Summer is here, and while the temperatures are rising, it’s hard to imagine something better than an ice-cold and refreshing dose of caffeine. Making a hot cup of coffee is convenient and tempting, considering the intense aroma of freshly-made coffee, but, there are far better alternatives, even for people that don’t own an expensive coffee-maker. Did you know you can make a delicious cold brew coffee in a mason jar? The whole process is insanely easy and straightforward.
While cold brewing may take longer, it will deliver a strong and full-bodied flavor, fit for a hot summer day. Keep reading to find out what exactly the cold brewing method constitutes, what you’ll need to do it, and how to make the best cold brew coffee in a mason jar, step-by-step. You’ll have a smooth and refreshing beverage ready for you in no-time.
What Is a Cold Brew?
The most common question regarding cold brewing is “What’s the difference between cold brew and iced-coffee?” Well, the difference is the way in which they’re prepared.
Iced coffee refers to a regularly brewed coffee with hot water that’s chilled afterward. In fact, the process of making iced coffee isn’t different than making hot brewed coffee. You can use a coffee-maker or boil the water yourself, and once the coffee is made, let it cool at room temperature, or pour it over ice-cubes.
Cold brew, on the other hand, it’s an alternative method to make coffee without using heat at all. The reason for this is because different temperature levels affect different flavor-releasing chemicals in the coffee. Cold brewing coffee results in a more harsh and bold flavor, while iced coffee tastes the same as regular coffee, only diluted because of the ice.
For anyone who enjoys a strong coffee drink and prefers the bittersweet flavor rather than the diluted and sweet aroma of iced coffee, cold brewing coffee at home is a perfect solution.
What Coffee Is Best for Cold Brew?
There’s a whole science behind how flavor is extracted from coffee grounds while brewing and there are many factors that affect this process – heat, bean freshness, and quality are just a few one of them. So, how do you choose the right coffee for a cold brew?
Technically, you can use any type of coffee beans/grounds for cold brewing, but freshly coarse-ground coffee delivers the best taste. Depending on the taste that you prefer, you should also consider the roast – light, medium, or dark roast.
Before we get into the details of how to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, here’s everything that you’ll need so you’re prepared.
- Quart mason jar – make sure the mason jar has a wide mouth, otherwise, you won’t be able to fit a filter in it.
- Filter – there are many different types of filters you can use when cold brewing or you can improvise with a DIY filter. You can also find high-quality specialized filters for mason jars on Amazon.
- Coffee grinder – for those who prefer to buy whole beans and have a freshly ground batch each time. However, keep in mind that you can always buy pre-ground coffee or simply grind the coffee at your local coffee shop.
***If you make a big batch and you plan to refrigerate the coffee, it’s not a bad idea to label the jar with a date, which can be a useful reminder to drink the coffee before it goes bad. Already brewed coffee becomes more bitter with each passing day. Don’t make batches that you can’t finish within a week.
Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Best Cold Brew Coffee in a Mason Jar
For some people, cold brewing is simply mixing ground coffee in cold water and leaving it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, they strain the mixture and drink it. It’s definitely one way to go about this, but if you want to have more control over the taste, concentration, and strength, here’s a step-by-step guide to guide you through.
Step 1: Pick the Beans
Regardless of which coffee you choose, make sure the ground/beans are fresh and good quality. Higher water temperature can extract flavor from a variety of chemical compounds in the coffee, while lower water temperature affects only certain types of chemicals, which limits the flavor potential that the beans have. If you buy stale coffee with compromised quality, chances are you’ll end up with a watery, washed up coffee that’s undrinkable.
Step 2: Grind the Coffee Beans
Once you find the perfect beans, it’s time to grind them. We’ve already discussed that the perfect coffee for a cold brew is coarsely-ground coffee. Most at-home coffee-grinders have a time indicator for coarsely-ground, medium-ground, or fine-power. Don’t overdo it! You can also grind the coffee beans at your local supermarket or coffee shop.
Of course, you can always buy ground coffee, but in this case, keep in mind that the grind size is an important factor for cold brewing. When buying ground coffee, search for brands that offer coffee specifically for cold brew.
Step 3: Coffee-to-Water Ratio
Cold-brew coffee results in a very strong drink with a smooth consistency that sometimes can feel watery. This is why it’s important to find the balance between the coffee strength and concentration. Besides a precise coffee to water ratio, you also need to consider the strength of the coffee itself.
Some coffee beans are stronger (higher caffeine concentration) than others, and while stronger beans are great for espresso shots, they can be overwhelming for a cold brew. This also depends a lot on your personal preference, but generally, milder coffee works better.
When it comes to coffee to water ratio, the 1:3 ratio (1 cup of ground coffee for 3 cups of water) usually works well for most people. You can try and make it a little more condensed, as you can always dilute it with more water after it has steeped overnight. Diluting it after steeping is not the best solution, but it works until you learn what’s the right ratio for you.
Step 4: Steeping Time
Cold brewing coffee is insanely easy, but it’s an incredibly long process. To get the best taste, you should steep the coffee for at least 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours.
Some people leave the coffee in the fridge overnight (8-9 hours) and they’re satisfied with the taste. If you drink your coffee milder, this time frame might work for you, too. However, the 12 to 24-hour marks are a safer bet for passionate coffee aficionados.
Don’t leave the coffee steeping for more than 24 hours, as it can get very bitter. Even if you make a weekly batch, make sure to strain the coffee after the steeping time has passed.
If you use a cold brew, mason jar filter, you only have to remove the filter and you can even drink directly from the mason jar.
Step 5: Drinking Time and Storage
We know that the devil is in the details, so make sure you invest a few minutes into research before drinking it. Most coffee lovers drink cold brew coffee black and without sugar, but this might be a little too harsh and strong for some. Adding ice, sugar, and milk is no sin.
Don’t be shy and try out different recipes, as there are plenty on the internet. The simplest way to enrich the flavor and make the coffee more refreshing is to add ice cubes and just a little bit of milk froth or milk cream.
Before You Go
Now that you know how easy it is to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, there’s nothing stopping you from turning it into a wonderful summer ritual. You can surprise your friends and family with something different than the old well-known ice-coffee.
Hopefully, our guide was easy to follow and motivated you to start cold brewing. If you’re interested to find out more about coffee, check out some of our other articles on the subject. Feel free to also visit our blog where we regularly share articles covering kitchen appliances reviews, guides, as well as delicious recipes that will go perfectly with a cup of coffee.