Monday, July 7, 2008

Cold brew coffee

A while back, I stumbled upon a passionate discussion of a cold brew coffee making device, and became intrigued with this method. However, I'm notoriously cheap thrifty, and couldn't see the sense* in paying $30 for a device that will hold a gallon of liquid at room temperature for a day, before filtering.

In fact, I happened to have a pound of ground coffee, a standard glass gallon jar and a manual coffeemaker** at home. Risking only wasted coffee and wasted time, I gave it a try.

It was wonderful! The coffee developed a beautiful crema as it brewed without gadgetry, without electricity, and without contrivance, overnight on the kitchen counter. The next morning, I filtered the result, using a regular paper coffee filter, and then diluted a bit of the result with hot water.

It was a great cup of coffee, without any bitterness or acidity.

This method yields many advantages:

  • no electricity required

  • no device required

  • the "coffee sense" stores for weeks in the refrigerator (or can be frozen in ice cube trays for longer term storage and/or use with iced coffee and/or flavoring other drinks***)

  • once a few varieties are made, different types of coffee can be served to different individuals simultaneously

  • each person can make his own cup to the strength of his own liking

  • once made, it is virtually instant coffee (that doesn't taste like instant coffee)

  • for iced coffee, it doesn't need to cool down

  • observant Jews can enjoy it on Shabbat (If you're an observant Jew and a coffee snob lover, Saturday mornings can be a bit of a challenge...)

  • the kitchen gets messy one time for a week (or two)'s worth of coffee drinking

  • less coffee is wasted because there is no need to brew an entire pot; each cup is brewed as needed

  • the big lump of coffee grounds can be dumped in the compost heap in one trip

Here's what I did:

I put a pound of ground coffee in a glass gallon container, and added enough water (about 10 cups) to fill the container. (Perhaps any non-reactive container would do, but I was hesitant to use plastic because it often changes flavors.)

I waited a day. Other websites suggested a minimum of 12 hours. I like my coffee strong, and wanted to experiment to see if a whole day would be too long. I didn't taste any bitterness or staleness after more than 24 hours.

I filtered it through the large manual coffee filter, lined with a standard paper filter. This needs to sit, unmolested, on the counter for a long time, up to an hour, to extract every drop... of extract. I use either a large measuring bowl or the decanter from the manual coffee maker to collect the result. I'm sure this can be done with any filtering method, including a big strainer lined with cheesecloth, "gold" coffee filters, etc.

Depending on the drinker's preference, dilute 4:1 (water:extract) 3:1 or 2:1. Enjoy!

Here are some others' approach and appreciation of this method:

Index of Recipes on Juggling Frogs

* note: Apologies for the obscure and terrible pun. Some observant Jews, in preparation for Shabbat, will make something mentioned in the Mishna Berurah called "tea sense" (or "tea essence") which is a brewed tea concentrate, that can be diluted on Shabbat with hot water to make tea. For some, this is the only legal and practical way to have hot tea on the Sabbath.

Others allow tea bags to be used on Shabbat if in the "second" or "third" cup.

The cold brew method of making coffee is the equivalent of brewing a "coffee sense" which, to my knowledge, is not mentioned in any sacred text... yet.

** I hope to post soon about why I travel with part of this device

*** Some favorites include adding the "coffeecicles" to soy milk, milk, or cream for instant iced "lattes". Since the coffee cubes are very concentrated, they impart more and more flavor as they melt and the amount of other liquid decreases. This is the opposite effect of adding ice to a cold drink, which dilutes the flavor as it melts.

12 comments, so far. Add yours now!

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therapydoc said...

This is such a great idea. You make a "coffee essence" and it keeps in the fridge. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

--observant Jews can enjoy it on Shabbat (If you're an observant Jew and a coffee snob lover, Saturday mornings can be a bit of a challenge...)

--the kitchen gets messy one time for a week (or two)'s worth of coffee drinking

These two points make it worth it right there! Thanks for the info. My husband loves iced coffee, this seems like an easy way to have the ingredients on hand and ready at a moment's notice.

Jack Steiner said...

Been mulling over putting together a post about coffee. This might make it happen, right after I finish drinking the cup in my hand. ;)

Chaya Bluma said...

I'm so glad to see you're back!

I've been meaning to try cold brewing for a while and never got around to it. Thanks for the instructions.

Juggling Frogs said...


(Just as in relationships, thinking of your most recent post about Mothers and Daughters-in-law:) It takes a bit of trial and error to find the right ratio, but it's worth the effort.


Once it's made, it's as quick as "instant coffee" without the "instant coffee" flavor. For iced coffee, of course, it's even quicker.


I'm a two-fisted coffee drinker, too. I'll look forward to your post - after you finish cleaning up that bookshelf in the garage.


Thank you! Let me know if it works for you.

Sie Whange said...

Nice one! You make a "coffee essence" and it keeps in the fridge.

Anonymous said...

May I recommend the Hourglass? It's brand new to the market and does all the things you describe but in a single, green appliance. Check out the Web site:


Juggling Frogs said...


But why would you need to buy something, when all you need is a glass container, a coffee filter and a strainer?

Anonymous said...

You can use a french press to make then filter your coffee sense.

diggery said...

Thanks for the wonderful post! I have craved coffee on Shabbat for a long time without a means to enjoy it until a friend of mine told me about this "pre-brewed" coffee essence. We have had it the last 2 Shabbats, and it's wonderful! However, it was made for one of those fancy shmancy devices by our friend. We were wondering if there was a way to re-create it on our own, without paying for the device. Hinei! Behold! Your great post! Thanks for sharing the wealth! Many blessings...!

Ultimate Coffee Business said...

wow your so smart! i can try this at home and i will let you know.

latte machine said...

This is useful and very fantastic idea. My husband loves cold coffee and I’ve to remember preparing coffee for him when I wake up in the morning. I do it an hour earlier than him. But mornings are mornings and some things are usually forgotten but with this method I will be always able to give him fresh and cold coffee. Nice and easy!

If you liked this article, congratulations! You have great taste. Please brew yourself a cup of coffee.
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