How to Make Kombucha Coffee
When you make kombucha tea you give the microorganisms in the SCOBY (the Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) a “wake-up” drink of fresh, strong, sweet tea that kick-starts the yeast into action, and starts the fermentation process. The yeasts and bacteria use the sugar as food as they process the caffeine and other nutrients and phytochemicals extracted from the tea leaves into organic acids and vitamin-rich compounds. Without the sugar, they won’t have the strength they need. And without the caffeine, they won’t have all of the energy they need. That’s why you can only reliably keep a kombucha SCOBY healthy by using caffeinated tea.
Are you like a SCOBY — do you rely on the wake-up kick-start that a good dose of caffeine brings you? Does your espresso machine or two-quart French press have its permanent spot on your kitchen counter, right next to your continuous brewing container?
In other words, would you like to know how to make kombucha coffee?
Why Use Coffee Instead Of Tea?
Depending on the type of tea and how long it’s steeped, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant produce anywhere between 20 and 90 milligrams of caffeine per cup of liquid. By contrast, most brewed coffee has at least 90 milligrams of caffeine in each cup, and usually twice that amount.
This means that when you use coffee instead of tea as your brewing liquid, there will be more caffeine left over in the kombucha tea. The SCOBY will process and use some of it, but most will remain in the fermented tea. You’ll get your caffeine jolt along with your daily dose of healthy probiotics – what could be better than that?
There’s also the awesome flavor as well — you may find kombucha coffee a unique blend of that coffee flavor you love with the tartness of kombucha.
NOTE: You can also make caffeine-free kombucha if you want to.
Before You Start…
We advise you to use a backup SCOBY if you want to start making kombucha coffee. There’s a risk you could harm your SCOBY and the coffee flavor may be absorbed into the SCOBY which could change the flavor of your tea mixture when you use the SCOBY for kombucha tea again. So, you should NOT use a SCOBY you use to make kombucha coffee with tea again.
There’s also the risk of some spoilage occurring with your brew because coffee contains oils. Add to the fact that coffee kombucha ferments much faster than regular kombucha, there’s more risk of your kombucha coffee going bad (rancid).
Absolutely do NOT consume coffee kombucha that looks or smells (or tastes) strange.
What Kind of Coffee?
What kind of coffee do you normally drink? As long as it’s plain coffee, you’ll be able to use it to make kombucha. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can tip your double-vente-cinnamon-mocha-extra-whip into the kombucha brewing container and drop the SCOBY on top of it!
Here’s the coffee base options you can use to make your coffee kombucha with:
- Start with fresh brewed coffee, just like you use fresh brewed tea.
- Cold-brewed coffee can give you a more mellow flavor in the finished kombucha coffee.
- You can use espresso if you dilute it with water, but you’ll get less caffeine in the final brew (check this link out for how to make good espresso).
- Instant coffee will work in a pinch, but you may not like the flavor as much. In addition, there may be a stale or chemical aftertaste with some types of instant coffee grains or powder.
Making the (Cold-Brewed) Coffee
You can drink this as iced coffee on hot summer mornings, or use it to make kombucha coffee.
- 2 cups coarsely-ground dark-roast coffee beans
- 10 cups filtered water
- Bring the water to room temperature.
- Put the ground coffee in a clean wide-mouthed jar, pour the water over the coffee, and stir well. Let sit for 15 minutes, then stir for 30 seconds to make sure that all of the grounds are hydrated.
- Cover the container with a cloth (use the same cloth as you use to cover your kombucha brewing container) and let sit overnight in a cool place.
- Pour the liquid through a coffee filter, or use a French press to separate the grounds (here’s how to make french press coffee). Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to Make Kombucha Coffee
Once you have your coffee made (hot, cold brew, espresso, instant coffee, etc), you can then use it to make your kombucha coffee.
Recipe For Kombucha Coffee:
- 8 cups cold-brewed or freshly-brewed coffee
- 8 cups distilled water
- 1 cup organic raw white cane sugar
Cold Brewed Coffee…
If you are using cold-brewed coffee:
- Bring it to room temperature while you use 1 cup of the distilled water to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then stir it into the coffee.
- Put the sugar + coffee mixture into your brewing container and let sit for 5 to 7 days.
Freshly Brewed (hot) Coffee…
- Filter out any grounds, and then stir in the sugar until dissolved.
- Let cool to room temperature. This is important. If you do NOT let the coffee cool to room temperature, you could kill the SCOBY if the liquid is too hot.
- Pour the sweetened coffee into your brewing container, add the SCOBY, cover, and leave at room temperature (70F to 78F) for 5 to 7 days.
NOTE: Because coffee has a high level of natural acids, you do not need starter liquid when making kombucha coffee. The pH of coffee is about 5, and the action of the SCOBY will quickly lower the pH to below the 4.6 pH point that keeps out invasive bacteria and mold.
How Long to Brew Kombucha Coffee
The fermentation process goes more quickly when you’re making kombucha coffee. Start tasting the brew as usual on the 3rd day, and get ready to remove the SCOBY by day 5. Most kombucha coffee brews are completely fermented after 7 days.
Be sure to keep a constant temperature in the brewing container of 73F to 74F if possible, and make sure that the container is out of direct sunlight. If you are using a clear glass jar, wrap the jar in a towel or piece of heavy material. This will also help regulate the temperature.
What About the SCOBY Health?
When you use a SCOBY to make kombucha coffee, you probably won’t see a “baby” floating on the top of the liquid like you do with regular kombucha tea. Most SCOBYs won’t grow at all without the specific nutrients in tea leaves. Although there are many types of tea for kombucha that give the SCOBY these nutrients, plain herb tea and coffee won’t keep a SCOBY healthy if that’s all you use.
That means any SCOBY you use for coffee needs to go back into a container with starter liquid (strong kombucha tea) and sweetened black or green tea, once you’re done brewing your kombucha coffee. This will give the SCOBY a chance to refresh itself from the nutrients in the tea, and rebuild its energy using the sugar in the liquid.
If you are making kombucha coffee regularly, it’s a good idea to keep two separate SCOBY hotels, one for the SCOBYs you use to make your regular tea-based kombucha, and one for the SCOBYs used with the coffee mixture. The SCOBYs you use for coffee will start to develop a different color and flavor, and mixing them in with the tea SCOBYs may change the flavor and quality of your kombucha tea.