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?
Keep it coarse
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.
Get the ratio right
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!
The coarser the grind, the longer the time
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.
Things To Keep In Mind
What’s the difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee?Though they may sound similar, there’s a world of difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee. Iced coffee is prepared almost identically to a hot cup of coffee—that is to say, by pouring or dripping hot water over coffee grounds—with the only difference being that it’s poured over ice before being served. Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, involves steeping the coffee grounds in cold water and then straining the resulting combination. Because of this, cold brew coffee is less watery than iced coffee, with a more robust flavor.
Does cold brew coffee have a higher caffeine content than traditionally brewed coffee?Cold brew coffee has a reputation for delivering a high voltage caffeine jolt. Because cold brew coffee involves steeping coffee grounds in water for a prolonged period of time rather than simply passing the water briefly through the grounds, it does have a much higher coffee content than traditionally-brewed coffee, which is why it’s often thought to contain more caffeine. However, more caffeine is extracted from coffee beans when they’re brewed hot rather than cold. Even so, if you’re drinking your cold brew undiluted, it may still have a higher caffeine content than a traditional cuppa, but the difference likely isn’t as drastic as you might believe.
Can I heat up my cold brew coffee?Though cold brew coffee is often enjoyed, well, cold, there’s nothing stopping you from heating it up on a chilly morning. Though you can simply stick your mug in the microwave if you’re a fan of convenience, you’ll probably get better results by heating it up on your stovetop. Another option is to cut some of your cold brew coffee with hot water, both bringing the temperature up and diluting it for a milder beverage.
How long can I store my cold brew coffee in the fridge?One of the great things about cold brew coffee is its long shelf life. While traditionally brewed coffee often becomes unappetizing after just a few hours, undiluted cold brew coffee has a much lower acidity and thus degrades at a much slower rate. You can keep your cold brew in your fridge for up to two weeks without it turning, though the flavor quality will decrease after the first week. Be aware, though: if you cut your cold brew concentrate with water, its shelf life will dramatically decrease, and you’ll likely only be able to keep it in your fridge for two to three days. So if you want your cold brew to last, keep it concentrated!
Grinding Beans For Cold Brew Coffee
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!