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What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew is coffee that has been brewed using cold water rather than hot water and is brewed over a longer period of time. Cold brew is stronger than regular coffee and is often diluted before drinking. 

Cold brew has become popular due to the smooth, sweet taste, which means it can be consumed without creamer or sweetener. Many people enjoy cold brew because of the lower acidity levels, which make it more suitable for anyone suffering from acid reflux or stomach irritations.

Cold brew offers many of the same benefits for your health as regular coffee, including increased energy and alertness, and a decrease in the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and Parkinson’s.

What Is Cold Brew

How is Cold Brew Different Than Regular Coffee?

Cold brew is different from regular coffee because of the way it is prepared. This affects the taste, caffeine content, and acidity levels.

Cold brew is prepared by steeping ground coffee in room temperature water for extended periods of time, up to 18 hours. Regular drip coffee is prepared by pouring hot water over coffee grounds, with an extraction time of approximately 5 minutes. 

Cold brew has a smoother taste and lower acidity than regular coffee. The hot water used to prepare regular coffee extracts additional oils from the coffee beans that can cause bitterness and increase acidity levels.

Cold brew has a higher caffeine content compared to regular coffee when prepared using a standard recipe. This is because more coffee beans are used in the preparation. Cold brew coffee can contain up to 500% more caffeine than regular coffee.

Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Regular Coffee?

Yes, cold brew is stronger than regular coffee when prepared to a standard recipe. This is because more coffee beans are used in the preparation.

A standard recipe for cold brew uses a ratio of 1:5 – one part coffee to 5 parts water. Cold brew prepared in this method contains a caffeine concentration of 518 mg per 8 oz. Regular coffee is commonly prepared using a ratio of 1:17. This results in a caffeine concentration of approximately 175 g per 8 oz.

However, if prepared using the same amount of coffee beans, the caffeine content of cold brew is lower than regular coffee by approximately 10%. This is due to the fact that hot water is more effective at extracting caffeine from the beans than cold water.

How Do You Make Cold Brew Coffees?

You make cold brew coffees by steeping ground coffee in cold water for up to 18 hours. No special equipment is needed, but you can purchase a cold brew coffee maker if you want to make drip-style cold brew coffee.

Step-by-step guide on how to make cold brew coffee:

  1. Grind one cup of coffee beans to a coarse setting
  2. Combine ground coffee with five cups of water in a mason jar
  3. Stir the grounds well and put the jar in the fridge
  4. Leave to steep for 16 hours
  5. Strain and filter into a clean jar using cheesecloth or a paper filter
  6. Dilute with water to serve

Related: How Do You Make Coffee Without A Coffee Maker?

What Are the Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee?

The benefits of cold brew coffee for your health are the same as regular coffee. In addition, cold brew coffee has a smoother taste, lower acidity, and is less irritating to your stomach than regular coffee. 

Cold brew has a lower acidity than regular coffee, making it less likely to cause acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. The taste of cold brew can also have benefits for your health. Because cold brew is less acidic and less bitter than regular coffee, people often drink it without sugar or creamer, making it a healthier drink.

Just like regular coffee, cold brew coffee has short-term and long-term benefits for your health. Short-term benefits of drinking coffee include increased energy and alertness, and an improved metabolism. Long-term benefits of drinking coffee include a lower risk of diseases including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Cold brew is popular due to the taste, the low acidity, and the fact it has a longer shelf life than regular coffee. These are the qualities that made the brew method popular throughout cold brew coffee’s long history.

Many people enjoy cold brew coffee for the smooth and sweet taste. People find they can drink cold brew coffee without cream or sugar. The lower acidity levels of cold brew, when compared to regular coffee, make it more popular for people who have stomach problems or acid reflux.

Cold brew is stable for much longer periods than regular coffee. Regular coffee should be consumed within 30 minutes of brewing. Cold brew coffee can be stored for 7-10 days in the fridge without affecting the quality. This makes cold brew more convenient.

Why is Cold Brew Coffee So Expensive?

Cold brew coffee is expensive due to the amount of coffee used and the time it takes to prepare.

Cold brew is often prepared at a ratio of 1:5, while regular coffee is prepared at a ratio of 1:17. This means that the cold brew uses 244% more coffee beans for the same amount of coffee, resulting in an equivalent increase in the cost of ingredients.

There is no special equipment needed, but cold brew coffee needs to steep for around 18 hours in the refrigerator. Cafes would need to take this additional time and electricity into consideration when pricing their coffee. 

Is Cold Brew Effective For a Coffee?

Cold brew is effective for a coffee in terms of keeping you awake, as cold brew has more caffeine than regular coffee.

When prepared with a standard recipe, cold brew contains 64.8 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. Regular coffee contains 21.9 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce.

However, compared to espresso coffee, cold brew is not as effective. Espresso coffee has a higher concentration of caffeine, with 77 mg per fluid ounce.

This refers to cold brew made with regular coffee beans. Cold brew prepared with decaffeinated coffee beans will contain approximately 97% less caffeine.

Related: How to Make Decaf Cold Brew at Home

Is It Cheaper to Buy Cold Brew or Make It?

It is cheaper to make cold brew rather than buy it from a cafe. This is the case for most coffee drinks.

When you make cold brew coffee at home you will only pay for the cost of the ingredients. You may also take into consideration the cost of electricity used for refrigerating your cold brew coffee.

When you buy cold brew coffee, you are paying for more than just ingredients. The cost of the coffee takes into account the ingredients, the wages of the barista, and overheads including rent, electricity, and insurance. The cafe also needs to make a profit, which increases the cost of the drink. 

Do You Need Special Coffee Grounds to Make Cold Brew Coffee?

Yes, to make cold brew coffee you need coffee grounds of the correct size: extra coarse. Most prepackaged ground coffee is medium fineness, which is not suitable for making cold brew coffee. To get the correct coffee grounds you will need to grind them yourself using a cold brew coffee grinder

Cold brew coffee requires extra coarse coffee grounds due to the long extraction time. Using a finer grind size will result in a coffee that is over-extracted, with a bitter taste. 

However, you do not need to use special beans for cold brew. This brewing method is considered to be very forgiving, and will even work with older beans. Some people prefer using light or medium roast coffee beans for cold brew. The natural acidity in these beans is reduced by the cold brew technique. 

Can Cold Brew Coffee Grounds Be Used Multiple Times?

No, cold brew coffee grounds cannot be used multiple times. Attempting to use the same coffee grounds for a second time will result in a cold brew coffee that is weak and lacking in flavor.

Coffee brewing works by using water to extract soluble flavors and oils from the coffee grounds. These flavors and oils dissolve in the water to produce coffee. After the extraction process, very few of these compounds remain in the coffee grounds. 

Should You Dilute Cold Brew?

Yes, you should dilute cold brew if you want a similar strength and taste to regular coffee, but it is not necessary. Cold brew uses more coffee beans in the preparation and is more concentrated than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee has a stronger taste and contains up to five times more caffeine than regular coffee.

Many people dilute the cold brew with water, ice cubes, or milk. If you want to consume cold brew in a similar way to espresso coffee, you do not need to dilute it.

Cold brew concentrate is more concentrated than cold brew coffee and should be diluted before drinking.

How Many Hours Should You Wait for Brewing?

You should wait 16-18 hours for brewing cold brew coffee, but you can let it steep for up to 24 hours.

How long to brew cold brew does depend on the temperature you brew at. Coffee brewed at room temperature will extract more quickly than coffee brewed in the refrigerator. For coffee brewed at room temperature, wait 16-18 hours before filtering and serving. For cold brew coffee made in the fridge, wait 18-20 hours before filtering and serving. Cold brew coffee brewed in the fridge can steep up to 24 hours before it becomes overextracted.

If you want a quicker extraction time, you could use a drip coffee system. The brewing time for this method is around 8-12 hours.

Should You Stir Cold Brew While Steeping?

No, you should not stir cold brew coffee while steeping. Stirring can cause the coffee grounds to sink to the bottom of the jar prematurely, preventing the coffee from extracting correctly. This can result in a weak and watery coffee.

However, you should stir cold brew at the start of the brewing process. When combining the water and coffee grounds, stir well to ensure that the coffee grounds are fully saturated. Without stirring, air bubbles will reduce contact between the ground coffee and the water, resulting in an under-extracted coffee.

What is the Difference Between Cold Brew and Concentrated Cold Brew?

The difference between cold brew and concentrated cold brew is the amount of coffee used in the preparation. Concentrated cold brew contains all of the same components as cold brew but in a more concentrated form.

The exact difference between the two will depend on the ratio used, but a standard cold brew recipe is 1:5 and cold brew concentrate is 1:2. In this case, cold brew concentrate will contain twice the amount of vitamins, minerals, and caffeine as cold brew. 

Do not confuse cold brew with iced coffee, which is prepared using a different method of extraction and different ratio of coffee to water. For more information, read our guide to cold brew vs regular iced coffee.

What is the Ratio for Cold Brew?

The ratio for cold brew is generally 1:5, though there are many different recipes for different concentrations of cold brew.

A standard cold brew ratio is 1:5, meaning that for any amount of coffee you use, you need five times the amount of water. For example, if you use one cup of coffee beans, you will need five cups of water.

However, cold brew coffee is prepared to the taste of the individual. For a lighter tasting brew similar to regular coffee cold brew can be prepared at a ratio of 1:8 or even up to 1:15. For a stronger cold brew, a suggested ratio is 1:4.

Cold brew concentrate is brewed at a ratio of 1:2. This is designed to be diluted before drinking.

Why is cold brew less acidic than hot brew?

Cold brew is less acidic than hot brew because hot water extracts more of the acidic compound in the coffee beans.

Coffee contains oils that release quinic acid, which is responsible for the unpleasant astringent taste and irritation to the stomach. These oils are released from the coffee beans at temperatures over 140°F, and regular coffee is brewed at temperatures between 195°F and 205°F. The cold brew extraction starts with water at room temperature, or approximately 68°F. The remainder of the brewing is done at temperatures under 40°F.

Low acid coffee is not necessarily healthier but can be better for people who suffer from indigestion, heartburn, or acid reflux.

Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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