wordable Cold Brew Lead Magnet
Please note: all coffee orders will ship the last week of the month.
The Coffee Mess Cold Brew Guide
- What is cold brew? What isn’t it?
- Cold Brew vs Hot Brew: Pros and Cons
- Buying Cold Brew: RTD vs. Concentrate
- How to Make Cold Brew
- Drinking Cold Brew Level 1: Iced
- Drinking Cold Brew Level 2: Hot
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1: What is Cold Brew? What isn’t it?
Cold Brew is a way of preparing coffee.
Cold Brew (AKA Cold Brewed Coffee) is coffee that’s been steeped at room temperature (or colder) for a long period of time. Brew time for Cold Brew ranges between 18-48 hours, give or take. The important thing to know is cold brew is coffee brewed without heat. That’s it.
Cold Brew is not iced coffee.
It’s hard to explain the difference between iced coffee and cold brew without being pedantic, but I’ll give it a shot.
Iced Coffee is prepared in many different ways. The most common preparation is extra-strong hot-brewed coffee, cooled down.
Iced coffee drinks also include espresso-based drinks like lattes, mochas, and the controversial iced Americano.
Misconceptions around Cold Brew are similar to misconceptions around espresso. You can clear most of them up for yourself by recognizing that coffee roasting, coffee preparation and drink building are all different things.
That said, it’s becoming common for folks to use the term “Cold Brew” when they just mean “Iced Coffee,” so be aware of that and have a plan to deal with it.
2: Cold Brew vs Hot Brew: Pros and Cons
- Mellow and smooth flavor profile
- Easier on the stomach for sensitive folks
- Keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge
- Super-flexible: easy to serve in a variety of ways using common tools and ingredients
- Good results with affordable beans
- Lower yield per lb of beans
- Very Slow brew cycle
- Results aren’t to everyone’s taste
- Difficult to do without proper equipment
Cold Brew coffee tastes very different from hot brewed coffee for one major reason: some of the flavor compounds present in roasted coffee aren’t soluble at lower temperatures. When you brew coffee at room temperature, those compounds are left behind in the grounds.
Some people miss those flavors- they’re usually the bright, sparkling floral and citrus notes. It’s also why some bright coffees don’t do particularly well as cold brew.
Those left-behind flavor compounds are quite acidic. That is why cold-brewed coffee is considerably less acidic than hot-brewed coffee. Low-acid coffee is a godsend for some folks with sensitive stomachs.
So how do you know if cold brew coffee is for you? Get your hands on some!
3: Buying Cold Brew: RTD vs. Concentrate
Be careful when you buy a bottle of cold brewed coffee! There are two very different kinds of products out there, and you will be disappointed if you get them mixed up.
RTD means Ready to Drink. This would be a bottle of cold brew coffee you’d crack open on your way out of the store and drink right from the bottle, like juice or tea or Fresca. Snapple is ready to drink. Bottled water is ready to drink (although it would be indistinguishable from water concentrate.)
Concentrate is thick and super strong. If you drink it straight from the bottle you may experience the following problems:
- Angry tongue
- Fear and Trembling
- Accelerated Gastrointestinal Action™
- Visions of the Not Good Kind
Another words: don’t drink the concentrate straight unless you’re absolutely sure of what you’re doing.
Also, don’t dilute RTD cold brew, it will be weak and gross.
For making different coffee drinks at home, concentrate is far preferable to RTD.
4: How to Prepare Cold Brew
If you drink a lot of cold brew, you may want to try making some yourself. It’s very easy. Measure your coffee, measure your water, and put them together. Wait about a day and BAM! Cold Brew City. It’s getting the brew out of the coffee that’s difficult. Here are the most common cold brewers that make it easy to do.
Pitchers vs Toddy vs Filter Bags:
[illustration: a pitcher, a toddy, a filter bag]
A commonly available cold brew system is a pitcher with a built-in filter compartment. These are fine for making RTD-strength cold brew. They usually don’t hold enough ground coffee to make suitable concentrate, and sometimes don’t even hold enough coffee to make a good stiff RTD. It’s a good idea to know what ratio you like to use before choosing this type of brewer. They look slick, but if you drink a lot of cold brew every day, most of these brewers won’t be able to brew enough for you. Cold brewed coffee keeps for well over a week in the fridge, you shouldn’t have to make it every day. You can tell I’m not very enthusiastic about these things.
The classic cold brewer is the Toddy. It’s ungainly and can seem a little precarious sitting there on the counter. It’s essentially a bucket with legs. There is a thick fibrous filter at the bottom, and a plastic stopper you pull out to harvest the brew when it’s done. The Toddy drains into a carafe that’s used to store and serve the coffee. Once you’ve harvested the coffee the brewer portion is easy to clean.
What I like most about the Toddy is how flexible it is. You can put a lot of ground coffee in it (I’ve used as much as a whole pound) so it’s capable of brewing very strong concentrate. Just be careful not to lose the filter or the rubber stopper. You’ll also want to change the filter out occasionally.
Filter Bags are a handy tool for making cold brew easily. You use a pitcher you already have, and once the coffee is ready you just remove the filter bag, drain it and throw it out. The limitation here is the size of the bag. Some commonly available sizes only hold enough to make a quart or so of RTD cold brew. It’s also handy to use a fabric sack (an unused cotton pillowcase is pretty common) if you’re making larger quantities of cold brew or strong concentrate.
You can make cold brew without any of these handy brewing aids, but be forewarned: it sucks. The difficult thing about making cold brew is separating the fluid from the grounds once it’s ready.
It is very difficult to filter room temperature coffee through a paper filter. For whatever reason (I suspect physics) the fine particles amongst the grounds like to clog the pores of filters, and the whole thing stalls.
I’ve had better luck just pouring the fluid off the top of the grounds, letting the sediment settle and repeating the process. Downside: you leave a lot of brewed coffee behind in the grounds this way.
If you’re dying to try making cold brew yourself without a brewer, try a filter bag. They’re cheap, disposable, and make cold brewing very easy.
Cold Brewing FAQ:
Q: What coffee should I use?
A: Have fun experimenting. My favorite coffees to cold brew are Central and South American. Others have had good luck with full-bodied Indonesian coffee. I avoid using nuanced African coffees for cold brew, I’ve found the things that make those coffees special usually don’t make it into the cup. (see section 2)
Q: What grind should I use?
A: Coarse, like for French Press.
Q: What ratio should I use when I brew?
A: For concentrate I use a 7:1 ratio of water to coffee by weight. For ready-to-drink I usually use half the coffee, or a 14:1.
Q: What about those cool slow-drip brewers that make coffee with melting ice?
A: I only have 40-50 years left to live, if I’m lucky. I don’t mess with these.
5: Drinking Cold Brew Level 1: Iced
You can measure your coffee using your intuition and get good results some of the time. My preferred approach is to measure the ingredients for a while until I get a feel for the proportions and then go freestyle. The best way to measure coffee and water is to weigh it.
I like to pre-measure using the cup I’ll be drinking from and a scale.
- Put cup on scale
- Fill cup with water to the height you are used to
Now you know the practical capacity of your cup!
Next do a little math and determine how much concentrate to use. For a 20oz cup I use 5oz of concentrate. For the 24oz cup I use 6oz concentrate. 4oz in a pint. You get the idea. Use the scale to measure your concentrate and then look inside the cup to see how full it is. If your cup is tapered toward the bottom you may be surprised how full it looks.
[illustration: iced coffee cup on a scale]
The Basics: Water and Ice
If you drink your cold brew cold and fast, try using 1 part concentrate to 3 parts other ingredients, and use a lot of ice.
If you savor your iced cold brew, make it a little bit stronger. The flavor and strength will dial itself in as the ice melts.
Lattes: Milk and Ice
Iced lattes are a great way to get your coffee fix and a fistful of calories at the same time– useful if you’re not a breakfast eater. Your ratios should match up with your drinking style– make it stronger if you drink slowly.
Guess What: Shake it!
[illustration: cocktail shaker]
Shaking cold brew is transformative. Aerating your drink unlocks brighter flavors and releases aromatics from the cold brew that take iced coffee to another level.
It’s as simple as putting your ingredients (including ice) into a big cocktail shaker and jostling the hell out of them. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, use a jar or a bottle with a lid. For best results, use a container that’s about 50% larger than the drink you’re making.
Using a shaker makes it a lot easier to incorporate other ingredients into your iced drinks- especially thick sauces like chocolate or caramel.
6: Drinking Cold Brew Level 2: Hot
Lots of folks are confused when they see Cold Brew (Hot) on the menu at my shop.
Hot cold brew is a vastly underrated beverage. It’s mellow, rich and smooth and is dead simple to prepare if you have concentrate on hand.
Hot Cup of Coffee:
This is possibly the easiest hot cup of coffee you’ll ever make. Take your favorite microwave-safe coffee mug and fill it ⅓-¾ with water. Nuke it until it’s boiling. Top up with concentrate from the fridge. You’re done. This easy recipe alone is a great reason to have a bottle of cold brew concentrate in the fridge at all times.
Cold Brew Latte:
Similar to the previous recipe, with a few exceptions:
- Milk doesn’t like temperatures much over 160F, so be careful here.
- You may want to froth your milk with one of those wand thingies.
- If you like your latte to be very hot, you may also want to warm the concentrate.
It’s easy to add chocolate, vanilla or any other flavoring to a hot cold brew latte. If you’ve got a good milk frothing method, this is an affordable and foolproof way to make cafe-quality drinks at home without the hassle of a finicky espresso machine.
Our coffee is roasted fresh 5 times a week- we ship coffee the last week of every month.
We roast in tiny 2-lb batches in our beautiful Sonofresco Fluid-Bed coffee roaster. We love it and so will you.