Features 2 minutes 19 July 2017

Technique Thursdays: Why Cold Brew Coffee Is Worth The Wait

Skip the crowds and sip on a chilled cuppa joe in the comfort of your home on a sunny morning.

The Difference Between Iced Coffee and Cold Brew

Every coffee lover will wax lyrical about the aroma and full body of a good fresh cup of hot coffee. Be it the acidity of a single origin Columbian espresso shot or the fruitiness of a Kenyan pour over, a little heat is always needed to nudge your morning cuppa awake and draw out its full flavours.

While espresso-based drinks use a combination of time, high heat and pressure to create a cup of full-bodied coffee, extracting the same flavours can be done without the fancy coffee machines too. What you'll need, though, is plenty of patience.
The key difference here lies in the temperature of the brew: "Hot brewed coffee is going to give the widest range of flavours... but you can get a beverage every bit as delicious brewing at room temperature," says Jeffrey Meese, founder of consulting firm Empirico. The coffee aficionado makes his own cold brews from home, and also acted as consultant to artisanal cafe The New Black.
Getting caffeinated

While it might seem more convenient to grab a bottle of cold brew off the shelves at the nearest cafe, one of the best parts about making your own — besides the immense satisfaction you feel, of course — is being able to control the caffeine levels. As this is determined by the ratio of water to beans and the duration of brewing (the ration is usually 6ml/gram of coffee, or 1l to 167g of coffee, brewed in room temperature up to 24 hours), tweaking the ratios means a customised blend just right for your palate.

"If you want something that you can pull out and drink straight without diluting it, brew at a 10:1 ratio for 12 to 16 hours. If you want to make a cold brew latte, brew at the 6:1 ratio over 14 hours and dilute with water or milk (2 parts water/milk and 1 part coffee)," shares Meese. He continues: "Just remember to only play around with one variable at a time (ratio or brew time). I prefer to brew at higher concentrations over 14 – 18 hours and then dilute with water (or milk) down to what tastes good."
A full immersion cold brew is the best to pair with creamy milk
A full immersion cold brew is the best to pair with creamy milk
The Many Ways To Make A Cold Brew

There are all sorts of equipment for making cold brew, but they all fit into two categories: full immersion and drip.

For full immersion, what you'll use is basically a jug with a filter and a hole in the bottom. Just grind your coffee (pretty coarse), add water, and then wait for 12 to 24 hours.

SEE ALSO: Ask the Experts - What Is The Best Way To Cook Wagyu?

For cold brew drip, usually some fancy equipment such as a tower is needed to filter the fresh coffee dripped over ice. The big difference in the two methods is the range of flavour profiles you get from the coffee. Full immersion method creates a deep chocolate, full-bodied brew that works well in milk, while the drip method delivers a wider range of flavours based on the types of coffee beans you use.
A French press is a handy tool for making a batch of cold brew at home
A French press is a handy tool for making a batch of cold brew at home
Tricks of the Trade

No fancy equipment? Meese shares how anything that holds water can be used to make cold brew via the full immersion method. "The only other things you need are coarsely ground coffee, a filter and 12 to 24 hours," he shares.

A French press also makes for a good ad hoc cold brew-maker. Just fill the press with coffee and water, press the plunger down a little bit so that all of the coffee is in the water, wait for 12-24 hours, press the plunger down, pour it into a bottle, and put it in the fridge.

"As always, start with good coffee beans. We all may have different preferences on taste, but shoot for locally roasted, and fresh beans, as after 30 days the nuance of any of the beans is going to fade," says Meese.


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