Cold Brew: How To Brew It At Home & The Best Coffee To Use

how to cold brew coffee at home

Over the last few years, you’ll have seen cold brew popping up in both chain and independent coffee shops alike. But what is cold brew? What makes it different to say, an iced Americano? And perhaps most importantly, why is it in a tin with ‘Nitro’ written on the front? This article will answer those questions and more. We’ll recommend what coffee beans to use to get the best flavour as well as the exact grind size and brew ratio.

For us, the best thing about cold brew is that it requires very little effort to prepare, yet it yields an incredibly unique and diverse drink with plenty of flavour. The only real investment is time. This brew method rewards patience, so we recommend you plan ahead and prepare it mid – late afternoon the day before you want to drink it.

What is cold brew?

When brewing cold you achieve a different set of flavour compounds, the lack of heat leads to a brew that is much less acidic, less acidity means you’re at risk of the coffee tasting ‘flat’. Yet with cold brew a well-rounded, pleasant flavour is still achieved.

The Science-y bit

Most methods of making cold brew involve a classic filter approach, where gravity pulls the coffee through a paper, metal or fabric filter over time. The word ‘time’ here refers to a period of 12 hours or longer. In short, the rate of extraction is proportionate to heat. Low heat means low energy and put simply; things happen more slowly- the coffee will materialise drip by drip. Baring this in mind you can brew it both ambiently or in the fridge.
Note: When brewed in the fridge it can take up to 17 hours, we recommend brewing it on the counter for ease.

What is Nitro cold brew?

As the name suggests, nitrogen is introduced after the brewing process and the tiny bubbles create a creamy texture similar to that of draft beer. Nitro has become increasingly popular over the last few years, coffee enthusiasts are intrigued by the complex and rich flavours, and are always looking to expand their horizons (and palates) When canned, nitro cold brew becomes shelf stable, so if you’re a coffee shop owner- it’s a great RTD option to keep in the fridge.

There’s a few ways you can make it at home (Minus the nitrous oxide, unless you’re a chemist) But before we get to that, here are the best beans you can buy for cold brew.

What type of coffee should I use for cold brew?

Of course, the term ‘best coffee beans’ is highly subjective. We recommend experimenting until you find one you like the best. Don’t be put off if you’re not usually one for dark roasts- they make a great cold brew.

Choose a dark roast for a bold and punchy flavour

Indonesian Java Beans – Our Indonesian Java has rich, earthy flavours of chocolate, tobacco and spices. These Java beans are the go-to for cold brewing here at Adams + Russell Coffee Roasters. The full roast works fantastically in this beverage, the low acidity and deep body create a smooth drink that we could drink all day long.

The perfect medium roast for slightly less intensity

Sumatra Mandheling – With notes of prune, spice and dark fruit, we roast our Sumatra Mandheling to a medium level to retain the fruity flavours whilst enhancing the rich base notes. If you’re looking for something a little less intense than the dark roast Java beans but still want a lot of flavour, a medium roast is the way to go. The Sumatra Mandheling beans still pack in some bold flavours with a touch of sweetness.

A light roast for those who want a subtler taste

Brazil Santos – Experience a combination of creamy milk chocolate and vanilla notes with a light floral finish. If you are looking for a more delicate flavour profile, these Brazilian beans are the ideal choice. They an incredibly smooth flavour with a medium body and notes of chocolate and vanilla.

The best decaf beans for cold brew

Decaffeinated Mexican (Mountain Process) –These beans are decaffeinated using the Mountain Water Process, which is 100% solvent chemical free and removes up to 99.9% of the caffeine. They have a balanced consistent taste with notes of caramel, vanilla and nut- they work exceptionally well in creating a refreshing cold brew.

Now you’ve got the best coffee for the job, here are some easy ways to make cold brew at home.

How to cold brew coffee at home in a cafetière (French press)

What is the best cold brew ratio?
Ratio: 70g / 1 ltr / 12 hours ambient brew time

  1. Grind 70g of beans on a coarse setting
  2. Add the grounds into a 1ltr cafetière
  3. Slowly pour 900ml of room temperature water into the cafetière in slow, circular motions to fully immerse the grounds.
  4. Use a spoon to stir and push the grounds down so they don’t float to the top
  5. Cover with the plunger and leave to brew ambiently for at least 12 hours.
  6. Press the plunger down, but not all the way

View our range of cafetières here. We practiced with our new La Cafetière Pisa at The Roastery, it’s safe to say it’s our current favourite.

How to cold brew coffee at home in a Hario Coffee Pot 

  1. Grind 70g of beans on a coarse setting
  2. Add the grounds into the filter compartment, give it a gentle tap to even them out
  3. Slowly pour 900ml of room temperature water over the grounds, making sure to saturate them all.
  4. Replace the cap and leave to brew ambiently for at least 12 hours.
  5. Cover with the plunger and leave to brew ambiently for at least 12 hours.
  6. Remove the filter, empty the ground and rinse
  7. Replace the cap, serve and enjoy

(The Hario can be left in the fridge without the filter)

This seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce our new Cold Brew Bundle. It contains the Hario Coffee Pot and 5 x pre ground bags of our Indonesian Java.

Cold Brew FAQ

What Grind Size Should I Use For Cold Brew?

The longer you steep for, the coarser the grounds should be. This is because the water penetrates into grounds and eventually reaches the ‘sweet spot’. Steep for too long and you’ll get a bitter flavour, not long enough and you’ll end up with a cup seriously lacking in flavour.

What Does Cold Brew Taste Like? Will I Like It?

This is the ideal choice for someone who loves coffee but is looking for a smoother more refreshing change. If you’ve never tried black coffee, this is a great place to start due to its naturally mild flavour. Talking of black coffee, take a look at our previous article “Is coffee best black, or with milk?” where we look at this topic in greater detail.

Many opt for this drink as they enjoy the delicious smoothness. Hot water can enhance the acidity, bitterness and intensity of the coffee during brewing. When brewed with cold water, the coffee takes longer to steep and doesn’t extract these characteristics as easily- meaning it is much less likely to over extract and bring out the bitterness.

Cold Brew Vs Iced Coffee Taste – Are They Similar?

In short, no. Iced coffee is brewed with hot water and then cooled down. This means it has similar flavour and characteristics of a normal cup of coffee, with a bolder acidity and richer flavour profile. Since cold brew is made in a completely different way, it yields completely different results.

Does Cold Brew Contain More Caffeine?

This is a difficult one to answer as there are a lot of variables when brewing. However, as an example, a typical 12oz glass contains roughly 150mg of caffeine, more or less in line with a regular Americano.

Is It Watery?

If brewed correctly, cold brew should not produce a watery cup. Unlike iced coffee, it’s kept refrigerated so it doesn’t need ice to bring it down to temperature. We recommend tasting it first then diluting it / adding milk to taste

How Can Cold Brew Be Enhanced?

When drunk black you experience the flavour subtleties that have developed over the course of the extended brew time.

Don’t like it black? Add a splash of milk / milk alternative (We recommend our Minor Figures oat) of if you’re feeling fancy, a splash of single cream. This will give you the most delicious ‘iced latte’ you’re ever likely to encounter.

Missing the acidity? Add a small squeeze of lime.

Or if it’s 5 o’clock – a 30ml measure of rum.

Is It Healthier?

Neither cold brew or hot coffee is healthier than the other. They both have similar health benefits and drawbacks, meaning they are on par health-wise.

For example, cold brew could be a better option for those who are sensitive to acid or suffer with acid reflux. On the other hand, hot water extracts more of the antioxidants from the grounds. 

Can You Make Cold Brew With Instant Coffee?

Technically, yes. But do we recommend it? No. The results wouldn’t be ‘cold brew’ in a traditional sense, however in a pinch it would produce an iced coffee. If it is a mild taste you’re after, we have plenty of options. Our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is a good starting point, it’s a coffee that’s delicately light and delicious when drunk black. Trust us on this, if you’re investing time and money into the cold brewing process, you want to do things properly and avoid instant coffee.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last?

Cold brew can be kept in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long). This is why we love the Hario Coffee Pot , you can simply remove the filter and replace the lid. If you’ve brewed it in a cafetière, decant it into a suitable jug and make sure it’s covered.

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