It is an undeniable truth that cold brew coffee is the nectar of the gods, and though yours truly is one of those people who believes cold brew is a year-round beverage, now that we're in the thick of summer heat, it's officially cold brew season for all of us. Since cold brew is a relatively new addition to a lot of popular coffee chains versus older standbys, it may seem a little mysterious when it comes to making your own at home, but rest assured there are plenty of cold brew coffee hacks out there to help you maximize your summer caffeine sitch.
Though cold brew and iced coffee appear similar on the surface, one of the important things to know about cold brew is that it is actually pretty different from iced coffee. According to Starbucks' coffee blog 1912 Pike, because cold brew is never touched by heat, making it "creates lower acidity for a smoother, naturally sweet taste," while iced coffee is "brewed double strength [hot] then cooled, which creates a refreshing, lighter body."
Aside from the taste, one of the biggest differences you'll notice between cold brew and iced coffee is the brew time. Review site Little Coffee Place notes that cold brew has a long brew time, and is brewed as a coffee concentrate, while iced coffee has the same brew time as your regular ol' cup of joe. Little Coffee Place does caution that because of the quick brew and the addition of ice, iced coffee can turn out weak or bitter — but thankfully with cold brew, that won't be an issue.
If you've never made cold brew at home before, the process couldn't be simpler: Just dump ground coffee in the brewing apparatus of your choice — a specific cold brewer, a french press, or a regular jar all work fine — cover with cold water, steep overnight, then strain in the morning. Coffee company Trade suggests 3.5 ounces of coffee to 28 ounces of water for a ready-to-drink cold brew, rather than a concentrate.
But if you're already a practiced cold brew artiste, you may be searching for ways to take your summer water to the next level. Without further ado, let's take a look at how to give yourself the gift of excellent cold brew without having to walk down to your local coffee place.
1Know The Basics
Marcus Boni, the Head of Coffee at Trade, tells Bustle that basics like making sure you're using room temperature or cold filtered water for brewing are crucial to getting a good cup of coffee. Because cold brew's signature is that sweet, smooth taste without much of the acid present in other coffees, you want to be doubly sure you're not brewing it with water that's hot.
2Get That Light Roast
Boni also tells Bustle that folks should use "freshly roasted coffees that have depth in body and flavor, nothing too darkly roasted." If you're really looking to max out the amount of caffeine you're getting in your daily cup, though, give blonde roast beans a holler. While there's not a *huge* variation in the amount of caffeine from light roasts to dark roasts, there is evidence that "some caffeine is lost in the roasting process," according to The Washington Post, so you may be getting just a little extra by kicking it with blonde roast.
3The Grind Can Make A Difference
According to Mr. Coffee's official blog, you can get the most caffeine from your beans by grinding them super fine, since "[a] greater amount of caffeine is extracted from beans the more they're ground." But Boni cautions that finely ground coffee can cause "sharp or bitter flavors in your cold brew." He advises using coarsely ground beans to help maintain that light, creamy flavor throughout the long brewing time. If you're looking for a more acidic cold brew, feel free to try finely ground, but you may want to have some creamer/flavoring ice cubes on hand if you underestimate just how acidic it will turn out.
4Consider Shelling Out For A Specific Gadget
Believe me, I'm a big fan of the ultra-reliable and cheap drip coffeemaker I've had since my dorm room days, but when it comes to making cold brew, sometimes getting a slightly fancier gadget is worth it for the convenience. Boni recommends Hario's Mizudashi cold brew pot, which comes with an insert you pour your freshly ground coffee into, allowing you to pour it straight from the pot when it's brewed. If you have a regular french press on hand, you can use that and be perfectly fine.
5Add-Ins Are Your Brewing BFFs
Many of us enjoy adding a splash of flavoring to coffee once it's in our cup, but Wonder How To suggests something that will truly take your cold brew to the next level: infusing your coffee while it brews. "[A]dd some brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the mix when you brew it," the site suggests, adding that other while-brewing options to consider are ginger and, after brewing is over, vanilla extract, condensed milk, and even gelato.
6Freeze Your Leftover Coffee Into Ice Cubes
For an extra caffeine kick, snag an ice cube tray and fill it with coffee — that way, when you go to ice your cold brew, it won't get watered down by ~regular~ ice cubes. You can either use leftover cold brew from previous batches once you've got the hang of making it, or you can use regular brewed coffee, which is great for folks who can sometimes find cold brew just a little *too* sweet. Coffee ice cubes are also great for you if you don't have a lot of time in the morning to prep your coffee — try freezing a mix of half coffee and half oat milk, or coffee with flavorings, then pop 'em in your cold brew in the morning for low-lift boosts of creamer and flavoring.
7Don't Be Afraid To Experiment
Boni tells Bustle figuring out your perfect cold brew is likely going to take some testing. "Start with the base recipe amount of coffee, then add more should you desire a richer profile in your next brew," he advises. This extends to trying out different coffee blends, different roasts, different grinds, and even different add-ins. If you're one of those who has a fussy request you feel bad asking for at the coffee shop, give it a try at home. And above all, don't expect to nail your dream cup of cold brew on the first try. You're not a master cold brew barista — yet.
With these hacks in mind, you can make the most of cold brew season — and make the most of cold coffee the rest of the year, too. Go forth and brew!