I grew up in a house where iced coffee was made by pouring the hours-old leftovers from the coffee pot over a glass of ice. Maybe a little milk was added, or if you were feeling extra fancy, a splash of flavored creamer. Embarrassingly far into adulthood (before Keurig came along and cramped my style), that’s how I made my “cold brew.” For years, this was how I drank my warm-weather coffee. But oh, did I have it wrong.
But what is cold brew coffee? In case you’re unaware, cold brew, real cold brew, is made using an entirely different method than hot coffee. While hot coffee is generally made by running hot water through finely ground coffee beans, cold brew is made more like our grandmothers made sun tea — set to steep for a while, becoming flavorful and delicious on its own with nothing added but love, water, and time.
The result is a much smoother, silkier, bolder, and more flavorful cup of morning magic. When coffee is steeped this way, much of the bitterness smooths to be much gentler on the palette, allowing you to really taste the flavor of the beans in a whole new way. So how do you make cold brew at home?
There are plenty of gizmos out there, like cold brew coffee makers, jugs, and infusers, but there’s no need for these. Like many needless kitchen tools, these accessories end up being shoved into the back of the pantry, never to be seen again.
Cold brew recipe
Our favorite method of making cold brew coffee involves nothing more than a good old-fashioned French press.
- 2 cups coffee beans
- 3 1/2 cups filtered water
- Grind coffee beans to a medium/coarse consistency.
- Add coffee grounds to a large French press and add water, stirring to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Place the lid on the French press and slowly press the plunger down.
- Pour the cold brew into a pitcher and discard the grounds.
- Serve plain or with any desired add-ins, such as milk or sweeteners.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- If you’re not a fan of watered-down coffee, cold brew cubes are an easy solution. Simply freeze some of your leftover cold brew in ice cube trays and use them instead of regular ice. Problem solved!
- While finely ground beans are perfect for hot coffee, you’ll want a coarser ground for cold brew. Cold brew made with finely ground coffee beans can easily become muddy or overly infused.
- While it isn’t necessary, filtered water makes for the best flavor when making coffee, be it regular or cold brew. A simple filter like Brita works for this.
- If you don’t have a French press, this process can be easily done without one. Simply steep your grounds and water in a jar or pitcher in the fridge. After 12 to 24 hours, strain the liquid through a strainer and cheesecloth, filtering out all the grounds.
To make the best cold brew, you need to start with the best coffee, and we’ve got some suggestions that will help you make that perfect cup.
Hikers Brew Coffee
Hikers Brew Coffee started in Wisconsin in 2016, and the company focuses on creating great coffee from sustainable sources. It roasts all its coffee in-house and has a variety of roasts and flavored coffees, including “Yurt Dirt,” Hikers Brew’s dark roast that the company says is “robust, flavorful, and just like your favorite campfire flannel, has the perfect hint of smoke.”
As part of its mission to be sustainable, Hikers Brew packages all of its coffee in multiuse and compostable packaging designed to be the perfect complement on your next outdoor adventure.
Fire Dept. Coffee
A veteran-owned business, Fire Dept. Coffee started in Illinois in 2016, and was inspired by how important coffee is to firefighters and first responders working long shifts. The company is run by active and retired firefighters and first responders and offers a wide variety of whole beans, grounds, and pods, and it even has ready-to-drink varieties.
What sets Fire Dept. Coffee apart is its line of spirit-infused coffee. The blends, which are infused with bourbon, whiskey, rum, or tequila, come in a wide variety of flavors. The green coffee beans are infused with the liquor and then roasted. While the alcohol cooks off during the roasting process, the flavor and aroma remain.
Steeped Coffee was designed with travelers in mind. If you don’t want to rely on hotel room coffee when you’re traveling (and who does?), but you want to pack light, Steeped Coffee has the solution. Steeped Coffee comes in single-serve brew bags, similar to tea bags and they’re made from fully compostable packaging. Just put the bag in hot water and brew a great cup of coffee in just a few minutes.
And you don’t even need hot water, as Steeped Coffee also offers a cold brew kit, which comes with eight-pack brew bags and a cold brew Mason jar. Steeped Coffee offers a variety of blends and flavors, including French roast and decaf.
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