While a majority of coffee drinkers today prefer their coffee served hot, a rapidly growing number of coffee lovers are now turning to the cold brew. According to a survey done in 2017, 54% of millennial coffee drinkers prefer cold brew. Compare this with just 24% for Gen X'ers. With cold brew becoming increasingly popular, we've put together this article to help answer the simple question of “What is Cold Brew Coffee“.
If you're not in the mood to read, check out our top 3 picks for making the best cold brews.
Before diving right in, let's address a few common questions about cold brew.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
- Cold Brew is made by steeping coffee beans in cold water for 12-15 hours. No heat is involved in this process so the final brew will be free of any bitter or burnt flavor
- Cold Brew is typically sweeter than regular coffee
- Cold Brew is less acidic (in some case up to 60% less acidic than regular coffee)
What's the difference between Cold Brew Coffee and Iced Coffee
In answering the question of “what is cold brew coffee”, we need to first distinguish between cold brew coffee and iced coffee. Despite the common misconception that cold brew and iced coffee are the same, they're actually two very different things. The difference is best illustrated by how each one is made.
Cold brew coffee is made by soaking coffee beans in a brewing vessel. The water should be cold and less 40 degrees. Once the 12-15 hours is up and the water has absorbed all of the coffee beans' subtle flavors, sieve out the sediments by pouring the drink into a carafe. Now you can enjoy a clean cold brew that's free of undissolved coffee particles.
On the other hand, iced coffee is simply coffee with ice in it. Big surprise 🙂 To make iced coffee, you'd follow the steps for making regular coffee. It's important to wait for your coffee to cool down before adding your ice cubes, otherwise the ice cubes will naturally melt instantly.
Bonus: If you're a regular iced coffee drinker, we recommend checking out the JavaSok, which helps keep your drink nice and cold for long periods of time.
What Coffee Beans should I use to make a Cold Brew?
Your cold brew will be only as good as the coffee beans you use to make it. Obviously, you can use your favorite coffee but there are certain coffee beans In general, we'd recommend going with the following coffee brands.
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew is preground coffee that's coarsely ground and optimized for cold brew brewing. As Amazon's #1 selling coarse ground coffee, this company has earned a stellar reputation for being one of the best coffees to use for cold brews at home.
Volcanica Coffee Cold Brew
Volcanica Coffee's cold brew is a bold Sumatra blend that's full of flavor but low in acidity. This makes for an extra smooth cold brew experience.
Now that you have the right beans for your cold brew, let's take a look at the cold brew process.
- Immersion or Slow Drip:
These are the two main ways of making cold brew coffee. The immersion brewing method is easiest and simplest. As mentioned above, it just involves soaking ground beans cold water for about 12 hours before sieving out the ground sediments. In the cold drip method is typically reserved for coffee geek who appreciates detail. For this method, you pour cold water on the ground beans using a specific device. It typically takes 3-6 hours and produces smaller batches. For more information on the differences between the immersion and slow drip brew methods check out this article and collect the cold brew coffee in a cup below.
- Coarse grinding:
The coarse ground is best for making cold brews since they won't pass through your filter. Fine grounds sometimes cause sticky substances to form when using the slow drip brewing method.
Best Bottled Cold Brew
If you prefer to buy your cold brew coffee rather than making it yourself, there are several options to choose from. The best bottled cold brew will use high quality coffee beans that are ideal for the cold brewing process. Bottled cold brew is especially convenient because of its shelf-life and the ability to take your coffee on the go.
Explorer Cold Brew Coffee is a relatively new entrant into the cold brew market but it's already made a huge impression on us. In addition to being full-flavored, smooth, balanced and low-acid, this cold brew also comes in varying degrees of caffeine (high caff, regular caff, low caff, decaf). We had the chance to do a full Explorer Cold Brew review and gave it a rare 5/5 rating. If you're a fan of quality cold brews especially from concentrate, this one is definitely worth a look.
In scouring the net for the best cold brew coffees available, we've been most impressed with Humblemaker Coffee cold brew shots. They deliver a strong but very balanced flavor that I think is a perfect example of how cold brew coffee should be. Additionally, Humblemaker's cold brews contain antioxidants and vitamins that make them doubly impressive. Fortunately, none of these natural additives affect the flavor.
Bomani Alcoholic Cold Brew
If you're a cold brew fan and appreciate alcohol, then you'll want to check out Bomani alcohol-infused cold brew. It's gourmet coffee with a buzz. This coffee uses 100% ethically sourced Arabica beans from Southern Mexico, Peru, and Nicaragua. It's flavor is smooth and refreshing. With an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of 5.7% and a 1/2 cup of coffee's worth of caffeine, Bomani offers a very unique and balanced coffee experience.
What is Cold Brew Coffee: Conclusion
As you can see, cold brew coffee is far more than just “cold coffee”. Cold brew coffee delivers an entirely different and truly refreshing coffee experience that I think all coffee lovers should try at some point in life. Coffee lovers often encounter a mental barrier when they try to compare even the best cold brew coffees to regular coffee. I think that's a mistake. It's an “apples to oranges” comparison since both are unique and enjoyable in their own way.