One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start trying to make their own cold brew coffee is the incorrect assumption that cold brew and iced coffee are the same thing.
There are, in reality, some stark differences. For one, cold brew coffee is less acidic and iced coffee spoils faster. The caffeine kick of cold brew coffee lasts longer and it takes longer to make.
Iced coffee is simply a traditionally brewed coffee that is served over ice. Meanwhile, cold brew coffee is just that – coffee that has been brewed cold by perfecting the perfect water, cold brew coffee ratio and giving it enough time to reach perfection.
Why Drink Cold Brew?
Many traditional coffee drinkers ask why anyone would ever want to drink cold brewed coffee. Truthfully, there are plenty of reasons why cold brew coffee is worth the effort.
For one, cold brew has a smoother and more mellow flavor than hot or iced coffee and, according to some coffee drinkers, is much easier to stomach. It also has a slower caffeine release, meaning the caffeine stays in your system longer, and you don’t suffer the same caffeine crash.
A properly brewed batch of cold brew also lasts longer – sometimes even up to two weeks! You can make a huge batch at once and drink from it throughout the week. When you get the cold brew coffee ratio perfect, you will find that the acids in the coffee actually help to preserve it in your refrigerator. How cool is that?
Four Ways to Get that Cold Brew Coffee Ratio Right
There are tons of perfectly good ways to create cold brew coffee at home. The method you will choose will depend greatly on your personal needs and abilities, however, there are some methods that have been found to work better than others.
Below, we will outline some of our favorite methods for creating the perfect cold brew coffee at home.
The Tried and True Mason Jar
To make cold brew coffee with a mason jar, you simply need coarse coffee grounds, the jar, a tea strainer, a coffee filter, and a bowl. The good news is that you probably already have all of these things in your kitchen.
You simply pour the water into the jar, dump in the coffee grounds, and let it sit for a good hour or two. When you’re ready, use the tea strainer, lined with the coffee filter, and pour slowly from the jar into the bowl, separating all sediment.
The downside of this method is that you’ll need to use a lot more coffee grounds, and you’ll likely have to deal with a bit of a mess during the straining process.
If you’re already a fledgling coffee expert, you might already have an AeroPress. The AeroPress is portable, easy to use, and can produce an excellent brew at any time, anywhere. Simply follow the coffee brewing settings of your AeroPress but use room temperature water instead of hot.
- Rapid, total immersion brewing process makes delicious full flavored coffee without bitterness!
- Makes 1 to 3 cups per pressing in about one minute! Brews both American style coffee and Espresso!
- The microfilter means no grit in your cup (unlike a French press), and clean up takes just seconds! Micro-filtered...
The downside of this method is that practice is needed before you perfect your AeroPress skills and you can’t really make a large batch. This is a single-serve brewing idea.
- THE FRENCH PRESS by Clever Chef is simply the best little brewer for your morning cup of coffee. Easy brewing,...
- EASY BREWING: Brewing couldn't be easier. Just spoon course grounds into the carafe, add boiling water, allow to steep...
- MAXIMUM FLAVOR: Extract all of the essential oils from your coffee grounds to capture the pure flavor with this classic...
To create perfect cold brew coffee with a French Press, you’ll need a French Press pot (larger than a single serving one), coarsely ground coffee beans, filtered water, and a fridge with room on a high shelf.
This is actually the cheapest and easiest way to make cold brew, and you’ll do it the same way you would regular French Press Coffee – just with cold water and in the refrigerator.
The downsides to this method are that, if done incorrectly, you’ll be dealing with a lot of sediment. Also, it can be hard to brew larger batches.
DIY Whip Up
This is the cold brew method that sticks to its most tried and true form. You will need ground coffee, water, a large cup, and a sieve over a large bowl or jar.
You simply pour the coffee grounds into the cup and then pour water in until it becomes a bit of a sludge. Then, you let it sit a while before pouring it through the sieve into the larger container. This will leave you with a small amount of very dark liquid. Mix in clear water of a similar temperature and watch your cold brew come alive!
The only trouble with this method is that it’s hard to find the perfect cold brew coffee ratio between brew and water. Sometimes, you’ll wind up with a watered down flavor by mistake.
Common Cold Brew Mistakes
There are a number of errors that can affect the quality of your DIY cold brew. Often, it is by trial and error that you will perfect your method. Below, we will discuss some of the most common ways that prevent a quality cup of homemade cold brew coffee.
Incorrect Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
If you want the perfect ratio for your cold brew, you should be looking for a 7:1 ratio between coffee grounds and water. Most people under-do the coffee grounds. This leaves their cold brew coffee tasting weaker than it should.
Remember, when making cold brew, it’s always safest to err on the side of too strong. You can always add more water if needed – worst case scenario is you get more coffee!
The better the coffee bean, the better the flavor. Some people tend to buy cheaper beans for cold brew because more grounds are needed. When they skimp on the quality of the beans, they taste the difference.
Find a bean that has a unique flavor profile when cold brewing. Because cold brewing takes out the acidity, the flavor is enhanced. This is the best way to enjoy those gourmet roasts that you’ve been eyeing in the grocery store.
Wrong Grind Size
Cold brew coffee requires coarse, evenly ground coffee beans. If the grounds are too fine, they will slip through your filtration and make your coffee taste too bitter. If they are ground unevenly, you’re going to have floating particles that make your coffee taste and feel sludgy in your mouth.
If you don’t let your coffee steep long enough, the flavor will not grow to the richness that cold brew should involve. Cold brew steeps over time, not heat, so you’ll need to plan ahead and be ready to wait for the perfect cup.
Waiting a couple hours is fine for an okay cup of coffee. Steep for 12-24 hours for the best flavor possible.
Keeping It Too Long
Some people get a little carried away with the shelf life of their cold brew. You’ll often find people claiming they can prepare a month’s worth of coffee at a time. These people aren’t lying – you can do whatever you want, but the coffee’s flavor will begin to suffer after the first week or two.
We’ve already discussed that the perfect cold brew coffee ratio requires a lot of beans, so you’ll just wind up wasting a ton of coffee and money if you get overly ambitious in preparing coffee ahead of time.
Only Add Milk When You’re Ready for It
Adding milk to stored coffee will make it spoil much faster. Some think they can make up a pitcher of deliciously pre-prepared cold brew with coffee and sweeteners added and pour from that pitcher all week. They are fooling themselves.
The coffee will sour. The sugar will settle. You’ll wind up with a pretty gross mess.
We Hope You Are Soon Enjoying Fabulous Cold Brew
Now that you have been told some of our favorite ways to create the best cold brew coffee using the perfect ratios, beans, and grind, we are sure you’ll be enjoying your own flavorful concoction in no time.
Remember to always practice safe and healthy food prep and handling procedures. It will help keep the flavor of your coffee longer and protect you from illness and food poisoning. Especially when preparing foods or beverages a week or more in advance, you need to be conscious of contaminants and other hazards.