For my third installment of Adventures in Cold Brewing I offer a quick note on repetition. For this experiment I started with my usual Mason jar cold brewing routine. After my standard 12 hours I filtered the coffee, reset the mason jar with fresh coffee grinds, and poured the coffee back in instead of fresh water. I repeated this process every 12 hours for 3 days.
To prepare a cup I boiled some water and diluted the concentrate about 4:1. This was probably the best coffee I’ve made yet. I’m not sure it was worth the time and trouble, but it was very good. Once I figure out how to improve my filtering process so it’s not so time consuming I think I’ll try this again.
I’ve been playing with cold brewing and changing the technique and recipe slightly with each batch. Here are some of the things you can control when brewing coffee:
- Grind (Turkish – Coarse)
- Grinding Method (Burr, Chop, Pound, Roller Grind)
- Roast (Cinnamon – Spanish)
- Species (Arabica vs. Robusta)
- Bean Source and Freshness
- Water Quality (Hardness, Purification Method, etc)
- Method (Drip, Pressurized Percolation, Boiling, Steeping)
- Pressure (Drip – Espresso)
- Brew Temperature (Ice Cold – Boiling)
- Water to Grind ratio
- Equipment quality, cleanliness
- Brewing Duration
- Agitation During Brewing
- Repetition (Brew, Filter, Replace Coffee, Repeat)
- Preparation (Milk, Sugar, etc)
I’ve been changing one or two with each batch and recording the results. Some of these factors, especially Roast, Species, and Grind will make a big, noticeable change to your cup of coffee with any of the traditional hot brewing methods. What I’ve found with cold brewing is that almost none of them matter! I can’t tell the difference between the cheapest store brand crap and single-estate Kona once it’s been cold brewed. Duration is one of the few exceptions – if your goal is to brew coffee without extracting the bitter flavor I don’t recommend going past 12 hours.
Next I’ll be looking at Repetition, inspired by Black Blood of the Earth.
My first experiment with cold brewing coffee is complete. And by complete I mean I drank the whole thing immediately. My research led me to believe this giant Mason jar was going to last several days. Don’t believe everything you read online.
I used Eight O’Clock Coffee. I buy two kinds of coffee – locally roasted, fair-trade, certified-organic, shade-grown co-op beans, and whatever crap is on sale at Food Lion. When I decided to try cold brewing I had Eight O’Clock on hand.
The method is simple – put 1 cup of ground coffee and 2 cups of water in a jar, wait, filter, cut with water, drink.
I used a coarse grind because I read online that would give the best results. I also read you should use the absolute finest grind possible. And that the grind really doesn’t matter much.
This is COLD brewing – so I did it COLD. A lot of blogs say to set it on the counter over-night, and then to refrigerate the finished product. I did the whole thing in the fridge.
I also read that agitation isn’t a big factor – this is a set-it-and-forget-it type thing. I couldn’t forget it. I checked on it about 30 times. Every time I opened the refrigerator I turned the bottle upside-down or swirled it around. I really wanted to be a part of the process.
After about 30 hours I ran it through the French press, which got maybe 95% of the grinds out. Then I ran it through one of those gold coffee filter baskets, then through paper coffee filters twice.
The first thing I did was smell it. There’s clearly something different here. Fresh brewed coffee smells good. Freshly ground coffee beans smell AMAZING. This smells like the burr grinder. I’m excited.
Now for the real test. This is Eight O’Clock Coffee? There’s no bite. No bitter edge. And I swear I taste chocolate. This. Changes. Everything.
Jar #2 is in the refrigerator now. I changed one thing – instead of water I used crushed ice.
I’m pretty sure the genetic cards have been stacked against me when it comes to diet. Okay, maybe not genetic, exactly, but close enough.
Any real, useful, lasting diet I’ve ever heard of requires a certain amount of boredom. Dr. John Berardi says if you examine the diets of the world’s top performing athletes you’ll find over and over that they eat the same thing all the time. They keep just a few boring, but balanced and nutritional, meals in rotation. And they eat to live, they don’t live to eat.
Well that would just be a smack in the face to my heritage. In an Italian family when you’re sad, you eat. Happy? Eat. Birthday? Eat. Football game on TV? EAT! Columbus Day? Parade, then eat. Death in the family? Pray, then eat. New Baby? Feed it! It’s Tuesday? How ’bout a nice lasagna?
This is a losing battle. And I have chocolate.