Cold Brew Coffee is the new iced coffee, but better. Cold-brew coffee packs a bigger punch both in caffeine content and in flavor. Although it can take hours to properly brew, fans of cold brew coffee say it is well worth the wait. But what is cold brew coffee and how do you try some? Read on to find out!
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is defined by its unique brewing method because it is made entirely without heat. Cold-brew coffee’s incredibly unusual brewing method allows it to have a distinct and delicious flavor profile.
Most coffee is brewed using heat in the form of near-boiling water. The heated water helps extract the oils and chemicals from the coffee grounds. These are what give coffee its mouthwatering taste and aroma.
Heat also acts as a catalyst. It helps extract the delicious coffee flavors much faster, which helps coffee to be brewed in a matter of minutes while still retaining its full flavor impact. Because cold brew coffee does not use heat, its brewing method is very different.
Cold-brew coffee takes much longer to make than hot brewed coffee. Cold brew coffee does not benefit from the speed of heated water and can take anywhere from 12-24 hours to brew. Most cold brew coffee is made in large batches and allowed to sit overnight.
Even though cold brew coffee requires preparation and foresight, it stays fresh for much longer than hot brewed coffee. This makes it an easy grab-and-go drink for busybodies who need a caffeine boost.
Another benefit of the cold brewing process is its unique taste. Cold-brew coffee tastes sweeter and mellower than hot brewed coffee because heat tends to extract sharper flavors from the coffee grounds.
Although cold brew coffee maintains a mellow and well-balanced flavor profile, it has a stronger coffee taste than hot brewed coffee. This is thanks to two parts of the cold brew process: the free-floating coffee grounds and the extended brew time.
The coffee grounds are allowed to float freely through the room-temperature water. This allows more of the coffee’s surface area to be exposed to the water which enhances the taste. Because the coffee grounds are exposed to water for hours instead of minutes, the brew will have a stronger flavor.
Cold-brew coffee also has a higher caffeine content than hot brewed coffee. A Grande cold brew coffee at Starbucks contains 280 mg of caffeine. A grande iced coffee at Starbucks contains only 160 mg of caffeine.
Cold brew coffee has a sweet and mellow taste. It has a strong coffee flavor and a high caffeine content. Although cold brew coffee takes much longer to brew than other methods, it stores for longer as well.
How To Make the Perfect Cold Brew Coffee Every Time
Brewing the perfect cold brew coffee comes down to understanding these simple techniques: grind size, ratios, brew time, and straining. Cold brew coffee is one of the easiest coffees to make because the brewing method balances out coffee’s naturally sweet and bitter flavors.
Cold brew coffee is only of the only brewing methods that use extra coarse coffee. Extra coarse coffee grounds resemble the size and shape of ground peppercorns. They are quite large and individual grounds are easily identifiable.
Cold-brew coffee uses extra coarse coffee grounds because they have a smaller surface area. These coffee grounds are submerged in water for several hours. If too much of the coffee bean’s surface area was exposed to the water, the flavor would be over-extracted.
An over-extracted coffee tastes bitter and hollow. It is not pleasant to drink. To avoid over-extracting the coffee’s flavors during its long brew time, cold brew coffee uses extra coarse coffee grounds.
The ratios between the number of coffee grounds and the amount of water are important when brewing any coffee. This includes cold brew coffee. If too many coffee grounds are added to the brewing water, the water will have a hard time extracting enough flavor.
With too few coffee grounds, the water tends to over-extract the flavor. The perfect cold brew coffee ratio finds the amount of water and coffee that will create a powerful flavor. Our cold brew coffee recipe uses a 1:8 ratio of coffee grounds to water.
For every 1 ounce of coffee grounds, add 8 ounces of water. This ratio leans to the weaker side, so we like to allow the cold brew coffee to sit for a full 24 hours before it is ready to serve. If you prefer to wait for a shorter amount of time, increase the number of coffee grounds.
Cold-brew coffee takes a long time to brew. It is important to allow the coffee grounds to soak in water for the full brew time to extract as much flavor as possible. Depending on the ratio being used, this can take anywhere from 12-24 hours.
If you are brewing cold brew coffee for the first time, we recommend taste-testing the coffee at the 12-hour mark. If the coffee is tasting weak, allow it to brew for a couple more hours before taste testing it again.
One of the hardest parts about making cold brew coffee is straining the coffee grounds afterward. Nobody likes chewy coffee! Luckily, cold brew coffee uses extra coarse coffee grounds, so they are easier to filter out than finer coffee grounds.
Some people pour the finished cold brew coffee through a standard drip coffee brewer filter. This catches the coffee grounds in a clean and simple way. Many people have found that using a regular coffee filter still allows some of the grounds to escape into the finished product.
Because of this, many people prefer to use cheesecloths instead. Cheese cloths allow liquids to pass easily but catch all the coffee grounds. Cheesecloths are often preferred because they can be form-fit to the mouth of the cold brew container.
It may take two filtering sessions to catch all the coffee grounds but the more practice you have, the easier it is to do on the first try.
Easy Copycat Starbucks Cold Brew Recipe
This delicious and easy-to-follow recipe is perfect for beginners. Follow the step-by-step directions to brew your own copycat Starbucks cold brew coffee.
- 128 ounces (1 gallon) of room temperature water
- 16 ounces of extra coarse coffee grounds
- Large container with a lid
- A second large container for transferring the coffee
- Cheesecloth or coffee filter
- Measure 16 ounces extra coarse coffee grounds and place them in a large container.
- Add 1 gallon of room temperature water and stir the mixture.
- Place the lid on the container and keep it in a dark and dry environment away from extreme temperatures for 20-24 hours.
- Place a cheesecloth or a coffee filter over the second large container and begin pouring the cold brew coffee into that container.
- If there are still coffee grounds in the cold brew after filtering it once, wash out the first large container and filter the cold brew coffee a second time.
- Serve with ice and heavy cream or creamer.
Starbucks Cold Brew Buying Guide
Starbucks has many cold brew coffee options to choose from, and that can be overwhelming. Read through our Starbucks cold brew coffee buying guide to order the coffee that suits your preferences!
Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew
A smooth yet bold tasting cold coffee. It is served black with ice. Although it is sweeter than most black coffees, it does not come with any additives.
Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
The naturally sweet flavors of cold brew are combined with vanilla sweet cream. This sweet cream is made from heavy cream, similar to creamer, and is flavored with the classic vanilla syrup.
Cold Brew Coffee with Milk
This cold brew coffee has a similar flavor profile to the sweet cream cold brew but is lighter and less sweet. It is a very healthy drink option for those who are diet conscious.
Honey Almond Milk Cold Brew
The honey almond milk cold brew is a newer menu item that combines the lighter creaminess of almond milk with the sweet taste of honey. Starbucks’ signature honey blend sweetener is used to make this drink so delicious.
Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew
This sweet cold brew contains vanilla syrup mixed into the coffee with a creamy head of flavored cold foam on top. The cold foam is flavored with salted caramel to accentuate the coffee’s natural caramel flavors.
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
The pumpkin cream cold brew is a seasonal beverage that combines cold brew coffee’s rich and bold flavors with the sweet spices of their pumpkin spice latte in ahead of creamy cold foam.
Cold brew coffee is one of the easiest coffees to brew because it naturally balances the sweet and bitter flavors of the coffee bean. Although it takes much longer to brew, the result is a smooth and mellow cup of iced coffee with a strong flavor and a high caffeine content.