As of the last year-and-a-half or so, my absolute favourite way to prepare coffee is by cold brewing it. This brewing method keeps the acidity at bay, and prevents the coffee from becoming too bitter. When brewed properly, it’s the smoothest and most refreshing coffee you will likely ever taste.
The first time I’d ever seen a cold brew system, it was like this thing that looks like something you’d see in a university chemistry lab. I think some old friends had purchased it and shared about how much they loved it on Facebook. I was intrigued, but at the time it seemed too complicated, expensive, and too much time to wait for my coffee to be ready. I still wouldn’t mind trying some coffee brewed in a machine like this, but I doubt I’ll ever spend that kind of money to get my own. (They run around $250-300.)
The first time I ever had cold brewed coffee that wasn’t pre-packaged was at another friend’s house with a system similar to this one. Just insert the giant coffee filter, add grounds, pour water on top of that, and stick it in the fridge until the next morning. Put it over the carafe, unplug the hole, and the coffee filters into it. Rinse and refill for the next morning, and any coffee that might be left in the carafe can be stored in the fridge. There was never any leftover while we were staying with them. So good.
The price for this system is much better at $35, but still a no for me (at least for now).
While I’m sure there could be several other uses for the above items besides coffee or tea, I’m still not sure it’s necessary to spend that much on the equipment.
So, what do I use to cold brew my coffee? Probably the cheapest way possible:
-a mason jar (or empty pasta sauce jar, which I actually like better)
-my existing coffee brewing systems
I put grounds and water in a jar for at least eighteen hours, and I filter it through either my Mr. Coffee machine (for regular coffee; I think I got it for $15 seven years ago), or a pour-over system (for the rare times I do a small amount of decaf — you know, late night coffee cravings when I still have to get to sleep; I think I paid $10 for my mini ceramic one two years ago).
I’ve even seen people use just a coffee filter and a mesh strainer. Brilliant.
How exactly do I cold brew coffee? The best way to get the most out of your coffee in any brewing method is to grind the coffee beans no more than 15 minutes before adding the water. (This means not buying your coffee pre-ground, nor having them grind it at Starbucks right after you buy it. I know, I know, they have an amazing grinder — I worked there.)
The most important thing to remember in cold brewing is the coffee-to-water-ratio, which is 1:8. That’s 1 part coffee to 8 parts water. I usually concentrate it, doing about a 1:4 ratio, and add the other 4 parts water after I filter it. (This ensures that I’m not limited to one mason jar-sized pot of coffee, or else Hubby would drink it all before I had a chance at it.)
If you want to try cold brewing yourself, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I’ll also end this post with links for more resources on the subject, and more detailed how-to instructions.
–Wikipedia article on cold brew
–How To Make Cold-Brewed Coffee
–Detailed instructions for probably the most popular type of home system
–The science! And which beans to use.
–A shorter version of the science.