You see all these fancy cafes around selling cold-brew coffee in little glass bottles for $5 to $7 a pop. This can be done at home for a fraction of the cost! Cold-brew coffee tastes so good because it doesn't use heat to make it, so there is no heat to upset the chemical balance of the coffee.
There is art and skill involved in all methods of making coffee. Surprisingly though, cold-brew is definitely not one of the more difficult ones. In fact, it might be one of the easiest! The main reason these little brown bottles of joy cost so much is not skill, nor equipment. It is time.
Whilst it is relatively easy, it does take a long time. Thankfully the effort is really only a few minutes, the rest of the time is in waiting.
Here are some basic instructions on what to do. You really only need a couple of jars or bottles, a funnel, paper towel (or a paper filter if you feel fancy, or even a very thin cheesecloth) and some way to have the coffee ground up. In summary you need:
- 2 jars
- a filter (paper towel, coffee filter or cloth filter)
- ground coffee
Step 1: Grind Your Coffee
Grind your coffee. There are several options here and really this is the only time I'm going to recommend a coffee-making-oriented solution.
This solution is GET A COFFEE GRINDER. I bought a bur grinder, one with a hopper at the top (the glass funnel thing). If you have one, great, if you don't, get on Gumtree, Craigslist, eBay, whatever. I got a Delonghi one for $20 and it beats the pants off any bullet grinder. Bullet grinders are difficult to use, burn the coffee beans and are really inconsistent. You can use a bullet/blade/blender grinder, but be warned, it won't be an enjoyable experience.
If you don't want to grind coffee, get your coffee provider to do it or buy it from the supermarket pre-ground. I'll give you an interesting statistic: a coffee barista told me that coffee grounds have an expected life of 15 minutes. Pre-ground from the supermarket? You're buying stuff that was dead and buried a long time ago. It'll do if you want one step up from instant coffee, but I'm thinking if you're reading this, you want something a bit more fancy.
Step 2: Get Ground Coffee Into a Jar and Put Water in It
Grind heaps of coffee or use heaps of pre-ground stuff. If you have a 1.5 Litre (imperial units be damned) jar, put 100 grams of coffee in. Honestly I never really measure it, but that feels about right. You could put half or double in, it would just make it stronger or weaker, but there's a point of saturation so don't overdo it or you're just wasting coffee beans.
Pour room-temperature water into the jar and fill it up nearly to the top. Mix it up with a spatula or a spoon.
You could also use a whisk if you want to be pointless and inefficient.
Step 3: Leave the Jar Lying Around and Then Put It in the Fridge
Put the jar in the corner and feel really cool about yourself. Leave it there for 18 to 24 hours - I had to edit this guide when my coffee-judge cousin nearly fell off her chair when I originally said 'a few days'. I went with her recommendation and it tasted great! Ambient temperature might play a factor so don't leave it in direct sunlight. Here's a guide - if you feel hot in the same room, it's too hot.
Once this time has passed, put the jar in the fridge. My fridge door started to crack from the size of this jar so I now put this jar in the vegetable tray at the bottom. If you put it on it's side make sure it doesn't leak - coffee tastes great but looks horrible as a brown stain on your fridge shelf!
Step 4: Take the Jar Out of the Fridge and Prepare to Filter
Take the jar out of the fridge once it is chilled. I leave the method to you but I prefer to use my hands.
Get the things you need to filter the coffee.
The filter can be:
- a paper filter for a percolator
- a filter for a drip-filter
- or what I use, a generic paper towel. The thinner the better!
Get a funnel. I have an Aeropress which comes with a weird hexagonal funnel. It fits the need perfectly.
Step 5: Filter the Coffee
Put the funnel into the top of the second jar. Put the paper towel into the top of the funnel and tuck the edges of the 'filter' inside the funnel. If you don't, the coffee will drip outside the jar. If you use a proper filter you should be fine to just sit it in the top.
Pour the coffee into the funnel slowly, taking care you don't mix up the coffee grounds - it's best if the coffee grounds stay at the bottom of the jar. It will filter through slowly so don't overfill it.
When it gets low in the funnel, top it up. The filtering should get slower and slower. Once it is too slow, take the paper towel out and wash it. Yes, you can reuse a paper towel! Put it back in, or if you're lazy just throw the paper towel out and put a new one in.
Step 6: Finish Filtering
Keep going until you're finished, and then take the paper towel out and gently wring it out; carefully though, it could easily burst open and put grounds into your beautifully filtered brew. You should get another half a drink's worth if you squeeze it out well.
Step 7: Look at the Coffee and Then Drink It
See this picture. It glows golden brown.
That's because I shone a torch behind it. Well it looked cool.
Drink it up good. It will taste light and almost tea-like, but it is very strong in caffeine.
By the time I have filtered one lot I wash the first jar out and start filtering again. I never really run out that way.