Cold brew coffee has become one of the most popular coffee beverages in recent years, and there are many ways to make it at home. But what’s the best way?
We compare our four favorite methods, from the Japanese method to the laziest way we could think of, to find out which one produces the best results.
Cold Brew Coffee: What Is It?
Specialty coffee shops have been brewing and selling cold brews for years, and this gourmet coffee is now becoming more mainstream. But what exactly is it?
Cold brew is coffee brewed using cold water or even ice instead of hot, resulting in a less bitter cup of coffee. Many people find a cold brew smoother and more flavorful than coffee made with hot water
The Specific Roast & Grind of Cold Brew
You don’t want to use a dark roast when it comes to cold brew. The coffee should be a bit acidic to ensure a balanced taste. When the coffee has low acidity, the result comes off a bit bland.
Additionally, high coffee to water ratio is critical, typically 1:4 to 1:10. If you opt for Japanese methods or brewing hot and sticking it in the fridge, you can use the normal 1:14-1:16 coffee to water ratios.
Lastly, a bit bigger grinds will provide a better cold brew, as fine grinds typically extract too much bitterness during the long contact time with water.
Brewing Methods to Making Cold Brew Coffee
We’ve tried a few different methods of making cold brew coffee, so you can choose which one works best for you without any additional trial and error. Let’s check them out.
#1 The Designated Brewer Method
One standard method for cold brew coffee making is with a designated brewer and a glass jar. You’ll need to put your coffee in a filter, add cold water, and then store it overnight–because the water is cold, it needs a more extended extraction period.
In the morning, you’ll have delicious cold brew coffee concentrate that you can dilute with water or milk.
#2 The Glass Jar Method
The glass jar method is for you if you’re looking for an easy, no-fuss way to make cold brew coffee. All you need is a glass jar, coffee ground, and water. Add the grounds to the jar, cover with water, and stick it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, the grounds will have settled to the bottom of the jar, so all you need to do is pour off the coffee grounds and enjoy. This method may result in a grainier cold brew than if you were to use a filter, but it doesn’t require any special equipment, making it easy and accessible.
#3 The Japanese Method
For those who want to cold brew like the Japanese, you’ll need hot water, ice, and a pour-over coffee-making setup.
The Japanese method is a pour-over technique requiring two-thirds hot water and one-third ice. First, add ice to your carafe. Make your pour-over coffee on the ice, and the hot coffee will melt the ice.
This process releases flavors and oils from the coffee while the ice chills it immediately. Unlike other methods, you can enjoy this cold brew immediately instead of waiting overnight.
One final tip is to add more ice to your cup as there may not be enough left over from the melted ice in your carafe and thus your cold brew may not be cold enough.
#4 The Lazy Method
If you’re a cold brew lover but dislike the effort required in the above methods, we have a process you may enjoy. It may not 100% fall into the precise “cold brew” definition, but the result tastes mostly the same as other methods.
In the morning, make a big batch of hot, pour-over coffee. If coffee is left over by lunchtime, put it in the fridge for it to get cold. Once it is thoroughly chilled, sip and enjoy like any old cold brew coffee. It still has most of the flavors (yet it may be a bit stale or oxidized) but doesn’t require any extra effort!
To be honest we thought the lazy method comes out best with the Japanese method a close second if you need that cold brew RIGHT NOW without the wait and don’t mind not having all flavors retained.
#5 Coffee Cubes
One of our subscribers, Madeline of the ADHD charity F.O.C.U.S. shared her trick for cold-brewing, which I totally love. She pours her extra coffee into the little Lego molds up there. Not because they are cute (which they totally are) but because they have so many craggy angles the frozen coffee melts quick in whole milk, or condensed milk for that extra indulgent, icy kick.
What’s your favorite cold-brew method?
Have a secret technique we should try? Or a type of bean you think just makes the ideal cold brew? Let us know in the comments, we’ll give it a go.