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Everything You Need to Know About Cold Brew Coffee

Floridians know better than most that some things just go together. Sand and sun; the Florida Turnpike and traffic; hurricanes and parties; Silver Springs and alligators; a hot day and cold coffee.

Yep, there’s something special about pairing a refreshing cold brew coffee with a balmy Florida morning (or toasty afternoon). For lovers of coffee in Ocala, FL, a refreshing iced coffee beverage is tops.

You can picture it, can’t you? Patrons line up at their favorite local coffeehouse. Everyone bears a glisten of sweat as the Florida summer transforms the world into a postcard. The barista at your favorite Ocala coffee shop hands you a cold brew coffee, and the ice chatters as if begging you to take a long sip. You pour a touch of creamer into the cup and watch it swirl. A bead of condensation runs down the side of the cup, and you finally take that first draw of rich, velvety cold brew. Sweet refreshment!

A barista pours cream into a tall glass of cold brew coffee sitting on a wooden table covered in coffee beans.

We could wax poetic about cold brew coffee for pages on end, so consider the following our ode to cold brew. Read on to learn everything you should know about our favorite iced coffee beverage.

The Cold, Hard Cold Brew Truth

Cold brew is the perfect complement to a sweltering day, but it’s also so much more than chilled coffee. Cold brew is complex, features a unique brewing process, and is in a category of its own. While other iced coffee beverages have their place (and are delicious in their own way), cold brew holds a special place in our hearts.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

While almost always served chilled and over ice, cold brew earns its name through its brewing technique, not its presentation. Thanks to its slow extraction and the role of refrigeration in the process, cold brew coffee is imbued with certain traits and flavor profiles that make it distinct.

We’ll dive into all of these details soon. First, it’s time to address some common questions and misconceptions associated with cold brew.

What is the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

The overlap between cold brew and iced coffee can be a bit confusing, especially when a coffee shop offers both. They are both coffee-based drinks that are served over ice and commonly paired with various additives, like cream and flavoring. So, what is the difference between the two?

The primary thing that differentiates cold brew from iced coffee is the brewing process. Cold brew is a slower process that is unlike the standard method of brewing hot coffee. The benefits of this alternative brewing method shine when the coffee is added to ice and served.

Cold brew with ice in a glass jar.

Iced coffee tends to carry the tasting notes of its regular-brew counterparts because that’s essentially what it is–brewed coffee that is chilled or poured over ice before it is served. It becomes diluted as the ice melts, creating a weaker coffee. While this can be remedied by brewing the coffee at a higher strength, you then increase the bitter characteristics of the drink.

Cold brew, on the other hand, can be brewed to varying strengths by changing the ratio of grounds to water used during the brewing process. This helps counteract the dilution that comes with ice without changing the flavor profile of the beverage. If you’ve ever heard cold brew described as “smooth” or “easy to drink,” this is why.

Making Cold Brew - It’s Easier Than You Think

While the end product may seem magical, mystical, and otherwise mythical, the process of making cold brew is straightforward. Your favorite local coffee shop in Ocala (we know it’s Chelsea Coffee) may have certain secret steps to perfect its cold brew to its liking, but there’s no reason you can’t make your own at home.

  • Gather the necessary ingredients and tools.

  • Cool to room-temperature water. Only use water you would drink, so consider opting for filtered water.

  • Ground coffee beans–preferably freshly ground–of your choice.

  • A vessel to brew in. Anything will work, including a jar or a pitcher.

  • A method of filtering coffee. If you invest in a cold brew coffee maker, it will come with a filter.

  • Find the right ratio of grounds to water (measured by weight).

  • Most cold brew coffee is made with a ratio between four-to-one and 10-to-one.

  • Feel free to experiment with different ratios until the taste fits your preferences.

  • Brew the coffee.

  • Cover the vessel.

  • Allow the mixture of grounds and water to rest. Most brews take between 12 and 18 hours, but you can adjust this to fine-tune the taste of your finished cold brew.

  • Finish the process.

  • Use a filter to strain the grounds from the coffee.

  • Chill the cold brew.

  • Serve as you see fit!

How to Make Cold Brew Concentrate

Because it can be brewed to any strength your little heart desires, most coffee shops choose to make cold brew concentrate rather than normal cold brew coffee. The two are identical in process and flavor profile, but concentrate is much stronger.

A Chelsea Coffee barista pours cream from a white pitcher into a small glass of cold brew.

Brewing cold brew concentrate makes storage much easier, allows you to dial in the precise strength of the finished product by adding water until it is perfect, and helps your brew stretch a little farther by making more servings in the same volume.

When you’re ready to serve, simply dilute the concentrate with water until the taste is right.

Alternative Cold Coffee Drinks

Cold brew sometimes steals the cold coffee beverage spotlight thanks to its rich flavor profile and velvety-smooth drinking experience. That said, there are many other coffees that can be enjoyed chilled or iced, giving you options galore on those hot Florida days. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Iced coffee. A simple classic that can be dressed up with cream, sugar, flavors, and more, iced coffee is a staple alternative to cold brew.

  • Nitro cold brew. Half coffee and half science experiment, nitro cold brew imbues cold brew coffee with nitrogen gas, giving it an unmistakable creamy, frothy texture.

  • Iced macchiato. With a blend of espresso, ice, and milk, it’s hard to go wrong with an iced macchiato. Many people opt for the caramel variety of this drink, which gives it a sweet counterbalance to the richness of the espresso.

  • Iced latte. One of our personal favorites, an iced latte gives your barista practically limitless room for experimentation when it comes to flavor profiles and creative concoctions.

Chelsea Coffee - The Best Local Coffee Shop in Ocala for Iced Drinks

Whether you’re craving the sweet simplicity of an iced coffee or an indulgent treat in the form of a Chelsea Chiller, Chelsea is Ocala’s top spot for iced coffee drinks. Next time you’re looking for a caffeine kick to accompany your ice-cold refreshment, stop by our Ocala, FL, coffee shop location and try one of our many iced options.

We also encourage you to visit our blog. It’s packed with coffee knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the last decade of serving exceptional coffee and food to our beloved customers!

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