The Brew: Cold Brew

Cold brew holds a special place in my heart. It’s like your first crush. You don’t always know how you fell head-over-heels for that person, but you did, and you will never forget that you did. There are so many cold brew methods, brewers, and opinions regarding this single beverage. I want to talk about a few ways that I make cold brew, and how you can make it at home.

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What is cold brew? Generally, cold brew is coffee that is brewed without using hot water, and it typically takes time for the extraction to happen, like a long time. There are different techniques, methods, and brewers to make cold brew where it can become a little overwhelming to make at home, and frankly, just easier to just get at a coffee shop. But cold brew is not a cheap cup of coffee. It takes time, and coffee shops take that into account when they price out their menu. I just want to say, cold brew is easy to make if you have the appropriate equipment, time, and know-how.

I won’t get into the technical aspects of what is going on while the coffee is brewing, that will be another post. I want to share my extremely complicated go-to method of making cold brew. It starts with a clear, food safe, plastic bin, and a cotton bag. Yup, that is what I use, and many coffee shops that make the cold brew that you love follow a similar procedure.

At home, the grinder that I use is a Baratza Preciso. It’s an affordable, electric grinder with conical burrs, and performs well for my home brewing. I set the grind to the coarses setting. On the Preciso, there is a micro, and macro adjustment, and I make sure that those adjusters are at their max. My coffee to water ratio is pretty standard, 1:9, but one thing that you have to know is that the initial brew is making a concentrate. So, for every gram of coffee that I use, I’m using 9 grams of water. I fill my cotton bag with the grounds, let’s say I dosed out 300 grams of coffee, tie the bag up, so the grounds cannot escape, put the bag in my container, and pour over 2,700 grams of room temperature, filtered water, preferably reverse osmosis filtered. I like to brew my coffee for 48 hours. The first 24 are done at room temperature, and the final 24 hours are in the fridge. After the concentrate is made, I have to dilute the coffee. A lot of caffeine, and flavor has been extracted, and diluting the base is necessary to achieve delicious coffee. I always taste my concentrate first just so I know how far I have to dilute the coffee. I typically have to use a 1:2-1:1 ratio of water to concentrate for the final product. This is my go-to method of cold brew, but it’s not necessarily the most delicious in my opinion.

This second method that I do in home is a little more complex, takes more attention, and can be a little inconsistent. It is a cheaper version of the Hario cold brew tower. The process takes ice water that is dripped drop-by-drop over a bed of coffee grounds to achieve a cold brew concentrate. From my experience, this method creates a sweeter cold brew, and sweetness is delicious. I don’t have $300 to drop on a Hario or Yama cold brew tower, so I opted to piece mine together with things that I have at home. A few years ago, I purchased a lemonade dispenser with a release valve from Target. It allows me to control the flow rate of the liquid that is in the container. The second piece of equipment I use is my Chemex. I wash the filter with hot water to get rid of the paper taste that can sometimes be extracted when brewing coffee. I just fill the dispenser with iced water, and allow single drips, about 1 drip per second, to fall on my bed of coffee grounds in my Chemex. The Chemex should be sitting on a digital scale, so that the final extraction can be weighed. Again, I use a 1:9 ratio of coffee to water. This method can be a headache, because the dispenser isn’t very accurate, and can release more or less water as time goes on. I pretty much have to babysit this thing for a few hours to make sure flooding doesn’t occur.

Those are my home cold brew methods. Try it out. Let me know what you think, or if you have a different brew, let me know, so that I can try it out.

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