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How to … Cold-Brew Coffee

7 April 2008

So, yes, I drink coffee from time to time. I don’t use it to wake up; I make my coffee pretty weak, as you’ll see. I usually have it halfway through the morning, after I’ve had a pot or two of tea (black or green). Just to “mix it up” a little in the drinks-during-work department. Also, I drink my coffee like a baby: with sugar and milk. Since I drink my tea “straight up”, my coffee is a sweet mid-morning treat.

We always have coffee filters in the house, but I’ve tried to reduce the number of them that I use. It just seems like such a waste of paper. Sure, I could buy a french press pot, but again, I like the coffee weak, and, why should I spend money when I can make my coffee concentrate for free? Another perk? Cold-brewed coffee is lower in acidity than heat-brewed coffee. No more sour stomach!

There are many places online to find cold-brew directions. Here’s my take on the process. (Note that I make this in small batches — partly because I’m mostly the only one to drink coffee, and partly because our fridge is often filled with other large containers. You can increase your batch size according to your useage/spaceage.)

First, grab some coffee. Organic fair trade is best, of course! (Let me pre-empt any reactions by saying: This coffee grinder was actually bought as a gift for the Consort, who wanted a spice mill. I’ve appropriated it, but we didn’t buy it for coffee. That use only came later.)

Put 4 tablespoons of ground coffee in a clean jar. My jar size is 2 cups. (That’s the general ratio: 8 cups water for 1 cup of ground coffee.)

Add a bit of water and make sure the grounds get good and wet. Coffee grounds are rather powdery, so if you forget to do this step, the grounds will float to the top and it’ll be a pain to mix them in. Trust me. I speak from experience here.

Now you can fill the jar with water.

Screw the lid on, and then place the jar in a cabinet, away from sunlight. I think the real directions say to let it cold-brew for 12 hours, but I find that I always forget 12 hours usually comes when I’m ready for bed, and I’m too tired to do anything kitchen-related it tastes richer after 24 hours. So I let it sit 24 hours (because by then it is the next morning and, hey! I feel like having a cup of coffee! — so I remember that the jar is sitting in the cabinet).

When you take the jar out, you’ll notice that all the grounds are up at the top.

The original calls for you to strain the liquid with a fine-mesh sieve. I don’t have a fine-mesh sieve. (But I do have two sieves! two sieves layered = one fine-mesh sieve, right?). I also like to use my canning funnel to prevent spillage. You don’t need this. Probably most people don’t need this; I’m just messy when it comes to pouring liquid from one jar to another. A long-handled spoon also comes in handy (as we shall shortly see…).

It’s helpful to break up the grounds with a spoon before you pour it out. This prevents the grounds from coming out in a big clump and making a mess on the counter (and from having some rather rich words fill the air [yep, experience talking again]). When you break up the grounds, you’ll notice some bubbling; this is normal, no need to freak out or worry about fermentation.

OK. Go ahead and strain it. You can let it sit a few minutes to get all the liquid out. I find that giving it lots of time does not produce much extra concentrate. Maybe I’m just impatient. Probably I’m just impatient. Yep. I’m impatient.

The result will look suspiciously like coffee. But stronger. You can now place the jar in the fridge to store it until you want to make a cup of coffee.

Boil some water in your kettle, take the concentrate out of the fridge, and pour your preferred amount into the bottom of your cup. The beauty of using cold-brew concentrate is that each person can make their cup as strong or as weak as they like. For example, I think a normal person would use 1/4 cup concentrate for a regular-sized coffee mug. Me, I use 1/4 cup when I use Impera’s mega scrabble mug. But that’s what I like: a nice steaming cup of dishwater.

Go ahead. Try it. Make yourself a cup of non-acidic, non-paper-wasting, non-electricity-using, sweet, cold-brew coffee. Mmmmmm.

You’ll smile, too.

(Darn, that last picture isn’t as clear as I thought it would be. That’s a mug of coffee in the foreground. See? I’m offering it to you.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Yaguang permalink
    14 June 2009 3:23 am

    Awesome! This was a lot clearer, and more illustrated than the other articles. Got to try this tomorrow. Thanks =]

    P.s. Love the remarks, made me smile

  2. Cranston permalink
    25 August 2009 10:17 am

    Thanks for the detailed instructions and ratios! Just dusted off my old cold-brew equipment and had completely forgotten the formula…naturally I found your link AFTER I filled the whole tub with water so this batch will probably be too thin for extract but OK as “ready to heat”. (Isn’t this exciting???)
    You have a lovely smile, BTW!!!

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