Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home
I love coffee so it was thrilling to see cold brew coffee appear everywhere over the summer from the local grocery store to a bar tap at Salt & Time. And I don’t think the trend is ending just because the weather is getting cooler.
Cold brew is the method of slowly steeping the coffee beans in cold/room temperature water for a long period of time. This allows the flavor to develop more fully but without the acidity that hot water extracts from the bean. But there was one problem to prevent me from fully enjoying the cold brew movement: the cost. We are talking $10 plus for a bottle that wouldn’t even last a day in my house. Unacceptable, I had to find how to do it myself.
After some internet searches and some trial and error I merged three recipes I found online into what I think is the simplest and cheapest cold brew that returns results near, if not at, the level of the stuff you can buy in the store.
You will need one gallon of water and 12oz of your favorite beans. I chose Ruta Maya since they are locally roasted and work really well in cold brew. You will also need a vessel to steep your coffee in. I have found the Crystal Geyser one gallon bottles perfect for steeping and storage.
First, you will want to grind the coffee. I do a variety of grinds each time. Some really coarse (barely ground) to a fine grind. I have no proof this does anything. Most places suggest a fairly coarse grind like you have for a french press. Pour the ground coffee into your empty one gallon container. Then pour your water in. Obviously you won’t get a full gallon in (since the coffee is taking up space) but hold onto that extra water for just a little bit longer. Screw on the cap, give the bottle a good shake and walk away.
Most “experts” say to keep the container in a cold place (like the refrigerator) or a dark place (like a pantry or a cabinet). I ignore all that and leave it out on the counter. Every time I walk past it I give a good shake to mix up the coffee which will rise to the top at first, then settle to the bottom. After about six hours open up the container. It will suck in some air and you will have some room to pour in part of the remaining water. Seal it back up and continue shaking it every once in a while.
After a full twenty-four hours the process is complete and you are ready to filter. I have let it steep longer with no noticeable difference but I have also started filtering after just twelve and that was the worst batch I have made so far.
For filtering you will need coffee filters (I have used #4 and basket filters), cheesecloth, a strainer and another vessel (I use a pot for simplicity). Put the strainer over your empty vessel and line with coffee filters. Then line the coffee filters with cheesecloth so that when the grounds are dumped out into the cheesecloth you can make a little bundle.
Start pouring out the cold brew in the homemade filtering system. Any large particulates (hopefully that will be coffee grounds only) will get caught in the cheesecloth and the coffee filters will start removing the silt. Once you have dumped out all the liquid and most of the grounds let it sit for fifteen to thirty minutes. During that time go rinse out the bottle the liquid was steeping in. Make sure to get rid of all the grounds and any silt.
After you let it rest and drain on its own, pull up the cheesecloth around the grounds so you have a little bundle. Get any remaining water out of the grounds by twisting the top of the bundle and/or pushing down on the bundle. Once you are satisfied that you have squeezed out as much as you can you can discard everything in the strainer and pour the cold brew coffee from the pot back into the container.
Now it’s time for a second filtering. This is the most time consuming step and you will be tempted to skip it but I highly advise you not to. It really does create a better cold brew coffee.
With a cleaned pot and strainer set up once again, put one coffee filter in another and place in the strainer. Slowly pour from the container into the filter being sure not to overflow the filter. Let it completely drip through before filling again. The filter will quickly get blocked by silt and tiny particles. Discard them and set up another using two new coffee filters. Repeat over and over until you are done.
Clean out the steeping container one more time and transfer your cold brew coffee into it from the pot. Place in the refrigerator for an hour and you will have yourself almost a complete gallon of cold brew coffee for close to the same price as some 16oz bottles at the store are going for.
Super secret bonus tip: Get yourself a brand new ice cube tray (may I suggest a Han Solo frozen in Carbonite ice cube tray?) and make cold brew coffee ice cubes.