Picture this: basking in the sunshine, lounging on the grass, sipping from a cold brew coffee. Staycations have never been so elegant.
Cold brew coffee has got a staunch following of loyal converts, who’s enthusiasm has made this beverage one of the biggest trends to shake up the specialty coffee scene. It is with this in mind that we’ve decided to re-evaluate the homebrew potential of this ever-growing trend.
There’s few finer luxuries than glasses of cold brew coffee, made with speciality beans, packed high full of ice. In this article, we’ll be showing you five different methods that you can use to make cold brew coffee at home. These methods range from easy to complicated, and cheap to expensive – so you’ll always have a brew method on hand, ready to quickly whip up a cold one when the sun is shining.
For each of our different cold brew coffee recipes, we’ll be using a different method and a different piece of kit. The makes that we’ve selected for these recipes are:
For those of you who aren’t looking to invest in a piece of kit just yet, we’ll then talk you through the process of making a DIY cold brew at home, with no gadgets required.
The cold brew coffee business is growing by 25% every year
Every year, more and more people are searching for cold brew coffee online. The cold brew coffee business is growing by 25% every year – based on this growth, the industry should reach 1.63 billion USD by 2025.
Previously, there may have been some disagreement between baristas and coffee professionals as to whether cold brew coffees can truly do justice to a high-grade speciality bean. However, new scientific research is now helping specialty coffee makers to better understand cold brew coffee and how to create the best possible tasting brew. Hopefully, with this collection of home brew recipes, we can help you determine your answer to this question.
Key tips for making cold brew
In essence, making cold brew coffee is a very simple process. All you need to do is:
Coarsely grind some coffee,
Add cold (or room temperature) water,
Let it steep for a long period of time – usually from 12-24 hours,
Then separate the coffee grounds from the liquid, and there you have it – cold brew coffee.
Although these steps are not complicated in and of themselves, it’s important that you ask yourself a few key questions before you start brewing. These are as follows:
What’s the right coffee for making cold brew coffee?
What’s the best-tasting cold brew recipe for you?
What coffee brewer or technique can you use most easily at home?
Below, we’ll be going through each of these points of consideration, in order to help you select the best cold brew option for you personally.
What's the best coffee for making cold brew?
In terms of choosing the best coffee to make a cold brew, you can (in theory) choose any type of coffee. However, having said that, when we asked our Instagram followers for their thoughts on the matter, there were two clear, prevalent responses:
Use leftover coffee or coffee that is getting old. This recommendation came from people who don’t personally enjoy cold brew coffee, and use it as a last-resort option to use up old coffee beans.
Fruity and sweet coffees. These were recommended by cold brew lovers. They recommended coffees with sweet and fruity tasting notes, particularly naturally processed African (especially Ethiopian) coffee.
Brewing coffee with cold water cuts the edges of coffee’s flavour, both in terms of its bitter side and its acidic side. Using coffee beans with higher acidity will help you to retain some of the coffee’s characteristic fruitiness, even when it’s made as a cold brew coffee.
Plus, since bitterness is not much of a worry, you can experiment by using coffee beans that have been roasted for espresso, as the cold brew process will help to extract the more subtle notes from these beans better.
Finding the optimal recipe
First things first, below you’ll find our trusty recipe for a classic cold brew. Then, from there, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the five cold brew makers that we’ll be testing (including our own DIY version).
Ready to drink vs Concetrate
Cold brew coffee is actually pretty similar to a regular filter coffee, only cold. So, to achieve this, we’ll be using a brew ratio of 1:15 (for example, 40g of coffee to 600ml of cold water).
Alternatively, you could make your cold brew in the form of a concentrate. This is handy if you plan to keep this on-hand in the fridge, then dilute it with more water, milk or tonic water whenever you fancy. For cold brew concentrate, we will use a brew ratio of 1:6 (for example, 100g of coffee to 600ml of cold water).
Next, the two variables that can be used to modify a cold brew recipe are brew time and grind size.
It’s recommended that you let the coffee grounds steep for 12 to 24 hours in the water. The brew time, however, is a personal choice, and so you need to test the process in order to find the time that works best for you.
Testing 5 Cold Brew Makers
Next up, we’ve listed the plus points and weaknesses of five different cold brew coffee makers on the market that you can use to make cold brew coffee at home. They all differ considerably in terms of their size, ease of use and their price. Just to recap, the models that we’ll be discussing here are:
The Cold Brew Kit aspires to make cold brew as easy to make as possible.
It comes from a Slovenian company called Goat Story (you may know them from their GINA Coffee Brewer). For 22 euros, you receive a stylish glass jug with an airtight lid, and a box containing three packets of 40g pre-ground coffee.
To make a cold brew, all you need to do is to put a coffee packet into the glass jug, add water and wait until it’s done.
Mizudashi Cold Coffee Pot
The Mizudashi Cold Coffee Pot is a simple cold brew maker from the Japanese company Hario.
It consists of a glass jug, plastic mesh filter and cover. You can opt for the mini version (which contains roughly 600ml of coffee and costs about 16 euros), or the larger 1 litre brewer (costing about 21 euros).
Asobu Cold Brew
Asobu Cold Brew seems to be the most sophisticated brewer that we tested. The upper chamber is made from Tritan plastic with a cone-shaped metal mesh filter and a lid with a built-in air hole.
The middle part has a release mechanism, which lets coffee drip down at the push of a button. The bottom part is insulated, so will keep your coffee cold for up to 24 hours.
You can fit around 900ml of coffee in this brewer, and it is priced at around 60 euros in Europe (but, it seems that you can get it in the US for as little as $40).
Toddy Cold Brew System
When it comes to cold brew, Toddy is a golden standard. Their system was actually developed way back in 1964. It comes with a plastic brewing container and brewing handle, a glass decanter and decanter lid, two felt filters and a rubber stopper.
It’s the largest and most bulky brewer from this list – it can fit up to 340g of coffee and 1.65 litres of water. We were able to buy it for about 48 euros (but, it seems that the US retail price is around $40).
Our own DIY cold brew maker
Now, the last brewer on our list is actually not, technically speaking, a brewer at all. More accurately, it is a collection of items that we have lying about in the office.
For the brewing container, we’ve got a Loveramics glass water carafe. This can fit enough liquid for the brew, and it has its own lid. Then, use a sieve combined with Hario V60 papers to filter out the ground coffee.
Since we already most have these items at home, we’d say that the price for this maker is free!
What's the right Cold Brew maker for me?
In summary, these are our takeaway tips for any home brewers who fancy trying their hand at making their own cold brew coffee:
If you like cold brew, but don’t have a grinder at home (or you just don’t want any mess in your kitchen!), and you’re ok with drinking a limited number of coffee varieties, the Cold Brew Kit from Goat Story is the one for you.
For regular drinkers of cold brew coffee, perhaps you make it for your whole family (and you have enough space on your shelf), then the Toddy Cold Brew System is a great choice.
If you want something simple, relatively cheap, easy to clean and fridge-friendly, then Mizudashi Cold Coffee Pot is the right choice for you.
For homebrewers who plan to make cold brew often, plus design and style is important for any device going into your kitchen, then Asobu’s Cold Brew is a solid option.
And if, like us, you’re not a massive fan of cold brew, but want to experiment with the method from time to time, you can just create your DIY Cold Brew Maker.