How to Make Delicious Cold Brew Coffee
Now that summer is in full swing, you may have seen “toddy” advertised at coffees shops around town. Like many people, you may have wondered, “Why is there a hot, alcoholic drink on a coffee shop menu?” Unlike the Hot Toddy, the Toddy or cold brew, as the absence of ‘hot’ implies, is simply a method of preparing coffee that doesn’t use hot water.
This method, compared to the alternative of brewing extra strong hot coffee and then letting it cool overnight, reduces bitterness and makes a sweet, low-acid brew. We’ve been making cold brew at our Bellingham coffeehouse since the 80’s, and we have some useful tips for how to make delicious cold brew at home using kitchen gadgets you probably already own.
Making cold brew is as simple as mixing cool water and ground coffee, but keeping these basic parameters in mind will help you along:
Start with good quality, freshly roasted beans. We find that medium-roasted coffees with deep, chocolaty flavors and heavy body work well for cold brew. One coffee we’re particularly fond of is Organic Mexico Chiapas, our new seasonal offering, which is on sale to Full Circle members this week.
Cold brew requires at least 12 hours to steep. If this doesn’t work with your schedule, you can extend the steep time up to 16 hours. Perhaps the best part about cold brew is that you can make coffee for the whole week in one fell swoop – the concentrate is good for 10 days when refrigerated.
Since you’re making a concentrate, the ratio of coffee to water is quite high – roughly 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts water (compared to 1:16 for most hot brewing methods). A couple – or one serious coffee drinker – typically goes through about one 12 oz bag of coffee per week. For a 12 oz bag, you want to use 56 oz, or 7 cups, of cool, clean water. If you don’t want to brew this much, you can easily customize your recipe using a kitchen scale. First, weigh out the amount of coffee you want to use (for instance, 8 oz) and then multiply by 4.5 (which would mean using 36 oz, or 4.5 cups, of water). Make sure to grind the coffee fairly coarsely; French Press setting is a good choice. It’s best to use a burr grinder, if you have access to one.
Start by adding some water to your chosen brew vessel (try 1 cup if you’re using the 12 oz bag recipe), then add half of the ground coffee, then half of the remaining water, then the rest of the coffee, and finally the rest of the water. Gently pour the water and use a spoon to submerge any floating grounds at the end. Resist the urge to stir, as this can create a bitter brew. Cover the cover the vessel and wait 12 hours.
People get very creative with ways to filter out the coffee – for instance, some of our employees put the coffee in a home-brew grain sack so they don’t have to filter out any grounds. One of the easiest ways to filter out the grounds is to use a big French Press; simply pour the coffee out after 12 hours (you can also use a big mason jar and pour the mix through a metal sieve). Odds are you’ll also want to pour the mix through a cheese cloth or paper coffee filter to remove the remaining grinds.
We like to cut the concentrate with one part water and serve over ice, but it’s also delicious combined with one part milk and served over ice. Have fun finding your favorite summer coffee recipe!
David Yake is the Head of Training for Tony’s Coffee & Teas in Bellingham, Washington. Tony’s Coffee opened for business in Bellingham in 1971. From the beginning, they roasted in small batches, selecting the finest beans from growing regions around the world. After 40 years they haven’t lost their passion for a great cup of coffee. Learn more about Tony’s Coffee & Teas and their sustainable sourcing strategies.