Can’t bear the heat, but need your fix of coffee?
Caffeine infused people like us need our coffee, but in hot climates, or in the summer, it’s really hard to sip a hot drink while you’re sweating and being roasted alive by the sun.
Plus iced coffees are rather bitter, seem hastily brewed, and taste more like the additives and sweeteners than the coffee itself. If only there was a cold coffee that legitimately tasted like coffee, yet also refreshed and rejuvenated!
Enter cold brew coffee.
Cold brewing is a brilliant method of extracting flavor from coffee grounds very gradually which results in a milder yet more coffee infused drink. The taste is mellower(which makes it milder) but the caffeine content is actually higher, and whether that is good or bad is completely subjective!
Cold brew coffee is rather expensive, at $4 to $5 per glass, so it’s useful to know how to make it at home. The two secrets to brewing it just right are the cold brew coffee ratio and the time you let it brew.
The ideal ratio for cold brew coffee
I did quite a bit of research into this, checking multiple sources, and it seems that everyone suggests varied ratios!
- One method calls for 3/4 cups of coffee for every 4 cups of water
- Yet another method calls for 1 part coffee to 6 parts water.
- Yet another calls for 1 part coffee to 9 parts water.
- And another, much stronger concoction calls for 1 part coffee to 3 parts water.
Other recipes do ask for everything in between, though most of the recipes I saw had an average of about 1 part coffee to 7 or 8 parts water.
It’s safe to say that 1:8 is an ideal ratio for a balanced preparation, not too strong, but not too mild, either.
The other critical aspect of cold brew coffee is the brewing time.
To get a little sciency, hot water brews coffee much faster, because hot water molecules are moving incredibly fast and the molecules of water can interact with the coffee grounds much, much quicker, whereas cold water molecules are relatively slower moving and will take that much longer to interact with the coffee grounds and absorb their flavor, so you need to let it brew for that much longer.
That’s also why cold brewing produces a mellower taste, since the acids in the coffee are not released as much in cold water as they are in hot water.
So the ratio of coffee you use will also be heavily influenced by the amount of time you let the coffee brew.
Most recipes call for brewing at least 12 hours, and some call for even more all the way up to 24 hours. The good thing is that cold brew coffee can last for up to 2 weeks, so you can brew a large quantity of coffee and enjoy it over a few days without worrying about brewing again.
In addition, some cold brews(especially the 1:4 ratio ones) are quite strong, and must be diluted with ice or milk before you drink them – of course, if you enjoy super strong and highly caffeinated coffee, you are free to drink it as is!
Preparation methods are plenty, involving mason jars, bowls and cheesecloth, or a handy french press.
One critical aspect of good cold brew is the coarseness of the grounds you use. You need to have fairly coarse grounds, in fact, the coarsest setting your grinder can produce, otherwise your coffee will be murky and muddy and not as enjoyable as it could be.
Simply fill up a mason jar or bowl with water, and according to the ratio you choose to follow, add your grounds and give it a little stir to mix up the grounds well. Cover it up, and leave it outside on the counter or stick it in the fridge.
If you are putting it in the fridge, seal it in an airtight container(that’s why mason jars are great) so it does not absorb any other aromas from other items in your fridge.
You can also use a french press – just don’t press down the plunger until the 12 hours have passed!
After 12-16 hours, strain the coffee using a cheesecloth(not necessary if using a french press), then a coffee filter(you may still need a filter if you want very clear coffee even if you used a french press), fill it up into a container, and enjoy!
Ways to enjoy a cold brew
The best way to enjoy cold brew is, well, cold!
To get your coffee nice and cold you could either refrigerate it overnight as you brew, or you can serve it over ice.
Add milk and (if you must) sugar to taste, and you have a lovely beverage to cool off and get your caffeine fix from.
What you can also do is freeze some cream or milk into cubes, and use those to cool your coffee to the perfect temperature. This way, you won’t dilute it with water, and the melting milk cube will add cool swirls of white into your coffee as it enriches the flavor and makes it richer.
Adjusting the flavor
If you find that the brew you ended up with is not strong enough, simply increase the ratio of coffee you use.
If you find the brew to be too strong, leave your preparation be, but pour out less and dilute with water until you get it the way you want it.
The ratios I gave above are just in parts, whereas you actually need accurate measurements, so you can just use cups or milliliters. So it would be 1/8 cup(one ounce) for 1 cup of water, perfect for a single drink, and you can keep increasing it proportionately.
It is actually a good idea to just brew a large batch at once so you’ll always have some ready to drink.
Remember, nothing is set in stone, so you could always adjust the ratio and the brewing time however much you like to get a coffee that tickles your taste buds in a way nothing else can!