What makes our cold brew coffee so special?
These days boutique coffee shops offer about seventeen different ways to make a cup of coffee. Each of those different brewing methods will produce slightly different flavors. To get the sweetest, smoothest cup of coffee, though, your best bet is to skip the in-the-moment brewing all together and go with a bottle of cold brew. So, what makes ours so special?
We carefully source our beans to make high quality cold brew.
When coffee beans are heated they release acids that come across as bitter flavors. When you make cold brew, the flavor ends up being sweeter and smoother without that acidic, bitter kick. Since cold brew is never heated, there’s no hiding poor quality. You can’t skimp on the raw material. At Zingerman’s Coffee Company, we use a blend of beans carefully sourced directly from the growers in Brazil and Indonesia. Buying coffee directly like that is a little like buying your vegetables at the farmer’s market: you can build a relationship directly with the grower, and that often translates into getting the most flavorful produce. The Brazilian-Indonesian blend makes for a chocolatey, full-bodied, sweet cold brew coffee. It’s incredibly smooth, without the acidic bite you sometimes find in hot coffee.
Almost every other cold brew on the market has preservatives added or needs to be refrigerated—or both.
The exception to this rule is the cold brew from Zingerman’s Coffee Company. They’ve spent the last few years developing a process for making cold brew made with only coffee and water that’s shelf stable for up to a year at room temperature. It’s still best served chilled (though it tastes great at room temperature, too), but feel free to toss it in your car and drive around with it for a couple of days before popping it open—ideally at a picnic on the beach.
How is cold brew coffee different from regular “hot brew” coffee?
Sometimes people think that cold brew is hot coffee that’s been put over ice. It’s not; that’s iced coffee.
To make cold brew, you start with the same ingredients as regular coffee: ground coffee beans and water.
Then you steep the ground coffee in cool water—it’s never heated up. When coffee beans are heated they release acids that come across as bitter flavors. When you make cold brew, the flavor ends up being sweeter and smoother without that acidic, bitter kick. The way we make cold brew at Zingerman’s, it’s also a lot more caffeinated. A 10-ounce cup of cold brew has three times as much caffeine as a 10-ounce cup of hot coffee, because it’s made with three times as much ground coffee.
You could make cold brew coffee at home.
You just need to know you’re going to want some half a day before drinking it—and get to work. The advantage to making coffee with hot water is that it’s ready to drink in a few minutes. Hot water extracts the flavor from ground coffee in moments. Extracting the same amount of flavor with cold water takes hours. Steve Mangigian, owner and roastmaster at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, recommends 16 hours of steeping for the full flavor. That means to have your cuppa ready to drink at 8 AM, you’d want to start making it the day before at 4 PM. If you’re good at planning that far ahead, to make your own cold brew you’d want to take really good coffee beans, give them a coarse grind, then let them steep overnight at room temperature. A good ratio to use is 3 ounces of coffee for 16 ounces of water. When you’re ready to drink it, strain out the grounds and dilute it with one part water to two parts cold brew.