How to Make the Best Cold Brew Coffee
I love cold brew coffee. It’s smooth, delicious, refreshing, and easy to make. Here’s how I do it.
Start with an organic, whole bean coffee.
If you want quality results, start with fresh, quality ingredients.
My favorite bean to use for cold brew is an organic medium/dark blend from my local coffee roaster, but my everyday choice is the Ruta Maya organic medium roast from Costco. It’s delicious and the price is right.
Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops produced, so unless you like ingesting Round Up, go organic. It’s slightly more expensive but I’ve found I often also feel better after a cup vs non-organic coffee.
Lighter roasts are probably more commonly used in cold brew, but you’ve got the whole spectrum of beans and roasts to choose from, so try different beans and see what you like best. The flavors of a lighter roast are more easily overpowered, so if you’re going to add milk or sugar, choose a darker roast. If not, black cold brew is a great way to bring out the more subtle flavors of a lighter roast.
Light and air are the enemy of a delicious cup of coffee. As with coffee in general, the more recently roasted, the better. Store your coffee in a cool, dark place. Press all the air out of the bag and seal it up tight for maximum shelf life.
Weigh and Grind
After much experimentation, I prefer a ratio of water to coffee at 7:1. I weigh out 143g of beans (for 1000ml of water) and grind them medium-coarse.
The Weight of Glory
If you want consistent results, you have to measure - and weight is a more consistent measure for beans than volume. (They sell it to you by the pound, after all). I’ve found this to be especially true with varying roasts; darker roasts to be considerably less dense than lighter ones. Don’t have a kitchen scale? Here’s a great one.
It’s a Grind
The size of your grind affects how quickly flavors are extracted from your beans. Over-extracted coffee is bitter, and under-extracted lacks flavor and body, so for best results you want the size of your grounds to be as consistent as possible.
If you’re using one of those electric, bullet shaped grinders, the single best thing you can do for the taste of your coffee is to throw it in the trash as soon as possible.
A burr grinder is what you want — the consistency of the size of the grind the ability to adjust it is going to take your coffee game to the next level. The $25 Hario Skerton is a best seller for a reason, and your best option under $200. If manually turning a crank isn’t your thing, you can do what I did and modify it, or cough up the cash for an electric burr grinder. The Sweet Home (one of my favorite sites) recommends the Baratza Virtuoso.
Brew and Filter
Pour your water over your grounds, stir, cover and let sit on the counter for 12–24 hours. (Some people say put it in the fridge, but I’ve found all it does is just take longer.) Longer brewing time means more extraction and stronger flavor. I like mine at 24h, but again, experiment to find the sweet spot for the beans you chose and your taste.
If you’re making cold brew on the regular, you might want to invest in some cold brew equipment, but it’s not required. I brew in a french press, then pour it through a paper filter secured to the top of a wide-mouth mason jar with a rubber band. The reason for the paper filter is to get out any traces of grounds (“fines”), which will ward off bitter flavors.
What you’ve made is a concentrate, so dilute to taste. If you’re drinking it black, 1:1 concentrate to water is a good starting point. If you’ve chosen a medium or dark roast instead of diluting, try adding some homemade almond or hazelnut milk and a little turbinado simple syrup for a delicious cold brew “cocktail”.
You can store your concentrate in the fridge for roughly a week, maybe longer but mine doesn’t last that long :)