Cold brew coffee is a popular method of serving coffee known to bring out flavors not tasted by a standard brewed coffee. Do not confuse a cold brew coffee with an iced coffee however, the tastes are entirely different and serve different purposes.
What Exactly is a Cold Brew Coffee?
Picture it is mid-summer, the sun is shining bright, and you’re so hot you’re not quite sure what to do. Could you handle a steaming hot coffee? I couldn’t. I know, did I say no to a coffee! When its hot outside sometimes, even thinking about coffee makes me sweat. That’s where the cold brew coffee comes in, Starbucks reported a 20% increase in sales across cold drinks when they launched their cold brew range, I guess that means I’m not the only one.
The Coffee beans are left in water for up to 24hours to produce an essence of concentrated coffee, and this will then be diluted and served chilled. Experts in the coffee industry will be quick to tell you that cold brew coffee helps highlight specific characteristics of the coffee bean that aren’t noticeable when drinking a traditional hot cup of coffee.
The flavor itself is somewhat mellow and sweeter than your standard filtered coffee.
I know from reading this being a coffee enthusiast like myself, you’re desperate to try a cold brew coffee, and I don’t blame you. Below I’ve covered some key topics around making your cold brew, the perfect cold brew.
Can I Make Cold Brew Coffee With my French Press?
The short answer is yes, of course, you can! But you want the long answer, the ins, and outs, fair enough, let’s cover this in more detail.
- Around ¾ cup of coarsely ground coffee
- 800ml of cold water
- Place your ground coffee in the base of your French press and cover it with cold water. Don’t do anything yet, put your French press away and leave it for up to 24h to let the coffee to create that lovely essence mentioned above.
- After 24h are up push down on your plunger and pour into your favorite coffee mug. You can do this over ice for an extra cold hit.
- Add your desired amount of milk and flavorings to enhance your cold brew coffee experience, I’d also recommend syrup.
It is ever so simple to use the above method to make your cold brew coffee in a French press. There are, however, a few key pointers I should mention to you to ensure your brew is delicious.
- Use coarse ground coffee for this mix. Feel free to ignore this and use something else, however, you’ll end up with coffee grounds floating around in your mug, let me know how that tastes!
- Cold brew coffee is a different taste for your senses and surprisingly is a completely different taste profile than a traditional coffee. Make sure you use the right amount of milk and water to dilute your cold brew to your tastes.
Now, if you’re wondering, cold coffee, why wouldn’t I drink an iced coffee? It’s a good question, let’s cover some key differences between the two so you can make up your mind.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Without a French Press
I know you’ve invested heavily in your barista career and got yourself an excellent French press at home and use it every day without fail, you are, like me, a coffee enthusiast.
Using a French press is going to make it much easier to make a cold brew coffee, I won’t deny you that. However, some methods do not require a French press, and I’ll explore the most popular below.
What you’ll need:
- Two large jars – Make sure these are glass as this will keep the flavor profile of the coffee. Use anything else and you’re risking contaminating your coffee which to us, is the greatest sin of all.
- Coarsely ground coffee – Use a roast that suits you but if you’re in need of advice a dark French roast would be fine.
- A filter – If you have coffee filter great, if not, you could literally use a cloth, all it needs to do is separate the coffee and the water.
- A strainer
- Get your coffee grounds into your first container, I’d recommend around 1 cup worth of grounds to every 4 cups of water.
- Pour in your water, if you added 1 cup of coffee, add 4 cups of water. Simple.
- Use a spoon in the jar to lightly press down any grounds that haven’t been soaked.
- Leave this beast to sit for around 12-15h, don’t even look at it! Let it do its thing. Every hour that passes the flavor profile of your cold brew is increasing.
- Get your second jar, place your filter (coffee or makeshift) on the inside of your strainer and gently pour your brew into your second jar.
How easy does that sound? Yes, it takes time, and it’s not as simple as a French press, it’s certainly not rocket science.
I wouldn’t recommend drinking your cold brew from the second jar that has strained coffee. Instead, grab a coffee glass or mug and some ice and pour it in there instead. You can add additional water if your cold brew is too strong, or milk.
Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Coffee
Firstly, the water you used for both is going to be different. For iced coffee, you are using hot water with your coffee and serving this straight into a glass with ice. When using hot water at the start, you still allow the coffee to extract all its lovely flavors, which is why iced coffee has a crisp, refreshing, and, ultimately, beautiful flavor profile. This method only takes us 5 minutes to make and is very simple, with little clean up required. This method for iced coffee is how most coffee shops you order in will make it, and for a good reason, it tastes great.
Cold brew, however, only shares similarities with iced coffee by the fact they’re both served cold.
Cold brew coffee is brewed cold, whereas the iced coffee is brewed hot. This brings out a completely different flavor profile while also being more time-consuming. As the water is cold, the sweet stuff from the coffee isn’t extracted as quick, and that’s why above, we recommend leaving your coffee out for up to 24h to ensure this process is complete.
Cold brew coffee isn’t going to pull out as much caffeine or acids as a hot brew, around 50% less of each, in fact. I’m sure you now realize that this is going to have a profound effect on the taste.
Cold brew coffee is very smooth, mellow, and often more rounded than hot brewed coffee.
So, as you can see, if you prefer a more subtle taste and a less acidic drink, its best to go with the cold brew coffee. However, if you’re still searching for that big caffeine hit in the morning, pouring over ice may be what you’re after. Both produce great coffees, that’s all I care about.
Can I use Pre Ground Coffee for my Cold Brew?
Firstly, let me start by saying, it’s tough to make a bad cold brew coffee, it’s very forgiving. I even remember making a cold brew with year-old coffee beans, and from memory, I enjoyed it all the same.
To jump straight into yet, yes, yes, you can use pre ground coffee in a cold brew. There are, however, a few things you need to be careful of.
The first is that pre ground coffee goes stale very quickly, so make sure you’re using fresh pre ground coffee. Otherwise, your cold brew is going to give you a big taste of yuck. Feel free to use cheap store pre ground coffee. If it is fresh, you’ll be ok.
You can experiment with the ratios you use (water to coffee) for me I use 5 cups of water to 1 cup of pre ground coffee, I’m still alive and drinking coffee. If you find this is too rich in the flavor, add more water, don’t reduce the coffee.
You’ll find that pre-ground coffee is going to give you a stronger brew, so be warned, ensure you have enough milk and flavorings around to sweeten the deal. Something to help with this also is to brew the coffee for a shorter period. Above, we recommend 24h, however, with pre-ground coffee, half it to 12h, which in theory will give your mix less time to mix so less coffee extracted, all in all, a more mellow taste!
So, there you have it, you’re now an expert on cold brew coffees. The key take away for me is that it’s hard to get a cold brew coffee wrong, I can use my French press or leave it to brew. Experiment with all the different methods above and find your perfect cold brew coffee!