Cold brew coffee: Is the smooth taste worth the extra effort?

Cold brew coffee has taken over everyone’s coffee mugs. But is the time consuming coffee brewing method worth the extra effort?

Have you had cold brew coffee? First, let’s be clear, cold brewed coffee isn’t ice coffee. While an ice cold glass of coffee can be refreshing on a hot day, it isn’t necessarily the same as the other brewing method. Why is this cold coffee becoming so popular? Some people say it is the taste.

While coffee drinkers are plentiful, some people complain about coffee’s bitter taste. Cream, sugar and other flavor additions try to mask that bitter flavor. The bitterness that comes from brewing coffee can come from the method. Quickly forcing hot water into coffee grounds can elicit that bitter taste, which is the acid and oils being released during hot coffee brewing.

Changing the coffee brewing method can eliminate coffee bitterness. More people are turning to cold brew coffee because the coffee tastes less bitter. To cold brew coffee, the coffee grounds are steeped in cold water, usually in a refrigerator. While this type of coffee may be smoother, it does have a drawback, it takes time.

Many people want to open their eyes and have their favorite cup of coffee waiting as they wake up. With a cold brew coffee, that grab and go scenario needed to come with a plan about 12 or more hours before. To cold brew coffee, you need to plan the night before. Instead of the pod/push coffee making effort, this brewing process is slow. That slowness reduces the bitter and creates a smoother coffee.

Personally, I have tried various types of coffees, coffee makers and coffee beverages over the years. Just like food trends that come and go, I find my coffee preferences change over time as well. Given the popularity of cold brew, I wanted to see how easy it could be to make at home.

Cold brew coffee, Freshlok by Takeya, photo by Cristine Struble

Cold brew coffee, Freshlok by Takeya, photo by Cristine Struble

To help with my cold brew coffee experiment, I enlisted the Freshlok by Takeya cold brew coffee maker. While there are many brands, gadgets and coffee makers on the market, this version is simple and easy. More importantly, it fits into my refrigerator door (no large footprint is key in my world). After testing the Freshlok by Takeya for a couple weeks, I found that the brewer is easy to use as long as I planned ahead. Since the brewing process takes 12-24 hours, I found that making the morning coffee at dinner time was the best option for my schedule.

Through some experimentation, I found some helpful tips to ensure that the cold brewed coffee had its best flavors each and every time. First, better coffee beans produce a better coffee. Not all coffee beans are created equal. Sure, not everyone will splurge on local coffee roasters or expensive coffee beans. No coffee maker will make a bad coffee taste better. If the coffee bean isn’t good, the coffee isn’t going to be good.

That being said, a good coffee bean can taste great using a cold brewed coffee maker. By extracting the best flavors from the coffee bean, good coffee can taste great and amazing coffee can be its best ever. A side by side taste comparison is a fun experiment.

Another tip for making the best cold brewed coffee is to watch the coffee ground level. The coffee grounds should be a medium grind. Too course won’t extract enough flavor and too fine will pass through the sleeve. Freshly ground beans work best, too.

Lastly, the cold brew method produces a coffee concentrate. While I personally love strong, black coffee, some people might prefer for this coffee to be served over ice or with a touch of cream. The best part about this coffee concentrate is that the flavors of cream or sugar are equally pronounced as the smooth coffee flavor. You could find yourself adding less accompaniments (like cream or sugar) to a glass.

As the weather gets warmer, the idea of fresh cold brewed coffee in the house is appealing. This brewing method produces a far better beverage than pouring hot coffee over ice or letting hot coffee get cold. While the brewing method does take a little preparation, the Takeya Freshlok can keep the concentrate fresh in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

One fun idea to try with this coffee style is double boost your coffee flavor. Over the weekend, I made a second batch of cold brew coffee. That coffee I frozen in some silicone molds to make coffee ice cubes. Those coffee ice cubes ensure the biggest boost of coffee flavor from every sip. Try this food hack and taste the difference. Even if you don’t use these coffee ice cubs in your coffee, you can find lots of uses for them in the kitchen.

Is cold brew coffee worth the extra effort? In my opinion, it is. Actually, it isn’t that much extra effort. Luckily, I have a pot waiting for me in my refrigerator right now.

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