First things first: iced coffee is not cold brew. Cold brew includes a more meticulous process than adding ice or cold water to your coffee. Iced coffee can also be prepared within minutes while cold brew requires patience as the brewing process takes literal hours.
Cold Brew coffee is made from coffee beans that have been steeped in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. During this time, its flavour, caffeine content and sugars are extracted. The steeping process is to ensure you don’t end up with a bitter tasting coffee. The soluble compounds including the oils and acids that give hot beverages its signature taste and aroma are less easily released in cold water than in hot water, hence the use of more coffee ground relative to water and a longer infusion time. Cold Brew coffee is different to your regular iced coffee which is made by pouring hot brewed coffee over ice.
What Makes Cold Brew So Good
Flavor. Since no heat is introduced to the beans during the brewing process, the coffee you get with cold brew is less bitter. This is because some compounds and other solubles in the beans that give it the gross bitter taste when over-extracted are not fully dissolved. Most of the time, the coffee you get from cold brew method have rich, sweet, fruity or nutty flavor depending on the beans that you use.
Acidity. Cold brew coffee tastes much sweeter than regular coffee because it has approximately 67% less acidity than a hot brew. Cold brew can be just as full-bodied and smooth as a hot beverage, but without any bitter aftertastes. It allows for a different flavour profile to appear. When produced cold, the oils and acid that accompany hot coffees are softened The result is a stronger flavour profile that enhances the fruity, vanilla and milk chocolate notes of the coffee beans.
Shelf Life. Your undiluted cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks when stored properly while diluted cold brew can last up to 2–3 days in your fridge as opposed to iced coffee or hot brewed coffee that starts to taste stale after a few hours. Just make sure that you don’t expose it any source of heat and keep it in airtight containers. It’s best to keep them refrigerated as well.
Strength. Since most cold brew coffee is prepared in batches, these normally come in concentrate. You might need to dilute your cold brew coffee with either milk to water—or both—before drinking it. Some people also suggest that there is more caffeine in cold brew coffee than hot brew coffee, but that still remains to be proven scientifically since caffeine content is determined by several factors: beans to water ratio, type of beans, brewing time, etc.
Cold brew concentrate is very versatile. You can use it as base to make different coffee drinks.
- Iced Coffee: mix your cold brew with cold water and ice
- Iced Latte: mix your cold brew with cold mild and ice
- Frappe: mix your cold brew with milk and ice then blend
- Hot coffee: mix your cold brew with hot water
- Cold brew cocktails: mix your cold brew with spirits, sugar, and other mixers
There are a variety of drinks that you can make with your cold brew coffee, it is up to you.