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.