Cold brew coffee is one of the most delicious ways to brew coffee. It’s bold and sweet in flavor with a full body and low acidity. You can enjoy it served ice cold or even warm it up for a steaming hot mug of java.
As with any brew method, you need to use the right kind of coffee to get the best results. Cold-brew requires the perfect grind size to avoid brewing a bitter-tasting cup of joe.
The best grind size for cold brew is as coarse as it comes! You need an ultra-coarse grind for this brew method so set that coffee grinder to the maximum coarse setting. If you’re using pre-ground coffee then choose one that is intended for cold brew or for French press.
Why Choose Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is a slow extraction technique that uses cold water and fresh ground coffee for a cold brewing process. The grounds sit stewing in the water overnight to allow a gentle release of all the delicious coffee tastes.
The benefit of using cold water to brew coffee is that you avoid any burnt or bitter flavors being extracted which can often happen when hot water is used. When cold water is used this slows down the extraction time and the coffee runs the risk of ending up under-extracted. This is why a longer period of time is needed to brew this kind of coffee.
The benefit of this is the acidity of the coffee remains very low so is a great brew method for anyone with a sensitive stomach. Cold brew coffee is rich in bold and sweet flavors and is a really delicious way to enjoy coffee.
you can enjoy cold brew served over ice for a refreshing summer’s day treat or even heat it up on the stovetop or in a microwave and enjoy it hot.
Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee
A really common misconception when it comes to cold cold coffee is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee. Both appear to be the same drink on the surface but the brew methods are completely different.
Iced coffee is a much faster brew time as it’s actually just hot coffee served over ice. It’s typically made with an espresso machine or is a very strong french press coffee. The coffee is quickly cooled by serving it over ice and this waters down the coffee flavor. Iced coffee carries the risk of over-extraction causing it to have a bitter taste.
Cold-brew coffee takes a lot longer to brew but ends up sweet and balanced in flavor. The real deciding factor between these two brew methods is how long can you wait before you get to enjoy your morning cup of coffee?
Best Grind Size for Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is an immersion brew process so this means the coffee sits submerged in water for a period of time. You need to be sure you use the right grind size otherwise the coffee will end up tasting bitter.
The best coffee grind size for cold brew is an extra coarse grind. Coarse grounds have a smaller surface area so are safe to leave in the water for ages as they gradually release all those delicious coffee flavors.
If a fine grind is used then the smaller coffee particles end up reacting faster with the liquid and bitter flavors come out. As a general rule when it comes to coffee brewing, the longer the extraction time, a coarser grind is needed. Very quick brew methods need a finer grind to avoid the risk of under extraction.
Why You Need a Burr Grinder
The perfect grind size for any coffee brew method is only achievable if a good quality coffee grinder is used. Coffee grinders come in two main categories. Blade grinders and burr coffee grinders.
Blade grinders are typically cheaper to buy but they have a major drawback in their functionality. They work by randomly chopping up the coffee beans into a mix of different grind sizes. You’ll end up with ultra coarse to extra fine grind and everything in-between. The blades also heat up when grinding so can burn the coffee beans.
The best kind of grinder is a conical burr grinder as these models allow you to set the distance between the burrs so you always get an even and consistent grind. The burrs stay cool as they grind so never burn the beans. These grinders may be a little more expensive to buy but make up for this with the taste you get from freshly ground coffee beans.
Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
The best choice of coffee beans for any brew method always has an element of personal preference. The main taste characteristics found in the coffee beans comes from the species of plant grown as well as the environmental conditions. Arabica beans are the best choice for the complex and varied range of flavors and these beans are only grown at high altitudes.
Coffee is grown all over the world from South and Central America to Africa and Asia. Each country tends to boast its own set of coffee characteristics so the only way to really know which is best for you is to give them a try.
The one thing to look out for when choosing coffee for cold brew is the roast of the bean. Light roasts have spent a shorter period of time in the roasters so retain more acid and caffeine. This gives them complex and bright flavors notes but these are not as good for cold brew.
You really want a medium to a dark roast coffee bean. These have less acidity and more bold, single-note flavors that stand out well with the cold brewing technique. Some coffee beans are roasted specifically for cold brewing and these are a great option if you’re not sure where to begin.
Should I Buy a Cold Brew Coffee Maker?
A cold brew coffee maker is a device that is designed to help you make cold brew at home. They generally come in two main designs. There are the immersion models that have infuser-type containers for your pre-ground coffee or there are the dripper-type models. This second option works similar to a drip coffee maker where the water contacts the coffee grounds in an upper level and the coffee is slowly trickled down into a lower container when it’s brewed.
A cold brew coffee maker can be a fun piece of kit to have and it does help speed up your cold brew coffee making. The final verdict is, you don’t need one of these devices to make cold brew but if you make a lot of the stuff and want to streamline the process then there’s no harm at all in getting one.
How to Make Perfect Cold Brew Coffee
To make the perfect cold brew coffee maker you will need some basic equipment. You’ll need a large mason jar or a pitcher to brew the coffee in and you’ll need some method of straining the coffee once it has brewed. A French press works well as does a pour-over set up (like the Chemex or Hario V60) with a paper filter. You could also use a cheesecloth or tea strainer.
A burr coffee grinder is best and a set of kitchen scales will help you to get the quantities just right.
Choose a dark roast coffee bean, the fresher the better. If possible, source your coffee from a local roaster. Grind the beans to a coarse grind size and only grind the exact amount you’re going to brew.
For best results use filtered water. Hard water contains minerals that affect the extraction of the coffee and can leave a bitter taste to the final result. Better tasting water brews better coffee. You can use very cold water right up to room temperature water.
To make cold brew concentrate add coffee to water at a 1:4 ratio so for 400ml water add 100g of coffee. This ratio brews a very bold, intense concentrate that you can top up with cold water to taste.
Add your coarsely ground coffee and water to the brew vessel and let it sit in the fridge or even at room temperature overnight. It’s best to give it at least 12 hours to fully infuse but more than 18 hours will start to cause it to get over-extracted.
Once the coffee is ready, pass it through the filter, cheesecloth, french press, etc to remove the coffee grounds.
You can store the concentrate in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
This coffee is excellent to enjoy cold, topped up with water and over ice or you can warm it up gently for a hot mug of java. The concentrate can also be used to make cold espresso-type drinks like iced lattes if you add cold milk to it.
Grind Size for Other Brew Methods – Coffee Grind Size Chart
Turkish coffee requires extremely fine grounds that are powdery like powdered sugar.
Espresso brewing needs a fine grind size but not as fine as Turkish coffee. Espresso grind is a tricky skill to master as it can vary with the type of coffee and espresso maker used. A bit of trial and error is typically needed.
Aeropress and Moka Pot
These two brew methods use the same grind coffee beans. They need a medium-fine grind that’s somewhere between table salt and sand.
Pour-Over and Drip Coffee
The exact grind size does vary depending on the set-up or kind of coffee machine used but typically these brew methods require a medium grind size. That’s somewhere between sand and sea salt in texture.
French Press and Percolator
Similar to cold brew these two brew methods require a coarser grind. It can range from a medium-coarse grind to a very coarse one and also depends on the coffee maker and kind of coffee used.
Cold brew coffee is a sweet and tasty way to brew coffee that’s low in acid and kind on your stomach. It’s very easy to brew and you can make a big batch and store it for later. You don’t really need any special equipment just make sure you use a very coarse ground coffee and filtered water and you’ll have the best-tasting java in no time.