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Java Magic: DIY Cold Brew Coffee

How many cups per day? If your answer is greater than zero, you’ll know that coffee shops routinely overcharge us for a measly mug of joe. Lately, upcharges have been even greater for the supposedly enigmatic cold brew coffee. Often enough, the convenience during our morning rush makes it a necessary expense.

Many are willing to pay up simply because the methods of these java sorcerers are shrouded in mystery. How do they wondrously reduce acidity and create such a smooth beverage? Well, the only thing you really need is a bit of time, foresight and a few materials any self-respecting beanhead already has in stock.

Start out with your favorite blend. We’re fans of San Diego’s Modern Times, in no small part because of small-batch releases of bourbon- and rum-barrel-aged beans, but their signature Black House blend is ideal for a cold brew. You can use pre-ground, but the fineness will add to the acidity cold brew is so lauded for cutting down on­—fresh, coarsely ground whole beans are your best bet.

Place your ground beans in the bottom of a jar and slowly pour cold water over them. A 1:5 ratio of coffee to water should please most palates, but mess around with the ratio until you find one that works for you and your blend of choice. Seal and refrigerate your container, then go about your day.

Between 12 and 24 hours later, depending on desired strength, your batch is ready to filter. Pour into a large French press and slowly plunge. No press? Go back a few steps and ‘steep’ the coffee right in a jar of water using a cheesecloth or filter pouch.

Your cold brew is a concentrate, and will taste best diluted—a half concentrate; half water mix is widely recommended. Mix with cold water and pour over ice for cool refreshment, or mix with hot water for an ‘instant’ hot coffee. Either way, you’ll enjoy the extra-smooth flavor. Seal off whatever’s left over and keep it in the fridge, as your batch will be good to drink for up to two weeks (though the flavor starts to degrade after one). Et voilà—a simple, tasty and effective way to get your caffeine fix.

NewsletterBarry Segel