Cold Brew Coffee in the Fridge or at Room Temperature? Know the Facts
For a lot of people, the sole mention of cold brew coffee might cause fear that the process is overly complicated and difficult. There is even the misconception that cold brew and iced coffees are the same. This is, of course, far from the truth. You’ve done your research and you think you’re ready to try making cold brew at home. But should you make cold brew coffee in the fridge or at room temperature?
The short answer is that you should make cold brew coffee in the fridge. Cold brew coffee is meant to be served cold and also tends to be stronger due to the longer brew time. Since hot water extracts oils and flavors from coffee faster than cold water, it makes sense that when brewing with cold water, the process takes longer. How much longer? Well, the cold coffee brew can take 12 to 18 hours to brew in your fridge.
As for being the same with iced coffee, well that is completely wrong. Iced coffee is coffee brewed in hot water, and then chilled, by adding ice. Cold brew coffee is made with cold water. It is the difference in the brewing methods that make these two types of coffee very distinctive from each other. Even when using the same coffee beans, different methods bring out different tastes in coffee.
But let’s go into more detail as to why you should make cold brew in your fridge instead of at room temperature.
What Exactly Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee has a bit of a bad reputation of being snobby and for people with a lot of time on their hands. People usually dismiss it as a way to overcomplicate a simple process. To be fair, it did start up as a trend in boutique coffee shops, but it has gone very mainstream. And while it does take a lot of time to prepare, it’s not active preparation. So you can go about your day while it is brewing, and have delicious coffee ready by the time you come back. It’s that easy.
The difference between cold brew coffee and hot brew coffee is first, the taste. Hot water brings the acidic and bitter taste to coffee, and cold brew doesn’t have that. So if you are not a fan of the acidic taste a hot cup of coffee can have, maybe it is time you switched to cold brew.
Cold brew coffee has a smoother and richer taste. And while you might use the same coffee beans for both your cold and hot brews, you will not get the same taste. Don’t get me wrong, it is still the same coffee, but different methods of brewing bring out different aspects of the same coffee beans. It is always great to experiment with different ways of brewing, and different coffee beans.
So basically, cold brew coffee is coffee made with cold water. We cleared that. This is usually done by slowly dripping water into a bed of coffee, or letting coffee grounds soak in water for a long time.
This time can be up to 12 or even 18 hours. The longer the time the stronger the taste. It also depends on if you are making it in the fridge or a room temperature. This doesn’t change the taste of the coffee noticeably, so it is really up to you. Let’s get into that a bit.
Fridge or Room Temperature?
Again it’s really up to your preference, and your schedule. The warmer the water, the easier it is for it to extract the taste from the coffee. Naturally, this means that if you are making cold brew coffee in the fridge, it will take a few hours longer.
Cold brew coffee, in general, has a smoother taste compared to hot brews. Hot water brings out the acidic and bitter taste in coffee, and a lot can go wrong if you are not using proper brewing methods. However, with cold brew coffee, you do not have that problem. All you get is the rich and smooth taste of the coffee. Plus it is great to drink all year round. Not just in hot weather.
You can make your cold brew on the counter in your kitchen, or in the fridge if you have the room to do so. If you make it on the counter, you will need about 12 hours. If you opt for the fridge, you will need 15 to 18 hours, depending on the temperature in the fridge.
Both ways you will be getting pretty much the same taste. The difference, if any, is not noticeable. The only difference in taste is that the cold brew coffee brewed for over 8 hours tends to taste stronger and has more caffeine in it.
So it all comes down to your schedule. The best way to fit it into your schedule is either leave it overnight or start making it first thing in the morning before you go to work. That way, you can go about your day, and not worry about getting impatient. So if you feel like you have more than 12 hours, it is better to do it in the fridge.
Regardless of where you make it, as soon as it is done, the coffee should be kept in the fridge. And as we mentioned above, we think you should make cold brew coffee in the fridge instead of at room temperature if you have the time.
How Long Does Cold Brew Coffee Last?
This depends on how you store it. Like I said, as soon as it is done, the coffee should be placed and kept in the fridge. It is a cold brew, so keeping it in the fridge won’t affect the taste. It will just help preserve it.
If you have made your cold brew coffee in the fridge – great! Leave it there. If not, then make sure you store it in an airtight container safely in the fridge.
If kept in cold temperatures, cold brew coffee can last about 10 days. This is great news. It might have taken some extra time to make, but this means you will have delicious coffee for the next 10 days.
However, if you do not store your coffee in the fridge, it will last significantly shorter. Keeping your cold brew coffee at room temperature means it will only last 1 to 2 days.
Also, keeping your coffee in an airtight container is very important. While cold brew coffee kept in the fridge can last even over 10 days, open lids can affect the taste. To make sure you keep your coffee tasting great for a long period, make sure you close it properly. The better you keep it, the tastier the coffee.
What Coffee Should You Use?
If you are just starting to experiment with cold brew coffee, you can use the same coffee beans you use for your hot brews. Different brewing methods bring out different tastes in the coffee. This doesn’t mean that it will change the taste completely, but it is more of a different perspective of the same coffee. This is why it is great to start with the coffee beans you usually use. It will give you a great new perspective on something familiar.
After you have done that and want to dive a little deeper, there are all sorts of specialty coffees you can try.
Light, medium, or dark roast, you can try them all and see which one you prefer. We would go with light or medium roasts, as they are better suited for cold brewing methods.
If you ask us, coffee is great no matter how you make it, as long as you make it right. Some people like cold brew coffee during the warmer months. But the point of cold brew coffee is the taste, and not exclusively the fact that is cold. So if you are like us, and enjoy smooth and rich coffee, there is no reason not to drink cold brew all year round.
Most people have a 9 to 5 workday, so it can be convenient to start the brew before going to work. This will give you enough time to finish your workday, and even maybe catch up with friends before the brew is done.
If your schedule allows a 12-hour brew, then it might be better to make a cold brew coffee at room temperature. You can set up at the kitchen counter, or anywhere you have space.
If your schedule allows for a longer brew, 15 to 18 hours, then you might opt for making cold brew coffee in the fridge. This process takes longer because the temperature is lower and it takes longer to get a stronger taste.
However you decide, after you are done making the coffee, make sure you store it properly. Keep it in an airtight container to make sure you keep the taste for a longer period. When stored in the fridge, cold brew coffee won’t go bad for up to 10 days to two weeks. If you store it at room temperature, it won’t go bad for a day or two.
If it were up to us, we would always make cold brew coffee in the fridge instead of at room temperature.
We hope we helped in your quest for great coffee.
Stay caffeinated friends!