Last week, I told everyone just how much I love cold brew coffee. From the unique, smooth flavor to the higher caffeine content, cold brew is pretty much the only way I get my mornings started. However, I also mentioned that my favorite cold brew at Cartel is $3.75 per 16 ounce cup so I wanted to see how much it would cost to make my own cold brew at home. While there are more expensive toddy systems and Oji systems out there, you really don't need a lot more than a container, some ground coffee beans, water, and time.
See Also: Confessions of a Cold Brew Coffee Addict
What you'll need: 9 ounces of coffee beans, ground coarsely 1 gallon of water A large container/pitcher A nut milk bag
The Coffee: The first step is selecting your coffee. I grabbed a bag of Yirg Z natural coffee (a.k.a. unwashed) from Cartel for $19. They carry cheaper beans and you can certainly get yours at your favorite roaster too, but the barista recommended this variety for cold brew. However, Cartel also experiments in combining roasts and beans, which is why their cold brew's flavor varies from day to day.
In terms of the grind, you want a more coarse coffee grind for cold brew. It makes the flavor less bitter and means less filtering and residue for your coffee.
The Water: Next you'll want to choose your water. Again, at the barista's recommendation, I bought a gallon of Arrowhead water for a little over a dollar, which he said most closely mimics the water they use for their cold brew. Make sure the water is chilled before you use it.
The Tools: You can buy a nut milk bag for $11 from Whole Foods and I bought a handy container with a pour spout from Target for $9.
In total, I spent about $40 for a gallon of toddy or eight 16-ounce portions for $5. However, next time I will only have to spend about $20 to remake a gallon, since the container and nut milk bag are reusable, which brings the cost down to $2.50 per 16 ounce portion. Not too shabby.
1. You'll want to put nine ounces, which is 3/4 of the bag, into the nut milk bag.
2. Place the nut milk bag with the ground beans in the bottom of your container
3. Slowly pour cold water over the top.
4. Seal the container with the nut milk bag's strings outside of the container for easy removal.
5. Allow the coffee to brew in your fridge for at least 24 hours.
6. Remove the nut milk bag with the coffee grounds from the container.
7. Pour your coffee over ice, and enjoy! Easy, huh?
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In terms of flavor, my finished product was very smooth with some bright, citrusy notes. There wasn't much in the way of the more roasted or caramel flavors, which I would've liked, but I'll try out another bean next time to see how it changes the taste. I'll also probably use the whole bag (12 ounces) for steeping in a gallon of water just to see if I get a bolder end result.
Speaking of flavor, if you're a flavored coffee junkie, cold brew lends itself to adding different spices in with the coffee grounds to create unique combinations. Cinnamon, anise, and allspice would all work well. However, you can also use flavored bitters (yes, the cocktail kind) to add a flavor punch without all of the sugar. AZ Bitters Lab's Figgy Pudding goes great in cold brew.
While making cold brew is pretty darn easy, I don't see it replacing the ambiance and service of a coffee shop anytime soon for me, though it is nice to have a gallon of cold brew at my disposal for mornings that are more hectic and pressed for time.