August 21, 2018 4 min read

What is cold brew coffee and how to make it?

Coffee aficionadi around the world have long sought new ways to enjoy their favourite drink, and cold-brewed coffee is the latest in a long line of trends to make headlines.

But what does the term ‘cold brewed coffee’ even mean, and how can you make your own using a simple French press?

What is cold brewed coffee

Simply put, cold brew or cold brewed coffee is the result of steeping coffee grounds in cold water (or room temperature water) before drinking. Often this process takes several hours, leading many to opt to cold-brew their coffee overnight or store it in a fridge or cupboard away from sources of heat and light.

Whilst most are used to brewing coffee hot, this alternate process is growing in popularity as a way of achieving a distinctive taste, as the absence of heat and lengthy brewing time achieves a very different drink to hot-water methods.

Following brewing, the coffee grounds can be added to many different drinks or consumed as they are.

When was cold brew coffee invented

The earliest recorded cold brew coffee methods stem from Japan and dates from the 1600s. Kyoto-style coffee, so named due to its high popularity in the Kyoto region, has unclear origins, with some suggesting the Japanese may have discovered it after interaction with Dutch traders, who cold-brewed coffee for preservation on lengthy sea voyages.

As with following cold-brew methods, Kyoto-style coffee involved quite an elaborate process, including an even lengthier process than cold-brew coffees of today, with water fed onto coffee grounds drop by drop. There has been a resurgence of this laborious process amongst some coffee mixologists in recent years, adding a sense of drama to the drink.

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Cold brew coffee healthier than usual coffee

Cold brew coffee enthusiasts often make some suggestions as to the relative health of the drink versus other brewing methods. This is because brewing coffee cold over a 12-24 hour period (versus a more low-maintenance hot brew) changes the structure of the nutrients which are drawn from the coffee grounds.

First and foremost, the coffee will be less acidic - though this does not necessarily mean it will be healthier. There are few studies which have yet been carried out comparing conventional hot brew coffee and cold brew coffee, though cold brewing has been seen to decrease the antioxidant content of your cup, so there’s a chance hot coffee still has a slight edge over cold-brewing. For more antioxidants, opt for hot brewing – for less acid content, and therefore less harmful to your teeth, go for a cold brew.

How do I make cold brew coffee with a French press

There’s no need to buy a dedicated cold brewed coffee maker. Making cold brew needn’t be a laborious process. If you have a French press at home and regularly buy your own coffee beans, it’s something you can certainly try for yourself.

To make your cold-brew coffee, grind 2/3 of a cup of coffee beans and place them in your French press. Next, add three cups of water, preferably at room temperature. Stir the grinds into the water, then put the French press in your fridge for at least 12 hours

Delicious Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Recipe

Looking for the ideal drink to enjoy on summer days when you still need that caffeine fix? Then this simple cold-brewed iced coffee recipe is just the ticket!

Easy steps to make cold brew coffee:

  • Pour a cup of ground coffee beans into your chosen container - and fill the container with water.
  • Place the container in a fridge for approximately 12-24 hours.
  • Find your favourite ice cube tray, fill with water and pop it in the freezer alongside your coffee.
  • Strain your coffee using a filter or your French press (if using).
  • Add milk, or cream, or simply serve in the coffee’s natural state. Pop in a few ice cubes and voila! You have a refreshing cold-brewed iced coffee.

Cold Brewed Coffee and Alcohol Recipe Ideas

Why not mix your strained, cold-brewed coffee with alcohol for an extra-special treat? Great combinations include gin, beer and vodka – simply partner your tipple of choice with your coffee and your favourite mixer or tonic water for a refreshing beverage ideal for sharing.

Trends in cold-brew coffee

Cold brew coffee has taken off in a big way in the UK, with trendy coffee houses offering their own spin on the drink and stores up and down the country serving the coffee in artistically designed bottles which emphasise the specialness of the drink. Some companies also sell their own jugs designed precisely for making cold brew coffee. No matter what method you use to make sure you always buy the best coffee beans you can afford. Having the best quality ingredients increases the likelihood of you being able to replicate the best coffees you normally have only been able to enjoy at more expensive coffee shops.


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