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The Case for Cold Brew Coffee

Can You Stomach It?


Long gone are the days of squabbling over whether or not coffee should be best enjoyed black or with cream and sugar. That age-old argument has since snowballed to include pumpkin spice lattes versus peppermint mochas, pour-over versus French press and, more recently, a disagreement over hot versus cold coffee has entered the melee.

So what's the big brew-ha-ha? If you, like an estimated 60 million American adults, suffer from heartburn that can be induced by acidic beverages such as coffee, you might care a latte about the cold brew craze.
Behind the Brew

To make a hot pot of coffee, hot water is poured over coffee grounds at a ratio of roughly one ounce of coffee to eight ounces of hot water. The resulting liquid is separated from the coffee and consumed. With cold brew, coffee grounds are steeped in cold- or room-temperature water for 12 hours or more.

When coffee is made with hot water, bitter acids and fatty oils are released. That acidity is what causes some stomachs to revolt. "Cold brew coffee reduces acidity by approximately 68 percent over hot brew coffee," Daniel Noguera, Urbana Cafe founder and barista says.

Having never been exposed to high temperatures during the brewing process, cold brew beans leave the consumer with all the delicious coffee bean flavors and some of the caffeine. "Cold brew allows for more natural coffee notes to develop during the brewing process which allows for a richer cup of coffee," Noguera says.
The undesirable elements—those bitter oils and fatty acids—are left behind. Because of this, that you might find yourself drinking your cold-brew coffee black, as its lack of bitterness could have you leaving your favorite flavored creamer in the fridge.

Hot or Cold--You Decide

Despite their similar nomenclature, cold brew coffee and iced coffee are not the same. The difference lies—surprise!—in the brewing process. Iced coffee is typically brewed hot and then chilled by adding ice. A cold brew coffee concentrate, on the other hand, can be served hot or cold.

According to Noguera, these are the steps you should follow to make for making your own cold brew at home:

1) Acquire fresh, locally roasted coffee beans. (You will want to purchase your beans within three weeks of roasting to ensure the best taste.)

2) Grind the beans on the coarser side, similar to how they would be ground for a French press.

3) Add the ground beans and room temperature water into a Toddy (or similar) system, cover it with plastic and leave the system in the refrigerator for 12 to 16 hours.

4) Take the system out of the refrigerator and start the percolating process.

5) Pour yourself a nice glass of cold brew coffee.

To enjoy your cold brew coffee cold, use a few ounces of coffee concentrate and follow the ratio of one part cold brew to three parts ice, water and milk. For hot cold brew, use the same ratio, but incorporate hot water or hot milk instead. For best results, do not heat up the cold brew, but rather the other ingredients.


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Member Comments

    Thanks for sharing
  • Interesting read but in these times of instant gratification, waiting 12 hours for a cup of joe probably won't fly!
    Thanks for sharing
  • I think I will try this??
  • I love a cold brew. Now I know how it's made!
    Iím glad coffee doesnít bother me, Iím in my 70ís and so far, so good, and I do always have it black, hot or iced. Pity the poor person who canít just drink it made the usual way.
  • I wish you would have shared the system for cold brewing. I would love to check it out.
  • I didn't realize there was a system being sold. I just pour my grounds and water through a bit of cheesecloth in a colander to strain it. Cheesecloth gets washed in laundry for next use.
    Thanks for sharing
  • I recently made some cold brewed coffee but I didn't use any sort of fancy unit to make it. Similar to the steps found at http://lifehacker
    ender-1451774408. But instead I just put everything into a large mason jar and left it sit on the counter overnight. I found that information at stayroasted.com Once it was done and filtered, I popped it into the refrigerator. To enjoy some Cold Brew coffee I would then
    Add 1 part cold brew concentrate to 2-3 parts water, milk, or almond
    milk for a refreshing cold beverage.
    For Hot Coffee:
    I would add 1 part cold brew concentrate to 2-3 parts hot water Ė adjusting
    the water to your desired level of strength.

    I really enjoyed it so much better this way. Since I have the mason jars at home it was really easy to make in the mason jar. However, I think that I might pick up a mason jar coffee infuser - Just put coarse ground coffee beans in the filter, stir gently and let it sit in the fridge overnight or longer. Once done, you remove the filter basket and discard the grounds.
  • I buy a lot of different types of coffee beans. If I find one that's too acidic for my taste, I use it to make cold brew. It reduces the acidity.

    Once it's strained, I will either microwave it to have it hot (usually diluted with some hot water) or will leave it cold to enjoy as iced coffee.

    Thanks for sharing
  • Don't need a Toddy system or all that work. Try lifehacker.com/ma

    Love coffee just about any way!
  • I have never had cold brewed or iced coffee, but step 4 "Take the system out of the refrigerator and start the percolating process." how does one percolate the coffee? I stopped drinking coffee and some of it may be due to the acidity of it, but would be interested in trying this. Only there is no explanation as to what you mean by the percolating process. I will have to do some research online and see what I can find out

About The Author

Elizabeth Lowry Elizabeth Lowry
I'm a member of SparkPeople's editorial team and I write, edit and manage the content you read. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy cooking for my family and friends, running, strength training, teaching weekly spin classes and playing outside with my kids. I also love a good challenge and recently found that in Barre class. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good indulgence once in a while--wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things. I am grateful to be here, helping our members reach their own healthy living goals.