Among the many things you can do to improve your coffee, brewing clear coffee is one of the more interesting ideas that have popped up on the scene recently. Many people in the community are actively talking about this, and the idea quickly took the world by storm. Even if you consider yourself a fan of a thick, oily brew, you should definitely give this idea a try. Sure, it’s definitely not for everyone – and some will even readily claim that the taste is ruined by the clarification process – but you’ll never know if you actually like it yourself until you’ve tried it.
Brewing your own clear coffee is not that hard if you know what you’re doing, and you don’t even need any specialized equipment like filter paper if you’re in a pinch. Agar can work just as fine, and the overall process isn’t as complicated as you might assume. The only downside is that the process can take some time – more than a day in most cases – so it’s not the most ideal approach if you just want a quick cup of coffee to get your day started. If you plan ahead though, you can easily adapt your schedule to brewing clear coffee.
So, what’s clear coffee all about anyway? If you’re thinking of it in a literal sense, as in colorless coffee, you might be disappointed to learn that home-brewed clear coffee isn’t like that. What you’re thinking of does actually exist, but the company behind the product has been quite secretive about their recipe, and nobody is sure how they do it right now – more on that below.
Clear coffee is about brewing a cup with as few oils and grounds as possible, leaving only the pure drink in the end. Some people enjoy the taste of clear coffee as it’s closer to a regular soft drink, while others avoid this brewing method exactly because of the weaker flavor. Keep in mind that clear coffee isn’t actually weaker than regular coffee in terms of caffeine content. But because of the milder taste, the drink goes down more easily, and you may get the impression that you’re not actually drinking something as strong.
The Benefits of a Clearer Brew
The main benefit to brewing clear coffee is that you get rid of almost all oils and leftover grounds. If you don’t like the oily aftertaste coffee leaves in your mouth, this is definitely for you. Some people also don’t enjoy the sensation of grounds swirling around in their mouths with every sip. A good, clear brew can be better for your health in some ways, especially due to its lower oil content. On the other hand, some claim that the oils in most types of coffee are actually beneficial and should not be removed.
In the end, this comes down to personal preference. There’s no denying that clear coffee has its objective benefits though, particularly for people who are averse to the regular taste of coffee. It can also work great for mixing with other drinks, as the milder taste will prevent it from becoming too overwhelming and messing with the overall flavor profile of the drink. Even if you don’t mix coffee drinks on a regular basis, you can still benefit from having a bit more consistency in each sip.
Is It Hard to Do?
Agar clarification is a relatively easy method for producing clear coffee, with the only downside that it takes a very long time – as we mentioned above, you often have to wait more than a day for the final result. If you brew your coffee in larger batches, and don’t mind drinking it cold or reheating it, you can easily prepare larger amounts every week and just drink it in parts.
If you’ve never used agar before, it’s basically unflavored gelatin. The basic process involves brewing a large amount of coffee, then measuring out agar equivalent to about 15-20% of the total volume of your brew. You then mix the agar with a small portion of coffee, bringing it to a boil and whisking well through the entire process. At the end, you combine this mixture with all of your coffee, and let the final mix cool in your refrigerator.
This is the point where you have to wait for around 24 hours – be patient, agar needs time to properly solidify and pull all necessary particles out of the coffee. Once it’s done, you can take it out of the fridge and strain the mixture through a piece of cloth. Make sure to leave all of the agar that’s mixed with your coffee separately, as you won’t need it. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be left with your original coffee, but without any additional particles. It will be free of almost all oils and practically all free-floating particles like grounds.
Give it a sip! Now’s the time to find out whether you actually like clear coffee or not. Keep in mind that the taste will be noticeably weaker than what you’re normally used to if you brew this type of coffee regularly, but that won’t apply to the actual strength of the coffee. Don’t be fooled, because this is a classic mistake that many people make when they try clear coffee for the first time. Take it easy, drink your glass like you normally would, and don’t rush it. And make sure to finish the whole thing! You might not like the taste at all at first, but it’s the kind of taste that can eventually grow on you. Clear coffee goes great completely black, so if you’ve been trying to cut down on the sugar and milk recently, this is a great way to make your coffee taste better without losing any of its actual properties.
What About Coffee That’s Literally Crystal Clear?
If you came here looking for a recipe for coffee that’s actually crystal clear – as in, transparent like water – you’re unfortunately out of luck. The product does exist, and it’s called CLR CFF, but as with many innovative things, the recipe is kept secret by the inventors for now. You can easily see a bottle of clear coffee ingredients, but that won’t tell you anything about how they should actually be combined in order to remove all traces of color from the beverage.
Some speculate that CLR CFF isn’t so much coffee that has been brewed regularly and then went through a process to remove its color, but rather that it’s a variant of caffeinated water. However, fans of the drink swear by its taste, and will frequently claim that CLR CFF tastes very close to actual coffee, which has thrown some confusion in those discussions.
For now, nobody is quite sure about how the product is made or how it can be replicated at home, though many people have been trying hard. Look around some coffee enthusiast communities, and you’ll quickly find at least several discussions on the subject. But refrain from trying any of the methods described in those discussions unless you know what you’re actually doing. It’s not rare to see people suggesting the use of various chemicals that could potentially be harmful to the uneducated person, so it’s probably not the best idea to attempt this yourself for now. Don’t worry though – we’re probably not too far off from the time when someone will finally figure out what the secret is.
Considerations for Different Types of Brews
As a closing note, remember that clear coffee works well with certain types of brews, and not so much with others. If you enjoy the thick taste of coffee brewed in a French press, for example, clear coffee may ruin the experience for you. The main idea of clear coffee is to get rid of that thickness and additional “weight” that all those oils contribute to the taste. For some people, that’s an indispensable part of the overall flavor profile and they always insist on feeling it. In those cases, you would be out of luck trying to convince someone that they might like clear coffee. As we said above though, it all boils down to personal preferences. It may very well turn out that clearing a certain type of brew makes it tastier for you specifically, while other people actively hate it. In this case, just do your own thing and ignore those opinions.
Clear coffee is yet another exciting aspect of the world of coffee specialties, and we’re likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg with regards to what’s possible on that front. People have been working hard to replicate the success of CLR CFF, and as we said earlier, we’re probably not that far off from a time when everyone will have a chance to brew the drink in their own homes. Until then, either go with the agar method, or try buying a bottle of the original thing.