Cold brew coffee has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to its smooth and rich flavor. However, sometimes the brew can end up too bitter for some people’s taste.
The good news is that there are a few easy tips and tricks that can help you make a less bitter cold brew. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to achieve a smooth and flavorful cold brew coffee that you’ll love to sip on.
My guess is that if you are here you probably already know what cold brew is. So, if you want, you can skip to my remedies for a bitter taste in your cold brew. Otherwise, keep reading for a quick overview of what cold brew is.
What is Cold Brew?
Cold brew is a coffee brewing method that involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period of time, usually 12 to 24 hours.
The coffee is then filtered, leaving behind a concentrated coffee extract. This extract can be served over ice or diluted with water or milk.
Cold Brew Taste Profile
Cold brew coffee is known for its smooth and less acidic flavor profile compared to hot brewed coffee. It’s become increasingly popular in recent years among coffee lovers.
The cold brew process is different from traditional hot brewing methods, where hot water is used to extract the flavors and oils from coffee beans quickly. In cold brewing, the slow extraction process allows the coffee to develop a milder, less acidic taste with a smoother texture. The result is a coffee that is less bitter and more aromatic, with a subtle sweetness and natural chocolatey and nutty notes.
Making Cold Brew At Home
You can make your own cold brew at home using a variety of tools, including a French press, a cold brew maker, or simply a pitcher or mason jar with a fine mesh strainer.
I like brewing it at a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio, but that is up to personal preference.
As I mentioned, the normal steeping time for cold brew is 12-24 hours. I like to steep mine for about 16 hours. But, that is completely up to you. We will look at the influence of steeping time on the strength of your coffee in a moment.
The resulting cold brew concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for 7-10 days, making it a convenient and versatile option for those who enjoy coffee.
Things To Adjust in Your Brewing Process
1. Adjust your coffee-to-water ratio
The coffee-to-water ratio is one of the most critical factors that affect the taste of your cold brew. I think that a good coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew is 1:4, meaning one part coffee grounds to four parts water.
However, if you find that your brew is too strong or bitter, you might be using too much coffee for the amount of water that you are using. You can try increasing the amount of water or decreasing the amount of water that you use. I mean, there really isn’t a golden ratio for making cold-brew coffee. Experiment with different ratios until you find the one that suits your taste.
2. Grind Size
The coarseness of your coffee grounds can also impact the bitterness of your cold brew. A coarsely ground coffee beans will result in a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee. On the other hand a finer grind will extract more flavor from the beans, resulting in a stronger, more bitter brew.
So, when making cold brew, be sure to use a coarse grind setting on your coffee grinder. If your coffee is too bitter, try using a coarser grind the next time you brew.
3. Use Fresh Good-Quality Coffee Beans
The quality of your coffee beans can also affect the taste of your cold brew. Using low-quality or stale beans could give you a cup of coffee that is filled with unwanted, including bitter flavors.
Look for beans that are labeled as “low-acid” or “smooth” to ensure that your brew is less bitter.
Also, if possible, buy whole beans and grind them right before brewing to get the best flavor. Pre-ground coffee that you buy from your grocery store might not be quite as fresh by the time that you use it. This could lead to bitterness of your coffee.
4. Type of Coffee
The type of coffee beans of course also have an influence and it might take some experimenting to find a blend that you love. A lighter roast can help you make sure that your coffee tastes less bitter.
I have soft spot for Starbucks’s blonde roast for making cold brew. I find that it has a wonderful smooth taste that isn’t bitter at all. It also has a sweeter flavor and not a very sour compared to other roasts that I’ve tried.
5. Shorter Brewing Time
The longer you brew your coffee, the more bitter it can become. So, if you’re finding that your cold brew is too bitter, try brewing it for less time. Typically, cold brew should be brewed for 12-24 hours. I found that about 16 hours gives me a brew that I like. But you can experiment with shorter brewing times to find the sweet spot that satisfy your tastebuds.
Start by subtracting about two hours from the length of time that you’ve brewed it until now. Then, taste your brew to see if it’s less bitter than your previous batches.
6. Water Temperature
The temperature at which you brew your coffee also has in influence on the amount of bitter notes that are extracted. If you find that the coffee brewed with room temperature water is too strong for you, try brewing it in the fridge.
7. Filter Your Cold Brew Properly
Filtering your cold brew is essential to remove any bitter sediments or oils that may have accumulated during the brewing process. Using a paper filter or a fine-mesh strainer will help to remove any unwanted particles and leave you with a smoother, less bitter cold brew. If your cold brew still tastes bitter after filtering, try using a double-layered filter or filtering it twice to get rid of any remaining sediments.
Things You Can Add To Your Coffee
8. Dairy Products or Alternatives
Things such as cream or milk can help counter the bitter notes in your cold brew. So, you could try to dilute it with one of these and see if it helps.
When using milk I use a 1:2 coffee to milk ratio. In the case of cream a I recommend a 1:1 ratio and a table spoon of cream.
I’m not a big fan of the taste of dairy alternatives, but I mean, that’s just me. If you want to use one of them, such as almond milk or coconut milk, maybe also start with a 1:2 coffee-to-milk ratio.
Many people like to add sugar to ease the bitter taste of over-extracted coffee. There are of course, also other things that you can do to sweeten your cold brew that might do the trick.
Some believe that salt is even more powerful than sugar or other related ingredients in balancing out some bitterness in your coffee.
Spices such as cinnamon or cardamom can also help battle bitterness in coffee.
Lastly, using something acidic can also help to counter bitterness in coffee. Something like lemon or even orange might do the trick for you.
In conclusion, making a less bitter cold brew coffee is all about experimentation and finding what works best for you. By adjusting your coffee-to-water ratio, using a coarse grind, using light roasted fresh good-quality beans, brewing for a shorter time at a lower temperature, and filtering your brew properly, you can achieve a delicious and refreshing cup of cold brew that is smooth and flavorful, with less bitterness. So, get brewing, and enjoy your perfect cup of homemade cold brew coffee!
P.S. If you don’t know where to start brewing, I like making cold brew in French press.