Easy Cold Brew Coffee!
....with no special equipment needed!
And recipes for two flavors: Orange Vanilla and Coconut Pecan Cold Brew!
You can make incredibly smooth, deep, naturally sweet cold brew coffee at home, and with no special equipment needed! Cold Brew will quickly become your warm weather pick-me-up beverage of choice.
First, let's get our terms straight! Cold brew is not the same as iced coffee or a blended coffee drink.
Cold brew is a coarser ground coffee, extracted in cool water over an 18-24 hour period. Because the coffee grounds are not heated, some of the more bitter molecule are not released, giving cold-brewed coffee and entirely different flavor profile and overall sweeter, smoother taste. It is also less acidic and therefore easier on the stomach!
Iced coffee is typically strongly-brewed hot coffee, which is then poured over ice. Even though it is stronger to begin with, the amount of ice needed to cool it often results in a watery tasting drink.
A blended coffee drink is brewed coffee, usually espresso, processed in a blender with ice and often a myriad of sugary syrups and flavorings.
Even though cold brew coffee seems like a recent fad, it's actually been around for hundreds of years! The earliest record of cold brewed coffee is Japan in the 1600s, although many believe it is possible that they learned about it from Dutch traders.
You can make plain cold brew coffee, or try one of my fun flavor suggestions- there are directions for both! It's easy to make healthy flavored coffee using the cold brewing method.
Recipes for Plain, Orange Vanilla, and Coconut Pecan cold brew coming right up!
1/2 cup coarse ground coffee
optional: orange peel and vanilla bean
optional: toasted pecans and shredded coconut
pint mason jar or something similar with a lid
paper towels or cloth tea towel
colander or fine mesh sieve
Step 1: Bean Selection & Grinding
Start with the highest-quality beans you can get- to me this means organic, fair-trade, and from a reputable source. Good beans make all the difference! And life is too short to drink bad coffee, am I right?!
Grind the beans coarsely, and as close to brew-time as possible. If you don't have a grinder at home, buy them from a store with a grinder available right there in the coffee aisle. If the beans are from a coffee shop, they will be more than happy to grind them coarsely for you!
What is Coarse Ground?
A coarse grind looks chunky, with distinct particles... kind of like potting soil, or a little rougher than coarse cornmeal.
Do not overfill your grinder- if the beans don't have enough room to move around, you risk totally pulverizing the grounds on the bottom and leaving the ones towards the top too big.
Step 2: Start the Cold Brew
The grounds to water ratio we will use for brewing is approximately 1:4, which will give us a stronger than average cup of coffee. Making it over-strong will give us plenty of room to dilute with ice and milk!
This recipe makes one very large serving or two smaller. Feel free to double or even quadruple this recipe to make more servings. Cold brew coffee will last in the refrigerator for weeks!
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
Measure out 1/2 cup of coarse coffee grounds and 1 3/4 - 2 cups filtered water.
Put the coffee grounds in the bottom of a pint-sized mason jar.
If making the Vanilla Orange or Coconut Pecan Cold Brew, proceed to the next step.
If making plain Cold Brew without flavoring, skip ahead to Step 4.
Step 3: Add Flavorings: Orange Vanilla or Coconut Pecan
Orange Vanilla Flavored Cold Brew Coffee
1/4 of a vanilla bean
2-inch piece of orange peel
First, cut the vanilla bean in half across the middle (the short way). Then cut one of the halves in half the long way, exposing the tiny seeds inside, giving you the most flavor potential.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove an approximately 1-inch wide section of orange peel that is 2-inches long. Use a spoon to scrape off and remove any white pith from the back of the peel.
Place the section of vanilla bean and the orange peel in the jar with the coffee grounds.
Coconut Pecan Flavored Cold Brew Coffee
1 Tbs toasted chopped pecans
1 Tbs finely ground coconut
To toast the pecans, in a dry skillet on medium-low heat, cook one tablespoon chopped raw pecans until they almost (but not quite!) start to brown. Your nose is the best indicator- as soon as you start to smell them, they are about finished.
Place the toasted pecans (still warm is just fine) along with the coconut into the jar with the coffee grounds.
Step 4: Add Water & Start Brewing
Pour 1 3/4 to 2 cups of cold, filtered water over the coffee grounds (and flavoring ingredients, if using them); basically fill the pint jar to the top. Stir to combine, making sure there are no dry pockets of coffee that are hiding in the water, and then screw the lid onto the jar.
Let Brew at Room Temperature
I know it's called "cold brew," but allow the brew to sit at room temperature for 18-24 hours. The cold temperature of the refrigerator will slow down the coffee extraction.
The longer the coffee brews, the deeper the flavor.
However, don't let it go much past 24 hours, as you will start to encourage mold growth.
Step 5: Strain the Cold Brew and Grounds
Prepare a straining device that will filter out both the larger particles and the smaller "silt." After the coffee is finished brewing, you will see that most of the grounds are resting at the bottom of the jar- this is good! Leave them there; don't shake or mix up the coffee and grounds before straining.
My preferred method is to line a medium-sized fine mesh sieve with a single layer of paper towel and pour the cold brew through it and into a bowl. Pour gently and slowly so you don't rip the paper towel or overflow the strainer.
There are a few other straining options that will work as well, depending on what you have available.
Try lining a colander with a paper towel or cloth tea towel and pouring the grounds and brew through that. A french press coffee maker will also work- just pour the water and grounds in and use the plunger as you normally would when brewing hot coffee.
Step 6: Stash in the Refrigerator... and Then Drink!
Pour the strained coffee concentrate into a clean pint jar, screw on the lid and store in the fridge.
Tip! After pouring the grounds and cold brew through the stainer and into a bowl, while waiting for it to finish draining I dump the spent grounds into the compost bucket, rinse the jar out, and then re-use it to store the coffee!
You can drink your cold brew immediately after straining, or you can stash it in the refrigerator for a later time or to cool it down.
To make a cup, dilute with desired amount of water, milk, half and half, cream, or milk-alternative.
This coffee will be strong, so if you don't take cream or milk in your coffee, you will likely want to dilute with some water. Start by adding one tablespoon of cold water at a time, tasting between each addition to get to your desired strength.
I prefer 1 cup of cold brew coffee and 1/4 cup half and half for the perfect cup! Sugar won't dissolve very well in cold liquids- so use a simple syrup or other liquid sweetener if you like your cold brew sweetened!