Cold brewer is ready for summer
Good cold brew is something that I've always left to the professionals. I admit I've done the bachelor version once in a great while — just pouring leftover coffee into something then refrigerating it, to varying result. Usually, it doesn't take long before it turns bitter, acidic, or… just weird. Making it well is a long process which requires more time and effort than I've ever thought it was worth, but as we're coming into a Kansas summer and I'm trying to be a bit more frugal, I thought I'd take a look at some cold brewing systems to let you know which are the best.
This week, I've been sent a review unit by the kind gentlemen at Bruer. The Bruer was a successful Kickstarter from a year or so ago and is a very nice, aesthetically pleasing take on the process. While I've always dreamt of having a Kyoto-style Japanese iced coffee setup, the Bruer is a more convenient and modern way to get your cold coffee fix.
Opening the package, I was surprised at the heft of the Bruer — it's a solid system made of glass, silicone, and metal. Everything is assembled in the box, but it easily comes apart for brewing and, perhaps even as importantly, cleaning. While some other popular cold brewing systems use the immersion method, the Bruer is built around a drip-through tower which has been designed to use Aeropress filters.
The Bruer is a pretty brilliant system in that it allows for a very exacting amount of customization. Thankfully, if you're afraid to just wing it, they've provided some specific guidelines for your maiden voyage.
It's a pretty easy process. You'll use about 2/3 cup of drip ground coffee and 700ml of ice and water. You place the tower assembly on top of the carafe. The coffee is dumped into the base of the tower. Then they recommend you bloom the coffee as you would any other coffee beverage, using about an ounce of water. Yes, I am mixing my units of measurement. Then, you slap an Aeropress filter on top of it, and then put the valve seal in place. Dump in the water, and then you'll turn the valve stem until the drips onto the coffee are roughly one per second. Faster will make your coffee a bit weak, slower makes it a bit stronger. The guys at Bruer have done a ridiculous amount of trial and error with their system and have pretty good idea of what works best.
The valve will adjust to a rate that will put your brew through anywhere from three hours to a full 24. They don't recommend the extremes at either end; a six-hour brew seems to be the most successful. My first batch was pretty great, and was done in just about six and a half hours.
I immediately wanted to experiment with other variations. Unlike many of the other cold brew systems I've looked at, the Bruer is really easy to tinker with. I've now made batches using panela sugar atop the grounds, varying the bloom method with hot water, and without ice cubes but brewed in the fridge. The panela sugar with the hot bloom really worked for me — this might be my go-to for summer.
While it isn't a substitute for my dream of a diabolical-looking mad scientist Japanese coffee tower, the Bruer is a really attractive appliance which not only looks great but makes the process of cold brewing at home quite painless. My favorite cold brews are those you'll find bottled at Reverie or at Sensory Lab, but perhaps mine will improve with practice. If you're going to try this at home, I would definitely recommend the Bruer over many other, particularly immersion methods. Not because they don't work, but this is simply much easier and offers greater ease in customization.