Beat the Heat With a Cold Brew Coffee
When the weather is hot, we reach for the drinks that are cool and refreshing, and for those who still require their coffee fix, a delicious chilled or iced coffee is the way to go. If you like your coffee chilled, cold brew coffee is a great alternative to drinking iced coffee made the traditional way. When coffee is brewed in hot water, then chilled or iced, it has a tendency to taste bitter or sour, but when it is cold-brewed, the result is a smooth and sweet-tasting drink without the bitterness. The subtle characteristics of particular coffee beans are slowly and gently extracted and unique flavours, sometimes lost when coffee is hot-brewed, are more distinct and pronounced in cold brew coffee.
The origins of this refreshing drink can be traced back to Japan as long ago as the 1600s, but it's only in recent years that cold brew coffee has become quite so popular, and is now on offer in many high street coffee houses, as well as being sold in bottles and cans. It's a wonderful treat to look forward to in the morning to kick-start the day, or provide instant rejuvenation on a hot and humid afternoon. Cold-brewed coffee is less acidic, so gentler on the stomach for those with digestive issues. And making cold brew coffee is also a greener option, as water doesn't need to be heated to produce it.
Making your own cold brew coffee is simplicity itself, and just requires coffee, water, a jar with a wide neck, and something to strain it with. Although it requires a little time and patience, the end result is worth the wait. There are a variety of affordable cold brew coffee makers that can be bought, with integrated filters to make the process easier, but a kilner jar or any wide-necked jar with a sealable lid will do. Some people even use a French press.
The variety of coffee used for your cold brew is down to personal choice, but good quality beans, preferably single-origin, are best, as the wonderful nuanced flavours of high quality beans can truly be appreciated with this method. Coffees that work particularly well are: Kopi Luwak, Kona, Santos, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Mocha Java. Whatever beans are used, they must be coarsely ground, as there's a risk of bitterness from over-extraction if the grind is too fine; a grind suitable for percolator coffee is best. It's worth bearing in mind that different roasts can impart different flavours; dark roasts may taste more earthy and chocolatey, whereas the flavours of lighter roasts may be less pronounced, and also take longer to be extracted. The type of water used to make cold brew coffee can influence flavour and quality. Filtered or bottled water is preferable to ensure the subtle flavours of the coffee are not impaired by undesirable tap water additives.
The strength of cold brew coffee is a matter of personal taste. As it is typically made with a higher ratio of coffee to water compared to hot-brewed coffee, it results in a more concentrated brew. Some recipes suggest a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water, but this can be adjusted; 50g of ground coffee to 400ml of water would be a good place to start. Put the coffee and water in the jar and give it a little stir. Place in the refrigerator and leave to infuse for at least 12, but no more than 24 hours. Then, either discard the coffee grounds if using a device with a filter, or strain the coffee through a coffee filter paper or doubled up kitchen towel into another clean container, and refrigerate. Now your cold brew coffee is ready and can be enjoyed with the addition of ice, or milk, or just diluted with cold water. Sugar doesn't easily dissolve in cold drinks, but a simple sugar syrup can be added to taste if desired. You will probably find your cold-brewed coffee tastes naturally sweeter than hot-brewed anyway. A concentrated cold brew makes a great base for coffee cocktails and can also be used in desserts. Undiluted cold brew can be kept for a week or two in the refrigerator.
So now you can see there's really no need to forgo your coffee when the weather is warm, as you can easily create this cool and smooth delight and enjoy it throughout the summer months, or whenever you like!