In the Kitchen: Cold Brew Coffee
Although you actually drink this as opposed to eat it, I felt cold brew coffee deserved some love. It's less acerbic than your typical hot-brewed counterpart, and because it's less bitter, it's also more smooth and tasty. It stays fresh in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and it's perfect for iced coffee (it's already cold!)!
Don't worry, you can still get your morning cup of hot coffee by adding hot water to the concentrate.
Step #1 ROAST IT
I use medium roast beans (left), which have been heated to a lower temperature than dark roast beans (right). Medium roast tastes more like coffee beans and less like the roasting process.
Step #2 GRIND IT
I grind my beans fine. Most cold-brew recipes call for medium-coarse or coarse ground beans, but that’s a mistake. The factors with the biggest impact on coffee extraction are water temperature, grind size, extraction time, and finally, agitation—in that order. Since I use room-temperature water I can scratch temperature off the list of variables and grind size becomes most important. Finer particles will release more flavor compounds than larger ones.
Step #3 POUR IT
I combine room-temperature water (usually filtered, as my tap water doesn’t taste great) and freshly ground coffee in a large French press. The press makes it’s a snap to separate the concentrate from the grinds after brewing.
Step #4 STIR IT
After about 10 minutes, a solid raft of coffee grinds will form on the surface. I find it important to stir this raft into the water to maximize contact with the ground coffee.
This is the one and only time I stir the cold-brew. As I mentioned before, agitation is last on the list of factors affecting extraction. I find it a nuisance to stir a batch of cold-brew multiple times over the course of a day; the good news is I don’t have to.
Step #6 COVER IT
Next, I cover the French press with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours (give or take an hour in either direction). I’ve done room-temperature brews as short as 12 hours and as long as 72 hours. Twenty-four hours is consistently the sweet spot.
Step #7 PRESS IT
After 24 hours, I remove the plastic wrap and press the grinds to separate the concentrate.
Step #8 FILTER IT
Then I pour the concentrate into a coffee filter-lined fine-mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup or pitcher. Some would say that this filtering step is optional, but I don’t like silt and grit in my cup. Most of the concentrate will filter through unaided, but I find it helpful to gently clear the sediment with a rubber spatula to let the last few drops through.
Step #9 DILUTE IT
Finally, I dilute the concentrate one-to-one with cold water and pour it into a glass with plenty of ice.
Step #10 SALT IT
Now, instead of reaching for the sugar (which is unnecessary with super-smooth cold-brew) I stir in a pinch of Kosher salt. Just trust me on this one.