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.


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Member Comments

Never understood the attraction of cold brew. Maybe I will give it a try. Report
Something I had I thought should do so useful for me Report
Great article. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I love cold brew coffee! Report
Not a fan of coffee however you brew it, but I do like my tea. I can brew it hot or cold and it's good either way. Report
I love cold brew! The flavor is so much more robust! Report
I enjoy cold brew coffee but it takes a little more work and planning on my part to prepares it! Report
Great. Report
My former pastor and his wife who have a roastery in their house make cold brewed coffee now. I like hot coffee myself and if the beans are good you can smell the coffee brewing. I cannot afford to buy a toddy system just to make cold brew coffee. No wonder they charge so much for it; it's a lot of work! Report
Dearly Beloved and I used to use a Toddy but decided it was not worth it to have two coffee systems in the house - too many one job pieces of equipment. Report
Very informative! Report
Why the special system? Can't I just steep the beans in my French press and push the plunger before serving? Report
This was an interesting article to read due to all the different ways of making a coffee product. Still too much to deal with just to have something to drink. Me? I cant stand the taste of coffee and if It something that has to be that doctored up in order to drink it, maybe , your body is telling you to not be doing so. Report
I can't speak to bitter oils and fatty acids upsetting one's stomach as brewed coffee has never created that problem for me. However, cold brew coffee (at least Starbuck's) give me terrible abdominal pain, bloating and nausea. If there's no caffeine, I'm not sure of the cause, but I no longer touch the stuff! And I heard other complain of the same thing. 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.
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