If I were to ask you to picture a cup of coffee, you are probably thinking of a hot brown liquid in a mug or take out cup from your favourite coffeehouse, with a little bit of steam rising out of the crema, mmm… lovely!
However, this isn’t the only way to enjoy your cup of Joe. Please let me introduce you to cold brew coffee, a drink that is thought to date back as far as 16th century China.
You would be forgiven for confusing cold brew coffee with similar cold coffee drinks such as iced coffee as cold brew is often marketed that way. However, there are differences that make for a completely different coffee experience.
However, questions remain about Iced coffee and number one is how to keep it fresh so that it can be prepared in advance and poured into a glass as and when you fancy a nice cooling drink of cold brew. Read on to find out more.
So What Is The Difference Between Iced Coffee and Cold Brew Coffee?
- What Is Iced Coffee? – This is a coffee brewed in the same way that you would a regular hot coffee using hot coffee to extract the flavor from the beans. The only difference is that you then pour the hot coffee over ice to cool it down.
- PROS – This results in a refreshing drink that is quick to make and has the same flavor as your usual hot coffee, just cold- ideal for Summer!
- CONS – Sometimes the addition of extra water from the melting ice can dilute the coffee, resulting in a watery, less flavorful drink
Cold Brew Coffee
- What is cold brew coffee? – The ‘cold’ in cold brew doesn’t actually refer to the temperature of the drink itself but rather the brewing process. Instead of using heat to extract the flavor, the ground beans are left in room temperature water for at least 12 hours (often more) and it is time instead that does the extraction.
- PROS – As there is no dilution factor from the addition of ice, the result is a smoother tasting drink that loses none of its flavors. It is also said to extract fewer acidic compounds than its hot brewed counterpart  making for a less bitter taste and may be of particular benefit to those suffering from reflux and heartburn.
- CONS – Whereas hot brewed coffee can go from bean to cup in a matter of minutes, cold brew takes a long time. However, with a little bit of advanced planning, it could instead be a time saver as cold brew can be stored in the fridge for a relatively long time
How Do You Store Cold Brew Coffee?
If you want the smooth flavour of cold brew but the convenience of hot brew, then being able to store a batch in the fridge, ready for you to sip when you fancy, is a must, but what are the rules?
Does cold brew coffee go bad if not refrigerated?
On average cold brew will keep for ten days in the fridge, although flavors may start to degrade from day seven. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy your drink without the effort of having to brew fresh every day.
I’m definitely guilty for brewing my hot coffee in the morning then forgetting to finish drinking it halfway through. If you are anything like me, you’ll know that regular coffee that’s been left to sit around for hours on end develops that stale taste. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with cold brew and you will find that the flavor actually improves and becomes more intense as the coffee concentrates over time.
The resulting concentrate will be very strong and highly caffeinated so you will want to dilute it with your choice of water, milk, or cream without losing flavor as you might find with iced coffee. This wonderfully concentrated flavor is highly versatile and can even be used in baking, cocktails, and ice cream.
How to increase the shelf life of cold brew coffee
To increase the shelf life of home made cold brew coffee still further, the drink will need to be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. Commercially made cold brew will use pasteurizing techniques to allow storage for several months!
Can I Reuse Cold Brew Coffee Grounds?
It is not something I personally recommend but in theory you can reuse cold brew coffee grounds. I have heard stories from various friends that they do indeed reuse their cold brew grounds and indeed enjoy the less intense flavor. Its a personal taste thing of course. You can also add other condiments like syrups, milk or cream to enhance the flavors.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Fridge Storing Hacks
- Try making a batch and storing it in the fridge.
- Use coarse ground beans in a 1:8 coffee to water ratio for a ready-to-drink beverage.
- If you want to start out with a concentrate for dilution in other coffee-based drinks or the applications mentioned above, such as baking, try a 1:4 ratio.
- Tastes vary between individuals so play about with the ratios until you find what’s right for you.
Whilst the process starts with room temperature water, it’s important that you keep the cold brew in the fridge to maintain freshness and you’ll also want to keep it in a covered container. Whilst there are fancy purpose made containers, a clean mason jar should do the trick just fine. You’ll just want to ensure that you stick with a glass or ceramic container as metal or plastic have the potential to change the flavor of your cold brew. Happy brewing!