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Cold Brew Magic

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Let’s talk COLD Brew. It’s all the rage in the US and some parts of Europe, but it's only just begun to catch on in our neck of the woods.

Cold brew is a slow brew method that will create a deep, smooth, mellow tasting coffee that can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can be made by anyone who can follow 4 easy rules:

  1. Grind super coarse — not whole bean coarse, but basically as coarse as your grinder can grind it (we’re talking snowflakes).

  2. Now a little math. You want to use between 100 to 140 grams of coffee for every liter of water. And that coffee is going to soak up the water, so out of that liter you’re going to get about 600ml of drinkable coffee. Remember that it's best to use filtered water when brewing any coffee.

  3. Wait 24 (!) hours. That’s right, you wanna make this at breakfast and so you can enjoy it the next morning. I recommend you place in the fridge, but there are some who recommend room temperature (= faster brew time). After you make your first brew you can play with the amount of coffee and the time you let it sit. The more coffee and the more time you let it sit, the stronger the brew.

  4. Filter. This part’s the tricky one. You can use a French press to separate the liquid coffee from the chunky bits. Or a paper filter on a drip coffee device — just pour slowly and let the coffee drain through. Or you could use a firmly bound cheesecloth on the top of your pot or jar to strain the coffee. I use a large french press to filter out the larger bits, and a cloth to filter out the finer granules.

Take Note: You may have noticed that we’re using a lot of ground coffee for the amount of drinkable coffee in the end. Over twice as much ground coffee as usual — this (and the wait time) is part of the price of this unusual method.

Drink it Cold

Cold brew makes an amazing base to ice coffee. You just add ice, and optionally milk and/or sugar water. Some dilute with cold water, but I recommend drinking as is.

Drink it Hot

You can make a stronger brew and use it as a concentrate. You'll want to double the ground coffee for the same amount of water - so from 200 - 250 grams coffee for a liter of water. After waiting a day, filter the concentrate. Then pour yourself a short cup and add boiling water to make this an excellent hot cup of coffee. I suggest 40% concentrate and 60% hot water, but like most drinks adjust according to your palette.

Cold Brew in the Real World

I suggest starting small. Take 120 grams of freshly and coarsely ground coffee, place in a pot and add one liter of filtered water. Refrigerate a full day, then see step 4 above for filtering info. That’s it.

Some Answers to Obvious Questions

David teaching about coffee at a workshop
David teaching at a Kilimanjaro Coffee workshop

Answer. Caffeine content in cold brew is about 2x the content in hot brewed coffee. While it's true that the the high temperature in hot coffee releases more caffeine from the grounds, in cold brew we're using more beans.

Answer. While I'm not a doctor, I've read that a lethal dose for caffeine is in the neighborhood of 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. If we take for example an adult of 75kg that equals about 11,250mg. That’s about 20 250ml cups of imbibed cold brew, so go easy Mr. Strongly Caffeinated.

Answer. Because of the mellow smooth tones produced by cold extraction, your coffee needs to be kind of bold so it will stand out in the cup, especially if you’re adding milk. Go with “stronger”, full bodied coffees in cold brew, such as Sumatra Mandheling and Papua New Guinea.

Answer. You can keep this in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Shameless Plug

Ok, say I’ve convinced you, and you want to try it. One option you have is to go to Kilimanjaro Coffee’s online store and get yourself a bag of just-roasted coffee. I have a favorite recipe I created for cold brew, and I call it 2Kold. You can buy it here.

The 2Kold blend consists of:

  • 500 grams Sumatra Mandheling

  • 250 grams Papua New Guinea Sigri AA

  • 230 grams Brazil Cerrado

I like it for its base notes, which become very smooth and malty through the cold brew process. But of course, you can use any fresh coffee for this brew method.


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