Cold-brewed coffee help...

I love this stuff, and have been following the recipe here. Basically it says to mix 2.5 cups of ground coffee with 7.5 cups water and let sit for about 12 hours.

I love the taste, but when I strain the mixture into a pitcher, I only get about 3/4 cup of the coffee extract out of it. The rest is a thick grainy sludge. Is it normal to only get that much liquid? It seems like a big expense and waste for such a small amount of usable coffee.

Am I doing it right, or does anyone have a better way or ratio?

Thank you!

I tried a recipe (from the NY Times) using 1/3 c coffee grounds and 1.5 c water and I got about a 3/4 c coffee concentrate so I lost half the volume. It was good, if murky. I didn’t have normal coffee filters on hand, just the wire mesh one from my machine and it wasn’t fine enough.

Try cutting down on your grounds (my math says you’re at 1:3 ratio and I’m at 2:9 but I’m a math retard). I wonder if you drained it through a cheesecloth + filter, you could twist the cheesecloth to squeeze out more liquid? It sounds messy though.

What you need is one of those apple cider presses, only in miniature. Let’s invent one and get rich!

Thank you for your suggestions! I think I’ll get a cheesecloth - it just won’t go through regular filters. I used a colander with small holes, so I’m hoping none of the sludge got into the pitcher. I may also try a different ratio of coffee ground to water.

I’ve heard of a French press - it something like that good for this?

I have been using the same NY Times recipe as OceanBlue - except I double it - all summer and I love it.

After 11-12 hours of brewing, I strain it into another container with just a normal supermarket strainer (fine but not super-fine) and that gets all the grounds. Then I strain it again over a third container (or the first one washed out) by putting a regular cheap paper basket filter inside the strainer & pouring the coffee/sludge through again. It does take patience, but the result is 100% grit-free!

It seems that the more you can pour into the filter at a time, the better, as the weight of the water helps push it through. When it slows down I pour more of the brewed coffee in. I will also move the filter around so that the sludge doesn’t all pile up in one spot. At the end I’ll squeeze the filter gently to get out the rest of the liquid. The whole straining process takes maybe 15 minutes. It seems to speed things up if you use a slightly larger (less-fine) strainer the second time, to encourage the coffee to pass through.

After all that I end up with just over 2 cups of coffee concentrate, I pour a little off to make ice cubes, add water to double it, and it makes almost exactly a quart of iced coffee - nearly gets me through the whole week, and it’s better than any iced coffee I’ve bought at a shop.

I’ve been making this all summer (Chole has become quite addicted) without any problems. I use a spagetti sauce jar (Newman’s sockarooni if you need the details) fill it about a quarter full with coarse ground medium roast mocha java, top it off with water and let sit (sometimes I do 2 batches a day so an average of 12 hours is about right) Then I stick a paper filter in a mesh strainer pour about half the coffee through, spoon out the grounds that have sunk to the bottom of the jar, and pour the rest of the coffee through. After it sits a few minutes and mostly stopped dripping, I tilt the strainer and fold over the filter in each direction once or twice to break up the grounds and let more coffee goodness drip into my pitcher. Each batch nets me roughly 2 cups (16 ounces), which I serve roughtly cut in half with milk and a little sweetener. Oh yum, time to get me one.

Why not use a coffee press ?

Is what you are trying to do the same as the iced coffees they sell at dunkin donuts and such generic coffee shops? Or is there a large taste difference between brewing cold, with more water, and brewing hot, with less water and adding ice?

I’m a coffee addict, and worked at a java city (cart) for a few years (maybe that’s why I’m an addict) and I’ve never heard of cold brewed coffee.

You can try the recipe off the NYTimes site:

Tried it myself and really like it, especially since it’s been so hot, strong iced coffee like this is incredible. You can really taste a difference between cold-brewed and any other method.

I doubled the recipe – make it in a quart-sized mason jar – strain it twice with a regular coffee filter. Plain paper coffee filters are dirt cheap and I use two, one for each time. I think to reuse the filter puts gunk in the coffee. I happened to have one of those plastic coffee filters on hand and I just sit the paper filter inside that. It’s a tad messy – there’s always some sludge left in the jar – but after all that I end up with about a pint of fabulous coffee extract.

Plain coffee like this is very good. Now I’m experimenting with flavored coffees – about half and half flavored coffee and plain ol’ Kroger Columbian suits me fine. I dilute the coffee with an equal measure of water to coffee solution, add a bit of cold milk, and it’s good to go.

I DO happen to have a French press coffee maker – I think I’ll try that next time and see if that helps. You still have all that sludge on the bottom, though; that’s one of the reasons I went from French press to Chemex in the first place.

(Chemex makes the best hot coffee, but that’s another thread altogether.)

In fact you might consider Chemex filters, which are very good, though a tad expensive, much more so than standard coffee filters. They do filter great. I need to buy some more and see what that does. Any research from the field?

I strain twice like Darth’s Little Pal. First I use a strainer and then I use a coffee filter. I hadn’t really kept track of how much liquid I got back but I would stir the grounds during the first straining to get out as much liquid as I could.

I double the Times recipe, and use a French Press. From 24 oz of water to start, I end up with 20 oz. I suppose if I squeeze the grounds I could pull out more coffee concentrate, but I’m afraid it will be bitter. I mix it with another 20 oz of water, and it keeps me happily in iced coffee (or microwaved hot coffee) for 3 days. It tastes sooo much better than hot brewed coffee too.

I originally pressed it and then poured it through a filter, but it still had the sludge at the bottom. I don’t mind the sludge though, so I just press it now. Couldn’t be easier.

I’ve tried the French press, but it doesn’t hold enough and I seem to lose a lot of liquid to the grounds. I prefer to just mix it up in an overfilled 4-cup measuring cup, from which I get about 4 cups of coffee back, minus a small amount left in the grounds. I strain it once through a very fine sieve that I bought in Portugal, allowing the grounds to drain for about a minute over the container. The mesh is made out of what appears to be a synthetic such as nylon, and I get very little ‘sludge’ in the coffee: probably about a half teaspoon which settles out.

Thank you so much for all the help and suggestions! I’m going to try the NY Times recipe next time I make it and also try double-straining. I’ve seen a cold-brewing machine at Border’s Cafe, but I don’t really want to spend about $30 on something I can do at home for free. I just need to perfect my technique.

steadierfooting, I don’t know if Dunkin’ Donuts cold-brews. I know that Border’s Cafe (Seattle’s Best Coffee) does cold-brew some of their coffee (for their iced mochas and such), and I like it so much more than Starbucks’ iced coffees. Their drinks are served hot with ice, which doesn’t really cool it down enough for me. I like my iced coffee drinks ICY COLD.