Cold brew coffee is much more nuanced than iced coffee. The name itself hints at the difference; coffee brewed in cold water instead of coffee brewed in hot water subsequently poured over ice.
The slower brewing process means that more prep is necessary - typically they're allowed to brew for 24 hours, but overnight at minimum is recommended.
Popular in the United States, Japan, and Korea, creating coffee in cold water illuminates another side of coffee you may not have known, coffee with a sweeter profile, stronger aroma, and a richer color.
The process of making cold brew requires steeping the grinds for eight to twelve hours in contrast to a standard brew. Keeping the grinds this long in the water gives the coffee a low acidity and lower caffeine profile per cup.
Cold brew can also be stored up to two weeks in the fridge making it fast a reliable option for busy mornings.
Cold brew can also serve as a base for blended drinks with ice, milk and coffee syrups. To keep it from getting too watered down with ice, we recommend making coffee ice cubes.
Is cold brew less acidic?
Generally speaking, yes, cold brew coffees are less acidic than hot brewed coffee.
This is the result of the coffee grounds being exposed to a lower temperature. As with most chemicals, the compounds in coffee dissolve more readily at higher temperatures, and some don't dissolve at all unless exposed to the higher temperatures. The result is that some of the more acidic compounds don't end up in the drink at all.
While this is good for people with sensitive stomachs, it also means that cold brew likely isn't as healthy as hot brewed coffees. Those same chemicals (such as chlorogenic acids) are key contributors to the health benefits of coffee.
Pre-mixed cold brew
Not everyone has the time or desire to prepare cold brew coffee from scratch, which has lead to companies like Kohana creating pre-made cold brew that can be instantly mixed. These ready-made cold brew drinks are perfect for traveling, or camping, as a single 32-oz container of cold brew concentrate and make up to 15 x 6-oz servings.
How to make cold brew coffee
A simple way to make your cold brew is to soak coarse grinds in a French press using cold filtered water.
When making coffee, weight is a more accurate measure than volume, and it is recommended to use 15g of water for every 1 gram of coffee you use in the French press. This is slightly less coffee per cup than a regular brew, but the longer contact with the coffee grounds means that more solids will be extracted overall.
Stir for two minutes ensuring all the grinds come into contact with the water and place in the fridge overnight.
Come morning, use the french press plunger slowly and steadily to filter the grinds down and pour yourself a cup of cold brew.
As coffee making becomes a craft and trade, there are many ways you can experiment with filtering your cold brew grinds to fit what suits your taste. Instead of filtering with the french press plunger, try soaking grinds in a tea bag. The tea bag will help remove even more acidity from your brew, allowing the flavors to come out and steal the show.
Some enthusiasts are known to use a double filter technique with their grinds; using two bags with a paper filter first then a nut bag that will result in a sweet tasting cup of cold brew.
When it comes to cold brew coffee, you'll want to start from scratch when it comes to light or dark coffee preferences. The cold brew technique pushes most coffee towards their darker, nuttier notes, so even a light roast will result in a robust flavor.
For this reason, it's recommended to use a dark roast and keep the light roasts for traditional coffee brewing, but taste test for yourself and enjoy exploring the new coffee territory.
Sweet cream cold brew
Sweet cream cold brew has been popularized by Starbucks, and is more or less regular cold brew with creamer. They list the sweet cream ingredients as: Cream (Cream, Mono And Diglycerides, Carageenan), Milk, Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid).
This amounts to essentially dairy cream, plus some common "coffee creamer" ingredients added, and vanilla flavoring syrup.
Alto Cold Brew
Alto is a new company offering commercial-scale cold brew methods for cafes and restaurants that have more demand for their in-house cold brew than they can reasonably supply. The 7-gallon buckets with a spigot for dispensing is ideal for fast-paced restaurants and cafes.
Reusable Cold Brew Filters
Most cold-brew solutions use paper or mesh filters that are disposed of after brewing, and while some mostly-reusable solutions like a coffee sock exist, a truly reusable folder needs to be stainless steel. A few companies are developing options for reusable coffee filters, which simply require scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and warm soapy water.
Generally, filters need to be 35-50 microns in size.