The Case for Cold Brew Coffee

Long gone are the days of squabbling over whether or not coffee should be best enjoyed black or with cream and sugar. That age-old argument has since snowballed to include pumpkin spice lattes versus peppermint mochas, pour-over versus French press and, more recently, a disagreement over hot versus cold coffee has entered the melee.

So what's the big brew-ha-ha? If you, like an estimated 60 million American adults, suffer from heartburn that can be induced by acidic beverages such as coffee, you might care a latte about the cold brew craze.
 
Behind the Brew

To make a hot pot of coffee, hot water is poured over coffee grounds at a ratio of roughly one ounce of coffee to eight ounces of hot water. The resulting liquid is separated from the coffee and consumed. With cold brew, coffee grounds are steeped in cold- or room-temperature water for 12 hours or more.

When coffee is made with hot water, bitter acids and fatty oils are released. That acidity is what causes some stomachs to revolt. "Cold brew coffee reduces acidity by approximately 68 percent over hot brew coffee," Daniel Noguera, Urbana Cafe founder and barista says.

Having never been exposed to high temperatures during the brewing process, cold brew beans leave the consumer with all the delicious coffee bean flavors and some of the caffeine. "Cold brew allows for more natural coffee notes to develop during the brewing process which allows for a richer cup of coffee," Noguera says.
 
The undesirable elements—those bitter oils and fatty acids—are left behind. Because of this, that you might find yourself drinking your cold-brew coffee black, as its lack of bitterness could have you leaving your favorite flavored creamer in the fridge.

Hot or Cold--You Decide

Despite their similar nomenclature, cold brew coffee and iced coffee are not the same. The difference lies—surprise!—in the brewing process. Iced coffee is typically brewed hot and then chilled by adding ice. A cold brew coffee concentrate, on the other hand, can be served hot or cold.

According to Noguera, these are the steps you should follow to make for making your own cold brew at home:

1) Acquire fresh, locally roasted coffee beans. (You will want to purchase your beans within three weeks of roasting to ensure the best taste.)

2) Grind the beans on the coarser side, similar to how they would be ground for a French press.

3) Add the ground beans and room temperature water into a Toddy (or similar) system, cover it with plastic and leave the system in the refrigerator for 12 to 16 hours.

4) Take the system out of the refrigerator and start the percolating process.

5) Pour yourself a nice glass of cold brew coffee.

To enjoy your cold brew coffee cold, use a few ounces of coffee concentrate and follow the ratio of one part cold brew to three parts ice, water and milk. For hot cold brew, use the same ratio, but incorporate hot water or hot milk instead. For best results, do not heat up the cold brew, but rather the other ingredients.



 

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments

I've been making cold brew coffee for almost a year now, and have made it usually in a 20oz to 1qt sized contained with a lid or plastic zip lock over the whole thing. When making for bulk I've used a large beer pitcher I got from a thrift store. hahaha Sucking down the brew there Dude!

I've often made it with just regular ground coffee added to water, and it elevates the cheap stuff. Of course, I did order some cold brew grounds from Amora and may have spoiled myself too much although the order only cost me $1. I'll be cancelling since I cannot pay what they want for a pound and that'd be the only reason for me.

I agree with another comment where it was confessed it is too easy to drink way too much caffeine this way. It is smooth, and as a substantive drink it holds the ice cool cold for longer than you'd think. That's the way I prefer to drink it. I've tried it hot, and was glad to learn a tip or two from the article

Woo Hoo. Report
It really is a delicious way to enjoy your coffee. Report
I have been making French press coffee to use as a cold brew, it is so tasty and save money and calories. The only thing I add to the cold coffee is a little bit of coffee creamer. Report
Still an interesting read the Second time. Report
Thanks Report
And at the other end of the spectrum Starbucks serves their coffee at 300 degrees (or so it seems) Report
Good to know Report
I tried a pre-made one recently, it was nice. Report
As a tea drinker who has made tea with cold water (it doesn't take as long as your coffee but longer than hot water steep), I can see the advantages to doing cold brew. Not sure if it would help me get past the burned aftertaste in regular coffee. Report
Totally agree with YankeeM.... The only thing in the article i disagree with is adding water to the cold brew mixture. I drink it straight. I used a Toddy for years but now I have a glass decanter with a filter that I use. Report
I used your link for the Toddy; I went straight over to Amazon.com and purchased one for under $20 - not the one in your link, but a best seller. Thank you again! Report
Nice article, may have to try homemade cold coffee this summer Report
I'm definitely going to look into this - but in the meantime, I use Baking Soda to remove the bitterness and have been extremely happy. I also took the advice of a neighbor and now use less ground coffee per pot. I brew in a drip coffeemaker and then allow the coffee to sit off the burner for a spell - for some strange reason, it tastes better to me after it has sat a while. I refrigerate the pot and use it until it's gone and so far have been very happy with it. Maybe the sitting and refrigerating help to reduce the acid? I know the baking soda does the trick. Some people use salt but I was not pleased with the end result of salting my coffee. Report
Long time cold brew afficionado. I prefer a dark roasted shade grown Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
Good article with a few errors. First you give the ounces for making hot coffee, but no instruction for amounts of beans or water for cold brew. A "system" is unnecessary. Any vessel and filter or straining apparatus will work. I own a Toddy, and much prefer my simple 1 quart French Press.
As far as the "negative elements" including fatty acids, some of the fatty acids are actually what is good about coffee.
An even better brew can be had by using spring water instead of tap or filtered tap.
You can keep the concentrate refrigerated for a few days or longer, while hot brew goes bad on the burner in less than an hour.(Grocery stores keep their cold brew on the shelf for weeks, which is why I don't buy them. Viva cold brew! )

PS. Most iced coffee sold over the shops is old coffee, over ice. "Cold brew beats old brew every time."

One final caveat, without the bitterness and so much less acidity,i t is easy to drink too much caffeine! But so good!
I Report
interesting, never tried. Report


 

About The Author

Elizabeth Lowry
Elizabeth Lowry
I'm a member of SparkPeople's editorial team and I write, edit and manage the content you read. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy cooking for my family and friends, running, strength training, teaching weekly spin classes and playing outside with my kids. I also love a good challenge and recently found that in Barre class. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good indulgence once in a while--wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things. I am grateful to be here, helping our members reach their own healthy living goals.