Romancing the Bean In Cold Brew Coffee

homemade cold brew coffee poured over ice
Pouring our homemade cold brew coffee over ice

Cold brew coffee is the latest coffee sensation, and for good reason!  Pour it over ice and it’s refreshing in the summer heat.  Drink it hot and it’s so much smoother than the typical hot drip.

For years many have cautioned against coffee use, but the latest research shows that there are quite a few health benefits to drinking up to three cups of coffee a day.

  1. It can help fight all kinds of diseases, including Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart and liver diseases, and dying prematurely.
  2. It boosts your brainpower by sharpening memory and keeping you alert. It is also associated with a decreased risk of depression.
  3. The caffeine in coffee can speed up your metabolism and fat-burning processes. This can ward off obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Plus, black coffee is one of the lowest calorie drinks you can choose.

While we’re not sure of exactly why coffee has all these benefits, researchers believe it may be tied to the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and polyphenols that are in coffee.

Cold brew coffee, in particular, has more health advantages than hot drip coffee because it’s less acidic, making it easier on the digestive system.  This is particularly better for those who struggle with acid reflux, heartburn or a sensitive stomach.  Additionally, less acid means it’s smoother.  Many find that they don’t need as much sugar, cream or milk that add all those calories – so it’s even better for those trying to watch their weight and control sugar and fat intake.

Homemade-Cold-Brew-Coffee_on ice
Delicious and refreshing!

So, why is there less acid in cold brew coffee?  Well, it basically boils down to time replacing heat.  The hot drip or brew releases certain fatty acids and oils, such as ketones, esters and amides, that are only soluble at higher temperatures.  These often come to the surface of your hot cup of coffee and cause that “bitter” taste.  This is also why 8 out of 10 people attempt to soften that acidic taste with calorie bombs of sugar, milk and or cream.

The beauty of cold brew is that the coffee beans are never exposed to the high heat that releases those fatty acids and oils.  Instead, room temperature water gently coaxes the subtle notes of flavor out of the beans without compromising flavor or our need for caffeine.  In many ways, it’s like a romance that gently unfolds, leaving us thoroughly satisfied without that bitter taste in our mouth.  Deep down, we realize that this is how coffee was meant to be!

All of this is great news, until you go to your local specialty coffee house and see the exorbitant prices for this delicious cup of yum!  Aficionados give us several guidelines for cold brewing at home.  coffee bean storage canisterFirst, get whole bean coffee and coarsely grind it, or it will cause the coffee to be cloudy.  The beans don’t actually have to be the best (read “expensive”) coffee, or the freshest.  Just be sure your beans aren’t more than a month old and have been stored properly.  Use about ¾ cup beans to 4 cups of room temperature water, stir, cover and let soak for 12 – 24 hours.  The longer the beans soak, the more intense and concentrated the flavor and the caffeine level.  Just be sure to not go much over 24 hours or the beans will be “over-extracted” and cause bitterness, which defeats the whole process!

If you’re not using one of the cold brew pots that have built-in filters, you’ll need to strain your concentrate through cheese cloth a couple of times.  Cold brew coffee potfrench press cold brew coffee potYou can also use a French Press pretty effectively as well, but it should be strained at least once.  It can then be poured over ice, or diluted with hot or cold water to your taste and temperature preferences.  Yes, cold brew coffee makes a delicious HOT cup of coffee!  Add sugar and creamer if you like, but you’ll find you won’t need as much because the coffee is much smoother.

The finished concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.  We recommend no more than a week, but we can never make it last that long!