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What Is Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate?

You hear it used in recipes, here's what it means.

by Kayla Baird | July 25, 2020

What is cold brew concentrate?

Cold brew is coarsely ground coffee that’s been brewed with cold water for 14 to 18 hours. The cold water allows for a slow, gentle extraction process that yields a rich and low-acid brew. Cold brew concentrate is the undiluted form of cold brew coffee that is used as a base for iced coffee and beyond.

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How to make cold brew coffee concentrate

Making cold brew concentrate is a great way to prepare your daily cup ahead of time, though it does take a bit of patience. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you.

Using Trade Cold Brew Bags, add 3 ounces (or 85 grams) of coarsely ground coffee. If you’re not weighing, use the cold brew bag’s drawstring as a guide. (pro tip: Don’t overfill your bag, as you want the water to be able to mingle with all of the coffee grounds.)

Place your coffee-filled bag in your quart jar, add 16 ounces (or 473 grams) of cold water or room temperature water, and seal it with a lid. It’s super-important to use cold water, as you want to prevent any oxidation or over-extraction, which will yield bitter, sour, and stale flavors.

Place your jar in a place that is cool and dark for 14 to 18 hours. If your home is on the warmer side use less time, and if you’re in a cooler environment, stick to the higher end of the time range.

At the end of your brew time, remove the cold brew bag and discard or compost. You now have your very own cold brew concentrate!

Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate Recipe:

  • 3 oz/85 g coarsely ground coffee
  • 16 oz/473 g cold water
  • 1 Trade Cold Brew Bag

How to use cold brew concentrate

There are endless possibilities of what to do with cold brew concentrate. Cold brew coffee concentrate is a versatile, choose your own adventure-type ingredient. So, it’s entirely up to you to choose what you’d like to use to dilute your concentrate. You can either keep it simple with ice, add a little richness with milk, use the concentrate as a base for a coffee cocktail, or as an ingredient in your favorite coffee-based baking recipe.

While cold brew concentrate is the magic ingredient for a variety of drinks, the concentrate should never be heated up. While it could be tempting to create a cup of hot coffee that’s every bit as smooth as your favorite cup of cold brew, reheating coffee drastically changes the chemical make-up. Coffee is full of compounds that, when reheated, will result in a cup that is astringent and bitter.

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How much cold brew concentrate to use

After making your cold brew concentrate, you’ll want to dilute it before consuming. When choosing a starting point of how much water to add to cold brew concentrate, start with a one to two ratio of concentrate to water and dilute to taste. This same principle can be applied when using milk in place of water.

Here's a great example of how to make a cold brew concentrate latte.

Ingredients:

  • Cold Brew Concentrate Latte
  • 2 oz cold brew concentrate
  • 4 oz milk of choice
  • 4 oz ice

Cold brew concentrate pro tips

  • During the coffee extraction process, solubles are dissolved that give the final product flavor. Fruit acids, sugars, and bittering components are extracted at different rates, and with cold brew’s slower, gentler rate of extraction, it can be one that is easy to lose control of.

  • While it may be tempting to extend the brewing process to achieve a stronger brew, anything beyond 14 to 18 hours will lack sweetness and have more unpleasant bitter flavors. Instead, try adding less water or more coffee to adjust the strength of your final concentrate.

  • Cold brew concentrate is shelf stable for up to a week after brewing, but does start to lose some of its aromatics before expiration. To preserve the flavor of your cold brew concentrate — and slow the process of oxidation — keep it sealed tightly in a clean container in a refrigerated environment.

Coffee recommendations for making cold brew concentrate

For a traditional cold brew

Red Rooster’s Honduras Mujale is the perfect pairing with milk for a deeply sweet and nutty cup.

For a versatile cold brew

Full-bodied with a buttery mouthfeel and a playful acidity of cherry and melon, with a lingering chocolaty sweetness. Equator’s Peru Cajamarca is both bold and delicate, equally satisfying as hot or cold brew.

For a surprising cold brew

City of Saints Ethiopia Girma Esthetu is giving us iced tea lemonade vibes with expressive notes of black tea, cocoa, and raspberry that will forever remind you of the taste of summer.

For a decaf cold brew

Novo’s Decaf Espresso Novo isn’t just for espresso. It’s rich and complex with a distinct caramel sweetness that will turn any cold brew creation into a treat.