Making cold brew coffee is an easy process for many. However, if you don’t know the amount of time you should steep your cold brew, you may end up with bitter or watery coffee, and you don’t want that type of cold brew. A delicious cold brew coffee is what we all want.
In this article, we will guide you on the right time frame for steeping your cold brew. We will also discuss the different steeping time frames, their outcomes, and coffee brewing tips. Keep reading.
The amount of time you should steep cold brew coffee depends on the amount of coffee, the steeping temperature, the amount of time you have, and how concentrated you want your coffee. However, the guideline amount of time is between 12 hours to 18 hours. The time may vary depending on the factors stated above.
In short, the amount of time for steeping your cold brew coffee depends on your recipe. The cold brew coffee recipe is determined by the grind size, the coffee to water ratio, and the brew time.
Cold-brew steeping takes longer because the water you are using is cold. Unlike hot coffee, where the flavors are extracted quickly, in cold brew, the cold water used needs a lot of time to extract the flavors from the coffee beans.
If you steep your coffee beans for a shorter period, you may end up with a watery and weak cold brew. You need to steep your cold brew longer to get a concentrated drink.
On the other hand, if you steep your cold brew for too long, you may end up over extracting the flavors which cause bitterness in your cold brew. Over-extraction happens when you leave your coffee grounds soaking in water for too long.
The flavors in the grounds that determine the taste of your coffee become too much, causing bitterness in your cup of coffee. So, don’t steep your cold brew coffee for more than 24 hours if you don’t want to end up with a bitter and unpleasant cup of coffee.
Tips On Making Cold Brew
Quality Beans and Water
The main ingredients in cold brew coffee are coffee beans and water. These ingredients are important in determining the overall taste of your cold brew. Mostly, people concentrate on the quality of the beans forgetting about the quality of the water.
Most people use tap water, and the result is an unpleasant cold brew. Use high-quality fresh beans and high-quality water such as distilled water or filtered water.
Correct Coffee to Water Ratio
This is an important factor that determines the overall taste and strength of your cold brew coffee. The recommended coffee to water ratio for a hot cup of coffee is 1:16, while the recommended coffee to water ratio for your cold brew coffee is 1:4.
This cold brew coffee ratio produces a concentrated cold brew drink that you can dilute using milk or water. If you want a ready-to-drink cold brew, you can use other ratios. The preferred coffee to water ratio of a ready-to-drink coffee brew is 1:14.
In a ready-to-drink case, more water is used to dilute the coffee in a ready-to-drink state at the beginning of the cold brew steeping process.
When it comes to the coffee to water ratio and strength, decreasing the amount of water, increases the strength of your cold brew coffee. On the other hand, increasing the amount of water decreases the strength of your cold brew coffee.
The water ratio used to make your cold brew also affects the caffeine concentration of your cold brew drink. Therefore, there is always room to play around with the ratio until you get what works best for you.
However, it is not advisable to play around with the steeping time of your cold brew or the grind size, as it will mess up with the flavor and not the strength of your cold brew.
Correct Grind Size
The grind size of your coffee beans determines the overall taste of your cup of coffee. The ideal grind size for cold brew coffee is the coarse grind. The finer the coffee grounds are, the quicker the extraction process.
However, if you grind the coffee grounds too fine then leave them steeping for a longer time, you will still end up with a bitter cup of coffee since the ground flavors will have over-extracted. Therefore, just stick to a coarse grind and the steeping time, and you’ll brew yourself a delicious cup of cold brew coffee.
Cold Brew Steeping Temperature (Refrigerator or Not?)
If you steep your cold brew in the refrigerator, you only increase the steeping time. If you want to steep your cold brew coffee in the refrigerator, aim for at least 16 to 20 hours. It is advisable to steep your cold brew at room temperature on a countertop to reduce the steeping time. If you steep your cold brew at room temperature, aim for 12 to 18 hours.
Cold Brew Storage
Store your cold brew coffee in a sealed container in the refrigerator. A concentrated cold brew coffee drink has a longer storage time frame of 10 days in the refrigerator before it tastes stale, while a diluted cold brew coffee drink has a shorter storage time frame of one week before it becomes stale
Optimal Cold Brew Coffee Steeping Time
Let’s look at the most popular timeframes for steeping your cold brew.
The Eight Hour
We mentioned that the steeping time for a cold brew also depends on the hours you have. If you’re in a rush and you don’t have all those steeping hours, you can use the eight-hour time frame.
An eight-hour time frame will give you a similar flavor to that of iced coffee. However, there are some factors to consider when choosing this time frame such as the brewing method.
A cold drip coffee brewing method will extract more flavors from your grounds than the standard immersion brewing method. The more flavors are as a result of the drip friction in a cold drip coffee brewing method.
However, the 8-hour time frame will not give you the concentrated cup of coffee you would want. The 8-hour time frame cold brew coffee will not be rich in flavor. That’s why the recommended time frame is longer than the 8-hour time frame.
If you choose the 8-hour time frame, keep in mind that the coffee to water ratio affects the flavor and strength of your cup of cold brew.
The Twelve Hour
The majority of people use this time frame for their cup of cold brew coffee. The advantage of the 12-hour time frame is that you can brew your cup in the evening and have it ready the next morning – the steeping time frame fits perfectly in many schedules.
If you choose the twelve-hour time frame, use the cold drip brewing method as the immersion method needs more hours to extract the flavors in the coffee beans.
The Eighteen Hour
This is the recommended time frame by experts for steeping your cold brew coffee. If you are a fan of strong coffee, use this time frame, and you’ll be sure to brew a rich and robust cup of cold brew. This is also a better time frame for those using the immersion method such as the use of mason jars.
Another advantage of this time frame is that it has reduced acidity in the coffee. In this time frame, you don’t experience acid reflux or frequent heartburn that most people experience after drinking coffee. This is why most people prefer cold brew coffee over a hot coffee.
The 18-hour time frame also produces more flavors, and you don’t experience the harsh bitterness in your cup of cold brew. This time frame is advantageous to those who prefer dark roast as they don’t have to undergo the harsh flavors and acids in the hot cup of coffee.
Cold Brew Vs Iced Coffee
The flavor of cold brew coffee steeped for 12 to 18 hours is different from that of iced coffee. Iced coffee has a bitter taste and high acidity that can be unpleasant and overpowering to some. The texture of iced coffee is thin and tea-like.
On the other hand, cold brew has subtle flavors and less acidity. The texture of cold brew coffee is smooth and creamy. Cold-brew also has more caffeine than iced coffee as a result of the concentration that cold brew is brewed.
Best Day Time to Steep Cold Brew
The best time to steep your cold brew coffee depends on your schedule. However, if you start to steep your coffee at noon, it will be ready by 6 am, that’s an allowance of 18 hours. If you steep for 12 hours, the cold brew will be ready by midnight.
If you are not an early riser or a night person, start steeping your cold brew in the evening. You can start steeping the drink at 5 pm, and it will be ready at 9 am the next day.
The time frame to steep your coffee depends on your tastes. Explore your tastes and know what you like. However, don’t steep your coffee for more than 24 hours. This will result in unpleasant earthy and woody coffee undertones.
Also, don’t steep your coffee for less than 8 hours (12 is the recommended minimum). Less than 8 hours’ time frame will result in watery coffee. For a strong cup of cold brew, steep your grounds for 18 hours, and add less water rather than steeping for long hours.