Cold brew coffee has everyone talking lately. How, exactly, is it different from regular ice coffee? Here's the gist:
To make cold brew, you steep ground coffee in cold water for 12 to 24 hours before filtering it. And you use a lot more coffee than you would when you "hot brew," because the concentrate will get diluted when you add ice or milk. Actually, that extra shot of caffeine is what makes it different from traditional iced coffee, which is simply hot-brewed coffee served cold.
So what's so great about cold brew? Using cold water brings out fewer of the acids in ground coffee, resulting in an easier-on-the-stomach, smoother and sweeter beverage. You might even call it chocolatey. If you find a cup of java is often rough on your digestive system, this low-acid brew might be for you.
On the other hand, if you like the complexity of a well-rounded coffee with the interplay of sweet and bitter notes, you might not love cold brewing. The technique levels the flavor playing field, in a way; so you're less likely to detect the differences between beans of various origins.
For cold brewing at home, try the new Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker ($50, ). It includes a plastic brewing bin, stainless steel filter, and clear glass carafe with a lid. Plus, it's a cinch to store: When not in use, all the parts nest together.
Too busy to brew your own? Buy these best bottled drinks, tried and tested by our own GolfHr Institute.
Super Strong: Grady's Cold Brew Concentrate
Each 32-oz. bottle yields eight servings. Grady's suggests adding an equal amount of water or milk to your cup (over ice), but our testers loved the "chocolate notes" and "intense" flavor when it was served undiluted.
Cult Fave: Stumptown Stubby
This pick from Portland, Oregon, is sold at grocery stores nationwide. Our panelists enjoyed its "silky" texture and "cinnamony" taste. If you're adventurous, try the Nitro, which brings to mind a creamy stout beer.
Sweetest Sip: Chameleon Vanilla
Called "dessert-like" by our testers, this sugary option was hailed for its "smooth" texture. We recommend it for cold brew novices, since the vanilla notes make it more palatable. As it's presweetened, it's best consumed as a treat.