Cold Brew Kopi

By The Feiloh - Friday, Mar 29, 2013

If you are a coffee lover, you will be familiar with coffee made with an espresso machine, the French press or the kopitiam ‘sock’ filter.


In all of these examples, hot water is used to extract the flavour of the bean. But alas, people with delicate palates and sensitive tummies may find normal coffees to contain too much acid and caffeine, or is too bitter.


Do not despair, here’s cold brewed coffee to the rescue.


The name says it all: cold brewed coffee is obtained by steeping ground coffee in water at room temperature for half a day or more to gently extract its goodness.


After filtering, this brew yields a flavourful concentrate that may be diluted to taste and the resultant drink is smoother and has less caffeine to boot.


This coffee may be diluted with three or four parts of hot or cold water, or treated like ordinary coffee by the addition of your favourite form of milk (fresh, skimmed, condensed or evaporated).


However, I find that the subtle flavours of the superlative coffee thus obtained are best enjoyed by not tampering too much with its taste.


I would dilute the concentrate with only one or two parts of hot water and just under-sweeten it. Even coffee from ordinary beans will give a delightful sparkle on the tongue that is usually masked when extracted with hot water.


As hotter weather is upon us, simply sweeten cold brewed coffee and top with ice and a straw in a tall glass for a refreshing drink.


The cost of this pleasure is minimal and while dedicated contraptions to cold brew coffee are available on the Internet, the fact is, you really don’t really need them.


To start, get a container (preferably with a wide mouth) and a lid that can hold at least 10 cups of water to steep ground coffee. I simply use a large rectangular plastic food container from that $2 Japanese gadget chain.


To filter your coffee, use what you already have: such as a French press, or the filter holder of a drip coffee machine placed over a pot. Alternatively, spend a few dollars to buy a coffee sock from any kitchen supply shop found in the HDB heartlands.


I am stingy — nay, frugal — and use a $2 nylon filter with disposable paper filters bought from my neighbourhood supermarket. A ladle may also be useful to transfer the liquid.


You may find medium pre-ground coffee in your supermarket meant for drip coffee machines or you can have a bag of whole beans coarsely ground at your favourite coffee supplier. Coffee in this form are usually available in 200g or 250g bags and a coarse grind will allow better filtering of the coffee.


Some folks may use light or medium roasted coffee beans for cold brewing to release their delicate flavours but I prefer my usual dark roasts. Just don’t use “local” ground coffee that has been adulterated with sugar, margarine or other additives.


There’s really nothing to stop you from experimenting with different coffee blends, bean-to-water ratios and extraction timing to enjoy this familiar drink in a new way.



Images by The Feiloh @ Makansutra



1) For 250g of ground coffee, use 9 cups (2.25L) of drinking water at room temperature; for 200g of ground coffee, use 6 cups (1.50L) of water.

2) Gently mix coffee and water in your container until the coffee grounds are thoroughly wet. Cap the container and leave to steep at room temperature for 12 hours. If you want to extract for longer than that duration, put the container into the fridge after 12 hours. Stir occasionally but allow the coffee grounds to settle for at least two hours before filtering.

3) When the time is up, use a ladle or carefully decant the extracted coffee without disturbing the settled grounds at the bottom of the container. Pass the mixture through your filter of choice into another container. I use two layers of filter paper supported by my nylon filter and I change the paper filters when they get clogged.

4) The coffee thus obtained may be diluted (with one to four parts of water or milk), sweetened and drunk. The concentrate may be stored capped in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.


Images by The Feiloh @ Makansutra