What Is Cold Brew Coffee (And How To Make It)

Coffee is a daily ritual for many people, but there are so many different ways to enjoy it. One popular option is cold brew coffee.

But what is cold brew coffee? How does one make it? And why choose this method over any other? This article will answer all these questions and more!

What is cold brew coffee?

As the name suggests, Cold Brew is made by steeping coarse-to-medium ground coffee beans in cold water at room temperature for up to 12 hours.

The grounds can be placed in a filter bag before adding water, or the coffee can be filtered after brewing.

Cold brew is generally a concentrate and is diluted with plain water before drinking and it is usually refrigerated after brewing.

What is cold brew coffee

How to Make Cold Brew

Commercial operations such as Starbucks usually make around 5 to 10 liters of cold brew at a time.

The beans are freshly ground and placed inside a strong paper filter bag, with the neck tied tightly.

The bag is placed into a large container, called a toddy. The container is filled with water and left at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

The filter bag with the grounds is then removed and the coffee is refrigerated.

To make cold brew at home, you can make a small amount by placing one cup of fresh ground coffee in a large jar with four cups of cold water and leaving it overnight.

The longer you leave it, the stronger it will be.

You can then pour it through a paper coffee filter to remove the grounds, and refrigerate the coffee – or drink it all straight away.

Cold brew vs Iced coffee: What’s the difference?

Iced coffee is made by pouring regular coffee over ice cubes. It can be straight black coffee or pre-mixed with milk and flavorings such as vanilla syrup.

In some stores, the coffee is first blended with the ice in a blender and this is known as a frappe.

Cold brew is actually coffee brewed in cold water over a period of hours and is stored under refrigeration. It has a smoother, more intense flavor than iced coffee, and can be served over ice but not usually blended with ice.

It is popularly served with cream and with sweet vanilla cream.

How long does it take to brew cold brew?

Regular hot coffee is brewed by the extraction of the oils and flavors through contact with boiling hot water over a short time period.

Cold brew uses the time to extract the color, flavor, and oils, from 12 to 18 hours, ending up in a strong, concentrated form.

It is usually diluted before drinking, although serious coffee addicts have been known to drink it “straight”.

How long does cold brew last?

Hot coffee that cools down normally lasts just a few hours before becoming stale.

Cold brew, because it was not hot to start with, can be stored as an undiluted concentrate under refrigeration for up to two weeks, although it is at its best in the first week, so you should try not to make more than you would drink in a week.

Once diluted with cold water, however, cold brew will only be good for two to three days.

What does cold brew taste like?

Brewed in cold water, Cold brew is sweeter, less intense, and not as acidic as regular iced coffee, although having said that the aroma and flavor can be stronger and richer.

It is generally smooth with a less bitter taste than regular coffee because the acidic compounds that are extracted during the hot water methods are not extracted with the cold brewing method.

Is cold brew stronger than “regular” coffee?

Cold brew is not actually any stronger than regular coffee provided it is diluted and not drunk in its concentrated form.

However, it tastes stronger for a fairly scientific reason: Hot water extracts what is called the “volatile” compounds that evaporate into the air giving that coffee smell and aroma.

These are not extracted by the cold brewing method and so do not evaporate but stay in the coffee.

That is why cold brew does not have the same aroma as hot coffee, but since the volatile compounds are “trapped” in the coffee it has a stronger coffee flavor when tasted.

How much caffeine is in cold brew coffee?

The caffeine level in coffee depends on a number of factors such as the type and origin of the bean, the way it is roasted, how it is ground, and finally the extraction method.

The hot extraction methods, like drip or espresso, extract more caffeine from the beans.

However cold brew is made with more grounds per serving so the result is the caffeine in the cold brew is a little higher than with hot coffee, because more coffee is used to make the same size serving. 

For example, in the average 16 oz size coffee, there are around 180 milligrams of caffeine. In the same size cold brew, there are around 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Final thoughts on cold brew coffee

An ideal drink for a summer’s day, or in fact any time of year, cold brew coffee has grown in popularity in recent years.

If you haven’t tried it, you should check it out, its smooth sweet flavors will give you a whole new perspective on your favorite beverage.

Brewed in cold water, Cold brew is sweeter, less intense, and not as acidic as regular iced coffee, although having said that the aroma and flavor can be stronger and richer.

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