There is nothing like a cup of hot, strong coffee on a cold winter morning to warm you up and kick-start your brain, but what about the summer months? Iced coffee? It can be disappointing, especially if you crave that powerful hit of caffeine and love the rich flavour of brewed coffee. Iced coffee gets watered down from ice cubes, and tends to be a little bitter. It is more like drinking stale coffee (oh, yuck) than experiencing a great roast, chilled version. Enter cold brewed coffee!
Because it is properly brewed over an extended period of time, it is genuine brewed coffee. It retains the richness of freshly brewed joe, but is consumed nice and cold. Warning: it packs a punch, two to three times the caffeine of regular hot brewed coffee. You can water it down, or just drink a bit less of it at one go to compensate for the charge.
If you agree with the axiom, “A bad day with coffee is better than a good day without,” you will be happy to know that you can enjoy your favourite blend, flavoured or natural, fully brewed on the hottest summer day, or any time at all. Let your OCD (obsessive coffee disorder) take centre stage!
Who Invented Cold Brew Coffee?
For the North American market, we have New Orleans to thank for this gem of a cold drink. Its popularity caught on and soon NOLA visitors started demanding that their local cafés serve this beverage. People love its smoother sensibility and 67% less acid content (easier on the guts).
Is it Just Iced Coffee with a Different Name?
No. Iced coffee is brewed hot, and served cold, so chilled after the fact in some manner (often using ice, which dilutes the brew). Cold brew coffee is brewed cold; it just takes much longer than hot-water brewing.
Cold brew generally costs a lot more money to buy at a café because factors such as hot weather or trends can place it in high demand and while a pot of hot coffee can be made in minutes, cold brew requires advance consideration and estimation. That is also why it is more expensive to buy, but you can easily make it yourself!
How Do You Make Cold Brew Coffee?
Looking for cold brew coffee recipes? No problem, there are plenty out there, but plan ahead! Cold brewing takes eight to 18 hours (12 is ideal), so it’s not a spontaneous, fun thing to create when you have instant guests arrive, but it keeps fairly well in the refrigerator (where you brew it). Beyond the basics, which follow herein, you will find all sorts of variations on this theme. One we like is cold brew coffee with a dash of chilled Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.
Start with your top choice of coffee beans, and grind them very roughly; they should look like breadcrumbs, or the little “peas” that form when making pie crust. You can purchase a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, or just use the French press you may have on hand. You will need a method for filtering.
The coffee you drink regularly is a good place to start. It is there in storage and because you are familiar with it, you can easily compare the hot versus cold. Pop the beans in your grinder and set it to coarse. Put the grinds in the French press and fill with room temperature or cold water at a ratio of 1:8 coffee to water (for example, two ounces of coffee to 16 ounces of water). Place the French press in your refrigerator and leave eight or more hours; the longer, the stronger. Don’t leave it more than 18 hours, or we’ll have to call 9-1-1!
It will steep in your fridge while you sleep and wake you up like a bullet the next morning. Just filter and pour. But keep in mind, it will be significantly stronger than your usual hot coffee, so you may care to dilute it (it can be done with ice or cold water), or add something to take the edge off. Our favourite? Vanilla ice cream. So delicious!
Why Should You Try Cold Brew Coffee?
If you are a coffee lover, this will give you all the joy of hot coffee when you do not need the heat. The true flavour is not broken as it is with iced coffee. That is the key difference between the two.
Pre-ground coarse coffee, intended for cold brew making, can be purchased in a package if you do not have a grinder, and it keeps well, like any coffee, in the fridge before use. Once you have made the cold brew coffee, it stays fresh for 24 to 48 hours.
To add even more flavour and interest to your cold brew coffee, consider flavoured simple syrups; granulated sugar will not dissolve properly in cold drinks. Or add a sprig of fresh herbs like mint, rosemary or lemon thyme. We tried dropping a curled strip of orange rind into a tall glass of cold brew and it was fabulous. We encourage you to experiment with this yummy, stimulating beverage!
If the wallop of caffeine is just too much for you, but you enjoy the smooth, low-acid nuance, by all means try your choice of decaffeinated coffee instead; just ensure it is a coarse grind.
The Last Drop
Cold brew coffee has only been in wide circulation since 2015, but it immediately pushed the cold drinks market at coffee shops up by 20%; there is a reason for that. Cold brew coffee is divine plain, flavoured or gussied up!