iced coffee in glasses

Quick Cold Brew Coffee – How to Make a Cold Brew Coffee in 3 Minutes

black iced coffeeCold pressed coffee, most commonly known as cold brew coffee, is the best way to brew coffee for people with sensitive stomachs. It is also the best coffee brewing method to make an iced coffee, because the coffee is already cold. Many people enjoy more the cold pressed coffee than hot brewed methods because there are certain flavors that will be lost at higher temperatures. That’s valid the other way around too, high temperature brewing will extract great flavors from coffee, but they are lost once the coffee has cooled, and in fact, cooling hot brewed coffee is not a great idea. Frozen espresso is distasteful and the reasons are the chemical changes that occur when we cool coffee. That’s why you don’t want to reheat coffee. On the other hand, cold brewed coffee is not exposed to the same chemical reactions, and you can store cold coffee in the fridge for weeks. We’ll get in a bit into more details about the coffee chemistry.

Cold Brew Coffee Chemistry

coffee dripping from a Toddy coffee system For those more curious to know why cold pressed coffee is better for the stomach, and why we should enjoy hot brewed joes as fresh as possible, (read hot), this paragraph is a brief explanation. If you are not interested, just skip to the next section.

Is Cold Brew Less Acidic?

Cold brew is touted as a low acidity coffee which is better for people with low tolerance to coffee. Not sure about the low acidity and in fact what causes the stomach problems is not the acidity of coffee, but some substances that stimulate the stomach acid production. It turns out these substances are easier to extract at higher brewing temperatures, and that’s why cold brew is better for sensitive stomachs.

Why Cold Brew Is Better for Iced Coffee?

It has to do with oxidation; hot brew coffee starts to oxidize the minute they start to cool off. The coffee oxidizes because of the high brewing temperature, and the longer it sits the more substances change imparting coffee the dreaded stale taste. This is part of the reason cold brewed coffee can be stored in the fridge; the volatile oils in coffee are not exposed to high temperatures that will accelerate the oxidation.

But there are a few inconveniences with traditional cold brew as well. First of all, cold brew needs at least 24 hours to steep; otherwise there will be an incomplete extraction. The long steeping time will convey other inconveniences, among which is the fact that coffee needs to be planned ahead of time. This is fine in a coffee shop, but at home is just not right, you want to drink a cup of coffee now, and not in a few days. Another problem is that with dark roasts, the coffee imparts a bit of the burnt taste to you final cup, which you don’t taste in a normal hot brew. The reason is that the long steeping time washes substances that you don’t need in your coffee like the ashes residues resulting from roasting.

Barista checking drippers in coffee shop

A workaround is the Japanese iced coffee method, which implies using a regular coffee dripper, and brewing on ice cubes. The coffee drips straight on the ice and it cools off very fast, ensuring a great extraction, and minimizing the oxidation, by reducing the coffee’s temperature. I brewed my espresso on ice many times, but that was until I invented my fast cold brew method, which is the best brewing method for iced coffee.

My fast cold brewing method is the best, better than Toddy method, and better than the Japanese iced coffee method, and I’ll explain why in the next section.

Quick Cold Brew Coffee – How To Make Cold Brew in 5 Minutes

Before I get to the method, I need to explain how extracting coffee works, and why it’s so easy to brew cold brew in a few minutes. During coffee brewing, hot water dissolves the solids and aromatic oils from coffee. The aromatic oils are released from the ground coffee at 205 °F, (96 °C), just below the boiling point. The bitter compounds are released around the boiling point, which is why brewing temperature has to be very well controlled. A too low temperature and the aromas will not be passed onto your cup. A too high temperature and your coffee will be over-extracted.

But temperature is just a way to accelerate the process of dissolving the soluble compounds in coffee. As a cold brew lover, you probably know that just by steeping coffee grounds long enough in cold water will result in a saturated coffee solution. The more we let it steep the more solids will dissolve you’re your cup. However, there is another method to speed up the dissolution of coffee solids, stirring. You know sugar can dissolve in cold water if you wait long enough. But we usually stir so that it gets dissolved faster. You’ll be amazed, but coffee is the same. If you stir fast and long enough, you’ll dissolve all the goodness in the grounds; all this without the bitter compounds, and without the fast oxidation specific to hot brews, while enjoying a less stomach irritating coffee. Wait, there are more benefits; with a Toddy, or Filtron system, you get some burnt undertones because of the long steep, with a fast cold brew, you don’t get these. The high speed stirring will emulsify the oils in the water, so you will extract the aromatic goodness that is normally not extracted with traditional long cold brew.

So will a spoon stirring do the trick? Absolutely not. You need very fast stirring speeds as in blender fast. What else could it make the extraction faster and more complete? The grind size. Think how is to dissolve powdered sugar versus granulated, or versus sugar cubes. The finer the particles the faster is to dissolve. The same goes with coffee, but we have to make sure we keep the coffee grinds at a size that won’t pass through the filter.

Quick Cold Brew Coffee – The Method

For the initial experiment I used a French press, coffee, water, and an immersion blender. But you have other options, and it also depends on how you like your coffee, more about this at the end of the recipe.

grinding coffee beans

Grind your coffee espresso size, the finer the grind, the better the extraction.

stirring in a beaker with water and ground coffee

Mix the ground coffee with water. You can use 3-4 coffee scoops to one cup of water, you can use a bit more coffee and then add more water or ice at the end. Stir in thoroughly so the coffee sinks to the bottom of the cup.

cold brew in immersion blender

Transfer the mix in your blender, or in a beaker, if you use an immersion blender.

mixing with immersion blender

Blend thoroughly for at least a couple of minutes. The more you blend, the better the extraction is.

filtering the brew in a press pot

Pour the mix in a French press, put the plunger in and press gently to the bottom. If you hate silty coffee just leave about 10% of the liquid at the bottom. That 10% contains the silt.

two glass cups with coffee

Left cup fast cold brew, right cup regular cold brew.

Pour in glasses, add ice and water and serve.

Alternatively, you can filter this through a pour over brewer, so that you have a cleaner cup. I personally don’t have anything against a gritty cup, but most of the people hate it. If you use this coffee for an iced coffee, you need to filter it properly. If you don’t have a pour over device, you can line a funnel with a coffee paper filter and strain your coffee.

I like to freeze cold brew coffee in ice cube trays, and then add a few to a glass of water, or a glass of almond milk. The drink looks gorgeous, and the coffee gets stronger by the end of serving it, as opposed to getting weaker with the traditional recipe – ice cubes in coffee.

Overnight Cold Brew Coffee

If you own a cold brewing system, such as the Toddy, or Filtron, you might want to try the overnight cold brew coffee method. This basically combines the stirring method and the steeping method.

Here is how I did it:

  • Use 1 to 4 coffee to water ratio to make the brewing mix.  The grind size can be coarse with stirring, however Blue Bottle Coffee recommends a finer grind size for the long cold brew.
  • Fine grind means better extraction, coarse grind means cleaner coffee. I prefer fine.
  • Mix well in a blender or with an immersion blender, to soak the ground coffee.
  • Transfer all into your Toddy brewer, and leave it overnight to steep.
  • In the morning just remove the rubber stopper and let your coffee drip into the carafe.

Blue Bottle Coffee recommends 12 hours steeping time without the stirring, however, in my tests this is not long enough for a complete extraction. For a 12 hours brewing you need to agitate the ground coffee in the water to facilitate the sugars and other solids in coffee to dissolve.

Rapid Cold Brew Coffee with a Whipping Siphon

Do you want to try another fast method to cold brew coffee? Try ChefSteps’ whipping siphon brewing method. You just need to mix water and coffee, put it in the whipping siphon, pressurize it, and let it steep for 2 hours in the fridge. Voila, your coffee is ready. While this is still far from brew-when-you-need approach, it can certainly be used as an overnight cold brew coffee. My next experiment will be to combine the mixer method and the whipping siphon technique, and see if this improves my cup in any way.

Did you try these methods? If you plan to do it, please come back and share your thoughts.


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