If you aren’t familiar with bottling cold brew, this article will take you through the ins and outs you need to know. More importantly, though, we will take a look at how to pasteurize your bottled cold brew.
You may want to do this so you can take it to work or on picnics, or you may want to share it with your friends or sell it. No matter which, we will send you on the right path.
COLD-BREW BOTTLING PROCESS
The cold brewing process is actually surprisingly easy considering the amazing result it produces. You only need simple equipment items like a pitcher or jar with a lid, a strainer or sieve, and some time.
Similarly, bottling your cold brew requires only the cold brew itself and some containers to place it in. Let's cover some basic ideas you'll need to think about before you bottle cold brew coffee.
Recycle Store-bought Cold Brew Coffee
If you are anything like me, you like to hold onto your store-bought cold brew bottles in the ready-to-drink refrigerator section. Gather a few of these for the next time you wish to bottle cold brew and simply fill them up with your batch.
Given you plan to store them in your fridge, it's best to drink or share your brew within 2 weeks to keep the flavor delicious enough to share. You may be wondering what the best vessels are to store your cold-brewed beverage in after the French Press or other brewing device. Let's take a look at the most common choices out there.
When to Store Cold Brew Coffee in Plastic Bottles:
If your desired outcome is to store your cold brew within a familiar vessel, plastic bottles once used for previous batches are great for short-term storage. I don't recommend sharing plastic bottles with others, especially older bottles, because you don't really know how clean they are or whether or not you have to worry about BPA leaking into the liquid. However, using plastic bottles for your personal use is a great way to recycle and prevent wasting plastic unnecessarily, plus they are cheaper.
When to use Glass Bottles for Storing Cold Brew Coffee:
Assuming you buy a lot of cold brew bottles from the ready-to-drink section of your favorite grocery store, you'll notice most of these are glass bottles. The great thing about using glass bottles is that glass does not contain BPA or other synthetic chemicals which may transfer through heat, exposure to sunlight, or time. So, if you plan to share your brew with a friend, sell it at a market, or pasteurize it, always go for a glass bottle.
Pasteurizing Your Cold Brew Coffee with a Sous Vide
Suppose you wish to sell your cold brew, share it with friends, or keep it for longer than the typical 2-weeks shelf life. Then, you'll want to consider pasteurizing it as the last part of your brewing process.
Why Pasteurize Cold Brew Coffee?
Like anything that sits out for a while, there is a tendency for yeast, bacteria, and molds to grow over time. Since nobody wants to get sick from these microbes, we can take measures to preserve our coffees after brewing them by sealing the environment and either adding a preservative, or heat treatment to kill off anything that could potentially grow inside.
How to Pasteurize Cold Brew
Now that you understand why you'd want to take this step, let's cover how to pasteurize.
Step 1: Gather your Materials:
- Your cold brew batch in its brewing container
- Enough glass bottles to evenly transfer your batch (16 & 32 oz. works great)
- 1 beer bottle
- A funnel
- A large mixing bowl
- Star Sans or Comparable Brand Sanitizer
- Large pipe cleaner brush
- Large plastic cooler (like what you take to a picnic)
- Portable sous vide wand (for heating water)
- Dowel rod or kitchen utensil to hold the sous vide upright
- A meat thermometer
Step 2: Sanitize Everything
Once you have everything from the material list above, you'll need to make sure everything from the list has been sanitized using the sanitizer (following the instructions from the one you choose). Use the large mixing bowl to mix in the appropriate amount of sanitizer solution with water, and place all the materials in the sanitization solution.
Note: Keep in mind that every surface you touch will have microbes on it.
Make sure you rinse your hands in this solution periodically, and each item you work with any time that item touches something that is unsanitized. This can be a bit of a pain to do, but just imagine that everything you are working with has wet paint on it, and that will force you to pay closer attention.
Step 3: Using the funnel, slowly pour your cold brew into the glass bottles
Leave some air between the top of the bottle and the bottle's shoulder. Make sure all bottles have an even amount of coffee and be careful to not add in any of the sediment that remains at the bottom of your brewing jar. Leave 1 taller bottle empty as we will use this one to hold the thermometer so we can gauge how hot the interiors of the other bottles are while pasteurizing.
Step 4: Seal Your Glass Bottles
Depending on which type of glass bottle design you are working with, you can either twist a cap on, press a metal cap (with a bottler device), or flip down the cap (Grolsch-style and milk bottles).
Step 5: Place Your Bottles standing up in the cooler
Place each bottle standing up within the cooler. If you have too many bottles for the cooler, then consider getting a larger one, or repeat the process for the remaining bottles after you finish with these. Fill your beer bottle up with water all the way to the top and place the thermometer inside it. Place that bottle in the center of the cooler, with the smaller sealed bottles surrounding it.
Step 6: Begin Adding Tapwater to the cooler
Fill it up until the water completely covers the top of all the glass cold brew bottles but not so deep that the beer bottle is submerged. Fill the beer bottle to the bath's height.
Step 7: Arrange your sous vide so that the heating element is submerged
Some sous vide wands will come with stands you can place inside your vessel, while others have a hook that you can attach to a dowel rod or hanger of some kind. The point is, you'll want the sous vide heating elements to be safely submerged for the next step.
Alternatively, you can use a kettle, but the process takes much longer and you may find it harder to maintain the temperatures you need in order to properly perform the pasteurization.
Step 8: Set the Sous Vide Temperature to 175 degrees Fahrenheit
Using the built-in controls of the sous vide, set the temperature to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and allow time for the water to reach this temperature before setting a 20-minute timer. The idea is that you want the water to slowly come up to temperature and maintain a temperature higher than 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or more before allowing the temperature to naturally settle back to room temp.
Note: Increase the temperature too quickly and a bottle might break
Step 9: Wait
Don't touch anything until the temperature cools down. Once your drinks are at room temperature, you don't have to worry about storing them in the fridge
Cold-brew has long been popular in Japan and has recently become much more trendy in Western countries, especially North America. Coffee drinkers with a sensitive stomach can enjoy cold brew coffee as it is much less acidic than normal coffee or iced coffee.
To make your coffee more unique and personalized to your taste, you can also add milk substitutes, sugar, coffee creamers, cream, and syrups. That being said, if you do not pasteurize your cold brew, there is a chance that bacteria, yeast, or mold could cause food-borne illnesses. Please do your due diligence related to the pasteurization process to avoid this from happening.
Remember to never use plastic that isn't rated for pasteurization, always filter your concentrate prior to bottling your cold brew, and share it with your friends and family.