Cold brew coffee popularity is on the rise, and for a good reason. Cold brew has many benefits, starting with the fact that it is easy to make and doesn't require a particular machine for brewing. The ease of the cold brewing process means anyone can make and experience the benefits of cold brew in their own home. In addition, research has shown that drinking at least one cup of caffeinated coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, so finding the best way to brew coffee beans is more important than ever.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
For many people, when they hear the term "cold brew coffee," they immediately think of iced coffee. But the two are totally different in regard to the brewing process, flavor profiles, and benefits. Iced coffee is simply hot coffee that is then poured over ice. On the other hand, cold brew coffee is made using a unique brewing method that changes the composition of the coffee beans.
The cold brew coffee process is relatively simple and involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in either cold or room-temperature water for 8 to 24 hours. This process creates a coffee concentrate with a very high coffee-to-water ratio, making it significantly more caffeinated than typical drip coffee.
The best part about cold brew coffee is you do not need a special brewing machine to make your own. All you need is a pitcher and coffee beans or coffee grounds. Grinding your own coffee beans is best to ensure a fresh flavor, but picking up your favorite blend of coffee grounds will work if you do not have a coffee grinder.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee:
- Coarsely grind one cup of coffee beans and place in a pitcher
- Add four cups of cold or room-temperature water, stir, and cover.
- Leave out for 8 to 24 hours or overnight.
- Filter the coffee beans multiple times
- Place in refrigerator or pour over ice
- Keep in the refrigerator for up to ten days.
History of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee dates all the way back to 17th-century Japan’s Kyoto-style brew, first popularized in Kyoto, Japan. It is said they were introduced to the concept of cold brew by Dutch sailors who used the technique to drink coffee on long voyages.
Cold brew coffee first showed popularity in the United States in the 1930s when the Cubans reimagined the cold brew process at the same time that iced coffee was securing traction in the US. Then the Toddy Brewing System was developed in the United States after gaining inspiration from Peruvian cold brew coffee makers.
The cold brew process made its debut in small coffee shops across the United States in the '90s; then, the 2000s brought cold brew coffee to chain stores nationwide. The nationwide availability of cold brew coffee created a desire for coffee lovers to recreate the process in their homes.
Top Five Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee aficionados know the heart of a good cup of coffee is always in the coffee beans. High-quality coffee beans not only produce a fantastic tasting cold brew but also add to the many benefits of cold brew coffee beyond just the ease of the brewing method.
- Health Benefits
- Less bitter
- Easier on the stomach
- Can be made ahead of time
- Great for older coffee beans
Recent research has shown long-term health benefits for those that consume at least one cup of coffee a day. The cold brew process creates a highly caffeinated concentrate from coffee beans that is then watered down but typically still retains a higher caffeine count than hot coffee.
Caffeine has been linked to everything from improving mood to preventing age-related diseases. The antioxidants present in cold brew coffee can also reduce the risk of type two diabetes and heart disease.
Say “Bye” to Bitter Coffee:
The compounds in coffee beans brewed with hot water break down faster due to heat. The cold brew process has a slower release process, thereby not releasing as many acidic compounds. Less acidic compounds lead to a less bitter taste.
Easy on the Stomach:
As mentioned above, the cold brew process creates a less acidic coffee drink. Cold brew coffee is over 60% less acidic than hot coffee. A considerable benefit to lower acid levels is less stress on your stomach. Many people experience acid reflux or heartburn when drinking hot coffee but have less severe or no reaction when drinking cold brew coffee.
While the process of making cold brew can take up to 24 hours, this is a hands-off process, allowing you to prep your coffee beans and let them steep overnight. Once your cold brew coffee is prepared, it can last anywhere from seven to ten days in your refrigerator.
One batch of cold brew coffee can cover your coffee consumption needs for a whole week. Thus, making mornings a little bit easier without sacrificing flavor, quality, or the necessary caffeine to start your day.
Forgiving Brewing Process:
The cold brew process is a forgiving one and is perfect for older, stale coffee beans that you have not had the opportunity to brew yet. Once coffee beans have passed their expiration date, acidity and bitterness seep in and replace the once delicious fruity and nutty notes.
Allowing stale coffee beans to steep in cold water for up to 24 hours filters out the accumulated acidity giving your coffee beans a second life. As a result, the fruity notes are brought to the surface while the bitter taste takes a backseat.
Just Cold Brew It
Cold brew coffee is not just a trendy coffee-making process new to the United States; it is an established method for making a flavorfully complex cup of coffee. Moreover, it is a way for new and established coffee lovers to prepare a less bitter cup of coffee to their satisfaction.
While cold brew coffee making is a simple process, it creates stunning cups of coffee that can be enjoyed year-round. Coffee bean producers have even started making coffee beans and pre-portioned coffee packets specific for cold brew coffee to ensure every cup of coffee is absolutely perfect.