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How to Make Cold Brew Like a Pro

How to Make Cold Brew Like a Pro

Making delicious cold brew coffee at home is easier than you think! As a passionate home barista, I've perfected my technique over several years of trial and error. Follow these steps and you'll be brewing cold brew like a pro in no time.

Choose Quality Coffee Beans

The first step is choosing the right coffee beans. High-quality, fresh roasted beans are essential for making smooth, flavorful cold brew. Here are some tips for selecting beans:

  • Go for medium or dark roasts - The long steeping process used for cold brew balances out bitterness and brings forward sweetness and chocolate notes. Light roasts can taste sour.

  • Use 100% Arabica beans - Arabica beans brew a smoother, more complex flavor compared to Robusta.

  • Buy whole beans - Grind them immediately before brewing to maximize freshness. Pre-ground coffee goes stale quickly.

  • Choose single origin beans - The unique notes of beans from one farm or region come through nicely in cold brew. Blends can muddle flavors.

I recommend visiting a local specialty roaster and asking for bean recommendations specifically for cold brew. It's worth investing in quality beans, as they make all the difference in taste.

Grind Beans Coarsely

Grind size dramatically impacts cold brew's flavor. For best extraction, use a coarse grind similar to kosher salt. Finer grinds lead to over-extraction and bitterness.

I use a burr grinder and set it to the French press setting. A uniform coarse grind allows room for the water to penetrate while steeping. Blade grinders are not recommended since they produce an inconsistent mix of fine and large grounds.

Only grind what you need per batch to retain freshness. Ground coffee quickly absorbs odors and goes stale within 15 minutes. Store beans and ground coffee in airtight containers away from light, air, moisture, and heat.

Use a 1:4 Coffee to Water Ratio

The standard cold brew ratio is 1 part coarsely ground coffee to 4 parts water. This produces a concentrate that can be diluted to taste.

Here are some tips for measurements:

  • Use a kitchen scale for precision. I measure 200g coarse ground coffee per 1 liter (34 oz) water.

  • Volume measurements work too. Use 1 cup ground coffee per 4 cups water.

  • For a smaller batch, cut measurements in half. 100g grounds to 500mL water makes 2-3 servings.

Getting the ratio right is key for flavorful, non-bitter cold brew. Too little coffee and the brew will be weak and watery. Too much will over-extract and taste harsh.

Steep for 12-24 Hours

Time and temperature are vital factors for cold brew extraction. The ideal steeping time is 12-24 hours in room temperature or cool water. This long, gentle process brings out the beans' sweetness and complexity without bitterness.

Here are some steeping tips:

  • I steep for 18-20 hours at room temperature (68-72°F) for best flavor.

  • You can steep up to 24 hours if you prefer a strong concentrate.

  • Avoid steeping less than 12 hours - the brew will be under-extracted.

  • Don't use hot water as high heat draws out bitterness.

I brew my cold brew in a glass jar or pitcher covered with cheesecloth. Mason jars work great too. Just ensure your vessel is large enough, as the grounds will expand.

Filter and Dilute the Concentrate

Once steeping is complete, it's time to filter out the coffee grounds. There are a few options:

  • French press - Easy plunge filtering without needing other gear

  • Cheesecloth - Just be prepared for a messy process straining grounds

  • Cold brew filters - Convenient and disposable with fine mesh to remove sediment

  • Cold brew coffee maker - All-in-one immersion and filtering

Pour the filtered concentrate into a clean jar or bottle. Dilute concentrate 1:1 with water, milk, or ice to enjoy iced or at room temperature. Adjust the ratio to taste. Concentrate keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Flavor Your Cold Brew

One of the joys of homemade cold brew is experimenting with flavors. Try these delicious additions:

  • Vanilla - A classic flavor complement. Add vanilla syrup or extract.

  • Chocolate - Sweetened cocoa powder or chocolate syrup pair nicely.

  • Cinnamon - A sprinkle of cinnamon adds warmth.

  • Nut milks - Almond, oat, and coconut milk lend creaminess.

  • Whipped cream - Top off your cold brew with fluffy whipped cream.

  • Ice cream - For a coffee float, top with a big scoop of ice cream.

With quality beans and the proper technique, you can craft smooth, nuanced cold brew that rivals your favorite coffee shop. What are you waiting for? Go refresh your caffeine routine with cold brew made like a pro at home.

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