A cold brew is a brilliant cup of coffee enjoyed during the summer as an alternative to a beloved coffee served piping hot during the winter. It is one of the easiest coffees to brew as few ingredients and equipment are needed. One thing you need to get right is the grind size and use the best grind for cold brew.
size matters! And in the case of cold brew, the bigger, the better. If you are in a rush, then here is the quick answer – a coarse grind is the best grind for cold brew.
if you are curious, whole beans can be used also, but the extraction time will be increased.
Let’s get cracking on with this article and talk about cold brew and grind size and why it matters.
Cold Brew Grind Size – What Is The Best Grind For Cold Brew?
Without a doubt, a coarse grind size is best for making a cold brew coffee. If you use a fine grind, or a grind size that is a finer grind than a coarse grind, your coffee grounds will clump together, which is less than ideal for extracting your cold brew. Clumping is not good for any coffee brewing method.
Ideally, you should look at the settings on your coffee grinder and use the largest grind size that it will permit. You will get a much better and fresher cup of coffee with the maximum flavor when you grind your beans immediately before you start brewing.
Pre-ground coffee does not have that freshness factor, as once your beans have been ground the degradation of them starts to accelerate.
Read: Is cold brew stronger than espresso?
Does Grind Size Matter In Cold Brew?
The grind size matters for all types of coffee that you want to brew. With cold brew, the brewing time is considerably longer than what you would use for any other brewing process.
This is compounded by the fact that cold-brewed coffee is brewed at as low a water temperature as possible. This low extraction temperature extends the brewing time considerably, and thus you need to use a larger grind size.
The larger your grinds, the longer the brewing process will take. Also, the colder your water, and you need water that is ice-cold to draw out all the low temperature compounds and get a great tasting cold brew. Because of this, typical brewing times can be as long as 12 hours to a full 24 hours.
If you use a smaller than coarse grind size, you will end up with a coffee that is over extracted and overtly bitter.
Pro Tip: Brew your cold brew coffee in your fridge for best results. You can experiment with hot water and making double brewed cold brew by first brewing a batch with hot water, 96C (205F) and brewing it at room temperature.
Then remove the grounds and brew using the first round of brewed coffee, but cool it in your freezer until it is almost frozen, ice crystals start to form and then add fresh grounds for a second round of brewing. This time, keep your brew in the fridge while brewing.
The result of this is a perfectly married cold brew with high temperature and low temperature compounds and a tasty double cold-brewed coffee.
What Type Of Grind Is Best For Cold Brew?
Coarse grounds, without a doubt, is the best grind size for cold brew coffee grounds. If you want to try out one of my cold brew coffee specialities, then use whole beans and follow the pro tip above for making a double brewed full immersion cold-brewed coffee.
I strongly advise against buying pre-ground coffee as it is highly likely that they are ground to medium grind size unless you can request a specific grind size from your retailer.
If you must use pre-ground coffee beans and have no other choice, try to buy them direct from a roaster or from a retailer that will grind them to a very coarse grind size. Ask that they use the largest possible grind size and state that it is for cold brew and, if you want, French Press coffee.
How Does Grind Size Affect Cold Brew?
The grind size affects cold brew as it has an impact on the extraction of coffee flavors and caffeine from the coffee grounds.
The finer grind size that is used for the coffee extraction process, the greater the surface area is increased and a larger amount of water is in contact with your grounds. The greater the contact area is, the shorter the contact time there should be for brewing a great cup of coffee.
With cold brew, the smaller the grind size, the more you will need to reduce your steep time. This is also true for the increase in the size of your coffee grounds. As you increase the size, the contact area is decreased and the period of time, the contact time of the water and the coffee grounds needs to be increased.
Which Setting On The Grinder Is Used For Grinding Coffee For Cold Brew?
For brewing cold brew coffee, the perfect grind size is a coarse grind size, as coarse as you can get. Set your coffee grinder to as large as it will permit. This size and setting with a good steep time will result in a cold brew coffee that extracts all the low temperature compounds with a very natural hint of sweetness and no traces of the bitter compounds.
Can You Use Fine Grind For Cold Brew?
it can be done, but using the wrong grind size, even a medium-coarse grind, is going to adversely affect how your cup of coffee will end up. To get a good top quality cup of coffee, be it a cold brew or an espresso or what ever, you will need to adjust appropriately the other variables, namely the brewing time.
Some coffee brewing fanatics claim that over extraction is not a problem in cold brew coffee brewing. This is not true. It is less of a problem than other coffee brewing methods such as French press coffee or drip coffee, because over extraction with a cold brew is something that happens significantly slower and over a much longer period of time and is measured in hours and not minutes.
Always stick to the correct brew time. With a fine grind for cold brew, you will need to stir frequently to prevent clumping and TAFO – Test And Find Out the ideal brew time by taste testing frequently.
Do I Have To Grind Coffee Beans For Cold Brew?
you can go proper old school and brew your cold brew coffee with whole beans and enjoy a pretty amazing cup of coffee. Using whole beans, your brew time is typically going to be around 24 hours at least.
If you can’t get a coarse grind, go all in and go old school!
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Grind For Cold Brew
Can I Use Medium Fine Grind For Cold Brew?
Yes, you can use a medium grind size for making cold brew coffee. The result will not be as good as a coarse grind. If you are using a medium grind, you will need to reduce your extraction time by a few hours.
Does Grind Consistency Matter For Cold Brew?
Yes, and undoubtedly so. Grind consistency matters a lot for cold brew coffee and any other type of coffee that you are brewing due to getting a high quality and even extraction.
If you have an uneven and inconsistent grind size, you will end up with an uneven extraction rate due to the different grind sizes extracting at different rates, and an uneven brew that is not as good as it could be.
Is French Press Grind Good For Cold Brew?
Yes, a French press requires the same even coarse grind size that a French press coffee needs. You can also use your French press to brew a cold brew coffee, just adjust your brewing method appropriately.
Why Is My Homemade Cold Brew Too Bitter?
If your homemade cold brew is too bitter, there are two main reasons for this:
- 1. Your brew time was too long, and it over extracted.
- 2. Your grind size was too small which led to an increased contact area between your water and your coffee grinds, causing your coffee to over extract.
Is 12 Hours Long Enough For Cold Brew?
If you are brewing your cold brew coffee outside your fridge at room temperature, 12 hours is normally an okay amount of time. If you are like me and really want to extract the low temperature compounds and brew your coffee while it is in the fridge 16 hours and going on 24 is normally a good amount of time. The key is to run a few taste tests to find out.
Why Is My Cold Brew So Weak?
If your cold brew is so weak, it is probably and most likely due to a short brewing time. The solution is simple, leave your cold brew coffee a couple of hours or more longer to extract and then check up on it.
Another reason for a weak cold brew coffee may be due to using the wrong coffee to water ratio. You need to use a 1:8 ratio, that’s 1 part coffee and 8 parts water, a higher ratio of 1:10 or 1:12 for example will result in a weak tasting cup of coffee.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Best Grind For Cold Brew
Undoubtedly the best grind for cold brew is a coarse grind. Deviating from this size of grind will lead to a coffee that is not as great as it could be unless you are thinking outside the box and going old school and brewing whole bean cold brew coffee.
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