Cold brew? Don’t mind if we do! This sophisticated version of a traditional iced coffee has been popping up in shops around the country — and now even Starbucks is getting in on the act. The coffee magnate launched cold brew across select parts of the U.S. and Canada earlier this year. Though the process has been used for decades (if not longer), it’s only in recent years that cold brewing has skyrocketed in popularity.
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Cold Brew: Taking Over the Coffee World?
Why all the buzz about cold brew? “It’s really approachable,” says Jacob Yohn, Senior Roaster at Square One Coffee in Lancaster, Pa. “Sometimes coffee trends are about gadgets, [or they] come across as pretentious.” In contrast, he says, cold brew is quick to purchase and easy to make.
Cold brew’s distinctiveness also comes down to the way it’s made. While other brewing methods rely on hot water, cold brew is typically made from coffee grounds placed in room-temperature water for around 12 hours. The grounds are then filtered from the liquid. The result is a highly concentrated coffee that’s usually diluted with ice cubes or water before sipping. Because the beans aren’t exposed to intense heat, they taste less acidic than iced coffee that originally went through a hot brewing process, says Yohn. The result is a mellow cup o’ joe that tends to give off a rich chocolate or caramel flavor.
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Because it’s concentrated, cold brew may be slightly more caffeinated than regular iced or hot brewed coffee, says Yohn. But if you factor in additions like ice or milk, the difference in caffeine content is fairly negligible. If you need a bigger buzz, go easy on the add-ins (or pour yourself a bigger glass). Or, if you’re already pretty wired, consider diluting your coffee more than usual.
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Want to get in on the cold brew action? Enjoy the taste and convenience of cold brew in your own home with this recipe from Jacob Yohn.
Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
Serves 2 to 3
Total time: Approximately 12 hours
1 large French press
2 1/2 cups cold filtered water
1/4 cup coffee grounds
1/3 cup hot water (optional)
- Choose your beans. Yohn recommends coarsely ground coffee that is roasted somewhere in the range of Espresso, but not as dark as a French Roast. The higher the quality of the bean, the better cold brew will taste. More developed roasts have had time to caramelize and therefore give off a richer taste, says Yohn. (Think: Notes of caramel or chocolate as opposed to apple or pear).
- Pour the grounds into the French press. Pro tip: If you grind your own beans, experiment with this recipe a few times in order to determine the level of coarseness that tastes best to you.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat, then pour 1/3 cup of hot water over the grounds, being sure to wet all of them. Pause for 30 to 40 seconds before moving onto the next step. While this step isn’t necessary, Yohn recommends it for optimum flavor, especially if you’re working with fresher beans. If you can’t or don’t want to use hot water, simply proceed to the next step.
- Pour 2.5 cups of cold filtered water into the French press, wetting the grounds as evenly as possible.
- Cover with a tea towel or cheesecloth and let the French press sit on the counter for 12 hours while the brew does its thing.
- Secure the lid of your French press and push the strainer down several inches, then pour your coffee into your favorite glass. Cheers.