Since cold brewed coffee has gained popularity in the last few years, people are learning that there are a lot of different ways to make it! Some people swear by a standard cold dripper, while others a soaking system or a steeping system. There are lots of choices out there and not all are created equal so choose wisely.
However, one thing is certain with cold brewing, "You can't rush art!" Cold brewing requires a couple of things...
Cold water and Time. Cold brewing requires cold water (tap or room temp bottled, but never chilled) and time to get full extraction. Heat is the enemy to cold brew coffee which is why it's called cold brew (BTW that's how it's brewed and not how it's consumed...and we cover that in another blog if you're interested!) In fact, it's the heating process in hot brew methods (drip, French press, espresso)that releases all of those bitter flavors, harmful acids & yucky oily compounds. (Interested in some cold hard data? Check out our Science Page!)
Super-chilled water is also cold brew coffee's enemy when brewing.
Despite its name, cold brewing should be done at room temperature. Quite often, we see people swearing that they can cold brew their coffee in their refrigerator. This is one of the biggest cold brew mistakes. Using super cold water, or brewing it in the fridge actually actually slows extraction, resulting in a weak extract. You're looking for optimal extraction AND flavor so room temperature gives you optimal flavor.
What makes cold brewing magical, is that it's perfectly suited for those who like options and let's you personalize each cup, or glass to the individual. The longer you brew, the stronger the extract so if you want to control it at that level just shave a few hours off or add a few more, depending on your personal taste (at least 12 hours is recommended but you can go up to 72). Once you have your extract brewed you can further personalize your coffee by adding more/less water, or milk or whatever you are diluting the extract with to further personalize each cup.
Another benefit of cold brewing is the extract can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge (this is where the fridge saves the day) so you have fresh coffee anytime you, or your guests and friends want. And with 8-12 servings at your fingertips, that can be several times a day if you're like us) all you have to do is pour and voila you have a delicious Hot or iced coffee drink or cocktail in seconds. The choices are endless and super easy. Remember, with some cold brewers you can then brew the same grounds again, for additional servings. The Re-Brew is more like a strong cup of coffee but you are still getting incredibly delicious coffee and maximizing your grounds to really get the life out of them!
Equally important as the water temperature and time is the actual grind of the coffee. A super-fine grind of coffee, like something for Espresso, is very fine and can slip through a standard filter, leaving all sorts of coffee sediment. A fine grind when cold brewing will also hold more of the water in the grounds and will produce a low volume of extract since most is stuck in the grounds. We recommend an extra coarse grind for optimal flavor and extraction.
For more information on coffee grind levels, check our our blog, "Get Your Grind On".
Now you don't need a cold brewer to make cold brew coffee (although it does help cut down on time and mess). A common DIY way of cold-brewing coffee involves a cheese-cloth, or other method of filtration. The problem here, isn't so much the 'how', but rather the 'why'. Squeezing cheese-cloths and wringing paper filters to get your java is just messy, unpractical and time-consuming for most people. Now if you are looking for an actual cold brewer made just for that there are two common types; soaking method cold brewers or steeping method cold brewers.
The soaking method brewers consist of a non-porous bucket-like container. This method also usually requires stirring the wet grounds and adding water over a period of minutes before you start brewing to fully saturate the grounds. Brewers such as this also use a fibrous filter and cork you uncork to decant (BTW these parts need to be replaced over time so there is ongoing costs and time to order/buy parts, which is something to consider).
Steeping method cold brewers often use a stainless-steel filter which allows the water to move through the grounds and completely saturate (no stirring of wet grounds needed and no replacement parts either). However, not all steeping method brewers perform the same. The one thing to look for is whether the brewer keeps the grounds covered with water during the entire brew process. Some steeping method cold brewers leave exposed grounds as the water is absorbed into the grounds the water level drops. This can result in dry grounds (grounds that were never extracted from) and weak extract. The BOD® cold brew coffee system leaves the grounds covered throughout the entire brew process so you won't experience dry grounds and you'll get the full extraction. It's also shatter-proof & completely dishwasher safe so portable and easy to clean.
If you're going to venture into cold brewing, or you're already there but want to find the best way to fit your lifestyle be sure to evaluate all your options. Cold brew coffee is by far the most delicious and most versatile coffee out there so we hope this article was of value to you so you start your cold brew journey off on the right foot.
Looking for more information as to why switching to cold brew might be a good idea? Check us out!