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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.

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 coffee

The Toddy Cold Brew System is one way to do it and there are also similar systems available. 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.

You are all set. Just put the coffee grinds in your container and pour the water in. As a rough guideline use 80g of coffee for 1 liter of water. You can always adjust the ratio to fit your taste in the next batch. You can leave the brew in a dark place at room temperature or put it in the fridge. The brewing time is a minimum of 12 hours and probably ideal at about 18 hours. But don’t worry about the exact time, over extraction is very unlikely. I had my brew once for 48 hours in the fridge and it was perfectly alright. The only thing remaining is to drain your coffee into another clean container.

That’s it! 

It will keep for at least a week in the fridge without loss of flavor.

How to enjoy your cold brewed coffee

Since the coffee is cold already, you can use it as ice coffee. If you are used to regular ice coffee, you are in for a pleasant surprise, a smooth, rich flavor, almost sweet. If necessary, you can dilute it with water or milk to match your personal taste. A great idea is also to pour it over ice cream. You prefer hot coffee in the morning? No problem, just fill your cup or mug, microwave it and enjoy a mild and smooth brew. Again, just adjust the strength to taste by diluting the coffee with hot water or milk according. Did you try cold brewed coffee? Did you like it? Or do you have some great tips you could share with us? Please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you. And don’t forget to share this article if you like it.

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