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How to Make the Best Cold Brew

Cold Brew Coffee

Surely, you’ve seen it by now. Cold brew coffee is everywhere. It’s in cans and cartons and bottles and nitrogenated into a pint glass like a Guinness – nitro cold brew is all the rave right now at the hippest shops. Ads and fads all over the Internet are touting cold brew’s health benefits, and you can bet some fitness guru has already found a way to mix butter into it. Here’s what we know for sure.

Cold Brew VS. Iced Coffee

For decades, shops served iced coffee. Most still do. This involved brewing hot coffee quite a bit stronger than usual and then icing it down. The ice diluted the brew, so that’s why it was brewed stronger to begin with. Cold brew is not the same thing as iced coffee. Cold brew is brewed with cold water instead of hot water. In order for coffee grounds to yield drinkable coffee, they must spend time with water. Hot water speeds up this process, but given enough time, cold water makes it happen, too. So, with a longer brew time, cold brew is a slightly different animal than iced coffee.

Acidity

The #1 major difference of cold brew coffee from any other type of coffee is its acidity. The common number thrown around is 70%. So, Cold brew is 70% less acidic than hot brewed coffee, which means even iced coffee, since it was brewed with hot water, is way more acidic than cold brew. Now, I haven’t done any kind of pH test in my secret laboratory, but this 70% less figure seems to be commonly accepted as fact. Many fans of cold brew drink it for this reason. It is a lifesaver for those who suffer from acid reflux or for those who drank too many acidic things over the weekend if you know what I mean.

Good Things Take Time

Most cold brew is made using either a Kyoto-style brewer or a full immersion/steeping / Toddy system. We use the Kyoto style in our brick-and-mortar store. This version allows water to slowly drip into and out of a clump of coffee grounds, ensuring that the coffee and water spend just enough time together for a full extraction to occur. The water’s movement through the grounds via gravity contributes to the activity. The full immersion style of cold brewing involves letting coffee and water sit together for a long time with no movement, sort of like steeping tea in water. You can do this with a bucket or even a French press, and sometimes special brew bags are used – much like homebrewing beer. However you do it, cold brew takes time. Sacrificing one variable in the reaction – heat – means tweaking another variable – time – to get the desired result – coffee to drink. Our 32oz Kyoto dripper takes around 5 hours. Most full immersion brewers take 16+ hours. Even while using a French press to cold brew coffee overnight in my fridge, I will let it steep for 16 hours, or I will stir several times throughout the process to get more flavors extracted from the grounds.

Flavors

Water breaks down the flavor compounds in your coffee grounds and transfers them to your final cup. Hot water grabs a few more than cold water. The addition of heat helps some molecules break down into what you taste. Therefore, cold brew coffee has a unique flavor, but it is not as varied as hot brewed coffee. If the flavors from all the coffees in the world can be listed 1-1000 when brewed with hot water, then those same coffees brewed with cold water might only give us flavors 327-510. In this way, cold brew coffee limits our experience of the world of coffee flavors. However! If you love the way cold brew coffee tastes and feels in your gut, then who cares! Drink it.

 Conclusion

So, there you have it. Cold-brew is good but not necessarily better, definitely less acidic but at the expense of some of your favorite coffee flavors, and still contains antioxidants and caffeine-like your regular hot brewed cup. While some studies show that too much caffeine is bad, a little is probably very good for you! I hover around three cups a day. Our store features this little cold brewer which mimics a commercial size Kyoto style dripper but only yields one cup at a time. That’s perfect if you’re trying to keep your caffeine intake at three cups, like me!!

Parengo Cold Brew Recipe :

 Course: Drinks
Cuisine American: Japanese
Keyword beverage, coffee, cold brew, drinks, iced coffee, latte, nitro cold brew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes
Servings 4 people
Ingredients:
1 cold brew device
some water
1 coffee grinder
130 grams Parengo Coffee

Instructions:

under a sink

Fill the top portion of your device with ice water. Use the purest water possible. That means go buy a Brita filter or something. We soften and filter our water in 6 separate stages in our shop!

coffee beans in a cup on a scale

Weigh your beans on a gram scale. We use 130 grams of lightly roasted beans from Kenya for our cold brew. If you’re using one of our home cold brew devices, try 35 grams.

coffee grinds

Grind your coffee. We use a medium grind - the particles should be about the size of Panko bread crumbs, or thereabouts.

under the sink

Set the drip to 1 drip every 1.5 seconds. Sometimes fresh coffee expands quickly as gasses are released, so make sure you’re paying attention! Slow the drip down if the coffee hopper gets too full and speed it up again later once some coffee has dripped through.

cold brew being poured into a glass

Pour into your favorite glasses over ice and gulp it down!

Recipe Notes
If you go with the Toddy system, or any other full immersion cold brew method, we recommend using WAY more coffee than this. You want your cold brew made strong - concentrated - in order to get the best flavor.