want to save a few bucks, go ahead and make cold brew with cheap beans. Then go ahead and 'enjoy' your cheap tasting cold brew.
The nicer the bean, the nicer the flavours. Cold brewing brings out those flavours, so choose something with a unique flavour profile.
In general, cold brew eliminates acidity.... and light roasts tend to be more acidic. This means using light roasts in your cold brew batch allows you to enjoy light roasts with the acidity.
Choose an exotic bean with a cool sounding flavour profile, and choose a lighter roast.
AVOID THIS MISTAKE - CHOOSE BASED YOUR BEANS BASED ON FLAVOUR, NOT PRICE.
MISTAKE - Storing Your Cold Brew For Too Long
Although one of cold brew’s biggest strengths is that it can be made in big batches and stored, don’t get ambitious and overdo it.
Undiluted cold brew can last for 1-2 weeks, but not longer than that.
It’s not about health and safety as much as it is about taste: the flavour of cold brew will start to degrade in just a couple of days. You cold brew will start tasting funky, and you've just wasted a whole lot of coffee.
if you add milk to your cold brew, it will go bad much faster, as dictated by common sense. If milk is your thing, only add it when you are about to drink it.
MORE COLD BREW POSTS
Cold Brew Coffee Maker Reviews
Using a coffee make that was designed with cold brew in mind will achieve 2 things. It will:
- Allow you to make unbelievably smooth tasting cold brew while you experiment with variables, and;
- Make brewing cold brew much easier and faster.
Before you rush out and buy the first cold brew coffee maker you see online or in-store, browse our recommended brewer reviews here:
The filtron is an ugly looking although EFFECTIVE cold brewing powerhouse.
It can make large batches of cold brew concentrate, which you can then store in your fridge and use to dilute into a smooth tasting cold brew.
The Filtron is a favourite of those who need lots of cold brew, and lots of GREAT tasting cold brew at that - it uses a great system with double filters.
Like the Filtron - the Toddy cold brew system was designed to one thing well: make high quality cold brew coffee concentrate.
You shiny gimmicks, no fancy glass dripping thing-a-mabobs, just a way to make super smooth cold brew, easily.
Read our review of the Toddy and see if its right for you. To be honest, there is no real difference - one is black, one is white, and they do the same thing in almost exactly the same way.
The OXO Brewer
The Oxo brewer is our favourite option for the simple reason that its convenient to use.
The unique design of the OXO system makes it portable, light, easy to store and easy to fit in the fridge while letting it do its thing.
If you like to enjoy cold brew a few times per week, and want something that looks somewhat sexy, the OXO brewer is a great choice for you.
Its easy to see why this is the most popular brewer right now.
The reason why the OXO is my preferred cold brew maker - functionality, and how you can pack it up and down to fit in small spaces. It also has a few other cool, unique features.
The Yama Glass Cold Brew Tower
I would rather spend a day in bed with a Yama glass tower than with my girlfriend.....thats how beautiful this thing is!
Made from carved timber and 4 glass components, it creates cold brew (very slowly) through a unique ice-immersion process that allows you lots of control over your final brew.
Its sexy, its pricey, and it allows you control. These 3 characteristics make it a favourite choice for cafes, and for those who are serious about making the best cold brew of their LIVES.
Read our review before purchasing though, we'll need to show you a few things...
The Hario Mizudashi
In general, if something is made by Hario, I'll buy it. I just trust their brand, and i've never been let down by one of their coffee products.
The Mizudashi is how the Japanese do cold brew, in the most simple form.
Its a glass carafe with an inbuilt filter. Its cheap, it looks good, and it fits in your fridge like a glove.
This is the perfect option for those just getting in to CBC.