Note from Margaret: I’m thrilled to welcome Benji Walklet as a guest contributor to Coffee Cantata! Benji runs The Coffee Concierge, which is a fantastic resource for all things coffee – machine recommendations, coffee reviews, and cool experiments like this one. Check out his writing (and videos) at http://www.thecoffeeconcierge.net.
In the world of coffee, there is probably nothing more “in” right now than cold brewed coffee. There are now entire rows in cold beverage sections of grocery stores dedicated to this hot (figuratively), yet cold (literally) coffee drink.
While these ready-to-drink cold brew coffees can be pretty hit-or-miss in terms of quality, there is one thing all of the major brands have in common: they are expensive.
I understand that cold brew coffee is generally more concentrated coffee, but this doesn’t mean that you should have to shell out $4 for a small 10-12 ounces bottle or carton of the stuff.
So why not make some cold brew coffee yourself? Great way to save money, right?
Only one problem…you’re not interested in buying a special cold brew coffee maker like the Filtron or the Bruer. And hey, I don’t blame you.
This had me thinking: “what if I could make cold brew coffee with one of my existing coffee makers?”
Making Cold Brew with the AeroPress
I figured the AeroPress would be a great coffee maker to experiment with because it already makes some of the best coffee in the business with hot water; plus, I could steep the coffee in cold water for as much time as I needed using the inverted method.
With AeroPress in hand, I got started.
First Test: for Speed
My first test was an ambitious one, and I kind of knew what the result would be before I even started. But I was curious nonetheless.
I started with 13 grams of coffee ground to a medium-coarse level. I then dumped the ground coffee into the inverted AeroPress and added water until the concoction reached the top for 182 total grams of water. I stirred, then attached the filter cap with pre-wetted filter and waited… for 10 minutes.
The result was basically swamp water. Murky, tastes like alligator, etc.
Here’s a quick video of what it looked like:
OK, Forget Speed
Clearly, 10 minutes would not be enough. If anything, I needed hours, which came as no surprise given that all of the ready-to-drink cold brews out there are steeped for at least 12 hours.
This time, I added 20 grams of coffee.
With inverted AeroPress on my gram scale, I then dumped the ground coffee through the handy dandy AeroPress funnel.
Just as before, I added my cold, filtered water. 184.2 grams to be exact. This gave me a 9:1 water to coffee ratio.
I then gave the coffee sludge a rigorous 15 seconds of stirring.
Finally, the pre-wet filter and filter cap were screwed onto the top.
And then I waited, this time for 18 hours.
I was pleased with the result, despite the fact that I only got one cup of cold brew out of the 18 hours it took to brew.
The coffee really didn’t taste any different from a typical cold brew coffee (I’ve tried a lot). It was refreshing, had nice body, and plenty of delicious coffee flavor.
In the end though, it was only one 6.5 ounce cup of cold brew for a whopping 18 hours.
But before you go and write this off as a pointless way to make cold brew, consider how you could make a nice large batch of AeroPress cold brew with just a few added minutes and materials.
Making Large Batches of Cold Brew with the AeroPress
It’s simple, really.
Take a large pot, grind more coffee and add more water using the same 9:1 ratio and steep time (you could even go a full 24 hours if you want).
Remember the funnel? Yeah, this one:
After 24 hours all you have to do is pour it into the inverted AeroPress ~190 grams at a time. Then flip, and press into a larger container. If you don’t have a larger container, press into a glass and then dump the concentrate into a glass bottle, pitcher, or carafe.
I like to keep my cold brew in glass milk jugs.
Since the AeroPress is incredibly easy to clean and its filters are cheap, you will basically only be adding a few minutes to the total process.
Dump your coffee puck, re-add your unfiltered cold brew coffee to the inverted AeroPress, and get to pressing!
The Economics of Making Your Own Cold Brew
Just for kicks, I decided to do a quick little math problem comparing the cost of a ready-to-drink cold brew to DIY cold brew via the method outlined above.
Ready-to-drink Cold Brew
Cost: typically $4 for 10-12 ounces of cold brew coffee.
Time: a trip to the grocery store
DIY Cold Brew
Bag of quality whole bean coffee: ~$16 for 12 ounces (340 grams)
340 grams/20 grams (for 6.5 ounce cup of AeroPress cold brew) = ~9, 12 ounce bottles of ready-to-drink cold brew
$16/9 = $1.77 per 12 ounce bottle of DIY coffee
Time: ~18.25 hours (but really only 15 mins of actual labor)
OK, I’ll be the first to admit that was some funky math…and full disclosure, math was never my strength. But by my calculations you can save a little more than $2 per 12 ounces of cold brew if you make it yourself with this method. Sure, it will cost you a waiting time of about 24 hours, but if you’re saving that much money and getting that much cold brew, I think you’d agree that it’s totally worth it.
I’m going to make a large batch with the method described above. I’ll keep you posted.
Until then, good luck!
P.S. Thank you to Margaret for letting me post on her awesome coffee blog!
Benji Walklet’s love affair with coffee didn’t begin until he graduated from college and decided he wanted to learn how to make a Mocha. After some trials and tribulations with bad equipment, and a growing affection for black coffee and straight espresso, he began his quest to make the perfect cup of coffee without making a trip to the local coffee shop. You can join him on his coffee quest at The Coffee Concierge, where he reviews and experiments with coffee and coffee-making equipment.