When making cold brew coffee, grind the beans coarsely for proper extraction. Finely-ground coffee will ‘over-extract’ due to the lengthy steeping time, resulting in bitter-tasting coffee. Avoid brewing methods like pour-over that require finely-ground coffee beans and stick to the correct ratio. Generally, for cold brew coffee, the balance should be 1 pound of coffee to 1 gallon of water.
However, depending on personal taste, you may still find coffee brewed at this ratio too bitter, as it contains twice as much caffeine as hot coffee. If this is the case, cut down the intensity and bitterness after brewing by diluting it with water.
Is it better to make a cold brew in the fridge?
You can make cold brew coffee at room temperature or inside the refrigerator. However, it’s better to do so at room temperature if you want a more intense flavor. The warmer water at room temperature lends the coffee a stronger taste profile. On the other hand, colder water inside the refrigerator is slower at extracting flavors and oils from coffee grounds.
However, you can still make cold brew coffee with a strong flavor inside the refrigerator by letting it brew for longer, say, 20 hours. Remember, both temperature and brew time affect the flavor intensity of cold brew coffee.
Note: If you’re brewing at room temperature, put the coffee in the fridge once it’s done filtering so that it cools down faster.
How to make cold brew coffee inside a pitcher
If you’re done brewing cold brew coffee but don’t intend to drink it immediately, you should store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresher for longer. Inside the fridge, cold brew coffee will stay fresh for up to 7 days. This makes refrigeration a great storage option for those who prefer to brew large batches of coffee at once and simply pour a cup whenever needed.
Storing in the fridge also means that the cold brew coffee is always chilled and ready to serve. You don’t have to add ice cubes which dilute the beverage and affect its taste.
You can also store cold brew coffee outside the fridge at room temperature, though it’s not recommended. Brewed coffee stored at room temperature has a short lifespan of 24-48 hours. After that, your cold brew coffee will go rancid and have a flat smell and taste due to the oils in the coffee going bad.
Moreover, while cold brew coffee stored at room temperature stays reasonably cool, most coffee drinkers prefer chilled cold brew coffee. You may, therefore, have to add ice cubes to cool the beverage further, thus diluting it and diminishing the taste in the process.
How to make cold brew coffee in a French press
Meanwhile, if you have a French press, follow the steps outlined below to make cold-brew coffee:
i. Mix ¾ cup of coffee grounds and 3 cups of water in the French press. For great-tasting coffee, use filtered water. Then, stir the mixture.
ii. Cover the French press and let the coffee steep for at least 12 hours to fully extract caffeine and flavor compounds. Ensure you stir periodically as it brews.
iii. Next, strain the coffee by pushing the filter plunger 2 inches below the coffee level
iv. Finally, transfer the coffee to another container for immediate use or storage in the refrigerator.
How long should cold brew steep in the fridge?
You should steep cold brew coffee inside the refrigerator for 18-20 hours for a stronger flavor profile. The steep time affects the flavor of cold brew coffee. If you only let the coffee steep for a short time, say, 10 hours, the flavors will be under-extracted, and the cold brew will have a weak taste.
Conversely, if you let it steep for too long, say, 24 hours, over-extraction will occur, and your coffee will have bitter flavor notes with a woody taste.
Note that steeping cold brew coffee inside the refrigerator calls for a longer steep time than steeping at room temperature. That’s because the colder water inside the fridge slows down the extraction process.
How to store cold coffee brew
The best way to store cold brew coffee is inside the fridge to increase its lifespan. However, if you keep it outside the refrigerator at room temperature, store the drink in an airtight bottle/contain to extend its lifespan.
However you choose to store your coffee, it’ll eventually go wrong and lose taste.
i. The National Coffee Association (NCA): How to brew coffee