I like to think of myself as a coffee aficionado. As a result, I've assumed the role of the "coffee lover" among my friends; this role, unbeknownst to me, comes along with the job of answering any and all questions related to coffee. And it was this job that lead me to discover homemade cold brew.

For a while, I answered questions with authority and my confidence in my expertise grew. But then a friend's question stumped me—what's the difference between iced coffee and cold brew? After a moment I came to the realization that I didn't know. 

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, mocha
Jocelyn Hsu

This question had the potential to ruin my reputation. I had to find the answer fast before my friend could spread word of my incompetence.

Here's what I discovered 

Iced coffee is normal coffee, i.e. coffee brewed with hot water, that is then poured over ice. It's the same as black coffee but with ice. Cold brew is an entirely different entity. As the name implies, the coffee is brewed in cold water and that makes all the difference.

According to an article from Science and Food, the temperature of the water that the coffee is brewed in determines the coffee's flavor because of how coffee grounds react to certain temperatures. 

ice, beer, alcohol, liquor, tea, wine
Amy Cho

Water pulls coffee solubles out of coffee grounds during the brewing process. Hot water draws these solubles out faster than cold water hence the longer brew time necessary for cold brew. Additionally, hot water degrades and oxidizes the solubles which leads to the bitter taste of black coffee, while cold water degrades and oxidizes coffee solubles far less giving cold brew its iconic sweet taste. 

Now that my reputation remains unstained, we're going to move on to a homemade cold brew recipe. Spending $5 on a Starbucks cold brew is outrageous when you can just make your own with only a couple of relatively cheap ingredients. Here's the recipe I used for my measurements.

Better-Than-Starbucks Homemade Cold Brew

What you need: 

- 3 oz coffee grounds of any kind 

- 3 cups cold water 

- A jar or other suitable water vessel

- A refrigerator

- Vanilla oat milk (optional)

What to do: 

1. First, you need to have coarsely ground coffee beans.

Tip: You can achieve this in a variety of ways, such as purchasing coffee that it already ground coarsely (what I did) or grinding it yourself (coffee grinder required). Any coffee is suitable. 

2. Pour your coffee ground into a jar or other vessel of your choice. 

3. Pour the water into said jar or vessel 

4. Place jar/vessel in a refrigerator for anywhere from 18 to 24 hours (I did 20 hours)

5. After the coffee brews, strain your cold brew into your cup of choice using a cheesecloth.

Tip: If you don't have a cheesecloth (I don't), you can use coffee filters or a thin, cotton cloth. Avoid using paper towels as they will absorb some of the coffee

6. Add any milk, cream, sugar, etc you want and enjoy! I used vanilla oat milk (we're environmentally friendly here at Spoon University) and a sprinkle of sugar. It was delicious. 

To further enhance your cold brew experience, I recommend drinking it out of a mason jar so you can fully embody your inner influencer