Cold Brew took coffee shops by storm in 2016. It was different, special, and made in limited quantities. For these reasons and a marketing push behind it by coffee giants Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, it became a very popular way to enjoy coffee iced. Cold brew opponents cited its lack of a complex flavor profile and insisted other methods of serving coffee over ice were superior. Well, I love cold brew. And I love iced brew. So this isn’t a defense of either position, just a quick look at how cold brew saved the day for me when I had a nasty roast.
Cold Brew. There are special cold brew kits you can use, like the Toddy, or you can just use the French Press your Aunt Deloris gave your three Christmas’ ago. What’s important, is the temperature of the water, the ratio of coffee to water, and the brew time. For cold brew, you want a coarse grind, a 4-1 ratio of water to ground coffee, lower water temperature, and hours for extraction.
That’s a lot of coffee. This is one drawback to the cold brew method: It takes a lot of coffee to make a cold brew. At a 4-1 ratio, you would use 25 grams of coffee for 100 grams of water. Sure, you would dilute it afterward with six ounces of water to one ounce of cold brew, but it’s still a lot of coffee to make the cold brew. Use a coarse grind like you would for the French Press, and off you go.
Time and Temperature. It takes between 12 and 24 hours to make a cold brew batch. Some recommend setting it in the fridge with cold tap water, and some recommend leaving it sitting out at room temperature. I think you can get away with either, and have tasted both options. I couldn’t tell a difference, but would likely choose the fridge for mine. There is unified agreement not to use hot water, though. Instead of the heat to extract the coffee from the ground, you’re using time. So, set it and forget it for half a day- usually overnight. Time by itself can do what a barista doesn’t have time to do in a busy shop.
Unexpected Benefits. However, if you want to keep all your beans fresh in your coffee shop, it makes sense to use leftover beans for cold brew instead of throwing them away, doesn’t it? Whatever you don’t sell or use, after two weeks, you make cold brew out of. It really is a genius concept you can use at home as well. Here’s another unexpected benefit to the cold brew method- the flavor is muted. So, if you have a roast you don’t like, it may very well be a decent cold brew.
How Cold Brew Saved the Day. Mike and I had this problem with the Mix Tape blend from Blue Bottle. To this day it’s the only thing from Blue Bottle I haven’t absolutely loved. I thought it was terrible. It was way too flowery for me- like getting a bouquet of flowers to the face. Mike took it, used the leftover portion of a 12-ounce bag and made some cold brew with it. The muted flower flavors were tasty in cold brew version, and we didn’t waste any expensive beans. I also updated my subscription service to never receive Mixtape again, but that’s another story.