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Everything You Wanted To Know About Cold Brew But Were Afraid To Ask

July 19, 2011

It is the season for iced coffee, and since it’s a relatively new concept, unless you were Toddy-trained, there's still a mystique about it. Harold McGee explained some of that mystique in a recent article, detailing the cold brew differences from hot brew. Like everything else, cold brew has its fans and its detractors. McGee takes a more balanced approach, realizing that every modality has its beneficial side. He takes us through the chemical processes that happen when cold and hot water extract qualities from the grounds. The different temperatures and time taken for extraction produce coffees that are chemically different. Once McGee demonstrates that we can appreciate the good qualities and differences of both brews, he moves on to directions for cold brewing. He has cold brewed with a French press, a Chemex and a toddy. With pour-over, the hot brewing takes place but the hot coffee ends in a cup of ice. McGee even explains how to cold brew in a bowl with a cheesecloth. Now it doesn’t get any more primitive than that. Regarding the controversy over cold brewing, those who like it praise the resulting low acidity and lack of bitterness with a smooth intense flavor. Critics say cold brew lacks aroma and body and they get better results from using a double-strength hot pour-over or the press. So McGee experimented and the result was: he became a cold brew fan. As he says, “..when I compared a 12-hour cold brew of freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee side by side with double-strength pour-overs brewed onto ice, each was good, and it was the cold brew that consistently tasted fruitier and more refreshing. That experiment made me a fan of cold-brewed coffee.” So there you go. You heard it from the New York Times. Cold brew is consistently refreshing. But do your own experimenting. After all, the fun is in the journey. Just ask reporter McGee.






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