The Cold Brew Coffee Adventure

September 28th, 2015 • filed under Journal

So I’ve been experimenting with brewing my own coffee like the ways of the eskimos: cold.

Who knows, maybe they brewed their coffee hot. I’m just guessing.

I know this whole ‘small-batch’ trend is quite invariably hipster and I’m certainly one of the last people to jump on that bandwagon, but sometimes one just has to concede when another makes superior coffee.

Plus I knew it went mainstream when Starbucks started offering it.

So what is this cold-brew coffee I speak of and why is it so much better?Let me keep it simple, since I don’t want to bore you with all the sicence-y stuff.

Instead of running hot water through ground coffee, you let ground coffee “seep” in a bucket/pitcher/container of cool water for 12-24 hours. Once it’s sat and stewed in its own substance, filter out the grounds. I use a large mixing bowl as the catch device. Cheesecloth works well for filtering so long as you kept your grounds coarse. If it’s fine powder, you might be better off with a coffee filter (although the filtering process will take much longer).

My mixture is roughly 3.5 to 4 cups of grounds per one gallon of cold tap water. I don’t pack the grounds into the measuring cup. You’ll need about 1/3 to 1/2 lb of ground coffee beans to make this happen. In my home, one gallon of the liquid energy lasts through about six 20-oz cups with ice filled about half way. For me, that’s three days. We add a splash of sweet-cream creamer (two splashes for me, I like it sweet and @$$ kicking at the same time) and it’s done. We used to use simple syrup like the coffee shops but at $5 per 12oz bottle, I was using 1/3 the bottle per one gallon of coffee.

I’m not sure how the coffee chains make it but this is my process.

The first thing you’ll notice about the flavor is it’s a lot richer, but not as bitter. When we used to brew hot coffee, we’d get light roast beans for the least bitterness possible. Now, we use whatever because the flavor profile seems to be more consistent and the level of bitterness just isn’t there in the cold coffee.

It’s also a lot stronger. That hot liquid in your coffee maker has seconds with the grounds. We’re giving the liquid hours to really make something special out of their time together. If I skip breakfast, I’m taking it to 11 within an hour or two.

When it comes to price, there’s no question on how much cheaper this process is.

At Starbucks, it’s $3.55 plus tax for a 20-oz cold-brew iced coffee.

By my math and based on my costs, it’s running us $2.75 to $3.00 for one gallon of cold-brew iced coffee, or $0.42 to $0.47 per 20-oz cup.

Obviously ice plays a factor in all this and the cost varies but there’s no doubting that we’re saving quite a bit of money in exchange for roughly 20 minutes of my day (10 in the beginning to grind and 10 to filter at the end).

Is it worth it? Totally. One thing I’d do differently, though is get some sort of pitcher that has a core to keep the grounds in that can be pulled out and emptied. I’m facing cheesecloth damage and stray grounds-in-my-brew issues. Pitchers like this sell for $20 on Amazon. Also worth the purchase, in my opinion.