If your only exposure to cold coffee is iced coffee from a chain, trying your first cold brew can be an eye-opening experience. A well-made cold brew coffee isn’t acidic or watery like many iced coffees and is instead rich and sweet without being cloying. But this deliciousness comes at a cost: cold brew coffee can take up to 24 hours to prepare and requires lots of steeping and straining before it’s ready to drink. Plus, cold brew’s subtly sweet flavor depends largely on the grind size of your coffee grounds. Get the grind size wrong and you’ll have spent all those hours of preparation for a mediocre cup of coffee! So how do you grind and prepare your coffee beans for a perfect cold brew?
When we say “coarse,” we mean that the particle size of your coffee grounds should be fairly large—definitely don’t grind it down to dust! Instead, try to keep your grind size at a level where the resulting coffee grounds have a consistency somewhere between breadcrumbs and ground peppercorns. Be careful! An overly fine grind size can taste over-extracted and bitter, while an overly coarse one can result in a watery brew. Don’t be afraid to try grinding at multiple settings until you get a grind size that works for you.
So you have your perfectly ground coffee beans. Now what? For cold brew coffee, it’s time to add the cold water. The exact ratio of coffee to water depends on how strong you want your coffee to be. Some tried and tested coffee:water ratios include 1:4, 1:8, and 1:12. It may take some experimenting until you find the balance you like, so we recommend starting at 1:8 and increasing or decreasing the ratio if you find you’d prefer a stronger or milder brew. Making cold brew coffee can be a finicky process, so definitely don’t feel bad about experimenting!
Now that you have your coffee grounds and water thoroughly mixed, it’s time to stick them in the fridge to steep until it’s time to strain and serve. But how long does it need to steep? Steeping cold brew coffee always needs a hefty chunk of time, but the exact amount depends on your grind size. The larger your grind size, the longer time it will take to steep. A good range to aim for is between 16 and 24 hours. Again, don’t be afraid to experiment here. If the first batch doesn’t come out perfect, try changing the steep time by a couple of hours on your next attempt to see how it affects your cold brew’s flavor.
Cold brew is a delicious alternative to traditionally brewed coffee and though the brewing process will always be time-consuming, it doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult. Keep your coffee grounds coarse and adjust your steep time accordingly, and you can make a delicious cold brew from the comfort of your own home!
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