How to make your own cold-brew coffee
Cold brew coffee has gained a lot of popularity over the last year or so. It’s now available in many coffee shops, especially during the summer. Slightly different from normal iced coffee, it's brewed cold, over an extended period, to produce a more mellow, sweet flavour (but still with all the caffeine). Some people consider it a greener option as it requires no heat or electricity.
Because of this, you don’t need a fancy coffee machine to brew it yourself. It’s a really simple process that means you can get your coffee fix for pennies a cup – and no more single-use plastic!
You will need:
Medium/Coarsely Ground Coffee Beans
A method to filter (I’ll talk about this later)
The first step is to find some coffee beans to use. If you have a local speciality coffee store, they will often talk you through which beans are good for a cold brew and will usually grind them for you. You want them ground coarsely to make them easier to filter at the end.
Once you’ve got your beans, you want to place them into a large, air-tight container. I use a mason jar which I bought for £2, and it works perfectly. It holds about 2 litres, and that is enough for about a weeks’ worth of cold brew.
The golden ratio I use is 1:4, so however much coffee you use (by volume) you want four times the amount of water. Start with one cup of coffee beans, then pour in 4 cups of water. I use a little scoop to measure it out. You can play around with this to get the strength and intensity you want, but I think this ratio is a good place to start. Mix it up to ensure all the coffee is saturated with water and then put it somewhere and forget about it for 24 hours.
After 24 hours have passed, you need to filter the coffee grounds out and keep the water, which is now cold brew coffee. There are loads of different methods you can use to filter the beans. The simplest method is to use a muslin cloth to catch the beans and squeeze out the water. This might still let some small coffee grains through, so you can filter multiple times or use a secondary filter method.
I got some paper coffee filters free when I bought some coffee beans online, but I dislike the disposable nature of them. You can buy reusable filters online which do not cost much money, and this will probably be my long-term solution once I’ve used up my disposable ones. If you want to go all-out, you can buy toddy brewing systems which feature re-usable felt filters, but they’re not cheap.
Strain the coffee until you achieve the clarity you want. Use a funnel to put the resulting cold brew into a glass bottle or back into your mason jar – it’s now ready to drink. It will keep in the fridge for around two weeks, so you can make it in bulk and use it as you want.
You can infuse your brew with spices and other flavours, but this may affect its shelf life. To make a vanilla cold brew coffee I use 150ml of cold brew concentrate, 50ml of water and 150ml of semi-skimmed milk with a dash of vanilla syrup served over ice. The cost of this is approximately 50-60p a glass (and a good chunk of that is the cost of the syrup), so you’re saving lots of money compared with a Starbucks every day.
I also bought some re-usable (plastic) ice cubes for use in my travel flask, which I take with me to lectures every day. It only takes me 2 minutes in the morning to mix up my coffee, and it stops me being tempted by expensive drinks on campus.
If you’ve got questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
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