I have been noticing a cold brewed coffee trend at various coffee places, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and even Sheetz. As I watch the commercials and read the signs, I question what this craze is all about. So, in order to find out, I did a little research on Pinterest. I love Pinterest; everything you could ever want to know is on Pinterest! I read about the differences between regular iced coffee and cold brew coffee, and I learned that one of the biggest differences is that the cold water does not allow the acids to be released from the coffee beans like hot water does.
So I thought I would do a little experiment. I set out to try cold brew coffee from all the major coffee places in our area. I began with Dunkin’ Donuts. I played the organ at my aunt’s church last Sunday, so after the service was over, I decided to take a road trip to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. I ordered a small cold brew coffee with cream and sugar. I read on Dunkin’ Donuts’ website that cold brew coffee is easier to drink black because it is not as bitter and acidic as regularly brewed coffee, but I was a little too apprehensive about that. I do not like black coffee at all, and I did not think I could handle drinking an entire cup of coffee with no sweetness, cold brew or not! I found myself thinking that it tasted very similar to regular iced coffee. I know my taste buds are not refined to be a coffee connoisseur! As I drank more of the coffee, I did taste a few differences. I got a few sips that tasted more chocolately than regular coffee. I also got a few sips that tasted less bitter than regular coffee, although that may have just been the sugar talking! By the end of the drink, I made the mistake of eating a banana. My banana tasted like coffee and my coffee tasted like banana after that. Yuck! Friendly tip…don’t eat a banana while drinking coffee!
My next stop was Starbucks. I was grocery shopping and decided to stop after I was finished so I had a nice, cold, refreshing drink for my drive home. I ordered a tall Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew coffee. Before I describe the drink, I must say, the barista was the most friendly I have ever met at any Starbucks I have set foot in. Her name was Monica, she was so accommodating, wore a big smile the entire time she was taking my order, and asked me how to spell my name. My name is notorious for being spelled many different ways, and mine just happens to be spelled in one of the most unique ways. I have never, ever been asked how to spell my name at a Starbucks! It really does not bother me that every time I go to Starbucks, my name is spelled incorrectly. Honestly, it doesn’t. But the fact that this particular barista took the time to make sure my name was spelled properly really stood out as part of a wonderful service experience. So, if anyone reading this visits the Monroe Marketplace Starbucks and a girl named Monica is working, please tell her she is doing a wonderful job! Anyway, this particular cold brew coffee drink was amazing! My mom has this specific way of saying “It was like…really good!” when something is delicious. I wish I knew how to put that inflection in my writing because this cold brew totally deserves it! It was rich and creamy. There was a little sweetness to it, but it was not overbearing. In comparing the amount of sugar in this drink to a regular iced coffee with milk and sugar, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew actually contains 5 fewer grams of sugar! And there was a little bit of a chocolate hint to it. The coffee tasted strong to me, but Starbucks coffee always tends to be stronger, so I was not surprised by this. I would not describe it as bitter, just rich and strong. And did I mention delicious??
Last, my good friend and I went running together and afterwards, took a road trip to Sheetz. I ordered a medium cold brew coffee with vanilla flavoring and milk in it. To order this drink, I needed to go through their MTO ordering screen system. This may sound silly, but pressing the buttons on the touch screen and being able to control your own food choices is so much fun! Anyway, the taste was quite reminiscent of the Starbucks’ cold brew I drank the day prior. The flavor was rich and thick, with a little bit of chocolate flavor to it.
After experimenting with the taste of cold brew coffee at various places relatively nearby, I decided to try making my own cold brew. I actually tried steeping it two different ways. The first was in a quart mason jar, and the second was in a French press.
For both brewing methods, I used a 4:1 ratio of water to coffee. Which means, in my case, I used 6 ounces of coffee and 24 ounces of water in each.
I took coffee beans, poured them into a coffee grinder, and coarsely ground them.
I used a coffee scoop that came with the French press to put the coffee grounds into the mason jar.
There are ounce markings on the side of the jar, so I filled the bottom of the jar with grounds until it was about halfway between the 4 and 8 ounce markings. I counted how many scoops it took so that I could put the same amount of coffee grounds in the French press. (It was about 8 scoops.)
I then used a pint canning jar, which also had ounce markings on the side, to measure 24 ounces of water and pour it into the quart jar.
I screwed on the lid, shook it up a bit, and stuck it in the refrigerator.
I then moved on to filling the French press. I actually added the water first this time, (since I did not have to use markings on the container to measure the coffee grounds) and poured in 24 ounces, once again using the pint jar to measure.
I then added 8 scoops (6 ounces) of coffee grounds and gave it a stir with a spoon. I put the strainer and lid on and also placed it in the fridge.
Fast forward twelve hours, and it is time for my morning coffee! I grabbed both containers from the refrigerator. I decided to tackle the quart jar first because I figured it would prove to be a little more difficult to strain than the French press. Of course, I was correct!
I used a mesh strainer and a four cup measuring cup for the first round of straining, just to get most of the big chunks out. I poured the coffee from the quart jar, through the strainer, and into the measuring cup. If you do not have a large measuring cup, any sort of bowl works just fine. After I ran all of the coffee through the strainer once, I dumped the grounds in our compost bucket, and placed a paper towel in the bottom of the strainer. If I had a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth, I would have used either of those, but I did not, so I used what I had!
I then poured the coffee from the measuring cup through the paper towel strainer and back into the original jar (which I had rinsed out, of course!). This took a little while because of the coffee sediment accumulating on the paper towel, but it got the job done eventually!
The French press was way easier to strain. I slowly pressed the plunger/strainer down through the coffee until it would not go any further.
Just to be on the safe side, I also poured the coffee through the mesh strainer with a new paper towel in it to get any left over sediment that may have snuck its way through the French press strainer.
I learned that this was an unnecessary step, because there was no sediment in the coffee! I made a mental note of that for next time.
I took the straw from the cup I was going to use and sipped each of the coffee samples. (Yikes! Black coffee!) I noticed that the coffee from the mason jar tasted thicker and richer than the coffee from the French press. There are two things I could possibly attribute that to: either I counted wrong when I was measuring my scoops of coffee, or I shook the contents of the quart jar more than those in the French press. The jar was easy to just grab and give a shake. Had I done that with the French press, well…I think that would have been another use of my “making a mess in the kitchen” talent!
I poured some of the coffee from the French press into my cup, added 3 Tablespoons of CoffeeMate’s Natural Bliss vanilla creamer, plopped in a few ice cubes, gave it a stir, and sat down to enjoy the fruits of my labor!
To me, it had good flavor, but just tasted a little thin. This could be because I used light roasted coffee beans. I normally would not do this, but it just happens to be what we have in the house right now. When I do this again, medium roasted beans are going to be the way to go. I definitely think I am going to use the French press because it was just so simple! I plan to stir the beans into the water more frequently though, as well as being sure to measure the grounds correctly this time!
I encourage you to try these methods out and see what you think! I would love to hear how it worked for you, as well as any adjustments you may have made! Enjoy your coffee deliciousness!