If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, you must have heard about cold extracted coffee. One of the favorites on each coffee shop’s menu, it’s also a favorite for home brewing as well.
So the basics are sound … it’s coffee that takes a longer time to extract, because the water temperature is lower. Much lower, going as low as using iced water.
But what’s the point? Well, cold brewed coffee takes a lot of time to extract, even up to 24 hours. And in that time, cold water gently extracts the coffee, leaving a cup of coffee that can be described in one simple word: smooth! The acidity of coffee becomes mellower, the sweetness more intense, the flavors just seem to work in perfect harmony. It’s a wonderful cup of coffee. But it takes a long time to prepare.
There are two most common ways for cold extraction. One is cold brew coffee, the second cold drip. While they both use cold water for extraction, the mechanics are different.
Cold Brew Coffee
This is the simple way of cold extraction. All you need is a jar, coarsely ground coffee and water. Simply steep the coffee in the water from anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, then filter the mixture to get rid of the sediment. Of course there is a plethora of cold brewers out there, making it easier to filter the coffee and are less messy, but the basic principle is simple: soak-and-wait. A simple and cheap way of making large quantities and actually the way most coffee shops and specialized cold brew producers make it.
Another way of cold extraction can produce an even better cold extracted coffee, but to be honest, it can be a pain in the a** to make sometimes. Cold drip coffee, sometimes called Dutch Coffee or Kyoto style cold brew. The basic principle is simple: (ice) cold water drips from a container over coarsely ground coffee. The yummy coffee drips to a container at the bottom.
Is it worth the trouble? Yes.
We like to say that cold water gently caresses the coffee in a cold drip maker and the result is a coffee that is much more complex, smoother, has a fuller body and enhances the flavors in a coffee. Much more than with the simple soak-and-rest method. The second benefit of using a dedicated cold drip maker is efficiency. Cold drip coffee needs much less coffee to produce an amazing cold extracted coffee. And third, it takes just a few hours to make a pot of coffee with the cold drip method, which is quite a difference from the 12 to 24 hours with the steeped cold brew.
And to end this comparison – cold drip towers and devices look amazing, like a laboratory instrument with water slowly dripping and producing drops of coffee. Especially when compared to coffee steeped in a jar. But as noted, each method has its pros and cons, but the bottom line is – cold extracted coffee rocks!