I wanted to post my recipe for cold brew coffee a couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of spring finally arriving, but Easter, holidays to Yorkshire complete with snow, then a horrible virus got in the way. It seems like my timing is perfect though as things are just beginning to warm up.
If you are looking for the perfect summer drink then my cold brew coffee is just what you need. I first discovered this a couple of years ago and it has since become one of my favourite hot weather treats. I have vivid memories of getting a take away iced coffee on honeymoon in Boston, far too many years ago to mention, and being so disappointed with the bitter, watery liquid I was presented with that I threw it away. I knew that us Brits weren’t good at iced coffee but I’d hoped that a trip across the pond would lead me to greater things.
Fast forward a number of years and one evening, as I was Googling away happily, I came across a recipe for cold brew coffee. 24 hours later I was sipping the best coffee I have ever tasted. Fast forward another couple of years and cold brew coffee is beginning to make it into the likes of Starbucks and other coffee houses, and even onto supermarket shelves. But the good news is that this stuff is so totally easy to make at home, you don’t have to pay a fortune to be able to enjoy it.
So, why is cold brew coffee so much nicer than iced coffee? And how do you make it at home?
The answer to the first question is simple. Adding hot water to ground coffee beans makes for an acidic, slightly bitter drink that, to my mind at least, tastes nasty when it is cold. Pouring hot coffee, however strong, straight over ice cubes, also makes a weak cup of coffee. So, all too often, your iced coffee actually turns out to be weak, bitter coffee.
Cold brew coffee on the other hand, is what it says, coffee brewed in cold water. Because the coffee never gets hot none of the bitter acidity develops, and you end up with a more rounded flavoured coffee that is a million miles from traditional iced coffee. The first time I made it I was blown away. It is a seriously gorgeous drink.
The good news is that cold brew coffee is really easy to make and you need no special equipment. You can go on-line and buy special gadgets, some at extortionate prices, but you really don’t have to. All you need is a couple of large glass or ceramic jugs or bowls, a sieve and an old, clean tea towel or a regular coffee filter. The best coffee to use is nothing too finely ground or your coffee can end up being sludgy – I use coffee suitable for a cafetiere (French press).
And the method is so simple you could make this in your sleep. You simply weigh out the coffee and tip it into your first jug or bowl then measure out the water and pour it over the coffee. Stir and cover the mixture then leave it on the side, or in the fridge, for 12 – 24 hours. After that time strain the coffee grinds from the liquid and that’s it – your own home-made cold brew coffee!
How long you brewed it for will determine its potency but don’t expect to drink this neat. This is your coffee base. You will need to dilute it to taste with water, milk or a mixture of both. I tend to go one part coffee to four parts milk. Now all that’s left to do is add a little sugar or agave if that’s your thing, and drink up.
If you’re looking for other homemade drinks ideas which are equally refreshing and simple to make, have a look at the following:
Cold Brew Coffee
- 100 g medium to coarse freshly ground coffee*
- 1 litre cold water
- Tip the coffee into a large ceramic or glass jug. Add the water, stir well and cover. Stir again after one hour, then leave on the work surface or in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
- Place a sieve over a bowl that will hold at least 1 litre. Line with a piece of cheese cloth, an old clean tea towel or a coffee filter. Pour the coffee through the sieve to remove the coffee grounds. Sieve again using a clean cheese cloth etc if necessary.
- Store in the fridge for up to one week.
- Dilute to taste with water or milk adding sugar or agave if you wish.