Smooth and less bitter than filter coffee and iced coffee, cold brew is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
Sales have more than tripled since 2015, with sales expected to hit nearly $ 372 million this year and nearly $ 1 billion in 2025. That’s a lot of coffee at $ 4, the list price of a 20 oz mug at Starbucks. A 40-ounce container of Stok’s cold coffee costs almost $ 5 at the grocery store.
What is cold brew coffee? Is it really different from iced coffee? How do people get so addicted? Sometimes all it takes is that Starbucks first cold brew, and they’re all in it. It is so good.
“Hot coffee takes too long to drink and there are so many ways it can go wrong. The cold brew is more filling and I can drink it right away, ”said Susan O’Neil, project coordinator for the city of Chicago. “I’ve been drinking 20 to 40 ounces a day since I stopped drinking soda.”
With the majority of commercial cold brews sold in plastic containers, why add more plastic to the environment? Reduce waste and get better taste when brewing cold coffee at home.
How is cold brew coffee different anyway?
What is a cold brew? It is deceptively simple. The cold brew is a coffee made from water and ground coffee. Instead of brewing it hot, a concentrate is made by soaking the grounds in water for 8 hours or more. Then it is filtered and ready to be diluted with water or milk, and enjoyed hot or cold. Cafes often use a 1: 4 ratio of concentrate to water.
The charm of cold brew is the absence of acid. Not only does the cold brew feel smoother as you drink it, the absence of acid means it’s less bitter and other natural flavors are more pronounced. The cold brew also allows the added flavors to really shine. Some coffee drinkers might find the cold brew bland without the complexity of the acid.
Does cold brew coffee have more caffeine? Depends on who you ask. Coffee retailers claim it does, but exploring the details often shows that they are referring to the cold brew concentrate, which is even more diluted for the drink.
Hot brewed coffee grounds have more of everything extracted because of the heat: flavors, acid and caffeine. Cold brew doesn’t extract as much as all of this because the coffee / water ratio is higher. People drink larger portions of cold brew than of hot coffee.
Decaffeinated coffee drinkers don’t have to despair – you can brew a cold brew with decaffeinated coffee beans. It tastes much better than the old hot decaffeinated coffee poured over ice that you usually end up getting in a store.
How is cold brew coffee different from iced coffee?
Iced coffee is chilled hot coffee. It may have been brewed hours before, then refrigerated or poured over ice to serve. Since it has been hot brewed, all of the oils and acids in the coffee beans are extracted and end up in the brew.
Cold brew is more expensive to buy in a cafe because it requires more attention. Figuring out the right amount to prepare for the next day without running out too soon takes trial and error.
“We use a specific coffee for our cold brew (Vesuvio blend from Batdorf auf Bronson),” says Teresa Vidal Chalkley, owner of The Chelsea St. Pete, a café that opened in the midst of the pandemic in St. Petersburg, in Florida. “There’s a pound of coffee for a gallon of nice spring water, with a little bit of minerals in it. Then we filter it with bamboo and fabric filters.
Prepare a cold brew at home
Buying cold brew every day can cost over $ 1,400 per year. If you like to drink cold coffee and know how to plan ahead, make cold brew concentrate at home and save 50% or more.
Before splurging on a $ 100 Fellow Clara French Press, for example, take a look around your house and see if you have a pint or larger Mason jar, coffee filters, ground coffee, and coffee. water. This will suffice to start.
Three scenarios for Cold Brew at home
We will offer you three scenarios to suit your budget so that you can brew cold coffee at home. There is a system for all budgets and tastes. Once you know how to do it, you can create your own recipes.
Chalkley uses a pound of coffee in a gallon to make cold brew concentrate. You can play around with the ratio for any taste you like. The cold brew can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator without losing flavor. Don’t want to make a concentrate? Use 3 ounces, or about two and a half spoons, for a quart of water.
(almost) no budget
The cheapest way to make a cold brew is using things you have around the house. No need for cold infuser. You’ll need a lidded jar (ideally a well-cleaned mason or spaghetti jar), coffee filters, a strainer, ground coffee, and of course water. The basic cold brew ratio is 1: 4, or 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. It is not necessary to use cold water, but filtered water is fine.
Use coarsely ground coffee beans (most grocery stores have grinders there). Put your coffee in the pot, add the water and shake well. You can either refrigerate it or set it aside. Let it steep for at least eight hours.
Once enough time has passed, put a coffee filter in the strainer and place it on a glass or wide-mouthed jar. Let the coffee filter slowly (squeeze gently if it takes too long). Taste and add more water if it is too strong.
Cost: $ 388 for coffee and filters for one year.
Straining coffee is the least fun part of brewing cold coffee. Using a French press eliminates most of the anxiety. The French press not only makes coffee grounds easy to clean, but you can also make a cold brew concentrate that will last for several days. A French press can cost $ 10 to $ 40. Make sure you buy one that contains at least 20 ounces.
There are many devices specially designed for cold brew coffee. The Toddy (named after Todd Simpson, who first popularized cold brew coffee in the United States in the 1960s) starts around $ 40. Similar systems like the $ 18 Primula Burke come with bottoms that unscrew, so it’s easier to empty the coffee grounds.
Grinding your beans fresh for each batch of cold brew coffee will result in brighter, more flavorful coffee. Coffee grinders cost from $ 16 to hundreds. Using filtered water also helps brew a more delicious cup.
Experts recommend against using expensive coffee beans for cold brew coffee. Now is not the time to take out the Kona. However, using decent coffee beans only improves your morning coffee.
Cost: $ 500 to $ 780 per year (equipment included)
Money is not an object
“Coffee tastes better in cafes like ours because we have better equipment,” says Chalkley of The Chelsea St. Pete. You can also have a superior cold brew system at home with Toddy’s Pro Series for $ 500.
If you need your cold brew NOW, look for the Cuisinart Cold Brew Coffee Maker that promises cold brew coffee in 25-40 minutes by shaking up the coffee grounds. The retail price is around $ 200, but you can find it for sale online for around half the price on Amazon and other retailers.
Cost: $ 1,020 for a year (not much less than buying at a cafe).
5 tips for making cold brew coffee at home
- When using a French press, first put the coffee grounds in a jar and shake it well. Then pour it into the French press. It’s less messy.
- You don’t need to use cold water. Water at room temperature is good. It is best to use filtered water.
- Let the mixture sit uncovered for a few minutes so that the natural gases can escape.
- Get creative with your cold brew concentrate! Add a stick of cinnamon, chili, or other flavoring to the water while it is steeping.
- Add hot water to your cold brew concentrate for a warm, creamy drink with a 1: 3 ratio of concentrate to water.
Penny Hoarder’s collaborator, JoEllen Schilke, writes on topics related to lifestyle and culture. She is the former owner of a cafe in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has hosted an art exhibit on WMNF community radio for almost 30 years.
This was originally posted on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through practical and inspiring advice, as well as to resources on how to earn, save and manage money.