Cold Brew: Why Use Quality Arabica Coffee
Cold Brew: Why Use Quality Arabica Coffee
We all love a good cup of cold brew coffee; it gives us life during the hot months of summer and provides us with a real caffeine boost for those who aren’t big fans of hot beverages. But here’s the thing: cold brew coffee can be taken to the next level if we just hold it to the same standards that we do with regular coffees, like espresso. That is if we use Arabica beans to make cold brew coffee.
When it comes to coffee, there are two very different types of beans- arabica and robusta. The latter is much stronger, higher in caffeine, and favored for certain types of coffee, like cold brew and instant. Arabica is lighter, has more nuances in flavor and aroma, and is favored for specialty coffees and such.
Since we think cold brew is a relatively new phenomenon, the idea that it can’t be a delicacy on the same level as espresso is somewhat still in the air, but there’s no truth to that: just by using top-quality beans, we can make a smooth, syrupy, fine cold brew that could bring even the most set-in-their-ways espresso drinkers over to the dark side.
To paint a clearer picture, here’s a table illustrating the advantages of using arabica over robusta:
Advantages of Arabica
Richer in taste and aromaIronically, arabica beans are far superior to robusta in both their flavor and aroma.
We say “ironically” because these beans are quite fragile and require a lot of attention-- unlike robusta beans, which are resilient and are better equipped to survive without constant supervision.Numerous sub-varieties to choose from, each with a unique flavor
Robusta has spawned many varieties of itself around the world. Thanks to the coffee rage, which took advantage of the southern part of the “West Indies”, South America, by making indigenous people farm coffee for virtually no wages, arabica beans have been present for centuries in different countries. Since then, it has adapted and evolved to have small yet important differences in taste and smell.Lower caffeine content
While the raw caffeine concentration in robusta beans can reach up to 3%, arabica beans can reach, at their best, about 1.7%. Incidentally, naturally occurring sugars -which give some coffees hints of cocoa, caramel, and others during the roast- are less present in robusta.Less acidic
While some people might argue this to be a good thing, the truth is that the acidity of a coffee bean contributes greatly to its flavor, as it’s basically a balance between bitterness and acidity. Citrus hints in coffee are a characteristic of top-grade coffees.Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants have a huge importance in our daily lives, as they actively protect us from the effects of aging and prevent several diseases, like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that coffee is the modern diet’s most important source of antioxidants, making up about half of the average person’s daily antioxidant intake.Less bitterness
Bitterness in coffee comes from several sources, but the most important is the caffeine. Caffeine is naturally bitter, corrosive, and can contribute to an overly bitter coffee. Since arabica is naturally lower in caffeine, the chances of overly bitter coffee are much lower.Naturally sweet flavor and aroma
Thanks to a higher presence of natural sugar inside the coffee bean, we are able to find aromas and flavors that are naturally sweet. These sugars undergo a transformation during the roast, caramelizing, and acquiring a taste more sophisticated than just sweet- a coffee made only from arabica can easily be enjoyed without the need for added sugars.
And with that, we rest our case.
Now, we’d like to share with you a step-by-step guide on how to make the best possible cold brew using top-quality arabica beans. But before, how about a little coffee history? Let’s go over briefly over the origins of our beloved cold brew.
Origins of Cold Brew
Cold-brew is actually not a recent development. It was first discovered around the 18th century by the Japanese, who claims to have begun brewing coffee at room temperatures largely by accident since they weren’t very familiar with how to brew coffee.
Legend has it that they stored coffee in jars of water, thinking it would help preserve the coffee for longer - rather than preserving the coffee, they actually brewed it.
But of course, “room temperature brew” is a mouthful to say. It wasn’t until recently when we could brew at lower temperatures due to refrigeration, ice, and the like, that the term “cold brew” was coined, and it quickly became popular.
Apart from the name, brewing at lower temperatures (i.e. inside the fridge) doesn’t really make a difference, besides maybe preventing the appearance of mold in case of overly long-brewing periods. As long as coarse grounds are in contact with water for at least twelve hours, you will get cold brew regardless of how cold it is.
Interestingly enough, it was also the Japanese who invented cold brew coffee’s cousin, iced coffee.
While both drink cold and often with ice, the brewing methods are anything but similar. "Iced coffee" is coffee brewed in the typical fashion with hot water, then poured over plenty of ice to cool it down.
While it may seem interchangeable, the two are fundamentally different: certain chemical changes happen to coffee when it undergoes high temperatures, which is responsible for a lot of the aroma, and taste, in coffee. On the contrary, cold brew coffee tends to be less acidic and has a very different taste.
And now, let’s get to making some coffee! We’ll explore two of the best recipes out there:
Cold Brew Recipe - The 2L Pitcher Recipe
This recipe is inspired by the most traditional of cold brew recipes, which usually involve glass containers like mason jars. These have been always preferred because of not only their practicality and capacity but because you can see clearly how your brew is going without the need of opening the container.
You can use just about any container made of glass, the bigger the better, as you’ll definitely want more. Another good thing about cold brew: it does not lose flavor with time, rather, it keeps for up to two days in the fridge!
We’ll be using a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:5.
What you’ll need:
250 grams of coarse ground coffee. We recommend Baristas Choice for cold brew or your favorite medium-dark roasted coffee
42 fl oz water (1250g)
A 2 liter water pitcher with handle and lid*
How to make:
Using a metal mesh strainer, sift coffee grounds. That'll help you get rid of the fine grounds, which can later make their way into your coffee cup.
Pour coffee into the reusable cold brew bag in the pitcher. Spread evenly to make a coffee bed.
Pour water delicately, trying not to stir the grounds too much. A gentle, steady flow of water is what you should aim for.
Put the lid on the container.
If your container is not air-tight, consider using a cloth to make sure no air goes into the container, as it can be bad for your coffee.
Store in the fridge or a dark, cool place for 18 to 24 hours. (Pro Tip darker roast profiles don’t need as much time steeping as medium and light roasts).
After the desired steep time pull bag out of the pitcher.
If you want a cleaner less gritty taste, use a paper or cloth coffee filter to clean up the taste.
Adding water to dilute cold brew is ok. Just add water to taste, if it’s too strong.
Serve and enjoy.
With this recipe, you should be able to make a very good cold brew coffee.
Remember: as long as you carefully take into consideration the coffee-to-water ratio, you can make cold brew in just about any type of container. Your imagination’s the limit!
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