By Morgan Nielsen
Updated August 11, 2015
Credit: Photo by Morgan Nielsen

This piece originally appeared on Spoon University.

Let’s face it. Most of us wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the power of a good (and strong) cup of coffee. Hot or iced, black or with cream.

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While there are plenty of great and effective ways to brew that neat little bean, none are as unique as the elusive cold brew. Once limited to small hipster coffee shops because it takes 12+ hours to brew in small batches, this tasty sensation is catching our eye and finally getting the attention it deserves. As Starbucks stores across the country are launching cold brew as a new beverage option, it’s easy (and cheap) to make and customize your own version at home.

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The mechanics of making coffee are pretty simple. Grind the beans and add hot water, where the hot water then soaks into the grinds and extracts the caffeine and flavors of the bean. The grinds are then filtered out, and we can drink our coffee and go about our merry, caffeinated ways. With cold brew, the idea is that the heat is replaced with time- instead of brewing with hot water and achieving (nearly) instant gratification, cold brew uses cold or room temperature water, so the process takes longer.

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Here’s the kick- because the bitterness of coffee comes entirely from the heat of the water, the cold brewing process can remove most if not all of the bitter taste and acidity of the coffee (depending on the acidity of the particular blend or roast being used). As a result, you get a much smoother and generally better tasting cup of iced coffee than if you had brewed it with a more traditional method. Because nobody likes a bitter cup of coffee.

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In fact, cold brewing inhibits so much of the acidity of coffee so much so that people with sensitive stomachs can generally stomach cold brew much better than a more standard cuppa joe. Which also means that you don’t necessarily have to pile in milk and sugar into it, and many people find that they can drink it black. So it tastes better, doesn’t kill your stomach, and it won’t kill your diet either? That’s right.

At this point, you’ve probably pulled up your search engine of choice to find out how to DIY the crap out of this whole thing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Head to SpoonUniversity for the recipe to make your very old cold-brew iced coffee.