If you’re new to the world of cold brew and need a primer on all things black ice-cold java, then this guide is for you!
Cold brew coffee has become increasingly popular in recent years, but what exactly is it? And how does cold brew compare to other beverages like regular black coffee, iced coffee, espresso, and Americano?
Let’s take a look at each type of coffee so you can make sure you’re getting the right one for your morning wake-up call.
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is what it sounds like – coffee that has been brewed using cold water. This method of making coffee requires a longer extraction time, usually 12 hours or longer, usually overnight.
- Cold brew concentrate requires a 1:4 ratio of coffee to water. That means for every 1 cup of ground beans, use 4 cups of cold filtered water.
- Mild cold brew requires a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water or a higher amount of water. This will provide a much lighter and milder flavor.
- What makes cold brew unique is that it’s a slow and cold extraction process, allowing the flavors to shine through in the finished product.
- The resulting brew is slightly smoother, with less acidity and less bitterness than traditional hot brewing methods.
- It is more full-bodied than other black coffee while also enhancing its natural sweetness.
Cold brew coffee can be made using either coarsely-ground beans or finely-ground beans.
- Depending on what flavor you’re looking for, you can find both light and dark roasts, or a mix of both that work well for cold brew, but you’ll want to experiment to get the taste just right to your preferences.
- Cold brewing extraction also requires more beans than other brewing methods—which means that it can get pricey if you don’t make it yourself at home.
- You can cold brew using a French press, a Chemex, a cold brew coffee maker, a jar, or even a commercial cold brewer.
- The key is to make sure that the grounds are completely immersed in water and don’t come into contact with air.
- Once the extraction is complete, you can strain the grounds using cheesecloth, a strainer, or a filter.
1. Black Drip Coffee vs Cold Brew
With regular black drip coffee, beans are ground down and brewed with hot water before being served. This method often results in a stronger flavor than other methods.
Cold brew doesn't require any heat during the process; instead, grounds are steeped in cool water over a long period. Because no heat is used during the brewing process, cold brew is less acidic due to its low-temperature production process.
2. Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew
Iced coffee is hot-brewed first, then cooled off and served over ice. It's a drip-brewed hot coffee or espresso that's been poured over ice or cooled quickly after brewing.
It typically has more of a bitter flavor and usually contains more acidity than cold brew due to its shorter brewing time (just minutes compared to hours). This results in an intensely flavored drink that may be too strong for some tastes.
Iced coffees are also typically served with milk or creamer (unlike cold brew) which can add sweetness to the flavor profile if desired.
On the other hand, cold brew needs no further cooling since it's already chilled from its lengthy brewing process! If you're looking for something smooth and full-bodied without needing extra sugar or cream for flavor — cold brew might be just what you need.
3. Espresso vs Cold Brew
Espresso is brewed under high pressure by forcing nearly boiling water through compacted finely ground dark roast coffee beans using an espresso machine. This creates a concentrated shot of strong caffeine that has a unique bitter taste and creamy texture.
Espresso has an intense flavor that packs quite a punch — but it can easily be too strong for some people. This black shot that's often mixed with frothed milk or cream to create lattes and cappuccinos.
On the other hand, cold brew coffee is made using coarsely ground roast beans that are steeped in water for at least 12 hours before being strained through filter paper or cloths. It's a non-concentrated version of the caffeine; resulting in a smoother taste without any bitterness from the espresso process itself.
4. Americano vs Cold Brew
Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water, resulting in an extended cup of joe with more volume than an espresso shot alone. This makes them weaker than straight espresso shots yet still much stronger than cold-brewed coffees.
Americanos tend to have more intense flavors as well as more caffeine per serving size than their cooler counterparts — making them ideal for those who need an extra kick throughout their day.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re looking for an even more unique experience — try experimenting with different brewing methods, beans, and roasts.
- You can also mix and match cold brew with other types of coffee for a truly one-of-a-kind cup!
- Typically cold brew can be drunk straight without adding any additional flavors, but if you're looking to add some subtle sweetness consider adding some simple syrups or creamers or milk to taste.
Need a proper gadget to make your cold brew cup? Check out top picks of best manual coffee makers in the blog post below and get one!
Explore all the possibilities that each one has to offer and find your favorite way to wake up each morning. Happy brewing!