What happens when you try a new coffee product and go absolutely nuts for it? You devote yourself to working out the best way to brew it.
Not too long ago, my brother and I travelled from Germany to Australia, and that’s when we discovered cold brew coffee. With its fruity sweetness and silky texture, we were hooked. And ever since, we’ve been experimenting with the aim of perfecting a cold brew recipe.
We’ve tried ones from all over the world (literally), we’ve produced countless prototypes that we invited (forced) our friends to try, and we’ve even made our own dripping device – and in doing so, we’ve learned how to make a pretty amazing drink. In fact, we’ve been so successful that we’ve even started selling it.
And we’re here to share our four tips and tricks for making your own chillingly good cold brew. Read on to discover our secrets.
Spanish Version: Prepara un Delicioso Cold Brew en 4 Pasos – Revelados por Expertos
Cold brew brothers Jan and Niclas.
Cold Brew vs. Cold Drip
But before we begin, let’s look at what cold brew actually is – and how it’s different to cold drip.
I can hear you asking “Wait, are they different?” Yes, but it’s pretty simple!
With cold brew coffee, the ground coffee is submerged in the cold water throughout the entirety of the brewing process (normally overnight).
To make cold drip coffee, on the other hand, you slowly allow the water to drip through the ground coffee.
We actually prefer cold drip to cold brew. Cold drip is a little more difficult to make because you’ll need to keep an eye on it – you want to make sure the dripping is consistent – but it’s relatively easy and we really do believe you can learn to make your own great cold drip. Yet both methods result in sweet drinks that really take the edge off the summer heat.
Taste testing in the park.
Why is Cold Brew So Good?
Cold brew is unique and loaded with natural caffeine. Because the cold brew process produces a complex drink with neither alcohol nor sugar, we found it to be a great alternative to all the sugary sodas and energy drinks available today.
So now you know what cold brew is and why it’s so amazing, it’s time for us to look at how you can made this wonderful drink at home.
Lessons Learned: What Makes a Great Cold Brew?
One thing we discovered early on is that coffees which taste amazing when brewed hot don’t always taste so great when brewed cold. It took sampling beans from all over before we found the perfect match.
It’s all in the beans!
Once the beans were taken care of, it was time to dig a little deeper into the details. We discovered four principal parameters you’ll want to toy around with when you start cold brewing (or even cold dripping).
1. Grind Coarseness
We’ve heard some people say you ought to grind cold brew beans a bit coarser than you would for a French Press/cafetière, but that seems a little vague to us. So what was the best advice we ever got? Grind to a size that feels like breadcrumbs!
You can, of course, vary this to suit your preferences. So let us give you two more words of advice for this:
- Don’t believe anyone who says “coarser is always better.”
- Always adjust the extraction time accordingly.
2. Extraction Time
As we just mentioned above, extraction time depends on how you’re grinding the beans. In general, you can say that a fine grind calls for less extraction time and a coarse grind for more – just like when you’re brewing your coffee hot. The difference, however, is that for cold brew we’re talking about a range of between 12 and 24 hours for extraction.
We’ve found that most cold brews are best when you brew for about 18 hours. Cold drips don’t take as long, though – just try to keep the dripping rate at around one drop of water per second.
3. Extraction Method
I’ll admit that we might be a little biased here, but we’ve found that when comparing the same beans with the same grind coarseness, they just taste better as cold drip than as cold brew. We personally find cold drip coffee to be just a bit crisper, fruitier, and clearer.
Plus, it means you don’t have to worry about that extra step of filtering your final coffee.
You don’t have to use ice cubes or water around 0 °C (32 °F). For a drink less bitter than your average joe, try to keep the water temperature below 20 °C (68 °F).
Oh, and in order to achieve the best and most consistent results, always use filtered water.
Bottled with love in Hamburg.
We didn’t find the method and recipe that we use now overnight – it took a lot of tinkering, tasting, and testing. It might take time for you to also find your perfect cold brew style, but the end results will be delicious.
Your cold brew will be all the better if you remember to sample as many different cold brew variations as you can get your hands on. Be flexible: your favourite beans for hot brewing might not work so well in the cold. Finally, never forget the importance of grind coarseness, time and method of extraction, and water.
With patience, love, and a willingness to experiment, you can make your own great cold brew.
Written by J. Stemplewski of Stempels’ Slowbrew and edited by S. Parrish.
Feature Photo Credit: Finja Nissen.
Perfect Daily Grind.