The preparation of coffee, the world’s most consumed beverage, has always been done in largely the same way around the globe. The beans are crushed or ground and steeped in hot water to achieve the desired strength and consistency.
However, in some parts of the world they’ve done things a bit differently. Also known as Kyoto coffee, the cold brewing method has been used in Japan since the 1600’s, and this method of preparation has been gaining popularity around the globe over the last few years.
What is Cold Brewed Coffee?
Not to be confused with iced coffee, cold brew is a long and gentle process by which the coarsely ground beans are steeped in cold water, usually overnight or for 24 hours. The mixture is then strained and the result is a highly concentrated, deeply flavorful coffee concentrate that is then diluted and served cold or at room temperature.
Why Choose Cold Brew?
Experts say that with the absence of heat the natural flavors of the bean are able to develop more slowly and to their fullest potential, which results in a more authentic taste compared with other brewing methods which rely on heat to extract the flavor, often resulting in a more muted taste.
This gentler method also results in less acidity in the finished product, which is great news for coffee lovers who have had to eliminate acidic foods and drinks from their diet. Health reasons aside, the reduction in the acid level of cold brew also serves to allow the fruit and floral notes that are naturally present in the coffee to shine through.
Specialty coffees like Finca Deborah’s Panama Geisha are particularly well suited to the cold brew method. This is not to say Geisha doesn’t hold up to a hot brewing method, it does, but with a well steeped cold brew Geisha bursts with jasmine and citrus notes this particular varietal is known for.
Specialty coffee shops around the world are seeing great results when cold brewing Panama geisha. In addition, coffee houses in the trendy neighborhood of Gangnam in Seoul, South Korea are seeing a surge in the popularity of Panama Geisha among clients, with cold brew as an addition to many of their tasting sets.
How is Cold Brewed Coffee Prepared?
The preparation of cold brewed coffee is simple. Measure a ratio of 1 part coarsely ground coffee with 4.5 parts water. Combine these in a glass container or pitcher and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Gently shake the container once or twice during the cold brewing process to further extract the flavors.
When the steeping process is complete it’s time to strain. Strain the coffee first through a mesh sieve, then strain again through something more fine, like cheesecloth, until there are no visible coffee particles left in the brew.
This cold brewed coffee will be strong, and it needs to be diluted with water before drinking. Start with a 1 part coffee 3 parts water ratio, and adjust to your personal taste. This coffee extract can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to a week. This coffee extract is extremely versatile, and can be used in any recipe calling for coffee as an ingredient.
As the palate of the coffee lover changes, the coffee producing and preparing communities need to adjust to the consumers’ more discriminating palate. While cold brew coffee is not a new brewing method, it is one that is very appropriate for the specialty and boutique coffees that are now more available to the public than ever before. As coffee drinkers become more knowledgeable about specialty coffees and about the best ways to coax the nuanced flavors from the beans, we can expect to see a rise in specialty brewing methods as well.