Brew Great Tasting Cold and Iced Coffee
When the temperature starts to rise outside, the last thing you want to do is swallow or even hold a hot caffeinated beverage. This means you would probably enjoy a cup of cold-brewed coffee to get you going in the morning, or as a much needed pick-me-up in the late afternoon. Over the last several years you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of cold-brewed coffee; it’s gaining even more popularity than regular iced coffee. Store-bought cold-brewed coffee often costs nearly twice as much as its iced coffee counterpart. So while you try to decide if you want to be thrifty and simply choose a cup of iced java, you are also probably wondering why cold-brewed coffee costs so much.
Cold-Brewed Coffee vs. Iced Coffee
The main difference between cold-brewed coffee and iced coffee is the taste. Cold-brewed coffee is far less watered down, since iced coffee simply chills the beverage with ice cubes that eventually melt and water down the beverage. Great tasting chilled coffee accomplishes this by being brewed with cold instead of hot water. There is a little more detail to the process, but with the following tips you will be able to make iced and cold-brewed coffee at home so you can still enjoy this popular summer beverage without having to pay the expensive price.
To create cold-brewed coffee, you simply steep medium to coarse ground coffee for 12 hours in room temperature water, filtering out any grounds afterwards. It is important that the grounds are never exposed to heat, or the flavor can be ruined. Instead of using heat to extract the sugar, oils, and caffeine, the cold-brew process simply requires time. As for iced coffee, it is brewed the same as a hot cup, then allowed to cool down so it can be poured over ice (ideally) without causing it to melt. Ice will always melt, however, and cause the coffee to become watered down unless consumed very quickly. (Another option for rapid cooling of hot coffee is to shake it much like a martini in a bar shaker and strain out the ice.)
It should be noted that simply pouring cold coffee over ice will not give you a great tasting cup of Joe. Previously brewed coffee that has been allowed to sit will oxidize. This is what makes the flavor bitter and flat, and to most people it becomes unpalatable.
If you are really serious about making a great tasting cup of iced coffee, most baristas recommend following the Japanese method. This involves brewing coffee that will slowly drip onto the ice cubes, which instantly cools the brew. This method will preserve most of the coffee’s rich and robust flavor, along with its acidity and pleasant aroma. It can also be more cost-effective than purchasing a cup of the iced beverage at a local coffee shop, even though the Japanese method does require you to use about 10 percent more coffee grounds than if you were simply preparing it hot. The drip process slowly cools the coffee, which results in less ice melting so you won’t have to drink a cup of watery coffee.
Cold-brewed coffee does require you to plan ahead, and it is a long, slow process that can take up to 24 hours. The final result is a smooth rich flavor with very little acidity, which is good news to coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs. The only downside is that cold-brewed coffee can sometimes leave the coffee tasting a little flat, unlike iced beverages which typically retain a robust flavor. The advantage to this method is that unlike iced coffee, which requires you to set up a drip system, the cold brew doesn’t really need any work other than straining when it has finished steeping.
What is your favorite way to enjoy coffee when the weather is hot? Tell us about it in the comments.