Summer cold-brew coffee reminder

The sun's finally out in London, so it's time to repost last summer's cheap, easy, no-mess cold-brew coffee technique. This is the best cup of coffee you're likely to drink this summer.

I bought a $10 "nut-milk" bag and a plastic pitcher. Before bed, I ground up about 15 Aeropress scoops' (570 ml) worth of espresso roast coffee -- the $20 Krups grinder is fine for this, take no notice of people who claim the blade overheats and burns the beans; it doesn't even get warm -- leaving the beans coarse. I filled the bag with the grind, put it in the bottom of the empty pitcher like a huge tea-bag, and topped up the pitcher with tap water (distilled water would have been better -- fewer dissolved solids means that it'll absorb more of the coffee solids, but that's not a huge difference). I wedged the top of the bag between the lid and the pitcher and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I took the bag out of the pitcher and gave it a good squeeze to get the liquor out of the mush inside. Add water to the pitcher to fill to the brim and voila, amazing cold-brew. You can dilute it 1:1 or even further.

Cleanup was easy: invert the bag over a composter, trashcan or garbage disposal, rinse off the bag, and you're ready to go.

This produced very, very good coffee concentrate, with only a little grit settled into the bottom 3mm of the pitcher (easy to avoid). It may just be the cheapest and easiest cold-brewing method I've yet tried.

See also: HOWTO attain radical hotel-room coffee independence

(Image: cold brew experiment, Dennis Tang, CC-BY-SA)

Notable Replies

  1. The Toddy et al all seem like serious overkill for what should be completely simple: steep coffee grounds in cold water for a long time.

    I was looking at this brewer (just a glass carafe with a fine metal filter), but I also like the simplicity of a nut bag (seen yesterday at my Whole Foods) with a Mason jar.

    Even better to my mind would be a metal filter that fits in a Mason jar. Do any exist that are the right size? Could I make $$$$ by jumping into the (now probably fading) Mason jar-accessories fad and producing a metal filter that fit just right? (No, but someone else could.)

  2. I usually have mine hot. I mix the cold brewed liquor with hot water about 1:2. The coldbrew steeped for a few days is more concentrated than most folks like their coffee, so treat it like the worlds smoothest Americano.

  3. I use a french press. Add a bit more coffee than I would for regular hot french press style, fill with cold water and stir a bit, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge overnight (without the press part of the french press). Next day, take it out, put the press part on and press gently down, then pour resulting liquid through a paper filter (I use a Melitta thing that takes #4 filters) to get any remaining grit out. Makes enough cold brew concentrate to last my wife and I 2 or 3 days. (We don't drink a lot of coffee, YMMV.) Works great.

    I also sometimes make several Aeropress batches in a row and then chill it all. That works great too, and the result is tastier than the cold brew (IMHO), but the cold brew is waaaay easier and quicker. (Well, quicker to prepare. Obviously the Aeropress coffee is ready immediately, but takes more of my effort to make...)

  4. Does anyone have a good source for a disposable/paper filter that can be used for cold brew? The reason I want disposable vs the nut bag is that the lazy person in me wants to throw the whole thing in the compost when finished.

    The closest I've seen on Amazon is something like which looks like a giant tea bag to me. Haven't tried it yet.

  5. Reporting back.

    I have an electric kettle with different heat settings, so I set it for 200ºF (French Press setting) and used that to bring up the bloom before adding cold water and putting the brew in the fridge overnight. I wouldn't say there was a large noticeable difference, but enough that it's worth it to me (because I have an easy way to set the temp) to do it that way again. If you have to fuss with a thermometer it's probably not worth it, however.

    I can't prove it, but presumably the heat would bring out some of the acidity and oils that cold brew -- by design -- does not.

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