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Cold-Water Brewing Of Coffee

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The cold-water brewing process for coffee, and cold-water brewers sold to employ it, use colder water (room temperature or cold) and longer brewing times to produce less acidic coffee. The process, which actually brews coffee CONCENTRATE rather than immediately drinkable coffee, is also called steeping. A typical cold brewing setup produces enough coffee concentrate to make approximately 20 cups per pound of ground coffee beans, depending on individual taste preference. The concentrate stores well in a refrigerator, and it also stands up to reheating better than coffee prepared by higher-temperature brewing ("hot-brewing") methods. Depending on a coffee drinker's lifestyle, a cold brewer can be more convenient than other methods, since preparation and clean-up may only need to be done once every one or two weeks.
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A typical cold-water brewer.

Brewing Process

Cold-water brewing eliminates 66% of coffee acids. The exact process varies by equipment maker, but it generally involves mixing coffee grounds and cold or room-temperature water, allowing the mixture to sit for a minimum time of approximately 12 hours, then filtering it into a carafe. These are the typical steps for using a cold-water brewer:

  • Place a pound of coarsely ground coffee in the top container, fill with cold water and let steep overnight. (Do not stir.)
  • Remove plug to filter coffee concentrate into glass carafe.
  • Add to cup with hot or cold water before drinking; start with 1 part concentrate to 3 parts water, then adjust measure to taste.
  • Store the remaining concentrate in a refrigerator for future use.

The resulting taste is that of a strong but smooth coffee, without sharp edges. Those who employ it may not need to add as much sugar or cream to tone down the taste.

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