"Cold Bruer"
Slow Coffee Brewer
from Bruer
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2017 - All rights reserved


      Thinking about making a cup of coffee? How many different methods of brewing coffee can you think of? How many do you have at hand? The range of methodology is wide. Starting with something as simple as a pot of hot water with grounds stirred into it, to a full espresso setup, it is easy for many of us to imagine a great percentage of a kitchen storage filled to capacity. Over the last 16 years I have amassed a lot of coffee brewing devices. By definition: too many. I have six vacuum brewers alone!
      There are generally four methods I use on a regular basis: The first is espresso from my Vibiemme DB and Kony grinder. Next is my Behmor Brazen drip brewer. My Beko automatic Turkish coffee maker from Kafette comes next. Finally, my range of Espro presses. Because of this I have blinded myself from other methods. I only have so much storage space and am not a heavy drinker of coffee. Since life is too short to drink bad coffee, and for the reasons stated above, it takes quite a good cup to interest me in another brewing method.
      So was the case at the 2017 Seattle SCA exhibition this past April. Walking the aisles on Friday and Saturday there were few things which turned my head in regards to interesting consumer goods which I would be interested in reviewing. On Sunday, with just an hour remaining before we departed, I took one last stroll through the aisles. A display caught my eye:  
scaa bruer
The display in the "Cold Bruer" booth which caught my eye

      A cold brewing device. I had noticed one other at the show and spoke to those at the booth but overall I was not impressed. The folks at the "Cold Bruer" booth presented quite a different story. The device itself looked interesting to me so I waited until their current visitor finished and introduced myself. I am so glad I did.
      They asked if I had tried a cold brew coffee and, of course, I stated I had not. They had three large dispensers, each brimming with a different cold-brewed coffee. I sampled all three and each had a separate set of discernible flavors and nuances. All three were smooth and delicious, and each presented flavors unlike any other brew method I had ever tried. I was ready to add another brewing method to my repertoire.  

      The Cold Bruer arrived and it was clear that a lot of thought was put into making sure that it would arrive safely. The above packaging was shipped in a corrugated box, but the "shelf" packing was also impressive. The custom molded cushioning should protect the contents from anything short of being run over.

      The "Cold Bruer" is constructed of only three materials- stainless steel for the drip regulating tubes, food-grade silicone (all the blue parts seen above), and borosilicate glass (what Pyrex is made of).  

      From right to left, and would be assembled from bottom to top, here is what is included with your purchase:
  1. The carafe into which the coffee is brewed
  2. The metal filter and its silicone holder
  3. The Tower. The silicone, conical, cross-section gasket around its middle locates the tower in the carafe during brewing and eliminates any glass-to-glass contact
  4. Valve assembly consisting of the two-part stainless steel tubes making up the valve and the silicone "plug" which separates the water from the coffee all water flow to the coffee is regulated by the valve
  5. Two part lid
  6. Pack of paper filters
There are a few points of interest in all this:  

      Above you see the metal screen assembly. The metal portion of the screen fits into a silicone holder which keeps the filter in place on the bottom of the tower during brewing. As you can see here, the screen is two layers; One side is a very fine mesh which faces up. The bottom of the filter is a more coarse mesh. If you remove the screen from the silicone for cleaning be sure to replace it in the correct orientation.  

      Here is the filter assembly and lid assembly. The two large parts at the bottom snap together and form the top cover when brewing. Remove the smaller center section and it then can be used to seal the carafe when the brew is done and you place the carafe in the fridge.
      The two items at the top of the photo are the valve assembly partially disassembled.  

      Seen here assembled, the stem has a laser etched indicator line which may be somewhat helpful in adjusting the valve. Rotating this valve by means of the knob a the top regulates flow. Turning it clockwise decreases the drip rate during brewing.  

      This is the underside of the valve. Water drips out of the crescent opening in the silicone. The small stainless steel tube allows air to flow into the sealed tower to alleviate the possibility of a vacuum forming which would slow or stop the flow of water onto the coffee.  
  IN USE      

      To prepare to brew coffee, remove the top cover and the valve assembly. Place the metal filter assembly on the bottom of the tower.
      The line on the tower (which I have indicated by the "1" above) indicates the correct level for the coffee. This is about 60 grams. For those who buy pre-ground, just fill to the line. Give the tower a gentle and careful shake to level the coffee and place one of the paper filters on top of the coffee. The Cold Bruer uses Aeropress filters.
      Place the tower into the carafe and slowly pour in about two ounces of water onto the paper filter. This is meant to pre-wet the coffee you can see in the photo that I should have used a bit more water as there is a portion of the coffee which was not wetted. Couldn't help it- I was excited.
      Insert the valve assembly into the tower making sure that is is fully seated. The pour in about 700ml of water and ice. Note the second level indicator on the glass (the number "2" above) which indicates that level of water. When water starts dripping onto the coffee, turn the valve's knob to get a drip rate of about 1 drop per second.
      For your first brew you will wish that the Cold Bruer came with a packet of patience. It takes about 6 hours at the stated flow rate for the brewing process to complete. Why the patience? Once there are a few milliliters of brew in the carafe you will likely sample the aroma at the carafe's pour spout. Surely, you will want a taste.. and don't call me Shirley!
      My Cold Bruer came with a pre-measured and pre-ground packet of "Sermon Espresso" from Verve coffee roasters of Santa Cruz. The aroma from the carafe and the flavor of the cold brewed coffee was all that I had hoped for. With a quality coffee there is no bitterness, and I was told that the cold brewing process eliminates the acidity found in other (hot) brewing methods. One of their representatives at the show told me that because of a medical condition regularly brewed coffee could not be consumed because of the acid, but they could drink cold brew without worry.
      While you can do a lot of things with the cold brew I find it delightful, sipped cold, right from the carafe (poured into a glass first, of course). Mix it into some vanilla ice cream or just pour it into the bowel, mix it with some chocolate liquor, use it in baked goods, heat it up (or not) and add a dash of cream, whatever.
      When the brew is done, separate the inner section of the tower lid and plunge it into the neck of the carafe and store it in the fridge. Bruer states that the coffee will last for up to two weeks in the fridge, but I just don't see the coffee being around that long! It is just way too delicious. Seriously.
      The only negatives I can share at this point seem quite minor:
  • The drip rate changed a few times during my first brew. I had to adjust it three or four times. In my impatience I examined the carafe often and I found it had slowed each of those times.
  • A handle on the carafe, or some sort of non-clip collar in its neck would be nice. But a collar would make it difficult to examine the flow rate.
  • When you remove the metal filter from the silicone holder for cleaning, use care when replacing it. Much like brewing with the Cold Bruer, it is easy to replace if you work slow.
  • It is difficult to see the line etched on the flow valve's stem when it is submerged. I used an LED flashlight to make adjustments and to see the flow.

      You will want to be careful to not use more then the recommended amount of coffee and that is particularly true when using very fresh coffee. I tried a batch of my own home roast which was about 48 hours old. When wetted it expanded so much (presumably from outgassing), that it filled the tower's coffee-chamber area making it impossible to see the drip rate. Because of that the coffee was done in about two hours instead of six. And guess what? It still tasted delicious! It lacked the depth and body of the first batch, but was very drinkable.
      It is clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the Cold Bruer. The Cold Bruer is very well made from high quality materials. It is nice to look at, works exactly as intended, and most importantly, makes a great cup of coffee. Even though it makes about 24 ounces at a time, you will wish it was bigger!
      Cleanup is easy enough, and if care is taken the Cold Bruer should last quite a long time. But if an accident happens, replacement parts are available directly from the Bruer website.
      The Cold Bruer is available directly from Bruer for $80 shipped and it comes in four colors. Once you sip the coffee you won't care which color you ordered!
      There are quite a few cold brewing devices out there from which to choose. The use of plastic parts had me eliminating a couple I saw at the show. The choice of materials, ease of cleanup, and most of all, the quality of the coffee makes the Cold Bruer an excellent choice.

  UPDATE   (6/13/17)
     I have made four or five batches so far and all have been very good. Recently I have been using the cold brew product to make a Kahlua-like beverage, and cold brew is perfect for that since there is no acidity or bitterness. Read Chapter 150 in my blog for a bit more information on that.
     An important observation is concerning their recommendation of using 60 grams of ground coffee. Commenting on only my experience, with freshly-roasted coffee beans I have found that even 55 grams is too much. Like all coffee-making methods, you need to adjust to parameters to your personal situation. The last batch I used 55 grams and even that was too much. The brew comes out very tasty, but the problem is that when the coffee becomes fully saturated and expands, the coffee bed is so high that I cannot see the water dripping onto the coffee bed making adjustment of the drip rate a guessing game.
      To keep the paper filter from being displaced when performing the initial wetting I have been using a tamper to flatten the coffee bend and then using the tamper to press the paper filter flat. Do not tamp too hard of the metal filter can be damaged, and certainly do so carefully to avoid scratching the glass surfaces. Using something like a large eyedropper or equivalent makes the pre-wetting a lot easier to control.