I love a good cup of coffee in the morning. For years, when I lived in NY, I would set the timer on my coffee pot at night and then wake up in the morning to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. That was
until I moved to South Florida. Now it’s all about iced coffee. Nothing beats a tall glass of home brewed iced coffee in this heat, especially in the summer when the temperature is usually 90 plus.
I had heard about cold-brewed coffee and seen it on the menu at coffee shops but never really thought about making it at home. I was used to brewing hot coffee and then pouring it over ice or refrigerating my leftover hot brewed coffee and then using that to make iced coffee. Then I tried making cold-brewed coffee at home and I haven’t gone back since.
Cold-brewed coffee is coffee that’s steeped in cold or room temperature water instead of being brewed with hot water. Why is it so great? It’s because it has a smoother flavor than hot brewed coffee and a lower acidity level. When coffee comes into contact with the intense heat of boiling water, a specific chemical reaction occurs. With cold-brewing, that chemical reaction doesn’t occur so it creates a different flavor profile than drip coffee. Cold brew is less bitter and has a smooth, almost sweet flavor. Another advantage of cold brew is that unlike hot coffee, when you pour it over ice, your drink won’t instantly get diluted.
Because we are not using heat to extract the flavor from the coffee, we need time instead. Ideally,
you want to have at least 12 hours for the coffee to soak in the water. I usually start the process at night so that it’s ready to go the next day when I need my caffeine fix.
There are only two ingredients- coffee and water. The ratio of the two is the only variation and depends on how strong you like your coffee. I’ve been using a ratio of 1 cup coffee to 4.5 cups water and I think that’s a good place to start. You can start there and adjust to suit your taste.
You want to make sure to use coarsely ground coffee as it will yield the best product with minimal cloudiness. After the coffee has soaked, it’s time to strain it. You can use a fine mesh strainer or make one by lining a strainer with a coffee filter or cheesecloth. The finer the strainer, the less sediment you will have, which means a cleaner flavor. I use a cloth coffee sock filter that’s made just for straining coffee that I actually found at my local grocery store (you can also buy them online). If you have a French press, you can also use that. Just put the coffee and water in it at night and let it steep overnight. In the morning, plunge and you’re ready to go.
I store my cold brew in a large pitcher in the refrigerator so that I can have a refreshing glass of iced coffee whenever the urge strikes. When you’re ready for a glass, just pour it over ice and add any desired additions like milk or sweeteners. You can store your cold brew in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Cold-brewed coffee has a smooth flavor and low acidity level, plus it's easy to make at home.
Makes about 3 quarts
- ½ pound good quality coffee, coarsely ground
- 13 ½ cups water (room temperature or cold)
- Place the coffee grounds in a large container and add the water. Stir to combine well.
- Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and let the coffee steep on the counter at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Alternatively you can use a cloth coffee sock filter. Stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the container.
- Transfer the cold brew to a large pitcher, cover and refrigerate. When ready to drink, add ice and any other additions like milk or sweeteners. The cold brew can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
The ratio of coffee to water that I used is 1 cup coffee to 4 ½ cups water. You can start with any amount of coffee grounds and then add the appropriate amount of water in that proportion. I used ½ pound of coffee, which measured out to about 3 cups so I then added 13 ½ cups water.