Everything You Need to Know About Cold Brew

Everything You Need to Know About Cold Brew

In the past decade, there has been an explosion in the coffee world. The industry has become as artisanal as wine. One newly popular method for making coffee is cold brew. You’ve heard of iced coffee, but cold brew is iced coffee that is never brewed hot before made cold. This changes the flavor profile, amount of caffeine, and the way the coffee is made. If you want to know more about this type of coffee and how to make cold brew, read below for everything you need to know about cold-brewed coffee.

Flavor Profile

Since the coffee is ground and steeped like tea in cold water instead of being brewed in hot water, the flavor profile of the coffee is greatly changed. The coffee is still roasted to a particular darkness. The longer the coffee is roasted, caffeine is burned off and the taste becomes more chocolatey and nuttier. 

There is a wide range of preferences when it comes to the roasting of cold brew coffee. Some people like it dark like a stout beer or light like a flowery tea. After roasting, the method of brewing also changes the flavor profile of the bean and the amount of caffeine that it has. Overall, cold brew has a smoother flavor and is easier on the palate than hot-brewed coffee.

Amount of Caffeine

The roasting of the coffee beans impacts the level of caffeine that the drink has. Cold brew is made with no hot brewing so there is more caffeine than there is in hot coffee. This makes cold brew very popular. When a light roast is made into a cold brew, the caffeine in the beverage will be very high. The amount of caffeine that cold brew has makes it enticing for those who need the extra boost. The taste and caffeine in cold brew coffee make it extremely popular in many independent coffee shops as well as coffee companies that offer a monthly coffee subscription.

Brewing Cold Brew

After the coffee beans are roasted, they are ground very coarsely. This means that the grind is larger than just about any other method of brewing. On the opposite end of the direction, espresso and Turkish coffee are very finely ground. With a large amount of coarsely ground coffee, you pour the grind into a mesh filter in a bucket-like receptacle.

Then filtered room temperature water is poured carefully throughout the grounds, coating every layer of the coffee. Once every inch of the coffee is soaked in the room temperature water, you tie the mesh filter, cover the top, and store the coffee in a refrigerator to brew for over 20-24 hours. Finally, take out the filter and throw the grounds away before serving the cold brew coffee.

Preparing Cold Beverages

Once the cold brew is ready, you can make a wide variety of beverages with it. You can simply pour it over ice and drink it black. You can add liquid sugars like syrups. Add any milk or cream you’d like to the beverage. Coffee shops are also adding condensed milk to make a Vietnamese-style cold brew. 

Another option is to add espresso shots to make it even stronger. At some coffee shops, baristas are putting this cold-brewed coffee on a tap and pumping nitrogen into it. This creates a thick, stout-like beverage that is conducive to the dark, chocolatey, nutty, and caramel-like coffees. You can even make ice cream with it. The sky’s the limit!

The Perfect Beans

Cold brew is an extremely versatile beverage. Depending on what kind of cold brew you are looking to make, whether that be at home or the coffee shop, East African coffees are a great pick for light roasts that make floral and brightly flavored cold brews. Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees have bright flavor profiles that lend themselves to this type of cold brew. On the other hand, East Asian and South American coffees are good for earthy and dark cold brews. Depending on the flavor profile of the cold brew you can make the perfect cup of iced coffee.

Cold brew is a multi-faceted beverage with a range of flavor profiles, amounts of caffeine, and ways to prepare it. Not only can you grab a cup of cold brew at your local shop, but you can also brew your own at home! So, when you want a highly caffeinated and versatile coffee drink, go for a cold brew.

Ryan Beitler is a writer, journalist, and former employee of the coffee industry.