When the mercury is rising, proper cold brew is the coffee lover’s go-to caffeine fix

Let’s get a few things straight however: we’re not talking about “cold brew” you get in the big coffee shop chains, those frappachino-type cold coffees topped with squirty cream, adulterated with syrups and served in a huge plastic cup with plastic lid and straw. They are based on espresso coffee diluted with cold water or milk.

No sirree, we’re extolling the spine-tinglingly chilly thrills of a different beast altogether. Because while real cold brew is also essentially cold coffee, it’s made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for up to 24 hours. No quick fixes here; this all about slooow extraction to produce a concentrated, flavourful coffee that tastes sweet and mellow.

The slow cold extraction also usually reveals flavours from the coffee not found in hot extraction methods such as espresso or filter and quite often the difference in taste between cold brew and ‘hot brew’ from the same coffee is startling.

Don’t tell anyone we told you, but it also does a big favour to run-of-the-mill coffees, so if you’ve got a bag knocking about that’s not up to say, Indy Coffee Box standards, this can be a great way of using it up. And if you do use high quality, speciality-grade beans, you’ll be thrilled with the flavours you unlock.

After steeping the coffee grounds, you’ll be left with a rich concentrated essence which can be diluted to taste with water or milk, or used in cocktails and cooking.

Cold brew recipe

There are many kinds of cold brew coffee kit available, but they mostly replicate the same, simple method. Whichever way you make it, it’s dead easy to make at home.

So if you want a chilled pick-me-up, a cocktail mixer or just fancy trying a different brew method, making cold brew is worth a go at home. Here’s how you make it.

What you’ll need:

  • Scales
  • A jug (or bucket) big enough to hold your coffee and water
  • A sieve
  • A clean muslin for filtering the coffee grounds

Method

Use a ratio of 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. For example, use 200g coffee and 800ml water.

Five steps to the perfect cold brew

  1. Weigh out and grind your coffee medium-coarse and place in a jug.
  2. Add 4 times as much water as you have coffee.
  3. Stir and leave to steep in a cool place overnight (or for at least 12 hours).
  4. After the time has elapsed, place the muslin in the sieve over a bowl and carefully pour the coffee mixture through the muslin.
  5. If you have still have grounds in the coffee after filtering, empty the muslin and repeat. Purists may even want to filter further into a Chemex or similar using a coffee filter. This will create a sparklingly clear coffee.

To use, simply dilute to taste with water or milk. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, although it’s unlikely to last that long.

Serving suggestions

  • Over ice, with a dash of cold water and slice of orange
  • Over ice with milk
  • In a long glass filled with ice and topped with tonic water
  • Add hot water for a drink similar to regular filter coffee but typically sweeter and less acidic

Variations

The ‘coffee bag’ method. This uses the same principles except the coffee is tied in the muslin to create a bag and then placed in the jug to steep. This has the advantage of being easier as there is less messing around with muslin and sieves. However, there is less contact between the water and coffee grounds so the flavour can be weaker and less complex.

Using a cafetière or french press. Simply place the ground coffee and water in a cafetière and stir. Place the lid on top, but don’t plunge and leave overnight. In the morning plunge and you’re done! This method is quick and easy, although the coffee can be a bit gritty as the filter in the cafetière might not separate all the grinds from the cold brew. Again, you can double filter.

Some people like to wet the coffee with hot water first to encourage the grounds to ‘bloom’ and release CO2. Then add the rest of the water, less any added to make the coffee bloom.

Want to source beans to create cold brew at home? Sign up to the Indy Coffee Box subscription now.