In many countries the hot season begins, and you may be looking for an alternative to that hot coffee that was accompanying you during the cooler days. Fortunately, you don’t need to go to a coffee shop to enjoy delicious cold coffee; that drink known in English as cold brew it is actually very easy to prepare. Here we explain how to make cold coffee at home.
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Although it is quite easy to prepare, since you basically only need water and coffee beans, what makes coffee sometimes taste bad? Apart from the variety of coffee you use – which makes a big difference – the bad taste could be due to a number of factors. Among other things, it may be that the final product is too strong, too watery, you used poor quality coffee, or left the coffee maker heating too long. That’s why office coffee is generally the worst of all: the coffeemaker stays on for hours, the coffee tastes burnt, and if you get to the end, you’re left with something that’s as tasty as mud.
The key to a great cup of coffee is chemistry. Your coffee contains different acids and that is why bad coffee tends to taste bitter and sour. So what’s the key to making a great cup of coffee that tastes even better than the one you bought – and paid so much for – at your favorite coffee shop? The answer is cold brewed coffee.
Known in English as cold brew coffee, cold brewed coffee has a much more pleasant taste, because the sweet flavors are extracted from the acids that taste good, leaving aside the bitter acids. However, when some people think of coffee made using this method, they think of a long and tedious process or specialty coffee makers. But, you don’t have to invest your savings in expensive equipment for the simple pleasure of good coffee. You can easily make cold coffee at home, and then mix it with milk, sugar, cream, or whatever you think is best for a perfect result.
Although you prepare it with this “cold” method, we are not talking about producing only iced coffee for those summer days, but you can serve it hot or cold. In addition, you can store it for more than a week without losing its flavor, and preparing it will only take you about 10 minutes of your time if you know how to do it. Here we explain step by step how to make cold coffee better and cheaper than in the cafeteria.
- Coffee beans, or freshly ground
- Cold water
- Fine strainer or sieve
- Cotton fabric
- Crystal jar
- Start by grinding or crushing the coffee beans. Do not grind them very fine, they should be somewhat grainy, more or less with the consistency of kosher salt. It is not a good idea to use ground coffee (like the one you would use in your coffee machine), as the essence will be extracted excessively, resulting in a bitter infusion.
- Mix the coffee and water. Pour four cups of water into the pitcher and add the coffee. For a regular brew, add 1/2 cup of coffee grounds, which produces a 1: 8 ratio of coffee to water. For a stronger brew, add up to 1 cup of ground coffee. This is a personal preference, but both Blue Bottle and Kicking Horse Coffee suggest a 1: 4 ratio.
- Mix the coffee and water with a spoon or spatula to help start the preparation.
- Refrigerate the mixture for 12-15 hours to process. You can prepare it in the afternoon, put it in the refrigerator, and it will be ready the next morning.
- Filter the coffee and water mixture through a fine strainer, covered with a cotton cloth or cheesecloth to remove all the particles. And that’s it! You already have a delicious cold brewed coffee.
- Remember that this is concentrated coffee, so you should not drink it as is. To serve it, add water or milk to dilute it. Again, this is personal preference, but it’s best to start low, with a 1-to-1 ratio, and work your way from there. In our test, we added a vanilla bean to the mix, 1.5 cups of milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar, and it was delicious. You can serve it hot, or cold on ice cubes.
- You can store this cold coffee mix with milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator, for no more than two or three days. Keep in mind that when you add milk, water or other ingredients, this shortens the shelf life of the mixture, so you should consume it sooner. But if you leave the concentrated cold coffee without adding anything to it, you can store it for about a week, or even a little longer, before its quality deteriorates.
- Use filtered water for best results. You can also use regular bottled water, but filtered water is your best option.
- Although you may be tempted to remove the mixture from the refrigerator before the process is complete, wait at least 12 hours, or a little longer. We assure you that the wait is worth it.
- You can add a variety of ingredients to make your experience even better. Experiment with condensed, evaporated milk, cinnamon, vanilla, dulce de leche, cream, brown sugar, honey, chocolate, coconut milk, almond milk… the possibilities are so many!
- As we said, this is concentrated coffee, so cold brewed coffee tends to be stronger than traditional hot coffee. So always dilute your cup with water or milk, if you don’t want to end up with more energy – and nerves – than you would like to have after enjoying a good coffee.