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Sous vide cold brew: how to make a quick refreshing coffee

There’s no shortage of ingenuity when it comes to coffee brewing methods, so when I first found out about sous vide cold brew, I thought “oh my, this is brilliant!”

First off, cold brew coffee is just amazing. It’s cool, refreshing, and not at all acidic. It’s got the intensity of coffee but minus the acidity. The only disadvantage is that you have to give it 12 to 24 hours to brew. But who has 24 hours in today’s fast-paced world, right?

We want cold brew!

When do we want it? NOW! So when I found out about sous vide cold brew and that it could be made in a fraction of the time, I was intrigued.

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How sous vide works and why sous vide cold brew is so cool

Sous vide is a method of food preparation/preservation that uses vacuum sealing and submerging in a medium-temperature water bath for an extended period of time. There are special immersion sous vide heaters that maintain the temperature of the water bath.

Oh, and you’ll need a LOT of water. A few gallons, at least, depending on the size of the thing you’re trying to cook. Since we’re talking about a 32 ounce or larger mason jar here, you’ll need a pretty big container.

If a food normally takes 1 hour to cook, it will probably take 6-7 hours in sous vide.

However, some brilliant people went ahead and decided to reverse the method! If something takes 12 hours to brew, it should be done in sous vide in just two hours!

Why sous vide cold brew is so cool

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Brewing coffee at home is quite easy thanks to the various methods available, but there are only a few temperatures you can reasonably achieve:

  • 40ish degrees F in the fridge
  • 70ish degrees F on the kitchen counter
  • 200 degrees F by letting boiling water sit for some time

As far as most traditional coffee brewing methods go, you’re limited to these temperature ranges. At 40 to 70 degrees F, you’re stuck waiting for hours for your cold brew coffee. At 200 degrees F, you can brew within 4-5 minutes, but the acidity will come through in the final.

Since sous vide lets you control the temperature to many varying degrees in between, it opens up a lot more possibilities for brewing.

The science is not absolutely established, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to demonstrate that brewing at 150 degrees F is an ideal temperature for a quick sous vide cold brew coffee.

It seems to be just enough to extract enough flavor quickly, but not too high as to bring out too much acidity and bitterness.

It’s also a neat way to save time! If you feel like having some cold brew coffee and don’t want to wait for hours and hours, a quick 2 hour sous vide will yield you some really nice coffee.

What kind of ratio to use

When it comes to sous vide coffee, one question that you’ll probably have is what ratio of ground coffee to water is the right one to use.

The answer could not be simpler: just use the regular cold brew coffee ratio you’ve always used.

Whether that’s 1:4, 1:8, or anything that tastes good for you, stick with it.

Using sous vide just cuts the brewing time to two hours from twelve hours. The taste is nearly identical to what you would experience from a refrigerated or room temperature brew.

What kind of grounds to use

Again, stick to the same coffee grounds you use for regular cold brew. A coarse grind will help ensure that there is no over-extraction even though the temperature is a little bit higher than normal.

A recipe for sous vide cold brew coffee

What you’ll need:

  • A sous vide set up
  • Mason jars
  • Ground coffee
  • A way to filter the coffee

Here’s what you do:

  1. Measure out coffee beans using your preferred ratio and grind them to the coarsest grind possible.
  2. Fill up your mason jars with coffee and water using the ratio you choose, and screw the lids on. Don’t over-tighten, but the lid should be watertight. For a 1:8 ratio, use 125 grams of coffee for every liter of water.
  3. Fully submerge the mason jars containing your sous vide coffee in a water bath and set the temperature on your sous vide immersion cooker to 150 degrees F.
  4. Let it brew for two hours.
  5. Remove the mason jars from the water bath and filter out the coffee into a jug or container. Use a paper filter to end up with a really clean cup.
  6. Refrigerate until cool, and enjoy by diluting with your preferred amount of water/milk/ice, or drinking straight if using the 1:8 ratio.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make any kind of sous vide?

Technically, it is possible to sous vide hot coffee too. You’ll just end up with a cold brew concentrate that you could dilute, heat up, and drink.
Cold brew is certainly enjoyed best when, well, cold, but if you’ve got a hankering for hot coffee and all you have lying around is some cold brew concentrate, there’s no reason you can’t make some hot coffee out of it.
The flavors will already be quite mellow from the lower brewing temperature, so you will end up with quite an enjoyable cup.

What ratios can I use for sous vide coffee?

Try 1:8 for something you can drink straight, or 1:4 for something you can dilute. There are also recipes that call for 1:2 ratios but that makes an incredibly strong concentrate and you’ll have to use a huge amount of coffee grounds.

Can you sous vide tea?

Sure! Steeping tea in sous vide thermocirculators requires just 10 minutes.

Last update on 2020-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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