The magic of cold brew is all about how it is brewed. Unlike all other forms of coffee, cold brew does not need hot water. That’s why it has a very distinct and unique flavor that really sets it apart from all the others.
And the best way to appreciate this flavor is by drinking it very cold. It is naturally sweet, less bitter, and has a lot of flavor by itself without having to add spices or any other flavoring. It truly is a wonder. This is why we want to share with you an easy, fail-proof recipe to make cold brew coffee at home.
Which coffee beans and grind size to use to make cold brew coffee?
There are two ways people normally go about choosing beans for their cold brew: 100% arabica or robusta-heavy, meaning anything from 50% robusta up to 100% robusta beans.
To understand a little bit about this, you have to know what the differences are between these two types of beans. In short, they are the two main variations of coffee beans that we use for consumption: arabica is considered more subtle and balanced in flavor, while robusta is rather blunt and strong.
Arabica can be considered grass-fed beef while robusta is more of a cheap, supermarket, already-packaged meat.
So, there are two things that come into consideration: price and flavor.
Price is a big one because cold brew ends up being even more expensive than drinking espresso. This is because the coffee-to-water ratio is virtually the same, while the amount of actual coffee you drink is very different. Whenever you drink espresso, two shots are the standard amount, which is around 3 ounces. But when drinking cold brew, you usually expect to drink a 6, even 8-ounce cup.
This means that the amount of coffee you’re using is usually double or triple what you use for just one cup of coffee. That’s two, three times the money.
That’s where robusta comes in: it’s much cheaper and because it’s very strong you can usually use a little less coffee and still get a strong cup of coffee.
Whenever price isn’t really an issue, then arabica tends to be the favorite option.
This paradigm is changing, though, as more and more robusta appreciators pop up all over the world. It can be enjoyed for its flavor, and there are specialty robusta farmers now, and it’s also highly appreciated for its high caffeine content, up to two times the caffeine of arabica beans.
As for grind size, there is only one correct grind size for cold brew: coarse. That’s because smaller grind sizes carry a lot of finer particles, which will make your coffee muddy like Turkish coffee. This happens because the coffee is steeped in water for long periods of time and there isn’t a paper filter to help separate them.
Another thing you have to do regarding the ground coffee is to sift the grounds after grinding them. This further gets rid of the small, fine particles which are an inevitable byproduct of coffee grinding.
Do not skip this step— you will be surprised by just how much you can sift out. And if you don’t, they will deposit at the bottom of your mason jar forming a muddy, compact coffee bed that not only will ruin the texture of your coffee but also the flavor.
What you’ll need to make cold brew coffee at home:
- A mason jar. A regular one is fine, with size depending on how much you want to make. One quart should be more than enough for this recipe.
- A fine mesh colander. For sifting and straining.
- 250 grams of coarse ground coffee.
- 500-750ml filtered water (Brita filter, ideally)
- Grind your coffee or simply weigh it if it’s pre-ground. Should be 250; no more, no less.
- Using a fine mesh colander, sift the grounds. You can place a napkin below so you can visually tell when there’s no more to be sifted out.
- Pour the ground coffee into the mason jar.
- Pour 500ml warm water into the mason jar. You can use more, up to 750ml, if you like your coffee a little less strong.
- Close the lid, and store in the fridge.
- Steep for up to 24 hours. The minimum is 8 hours, while the standard is 12. If after 24 hours you haven’t drank the coffee, transfer the brewed coffee to another jar and discard the ground coffee, otherwise it’ll keep extracting coffee and become overly bitter.
You’ll have to be very careful when playing with ratios here. It might be tempting to stretch it out a little bit in order to get more bans for your buck, but that can have disastrous consequences in the form of undrinkable watery coffee.
What you can do is use less water. Using half the water here (500/2=250) would make for a very syrupy, concentrated coffee that goes great if you like having your coffee with milk or creamer.
Making cold brew this way turns it into an espresso-like coffee that you can use for lattes, cappuccinos, and so on.
Some clarification is in order. These two drinks might seem very similar at first, but they are essentially very different.
To make cold brew coffee, as we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use hot water when brewing. This means that the brewed coffee is very different at a chemical level. The same grounds brewed with hot water would taste significantly differently.
Iced coffee is coffee brewed normally -using hot water- and then it is iced.
While they may appear similar, they’re actually very different drinks.
What have we learned, besides how to make cold brew coffee at home?
First of all, that cold brew is unique in how it is made. This brewing method that uses no hot water whatsoever makes a very different type of coffee and, even though it takes longer, it is delicious and 100% worthwhile.
We’ve also learned the difference between iced coffee and cold brew, as it’s a very common misconception that they are one and the same.
And if you were actually looking for iced coffee, here’s a recipe you can check out.