How to Brew Cold Brew (Cold Coffee for the Cold at Heart)
Brewing coffee with ambient or cold water can produce an interesting, nuanced cup of coffee absent many astringent characteristics that coffee is known for due to the lack of hot water producing less titratable acids in your finished cup. This gives cold brew coffee its signature bold chocolaty notes with sweet tones that can range from molasses and hazelnut to stone fruit and brown sugar.
The process to make cold brew is rather simple. All you’ll need is filtered water, either cold or room temperature, coarsely ground coffee, and a container to place both the water and coffee into. While there are plenty of companies that sell specialized mechanisms to specifically make cold brew coffee, you can use anything from a French press to even a mason jar in order to make cold brew and avoid crowding your kitchen with yet another coffee gadget that only has one use.
Because you’ll be steeping the coffee directly in the water for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, you’ll want to use more coffee in your ratio to water than if brewing with hot water. This can be anywhere from a 1:2 coffee to water ratio, which will make more of a coffee concentrate that can either be watered down, mixed with milk or sugar or both, or simply drunk straight as a more highly caffeinated brew. Though the typical ratio of coffee to water used by most coffee shops is 1:5, which will still give you quite a bit of caffeine kick, while not being overly harsh on your taste buds. But ultimately, your cold brew ratio is your own personal choice and can be experimented to best fit what sort of coffee boldness or lightness you’re wanting to produce.
Once you have your ratio, it’s simply a matter of adding your coffee and filtered water into your chosen container. You can either leave the cold brew as it is steeping on your kitchen counter or you can put it into your fridge if you have space. You’ll leave the coffee steeping for 12 to 24 hours, and then after it’s finished brewing you're going to filter out the grounds. If using a French press, then you have a built in filter that you can press down and get a perfect cold brew cup. But if using a mason jar, then you’ll need to filter it through a fine mesh strainer to separate ground from coffee.
At the end, you have yourself a fine cup of cold brew coffee that you can customize a million different ways. While the process to brew cold brew is simple, it can get as creative and wild as you want. For example, you can use coconut water to brew your cold brew rather than plain filtered water to give it a unique coconut taste. Or you could mix in one or two vanilla bean pods into your grounds to make a sweet morning treat. And if you have an immersion blender, you can combine heavy cream, 2% milk, and vanilla syrup to recreate your favorite cold foam to place on top of your cold brew. There are so many ways to enjoy cold brew, it’s just a matter of letting your imagination run wild.