On one hand, you could (quite rightly) claim that yes…cold brew coffee is just about the most fool-proof coffee you can make. It’s also perhaps the easiest, cheapest and most convenient brewing method there is, requiring no specialist equipment whatsoever.
Best of all, get it right with a batch of cold brew coffee and you’re looking at one of the smoothest, silkiest and most enjoyable drinks known to mankind.
That said, to take things for granted is to set yourself up for a big disappointment. Cold brew coffee is almost fool-proof, but things can nevertheless get messed up along the way.
If you’re out to produce a batch of quality cold brew concentrate, here are a few common mistakes to be avoided at all costs:
First up, cold brewing produces a rich and decadent concentrate that brings out all the subtle flavors of the grounds. Hence, unless you start out with the highest quality coffee beans in the first place, the final result is going to be substandard. Using generic beans to produce cold brew coffee means risking a flat, boring, bland or bitter final product you’ll get little to no pleasure out of.
As the cold brew method takes time, you don’t need to grind your beans nearly as finely as you normally would. You’ll be steeping them for a good 24 hours or so, meaning you can get away with much coarser grounds. There’s room for experimentation, but keeping things on the course side is the way to go with cold brew coffee.
Experimentation also holds the key to nailing the right coffee to water ratio, in accordance with your own tastes and preferences. There’s no concrete role as to how much coffee you should be using for a specific quantity of water - it depends entirely on how you prefer your coffee. Use basic guidelines to get started if you wish, but feel free to experiment until you nail the right ratio.
Again, the beauty of cold brew coffee lies in the way it brings out all the subtle flavors of the coffee…and the water you use. There are some minerals in water that are essential for brewing a cold brew cup of coffee, though can also adversely affect the flavor when present in excessive quantities. Tap water is usually ok, but run it through a filter before brewing and you’ll notice a big difference.
Last up, don’t let your enthusiasm or impatience get the better of you at the last moment. You’ve allowed your cold brew to do its thing for at least 12 hours or so - why spoil things now by rushing the straining process? Take your time with a decent sheet of cheesecloth and a strainer, filtering the liquid slowly and applying no physical force whatsoever. In addition, resist the temptation to ‘squeeze out’ the last few remnants, or you’ll end up with a cloudy and unpleasant final product.
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