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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home , The Amateur’s DIY Guide to Surviving 2017 Caffeinated

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home , The Amateur’s DIY Guide to Surviving 2017 Caffeinated

It's 12:22 Pm and just so your pleasantly reassured a live and breathe coffee at especially in the middle of the afternoon. When I went to boot camp we weren't allowed to drink coffee or any form of desirable sugar for about 4 weeks. It was the worst and yet most gratifying experience of my life. I learned a valuable lesson

I can live without coffee, but I choose to wake up to her beautiful scent almost every single day...

So now that I've shared some completely irrelevant information with you let's get down to the business of teaching you my valued reader how to make cold brew coffee at home. Let me be clear I'm not some stuffy reviewer I will provide the cold hard facts and how to get it done like a real freakin' person.  When I first started drinking cold brew coffee I literally did the following:

  • took some left over ground coffee I had stored away
  • funnelled it into a recycled Evian water bottle
  • added some cold filtered water to the bottle
  • shook the bottle up like a mad woman
  • waited 4 hours
  • poured the liquid contents out
  • added some syrup and cream
  • added some ice
  • drank that thang up :P

Now, if you're just experimenting you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results of following those amateur steps I listed above. But if you're pretty sure you want to drink cold brew coffee and want to join the next level of sophistication well this is the post for you. Yay...Coffee clap commence

A brief overview of the Cold Brew Coffee Benefits

You might be asking yourself, why even bother drinking cold brew coffee? Isn't the whole point of coffee to wake up in the morning with a home filled to the brim with the smell of coffee brewed hot in the coffee maker. Honestly, let me just say my attraction to cold brew coffee was purely preference when I first started this journey. I wrote about why I prefer cold brew over hot brew in this post about coffee being as rare as avocados  . To be clear I grew up and currently live on a tropical island paradise lol :P I know it sounds so incredibly cliche but it's true. On a good day humidity is at 110% and the heat is 90 Degrees mid afternoon in the shade. So 'hot coffee' not so much a practical thing if you get what I mean.

After I started researching the actual benefits of cold brew coffee I learned that there are several pros to drinking coffee using this particular method of brewing. The first and most commonly claimed is the decrease in acidity. Which means if you're suffering from heartburn or any digestive ailments this might be a better option for you. But to be clear I searched the entire web to find a case study other than the few lines listed on Toddy  <- which is a popular cold brewing system so I haven't found some definitive peer reviewed research or study that states cold brew is healthier to drink ¯_(ツ)_/¯ So don't leave here with that as a driving force. Always listen to your Dr. because if you want to live longer and should not be drinking coffee just Choose Life my friend :)

So here are the benefits:

  • It's made cold , arguably refreshing w/ice
  • It's easy to put together
  • less energy required always a plus
  • It may be healthier than hot brewed coffee , but at this point it's just someone's educated opinion

So now that we've gone over some key cold brew coffee points , let's proceed.

Should I Steep , Dutch , or Japanese my Cold Brew Coffee

Okay, if you spend any measure of time researching how to make cold brew coffee you'll learn there are several distinctions in methodology, the common distinctions and misconceptions are the following

  • Steeping Method
  • Dutch Method
  • Japanese Method
  • Cold Brew Concentrated

There is no right or wrong way to cold brew. To be honest I think you should probably start simple and then escalate. That is always my process when experimenting with anything. It's the same process I used here and I'm sure you sound minded individuals may want to follow suit. So let's explore the methods above in greater detail.

The Steeping method

Probably the most common and likely the image you see on the on the internet most often is the steeping method, this is a very simple process. Basically it requires a vessel , a filtering mechanism / device , water , and coffee grounds.  Remember earlier I indicated that my first encounter with cold brew coffee at home was as Evian water bottle and some old coffee grounds. Admittedly, it was a rather brutish attempt but I'm one of those people who like to test the waters before diving deep.

Well, if you decide you want to dive deep , like me , you can follow this simple process outlined below. Whenever using the steeping method my usual measurement tends to be around 1 part grounds to 3 parts water. I like my coffee dark and highly caffeinated but I tend to mix a few ingredients after the brew so depending on your preference you can modify the measurements.

Here is the simple process I use.

What you need

  1. Mason Jar
  2. Mason Jar Filter / Strainer / Cheese Cloth
  3. Filtered Cold Water
  4. Coffee:  Coffee Grounds

note: Since I'm the only one who drinks cold brew at home I usually make a batch the night before and it will last me throughout the following day usually with a bit of leftover to get me wired through the morning.  

First, place the coffee grounds into the mason jar. Depending on your setup ensure you are considering the filter you are using. For example if you're using a a filter that sits inside the jar be sure to place the filter inside the jar first. The same goes with cheesecloths or straining cloths as you'll be able to pull the filter out without having to transfer the cold brew into another container.

After putting your grounds into your container fill the container with 3 parts water. Usually a mason jar will have measurement  ticks along it's side but if your's does not just "Rachel Ray it" and eyeball three parts water 1 part grounds.

Then seal your container and place it in a cold place for 12 -24 hours.  Once the time has elapsed filter the grounds from the liquid and drink to your hearts content. The longer the coffee has to brew the greater the propensity for flavour. I mentioned above that I placed my first brew inside the fridge for about 4 hours, it wasn't devastatingly bad but it definitely did not have the same taste a cold brew that sits for 12 hours or more. The flavour is incredibly deep and not bitter at all.

Depending on the type of beans you use and the quality of beans the taste will vary. So in this case I'd recommend splurging for coffee grounds that match your preference. Now to be clear, you don't have to own a manual coffee grinder. Although, it's often said that grinding the coffee yourself yields a much better flavour which makes a lot sense since most coffee bean processing is likely low fermented and the longer it stays whole the more likely it will retain it's original chemistry. Or it's probably fresher. Manual grinders usually emit a different type of grind I'm not sure if it has something to do with both the heat of the blades at a certain spend or the texture but it's definitely different. If you're not ready to go for the manual grinder yet just source some really good coffee it'll likely make your experience a whole lot better.

Like I said you don't have to be fancy here. If you don't have any mason jars and just have a pitcher / strainer lying around that will work. However, as you start doing this over and over the need for gizmos and gadgets becomes essential since you're likely to want to make this process as simple as possible. If you don't have any feasible mechanisms for storing a batch of coffee overnight I recommend the following affordable buys:

  1. County Line Kitchen Durable Cold Brew Mason Jar Coffee Maker with Handle. Glass Jar, Stainless Steel Filter, Flip Cap Lid - 2 Quart, 64 oz  is a quintessential cold-brew gadget.  The reason I recommend this specific kit is for several reasons.
    1. It's affordable , in less than a month's time you can likely replace your store bought or commercial coffee expenses with this reusable kit.  It should round out to about ~30 bucks which is pretty reasonable.
    2. It's practical since it's large enough for a single drink but not too small that you have to wait another 12 hours for another batch of coffee to brew. If you're like me you usually enjoy more than 1 cup of coffee or you might want to share with a friend (no fair hoarding the cold brew :P) The single serve travel mugs seem a little ridiculous for someone who is serious about their coffee. I mean honestly ...
    3. It's aesthetically pleasing. So I'm not sure if you're into the cuteness that goes into DIY'ing things but I am and this kit fits the mold. It's less modern and more DIYish (you can discount this tick if you're saying that's stupid in your head, sorry I just am who I am - sometimes I pay more for pretty pictures see below
    4. Also, it's a mason jar so it should be pretty easy to replace
  2. The cons of this system
    1. It's made of glass which obviously comes with it's own set of handle with care instructions.
    2. No pouring spout or handle which is a little diminished by the fact that you can use the glass to drink from.

My second recommendation is a little more fruifui but it's definitely something to consider if you're interested in a device that can yield a slightly higher quantity and is probably better suited for pouring into individual glasses for friends or family.

  1. The Muspi: is a little more grown up I guess. It's pricing is ~30USD depending on your shipping costs I decided on this particular option for several reasons similar to those listed above:
    1. The Muspi Cold Brew System is a pretty affordable system. Going with the same logic you can recoup your purchasing cost by simply cutting down on a few commercially bought coffee drinks within the month 5USD per coffee drink X 6 cups of coffee, simple economics right :)
    2. It serves about 1.5 liters of cold coffee which is sufficient in my opinion but this is not meant to singularly produce commercial quantities since we're talking about brewing coffee at home.
    3. It has an easy pouring spout and handle which is definitely a little more convenient for serving.
    4. It's filter is constructed of stainless steel
    5. And it's also BPA free
    6. It's aesthetically pleasing
  2. The Cons of this system
    1. It's glass and can only be used for cold brew items. So if you're looking for something to serve a dual purpose like brewing both cold and hot coffee or tea it's definitely something to stay away from.
    2. It's probably unlikely that you will take this with you on any trip since it just seems a little impractical but again we're brewing coffee at home so not a big deal right :)

Muspi cold brew coffee system

The Dutch Method

Don't laugh I know you're probably thinking could the "going Dutch" cold brew method possibly stem from another popular phrase. Nope, but I guess if we're being literal there could probably be some similarities. Hmmm a topic for another day I guess. I'll probably get some Flack for this but you know if you're not pissing someone off your not doing something right.

The Dutch Method for Cold Brewing Coffee is the opposite of steeping. Instead, the basic process is to use a system that allows you to pour iced cold water into coffee grounds which is then filtered directly into a separate vessel.

You might be familiar with those elaborate chemistry looking machines that exude sophistication see the image below

elegant dutch cold brew systems
This is a Dutch cold brewing system it looks like an awesome little chemistry set. (Note: I found these little gems on a site called Monaqi where they have a bunch of trendy mid-century mod type curated finds, yes you can thank me later) There are a few features you'll notice when observing these types of cold brewers.

  1. Often confused with siphoning coffee machines the key distinction here are the three separate vessels. The Dutch system is based on the idea that coffee meets grounds at iced cold temperature. Therefore, the 3 diffeeent vessels allow this to occur.
  2. The Dutch coffee system requires less brewing time as opposed to the steeping method above the Dutch process allows just enough time for the iced cold water to filter through coffee grounds.
  3. In some instances Dutch coffee is known to be fuller bodied based on the idea that somehow iced cold coffee yields greater viscosity. Although, experimenters differ in opinion. Everyone's coffee is the best cold brew ever :)

Overall, the Dutch coffee method is pretty timeless. As I dive deeper in my cold brewing experiencing I'll share a more detailed account with you.

The Japanese Cold Brew Misconception

A few coffee mediums have suggested that the Japenese method of brewing iced coffee is the way to go. Maybe somewhere in Japan they are making cold brew by brewing coffee cold. But the methods described online are more hot brewed siphoned coffee chilled directly on ice.

From Erin's Serious Eats Post Below

Heat and cold are basic conditions that modify substance. No matter how you slice, it will change the composition of that substance. That popularized method of Japenese iced coffee is not cold brewed but instead hot brewed and iced immediately. So true indeed the tiny distinction is a bit of a misconception but in the end the coffee is made to drink cold. I refuse to portray the snobbish attitude , it's coffee , have it how you enjoy it or just try it to put another experience under your belt. In another purse I'll share a traditional desert that's made mostly of coffee and beer , if you're an explorer you'll love that read. But back to the point. The Japanese misconception may just end up being a happy accident. The basic premise is that the coffee is made hot using the pour over method but immediately iced down once it has happily and briefly rubbed shoulders with the coffee grounds. One  of the biggest arguments against making coffee this way is that people often assume the end result will be a watered down coffee beverage. I did a little more research for you to combat that problem and found a great resource by Erin Meister who details this method. She also explains how the hot brewed coffee alters solubles and changes the dynamic of the coffee. And of course how to make the coffee extra concentrated to avoid that watered down effect.  So in the end you have hot brewed made cold done right :) win win right !

Cold brew coffee concentrate at home

So, we've arrived at the final method we're covering this post on how to make cold brew coffee at home. Suffice to it say you're an amateurish expert by now . You can now navigate through the cold brewed world with a confident pep in your step. Now then, what's the deal with cold brew concentrate is there another mysticsl machine or process? Nope. Cold brew concentrate is essentially the concentrated form of cold brew. Normally increasing the ratio of grounds to water works fine. To be honest my steeping method is probably a little more concentrated that most but to each his own. When making concentrated cold brew you can use the same method associated with steeping. Do not boil down the cold brew and add corn syrup (that's coffee syrup my dears). Instead, think of this phase as the moment you can add bursts of flavor to your concentrate. Whether it's batch of simple highly caffeinated brew for your iced coffee or infused with vanilla beans , lavender , cinnamon , or pumpkin spice the concentrated method is a great time to spice up your brew.

Final Thoughts Before Sending You Off To Brew The Cold Stuff

So here's the deal. You might have landed here thinking I'm going to get a few how to steps on brewing cold brew coffee at home and then call it a day. But honestly that's not how I roll I like to go in-depth and really focus on the things you need to know so you don't leave this article confused thinking WTH did I just spend my time reading. I want to remind you , there's no right of wrong way to drink your coffee - The point of this site is to remind ourselves that Cold Brew Coffee Philosophy is about embracing our power to choose what we want despite popular opinion.

If you have a particular cold brewing method experience you want to share below please do. And also if you have more valuable information like perhaps a scientific chemist perspective I'm cool with that too, anything to help the readers gain insight. So I'm off to rule my night :) Since I live work and play on the internet I will see you all again in the next posts or the comments section.

By the way , would you like to hear about unique cold brew recipes inspired by different cultures ??? Or maybe there's another topic your just longing to learn more about let me know in the comments section or send me an email and I'll get right on that.

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