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And like every summer, coffee lovers are presented with a familiar dilemma: should you switch to cold coffee to combat the oppressive heat or should you continue drinking hot coffee as some sort of a self-inflicting torture?
If you're one of those who prefers your caffeine hit icy cold in the summer, you may face another dilemma once you’re at the counter of your favorite coffee shop: "should you get an iced coffee or a cold brew?"
"Cold coffee" is how most people define both iced coffee and cold brew coffee, but be careful not to confuse them.
While it’s true that both are made with coffee and water and served cold, there are important differences between the two.
Traditionally speaking, what we call iced coffee is often just regular hot coffee (or espresso), cooled with the addition of ice cubes. Alternatively, some coffee drinkers would brew hot coffee, and then cool it at room temperature or in the refrigerator for hours.
While the goal of getting a cup of coffee with lower temperature can be achieved through the above methods, the taste often suffers as a result. It’s because once brewed, coffee has a fairly short lifespan: after a few minutes in contact with oxygen, it loses most of its aromas, and its taste also deteriorates as time passes.
Coffee beans contain oils that alter over time: more slowly when the bean is whole, quickly once it is ground, very quickly when the coffee is not drunk immediately after being extracted, and then eventually it develops rancid aromas.
This is why, to make a good iced coffee, you have to pour the coffee as soon as it is ready, directly on the ice. You should also drink it almost as quickly as you made it. Otherwise, with the warm temperature, the ice melts quickly and the coffee becomes a sad, watered down version of itself.
Unlike regularly brewed coffee, cold brew coffee is never exposed to heat. In essence, cold brew uses time, rather than heat to extract the coffee's aromatic oils, sugars, and caffeine. Needless to say, cold brew coffee is best for those who plan ahead.
During the preparation of a cold brew coffee, the extraction of the coffee takes place through a slow infusion with cold water. You may need 8-12 hours to prepare a good cold brew coffee concentrate which can then be diluted with water, milk or drunk straight.
Since the coffee is extracted directly with cold water, it is not subjected to the intense heat of boiling water and does not suffer any thermal shock. Cold water leaves the coffee aromas intact and does not alter the flavor structure. The final result is a clear drink, smoother and sweeter tasting coffee with very little acidity.
Have you ever poured hot coffee over ice cubes? If yes, you must have noticed that the coffee gets diluted or watered-down. With the cold brew method, you’re in full control of how much you want to dilute the coffee. Also, since the coffee is already cold (or at room temperature), adding ice, water or milk is totally optional. This also means that cold brew coffee is a better base for an iced latte.
Normally, caffeine is better extracted at high temperatures. However, the high ratio of coffee to water, combined with the long extraction time, actually make cold brew coffee richer in caffeine than iced coffee.
If you are now officially #teamcoldbrew and want to brew your cold one at home, there’s no need to buy cold brew concentrate at the store. At Faema, we have the right tools to easily steep a freshly made cold brew coffee in no time at all from the comfort of your own kitchen.