I first heard about and tasted cold brewed coffee when I was staying with a dear friend in New York last summer. Each morning, alongside a bowl of cereal, she would also serve me a little glass of delicious iced coffee. I had been a convert to iced coffee for a couple of years and had even dabbled in making it myself, but had always done so by brewing fresh espresso and cooling it down with ice and cold milk. When, on the second day, I asked my friend how she was making hers, she did the big reveal: it was cold brewed coffee. She made it sound super-easy, explaining that it produces a coffee concentrate (essentially cold espresso) that lasts for days and days in the fridge, meaning you can make a really big batch at the weekend and have tasty coffee on tap for the rest of the week.
This appealed to me on a number of levels: it was easy and didn’t require equipment (I hate faff and having to purchase new stuff to try out things), you could make it in bulk, it would stop me buying coffee on my way to work (I do this a lot), and best of all it would be better quality than anything I could find en route to the office. The good news for winter is that you can even make hot coffee with the concentrate by putting a small amount in a cup and letting it down with boiling water.
Cue a time lag of almost exactly a year and I finally get around to trying this out for myself! I looked at a bunch of different recipes online – it turns out there are numerous ways to go about this relatively straightforward process – and settled on this one that has a good step-by-step video and didn’t require me to buy any tools to test it (some of the videos involved crafting filtration systems from felt and Coke bottles – seriously). It took about fifteen minutes from start to finish (including a 24-hour break while my coffee beans seeped their lovely juices into the water) and the smell was absolutely incredible. Note: cold brewed coffee does not smell like hot coffee gone cold; it is much closer to the scent of freshly ground beans.
Preparing to brew
- 250g coarsely ground coffee (I ground mine at home but you can cut the prep time by having it ground in a coffee shop. I actually used 237g as this is what most supermarket coffee bean packs weigh in at.)
- 1.5l water (the video said to use filtered but I just used tap – I adjusted the volume to around 1.35l to account for the lighter quantity of coffee.)
- 2 medium sized bowls, big enough to accommodate the coffee and water together (I used the mixing bowls I would normally use for baking and ones with pouring spouts to make the filtering process easier.)
- a sealed storage container (a bottle or a jar)
- Place the ground coffee in one of the bowls.
- Pour all of the water over the coffee.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel.
- Leave to brew for at least 20 hours (I left mine for 24).
- Strain the water and coffee mixture through a fine sieve, collecting the strained coffee in a jug or large bowl.
- Clean the sieve and line with a piece of damp kitchen paper.
- Strain the liquid through the sieve again, collecting the strained coffee in a clean jug or bowl.
- Pour the strained coffee into your storage container (I chose a 1 litre Kilner jar and this was the perfect size).
Serving your brew
Days two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…
Cold: Add a small amount of your coffee (roughly the amount you would use if letting down espresso or the amount of cordial you would use to make a squash) to a glass with ice in it, then top up cold milk. My preference is to use whole milk, but you can use whatever you like. I used almond milk at the weekend and it was still great.
Hot: Add a small amount of your coffee to a mug (as above) and pour over some just-boiled water. It is so smooth you won’t need to add milk or sugar, but no one’s stopping you if that’s what you want to do!
Pictured (l-r): freshly ground coffee, coffee and water brewing away, coffee filtering through sieve/kitchen paper combo
Have you tried cold-brew coffee? Will you be giving my method a go?