Ask Nina Rose: Why Should I Brew My Coffee Cold?Posted: July 24, 2014
Cold water brewing is a method that’s used to produce a smooth cup of iced coffee by soaking the grounds in water for an extended period of time. Proponents enjoy a mild acidity, with less bitterness than coffee brewed with hot water, and an intense, yet smooth flavor.
While hot brewed coffee is best drunk right away, cold brewed coffee can stay fresh in your fridge for up to two weeks. You can enjoy delicious iced coffee without having to make a batch every day (that is, if you can make it last that long!).
There are many different methods that can be used to brew coffee cold, from leaving it in a french press overnight, to using special cold brew systems like the Toddy and the Yama Cold Brewer. Today, I’m going to take you through my experiences cold brewing with the CoffeeSock which has quickly become my new favorite way of brewing rich and smooth iced coffee with ease.
Choosing and preparing your coffee:
First, choose your beans. You’ll want a dark roast, or even an espresso blend. Some of my favorites are Organic Love Buzz, Mind Body and Soul Fair Trade Organic Blend, and French Mara Roast. These dark roasts give you a nice strong flavor without your coffee tasting watered down.
Grind coffee medium to coarse. This helps prevent your coffee from appearing “muddy” and tasting overly bitter. You can adjust your grind according to your preference, as the coarser you go, the less bitter your coffee will be. Experiment to see what’s the right flavor and intensity for you.
The ratio of coffee to water will vary depending on your preference of strength. I like to make a concentrate, using 6 oz of coarsely ground coffee to fill up a half gallon jar (64 oz), although some may choose to use a little less coffee. A basic kitchen scale is helpful for weighing out the right amount of coffee, as the volume can fluctuate depending on whether you are using a medium or coarse grind – for instance, 6 oz of coffee with a medium grind will look like less coffee than 6 oz of coffee with a coarse grind. Best err on the side of weight versus volume.
How to make cold brewed coffee using the CoffeeSock:
Before brewing with your CoffeeSock for the first time, you must boil it in water for about 10 minutes. This helps shrink the cotton, creating the perfect sized mesh for removing undesirable particles and oils that can cause bitterness and even sourness. Be careful when removing the Coffee Sock from boiling water. Use a pair of tongs and set it on a cooling or drying rack to cool completely before handling it.
Your Coffee Sock filter will continue to shrink over the next few uses, and you’ll notice it will provide the best quality brew from then on. Once you reach the point where your brew starts to taste less rich and intense, it’s time to replace your filter, which usually takes about 9 months to a year of regular use.
Once your filter has cooled, place it inside your jar, cuffing the top of the Coffee Sock around the mouth of the jar. Now, pour the coffee into the filter. Although not necessary, I do enjoy my handy wide-mouth funnel for filling the Coffee Sock with my pre-measured grounds, because I am notoriously clumsy and do not like spilling coffee all over my counter. You can also use a spoon, or pour the grounds from a narrow vessel.
Next, you must “bloom” your coffee grounds. Pour just enough water over the grounds to moisten them, and watch them puff up. It’s good to wait a full minute before pouring the rest of the water in the filter during the main extraction process, because it gives the coffee a chance to prepare for maximum exposure to the water, resulting in a strong, complex brew.
After a minute, pour the rest of the water over the coffee until the jar is filled.
Uncuff the top of the Coffee Sock from the mouth of the jar, cinch the top of the filter, and use the strap to wind around the top of the filter a few times…
… Then pull the cinched top of the filter through the ring at the end of the strap.
Your coffee is now ready to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Push the Coffee Sock into the jar, place a lid over top, and let sit in the fridge for about 12 hours. This is when the magic happens.
After those 12 hours, it’s time to pull the filter out. Take the lid off the jar, and pull up the filter, squeezing every last bit of intensely delicious coffee as you can. Compost your grinds, use them in your next face mask as a caffeinated exfoliant, or put them in a bowl with a few drops of vanilla extract to deodorize your freezer.
Rinse the coffee filter with water and hang dry. If your filter is especially dirty, you can sanitize it by boiling it in fresh water for at least 5 minutes, or put it in a bowl of water and microwave it on high for at least 5 minutes.
You’ll notice there’s some decent headspace in your jar from all the room the coffee grounds took up in the filter. You can choose to keep your coffee in its concentrated form, which is good when you’re using lots of ice that can dilute your coffee, leading to a weaker drink, or if you’re adding in a good amount of filler like skim milk or, dare I say, booze. Or you can top it off with water to taste, to your preference in strength. Either way, your cold brewed coffee is ready to serve, ice cold, and with all the complexities and smoothness of a great cup of coffee, without the nasty, watered-down flavor that comes with a hot-brewed coffee dumped over ice.
How to serve:
– Make a simple syrup of 1:1 sugar and water. Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature, then pour in a bottle and store in the fridge. Using simple syrup to sweeten your iced coffee is a great solution to having to stir in granulated sugar that takes forever to dissolve. Once your syrup is made, you can opt to mix in a small amount of your favorite extracts to create an inexpensive flavored syrup to spruce up your morning joe.
– Sweetened condensed milk is a staple in my kitchen. Inspired by the intensely brewed iced coffees served at my local Vietnamese Pho restaurants, I usually keep a squeeze bottle of this thick syrupy stuff in my fridge so I can add a squirt of it to my coffee (both hot and cold). It’s a convenient option for someone who wants to cut prep time in the morning, because it’s like your milk and sugar all in one. I usually put my iced coffee in a mason jar with a few ice cubes, and a bit of sweetened condensed milk (you don’t need a lot – it’s quite concentrated), put the lid on and shake it up, and I’m ready to face the day.
– Got some leftover coffee? Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When you use these coffee cubes in place of ice cubes, you’ll avoid the dilution that happens when your coffee sits too long and the ice melts.