Following up on the theme of my last post regarding a coffee question from a ZenKimchi reader, I thought I would share my personal method for making cold brew coffee.

If you ask a coffee connoisseur  to recommend a ‘coffee maker’ for you, they will probably giggle with delight and point you in the direction of something that looks like a chemistry set, only more confusing. More than this, for those of us in Korea, it doesn’t make sense to drop half your paycheck buying an electric burr grinder and espresso machine. In fact, you can still make first rate coffee at home with stuff you probably already have stuffed away in the kitchen cabinet.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration: Cold brew coffee.

With summer rapidly approaching, there’s no better time to try cold brewing coffee. There’s no expensive equipment to buy, in fact, you might already have everything you need on hand.

Cold brewing coffee has several advantages:

  • Minimal investment
  • You don’t need to buy a home grinder. Buy 100 grams of fresh roasted beans from the neighborhood roasterie, ask them to grind for hand drip coffee, and use all the beans as soon as you get home.
  • Make enough coffee for the week (or the day, depending on your habit)
  • Pretty darn simple. The process takes 24 hours, but there’s only about 5-10 minutes of anything resembling work on your part.
  • Less caffeine than other coffee (could be a positive or negative I suppose)

You’ll need to get yourself a large (I think mine is about a quart) glass jar, you’ll also need some sort of filter. [amazon_link id=”B005SW94B6″ target=”_blank” ]Cheesecloth[/amazon_link] works like a charm, but a metal mesh filter, or even a large coffee filter would probably work in a pinch. You’ll also need another receptacle to pour the brew into while filtering. Pretty much any clean pot or jar you have laying around will work just fine.

Once you have your supplies and your 100 grams of ground coffee, there’s just a few simple steps.

1. Pour coffee in jar.

2. Pour water in jar (Fill it up to about 4/5th full. It’s a good idea to use filtered water).

3. Stir

4. Put the jar in a cool, dark place. This doesn’t even have to be a fridge. Just somewhere about room temperature or slightly cooler and out of the sun. You might stir it from time to time, but I tend to forget to do this and it has yet to cause an explosion or anything.

I just happened to use the fridge for steeping this time, but it’s not mandatory

5. 12-24 hours later, filter the brew using your filter of choice (Use caution. This can be messy). Once you filter it through once, put the extra coffee grounds in the trash (not the sink!), clean the jar out, and filter it back into the jar one more time.

6. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Now for the best part!

The resulting brew will be a concentrate with far less acid and body than you are probably used to with coffee. You’ll need to dilute with something and possibly sweeten to taste. You have several options:

  • Add cold water in at least a 1:1 water to coffee ratio and add ice for a true iced coffee. Sweeten to taste.
  • Hot water, again in a 1:1 ratio, for a hot, low caffeine, cup of coffee.
  • Dilute with milk (whole milk is suggested) to taste.
  • Pour the brew into ice cube trays and freeze. Add the coffee ice cubes to milk or smoothies to add a nice, subtle, coffee flavor. Make sure to put the trays in ziploc bags or something so they don’t absorb other flavors from the freezer.

It’s a pretty simple method that’s pretty hard to screw up, so you can eyeball the measurements.

Additionally, there’s a slight variation  of this method called the ‘hot-cold’ brew method. Everything is exactly the same as before, except at the very beginning you fill the jar about 25-33% full with water about 190-200 degrees celsius (30 seconds to a minute off of a boil). Mix it up to make sure all of the grounds are soaked, then let it steep for 1.5-2 minutes. Now fill it the rest of the way with cold water. I recommend using chilled water specifically for this and putting the jar in the refridgerator for the 16-24 hours steep time in order to rapidly bring the mix down to a cooler temperature.

The argument is that the hot water extracts more of the solubles (including caffeine) from the grounds allowing you to get the best of both worlds; both cold and hot brewing methods. I personally use the hot-cold method, but frankly the jury is still out on which way is better.

There ya go! Try it, play around with it and tweak it. Cold brew coffee is great for the summer or any time you know you’ll have a busy week and want to make your coffee in advance.

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