What’s the buzz with cold brewed coffee?Cold brewed coffee became more popular in the US only in the last 10 years or so, but it has already a long history. There is evidence that it has been around in Japan as early as the 1600s. Japanese have always been drinkers of tea which they produced locally. Coffee entered the country probably through trading with the Dutch who had a trading post just outside of Nagasaki. The Dutch had already developed a coffee tradition since they had colonies producing coffee. The popularity of cold brewed coffee is ever increasing. Many coffee shop chains including Starbucks are offering the option of cold brew. You can find also more and more articles in various publications contributing to the popularity of this preparation method. Here is an article in the NewsTribune, dated October 30, 2019.
Cold brewed coffee – the perfect refreshment in summerIn summer we used to enjoy iced coffee. With lots of sugary and flavored syrup, milk or cream you get a drink that has not much to do with quality coffee. This becomes very clear when you strip your iced coffee drinks from all the additives. Coffee prepared hot and poured over ice just does not taste very good. Same with hot coffee that you let cool down at room temperature or in the fridge. That’s not what you will really enjoy. Cold brewing your coffee is a whole different experience. You can enjoy the real taste of coffee, rich but mild and maintaining even the characteristics of a single estate coffee. Read on and find out how to do it the easy way.
What is it all about?As we can tell from the naming it is coffee brewed with cold instead of hot water. The result is a coffee extract with a rich and smooth taste. The acidity level is reduced by about 70% making this type of brew easy to enjoy even for those of us with a super-sensitive stomach. Hot water running through the coffee grinds dissolves not only the aromatic parts but also some acidic tannins which are responsible for the harsh taste and its bite to the stomach lining. The hot water extracts also some oils which can produce an unpleasant taste when oxidized. Cold water leaves most of these unwanted elements untouched. Just think of sugar which doesn’t dissolve so easily in cold water. There are two distinct methods for making coffee with cold water, the cold water drip which is also called Dutch coffee and the cold brew. The cold water drip is an interesting method, using ice cold water in a special apparatus and we will cover it in another post.
How to make cold brewed coffeeThe Toddy Cold Brew System is one way to do it and there are also similar systems available. My current favorite Cold Brew coffee maker is the one fromTakeya. Judging from the more than 27,000 five star ratings on amazon.com it’s not only my personal favorite but also of many happy customers. You can order this very reasonably priced Takeya cold brew maker from amazon.com. But before you invest in any of these you can easily try it out with whatever you have in your kitchen.
- A Container: Almost anything goes, like a mason jar, a French Press or even just an empty and clean pet bottle, preferably a water bottle. The disadvantage of the pet bottle is the small opening and you would need to use a funnel to get the coffee grinds in.
- A filter: This could be a metal strainer or a regular coffee filter. Your French Press has a plunger which will do the job.
- Coffee: Some coffee varieties may be better suited for cold brew than others. Experiment with different beans. The grind should be rather coarse to avoid sludge. It would be best to grind the beans just before use.
- Water: The quality of the water will affect the taste of your coffee, just as it does with other brewing methods. If using tap water, filter it, like in a Brita Water Pitcher or similar systems.
That’s it! It will keep for at least a week in the fridge without loss of flavor.
Cold water drip coffee, an interesting variation
If you want to go retro and enjoy a unique coffee experience, this is the perfect apparatus to make cold drip coffee in the old Japanese style. Until the 1970s and 1980s, you could still find coffee shops in Tokyo proudly displaying this type of equipment. These days it is slowly coming back in specialty coffee shops. For home use, you can get the cold drip maker, manufactured by the Taiwanese Yama Glass Factory. It makes 6 – 8 cups of cold drip coffee and is available on amazon.com. It produces a very smooth and rich tasting coffee. It extracts almost none of the bitterness and acidity that may cause acid reflux or heartburn in sensitive people.