Ahh, coffee. There’s nothing like the intoxicating aroma of a warm cup of joe first thing in the morning (not the mention the much-needed energy boost it provides). At least, until summer rolls around and you switch over to the delight that is cold brew coffee.
“Cold brew has a richness and smoothness of flavor you just don't get from refrigerating brewed coffee,” says Jordan G. Hardin, the director of food and beverage for cult-favorite LA coffee spot Alfred. “Since the beans are never heated, the infusion is much gentler, and you get a less acidic and sweeter coffee. I promise you'll taste the difference.”
The best thing about cold brew coffee though (especially for us lazy folks) is that it’s super easy to make at home, and for way less than the $5 per cup you'd pay at your local coffee shop. You can even make a big batch to last you all week. Here, Hardin breaks down how to make cold brew coffee at home.
What do you need to make cold brew?
Good news: You don’t need a ton of fancy shmancy supplies to make cold brew coffee at home. Consider this your list of essentials, courtesy of Hardin:
- coffee beans of your choice
- coffee grinder (optional)
- fine mesh strainer
- large jar or other vessel
- cold water
Cool, so how do you make cold brew coffee at home?
1. Grind your coffee. Any type of coffee will work but generally the better quality beans you use, the better the brew. “Some of the fun comes from seeing how different coffee origins taste when cold brewed,” Hardin says. “Sometimes they're really fruity, sometimes you get super clean chocolatey and nutty notes. You can experiment to find what you like.”
When grinding your beans, Hardin recommends a coarse grind that looks like small breadcrumbs. “A fine grind will result in a very intense and somewhat unpleasant flavor,” he says. Don't have a coffee grinder? You can hit up Trader Joe's—they have an in-house grinder that customers can use. Other coffee shops and grocery stores often offer to grind the beans you buy in-house.
2. Stir the ground coffee and water together. Next, fill up your cold brew vessel of choice with your ground coffee. There are containers made especially for making cold brew. But, Hardin says, a French press with a built-in filter or a mason jar will also do the trick. Then add cold water directly to the grounds. Hardin recommends using four times the amount of water to coffee. So if you want 10 ounces of coffee in the morning, then you need 40 ounces of water.
“You should add just a little water first, about a quarter of the amount, to 'bloom' the coffee, or allow it to exhale gases,” Hardin says. “Make sure you wet the full surface of the coffee. This will help develop flavor.” Once you’ve let it sit for a few minutes, add in the remaining water while stirring to ensure all the coffee is incorporated.
3. Pop it into the fridge and let it brew. Now, here’s the easy part. Put your vessel filled with grounds and water into the refrigerator. “You can wait anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for it to cold brew, but the 16 to 18-hour mark is usually the golden spot,” Hardin says.
4. Strain it in the morning. Once you roll out of bed in the morning, use a fine mesh strainer to strain your coffee. If you’re using a French press, then the filter will be built-in which is really handy. Once you strain it, Hardin advises running it through a paper filter too to get out any last grounds. “It's usually hard to find a fine enough strainer to catch all the fine, dusty bits of ground coffee,” he says. “[A paper filter] also strains out some of the thicker oils in coffee, leaving a cleaner, lighter flavor.”
5. Dilute it with water. This recipe is for a cold brew concentrate, which means that the flavor is super intense. You definitely need to add water or milk to dilute it. Hardin recommends mixing equal parts cold brew coffee and water and adjusting it to your liking. And ta-da! You’ve got delicious cold brew coffee to last you for days. Starbucks who?
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