The average daily temperature is rising, you can hear the drone of lawn mowers throughout the neighborhood and, most likely, your urges to sit outside and drink a cold refreshing coffee drink have returned. It is cold brew coffee season again (I’m a little late actually).
If you have never made cold brew at home, it is one of the more simple brewing methods. You need minimal equipment and experience. I recommend starting with my Introduction to Cold Brew Coffee post. This will give you a basic understanding of the process and a recipe with an equipment list. If you have never read it, go now and get started.
If you have brewed a batch or two of cold brew or are just looking for some ways to experiment with your coffee, this post is for you. I am upping the cold brew ante and sharing a couple of my favorite cold brew hacks to get your summer started off on the right foot.
Here are three cold brew techniques that will help you take your cold brew coffee to the next level (or at least give you some fun experiments to try).
Easy Kyoto Style Cold Brew
Credit for this technique goes to Prima Coffee and this sweet post featuring a DIY Aeropress Kyoto method (and a Hot Bloom recipe) from last year.
Kyoto Style Cold Brew is a different take on cold brewing coffee. I like to think of it as the cold brewing equivalent to a pour-over (since most other recipes are full immersion). For this brewing method, ice cold water is dripped over a coffee bed for a period of hours and the cold brew slowly drips out of the bottom of the coffee bed into a collection container.
If you are a big Kyoto cold brew fan, you may want to cut to the chase and invest in the Cold Bruer (an affordable home Kyoto brewer that takes up minimal space) or the Yama Cold Drip Tower (a fancier Kyoto cold brewer that is meant for display as well as making coffee). There are even some pretty cool DIY Kyoto projects.
If you are just curious about the technique and don’t want to plunk down a bunch of cash, Prima coffee came up with a great concept using an Aeropress and a plastic bottle.
Last summer, I regularly used this method (with a few of my own tweaks) to make a small amount of Kyoto cold brew coffee that could be set up in a few minutes in the evening and be ready to take to work the next day.
This method gets bonus points for being super easy to clean up. There are a lot of cold brew recipes that have great potential for making a mess (with all the filtering and large quantities of spent ground coffee). Here is what you will need:
- 12 ounce plastic bottle of water completely frozen (What is the Best Water to Use When Making Coffee?)
- Two paper Aeropress filters
- Mason jar or other container that can hold 12 ounces of liquid
- Push pin
- 50 grams of coffee ground medium to coarse (a little coarser than a Chemex grind works well)
- Place one of your Aeropress filters in the filter holder like you would for normal Aeropress brew and screw the filter and housing onto the Aeropress.
- Fill your Aeropress with the coffee, level the coffee bed and place the device onto your mason jar (filter side down).
- Take your second Aeropress filter and trim it slightly so it will fit inside the Aeropress chamber. Place the trimmed filter on the top of your coffee bed to form a “coffee sandwich” with the filters being the bread.
- Pour a small amount of water (20-40 mL) over the top of the filter to dampen it.
- Take your frozen bottle of water and poke several holes (5-10) into the bottom of the bottle. Poke a 3 or 4 holes into the lid of the bottle (do not remove the lid). Place the frozen and perforated bottle on top of the Aeropress with the lid/tapered end inside of the Aeropress so the ice melt will drip onto the coffee bed.
- Your set up should look like this (from bottom to top): Mason jar, Aeropress then frozen and perforated bottle.
- Depending on your room temperature, the bottle will take between 10-14 hours to melt and complete your brewing process.
- Clean up is mess free. Discard your bottle and clean the Aeropress like normal.
- Enjoy over ice.
The Hot Bloom / Cold Brew
I am not sure who should get credit for this method as I have seen it quite a few places. All I can say for sure is that it is not an invention of my own and that you should try this method for yourself. You can read more about it on KC Coffee Geek and find another recipe on the Kickapoo Coffee website.
The cold brew opposition (I myself typically prefer flash iced coffee to cold brew) will often state that cold brew lacks all the light and lovely acidic notes that a great coffee has. Cold brewed coffee is, as Jeff Borack from Angels’ Cup would put it, all bass notes. It is typically deep, dark and broody. If you feel this way about cold brewing, you should give hot bloom cold brew a try.
For this method, follow a standard cold brew recipe but start with a hot water bloom before you add your cold water. Recipes range from 10 to upwards of 30 percent of the total water volume added via hot bloom (your water to coffee ratio should stay the same).
The theory behind this is the hot water will be able to pull some of the bright notes out of the coffee and add more acidity to the final product. You can also combine this method with your Kyoto cold brew and do a hot bloom cold drip coffee.
I have not been able to do extensive testing on this method of brewing cold brew so if you have a favorite recipe please share it in the comments below.
10 Minute Cold Brew Via the Power of Physics (and Dyson)
I first became aware of this method from an article on Perfect Daily Grind last year. Matty De Angelis (who has an excellent blog and takes great pictures) wrote about this process two weeks ago as I was still playing around with it. I found his post very helpful and I was able to combine the two posts to create a method that I have been enjoying.
Until I tried this method for myself, the concept of using a Ziploc space bag and a home vacuum cleaner to quickly brew a batch of cold brew was something I simply wanted to tack this technique on for the sheer novelty of it. After brewing a few batches this way, it is probably my favorite technique of the three listed here.
The basic concept is pretty “science-y” but simple if you don’t dig too deep (easy their Einstein). Near vacuum conditions are created surrounding a container of cold water and coffee. The conditions expedite the multi-hour cold brew process and infuse the water with all the coffee goodness we are trying to extract in a matter of minutes.
I found coffee brewed with the vacuum infusion method to generally be a little lighter and less “heavy and brooding” than what I traditionally think of cold brew. It was somewhere in the middle between traditional cold brew and flash brewed coffee.
The draw of this method is pretty clear. It enables you to make a cold brew style coffee and not have to wait 12-24 hours. There is also quite a lot of experimenting that can be done with this method. Extraction times, water temperature and grind size all have a part to play in this method. Here is what you need:
- Saran Wrap
- 700mL of cold filtered water
- Sturdy container that can hold 1.5 liters or so. A more shallow container is ideal but make sure it in not more that 50% full.
- 90 grams of medium to coarse ground coffee (I did a little coarser than my Chemex grind)
- One Ziploc space bag
- Metal Filter (I used the Java Maestro you can also use a mesh filter and then a rinsed paper filter)
- Vacuum cleaner (I used my older model Dyson which had plenty of suction to get the job done)
- I recommend doing a trial run of this technique without coffee so you can iron out the kinks before you raise the stakes (see footnote).
- Combine your water and coffee into your sturdy container and stir until all the grounds are wet.
- Cover the top of your container with Saran wrap leaving plenty of extra wrap on the sides*.
- Place your Saran wrapped container inside of the Ziploc space bag and seal with the included “little white sealing tool.” I found that it helps to not have the valve directly over the Saran wrap or you will be running the risk of blocking up the valve with the Saran and burning out your vacuum.
- Turn your vacuum on and start a stop watch or timer.
- Once you can no longer visibly observe air being sucked out of the bag, suction for one additional minute.
- Remove the vacuum and cap the tube. Wait 10-12 minutes.
- Open the space bag and remove your coffee.
- Filter out the coffee grounds. I transferred to my 8 cup Pyrex for easy of pouring. The Java Maestro worked like a charm. I did not even need to filter it through a paper filter medium. You can also filter the coffee grounds out through any of the traditional cold brew filtering methods (cheese cloth, paper filter, mesh filter, French press etc).
- Enjoy over ice.
- If there is any moisture in the bag, turn it inside out to fully dry before you store it.
I’ve been having fun tinkering with these techniques and thought I would share. I realize that there is quite a bit of experimenting and comparisons that can be done with each method. I will do my best to update if I refine my recipes and maybe I will be able to put together a more comparison focused post down the road (you may have noticed I have been a little slow to post lately… things are hopping around the Brewing Coffee Manually house).
If you have any cold brew recipes or techniques to share, I would love to hear about them. Additionally, if you try out any of the above techniques and have thoughts, questions or something to add, send me a message or leave a comment below. Happy cold brewing!
*You definitely need the Saran wrap or some top so don’t skip this skip. If the container is not covered you will end up sucking the coffee water concoction into you vacuum cleaner, making a huge mess and having to explain the whole situation to your spouse… Not that I did anything like that when I was experimenting.