Activity #2 : Try some Cold Brew coffee
During the current Coronavirus stay-at-home periods, we are suggesting “coffee” things you can do. Stay tuned for more suggestions!
For this activity, we look at something that’s has become a trendy way to make a brew. Although I am not totally convinced it’s normal brewing method for lots of people.
Some reading this might be familiar with cold brew, but many won’t be. So, let’s start with a quick overview.
Well, cold brew is exactly what it sounds like. It is most definitely not iced coffee, where a standard brew is poured over ice. A cold brew coffee is made with cold water and is not touched by hot or even boiling water. It is very different to a conventional espresso pull where high pressure hot water is pressed through a grind. There is no hot water, no pressure and even in some cases – no grind!
Cold brew is usually made by adding cold water to ground coffee and stirred (yes stirred), left to soak for a period of time, and then filtered before drinking.
Sometimes simple whole beans are used although it takes longer to achieve a brew. I have read some folk soak whole beans for 3 days or longer, but I have not tried that because I have no way to gauge when/if the concoction has gone ‘off’.
Back to the grind: I think a coarse grind is best, because you have to filter the mix and a very fine grind doesn’t filter very well.
For a straight drink, a mix of 1 part grind to 5 parts water gives a reasonable depth of colour and flavour. I have tried soaking for between 12 and 24 hours. Longer = stronger, but this is definitely down to personal taste. 36 hours will give deeper strength but as I say, I could not gauge if it had gone stale/off at that point.
I usually soak in the fridge and avoid leaving the brew at room temperature.
The taste difference
Of course, cold brew tastes very different to a conventional coffee pull. But why?
Well, because when you pull a conventional espresso, you are extracting way more of the oils from the grind using hot water and pressure. This is what gives the punch and the crema (the frothy stuff). Without those oils you don’t get that “coffee kick”. However, cold brew is sweeter and smoother and it’s lower in acidity with less of the bitterness that some hate – and some love (sometimes masked by milk and sugar). And cold brew has lower level of solubles – unless you don’t filter it properly!
Personally speaking, I prefer the raw coffee kick and I like my coffee at the (correct) hot temperature. That’s not to say I don’t like the smoother and sweeter cold brew but I prefer a pulled espresso or lungo.
My personal cold brew recipe
Even though I prefer a hot coffee, I do drink cold brew – but just not cold. I make a strong cold brew concentrate – and then add hot water to bring the drink up to my preferred temperature. I end up with the best cold brew. i.e. not cold. It is slightly smoother and sweeter and quite refreshing.
- To make my cold brew, I use a standard lungo cup (120 ml). I use ½ cup of course grind (a Costa Rica Arabica for this drink). I put this into a bigger glass and add 1 cup of cold water. That basically means 120ml of water and 60ml of grind (this is about 20gm). The intention is to make a 2:1 concentrate.
- Then stir and stir and stir a little more to get the grinds thoroughly saturated.
- Cover the glass then put it into the fridge for 24 hours. I drink a brew in the morning – and also make the brew for the following day.
- The following day, I filter the coffee ironically using a tea strainer – the type that you use to make a cup of the in the cup with tea leaf. I end up with about 100ml of concentrate.
- I then add hot water but not enough to “burn” or overheat the coffee but enough to to make an Americano-type drink (about 300ml).
Add 120ml water
Filtering the brew
With hot water
Th coffee is smooth and pleasant to drink. Often though I wish I had let it soak longer though…
I’m a self-confessed coffee nut, but I not a purist/coffee snob. As with all coffee, I love to see people enjoying this wonderful drink in all forms. If you like straight cold brew, then that’s great. If you prefer a hot frothy latte than that’s great too. Personally, I don’t like cold coffee of any type really and would always choose an espresso, lungo or long black.
But I do like the smoother and refreshing cold brew once in a while. As long as it’s not actually cold!
What to do next?
The coronovirus lock-down presents an opportunity to try something a bit different, and this would would certainly be a bit different for most!
The easiest, and probably the best, approach is to buy a specialised Cold Brew Coffee Maker. They come in all sort of shapes and sizes, and you can pick one up quite cheaply. There are also some companies producing cold brew concentrate, and you can even buy “drippers” although I prefer a longer soak to get the depth of colour and taste.Amazon seem to have a good selection of everything “cold brew”.