You’re about to learn how to make your own cold brew coffee at home. And, yes, if you follow the tips below it so it tastes BETTER than your local coffee shop (or Starbucks) brew.
And it’s cheaper. It just takes a few small tweaks (revealed below).
We’ve included a simple step by step guide on how to make cold brew coffee + a link to download 21 exciting cold brew coffee recipe variations that we are loving.
Ingredients and some PRO tips:
- 1 cup of coffee beans
- A coffee grinder
- 5 cups of water
- A cold brew coffee maker or a mason jar
- 1 cheesecloth or paper coffee filter or a fine-mesh sieve
Experts are divided on what makes the best coffee beans for cold brew, so the most important advice we can give is:
Brewing without heat means that certain flavors, especially bright and acidic fruit and floral notes, won’t extract as well. For this reason, some people prefer light to medium roasts, because the cold brew process tempers the acidity. Others prefer dark roasts for their bolder chocolate and nut flavors.
More important than the type of beans you use is the SIZE of the grind. Check out our grind size chart here.
Making cold brew demands a coarse grind.
Otherwise it can easily end up bitter and over-extracted during the long steep. Unless it’s marketed specifically for cold brew, most pre ground coffee found in stores is TOO FINE.
But if you don’t have a grinder, you can always ask your local coffee shop to do the grinding for you.
Cold brew’s long brewing time also means you should consider water quality. After all, coffee is 98% water, and with cold brew, your beans are going to be sitting in that water for a long time.
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Steps: How to make cold brew coffee
If you follow these simple steps, you can’t get wrong. I mean, maybe you can, but you’d probably have to be a 5-year-old playing around with coffee. Which, we hope you’re not.
1. Measure your coffee and water
The ratio of ground coffee to water in cold brew that you use will help guide both the strength and flavor of your drink. For a nicely balanced cold brew concentrate, a common ratio is 1:5.
If you want to get a little experimental, here are some other ratios you can try:
|DESCRIPTION||COFFEE TO WATER RATIO|
|Batch Brew (e.g. Filtron) and cold brew concentrate ratio||1:2|
|High strength French Press brew||1:7|
|Low strength French Press brew||1:12|
2. Grind your coffee beans on a coarse setting
This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP in making cold brew.
You need to use very coarse coffee grounds, coarser than the typical preground coffee at your grocery store. With such a long steeping time, fine grounds will over-extract, and your cold brew will taste bitter or astringent, the opposite of that smooth flavor you’re craving.
3. Combine coffee and water
Brewing cold brew could hardly be simpler, especially if you have a dedicated tool like a Filtron or Toddy brewer. Simply combine the coffee and water at the ratio you determined, give it a good stir, and patience is the name of the game.
4. Set a timer and begin steeping
The steeping time can vary a little bit depending on your grind size. We recommend experimenting with times between 14 and 20 hours, with 16 hours being a great starting point.
If you don’t steep long enough, your concentrate will be WEAK and WATERY, but if you steep too long, it can taste bitter or astringent.
If possible, steep in your fridge. If your brewer/jar does not fit in your fridge, it’s okay to steep at room temperature, but get it in the fridge as soon as it’s done. Alternatively, you can build an ice bath with a bowl and some ice and use that to steep on your counter.
5. Strain and filter into a clean vessel or jar
If you’re using a big batch brewer, it will already have some type of paper filter. If you’re using a mason jar; strain your brew through cheesecloth, or use a coffee filter and filter it like you would with drip coffee. Store your cold brew coffee in the fridge.
6. Dilute, flavor, and enjoy
Once you’ve made your concentrate, there are tons of delicious things you can do with it.
The most common is to simply add milk or water at a ratio of 1:1, pour over some ice cubes, and enjoy. But feel free to experiment with more cold brew drinks, from caffeinated popsicles to a cold brew martini.
Here are some of the most common questions about cold brew coffee:
Why is cold brew coffee better for you?
Cold brew coffee is better for you because of its various benefits.
Some of them are:
- It’s more mellow and less acidic than hot and iced coffee
- You get a slow release caffeine hit when compared to hot brewed coffee. No caffeine crash even though caffeine levels are higher (1). Here’s where you can learn more about the differences between hot brew coffee and cold brew coffee.
- More stomach-friendly (less acidity)
- Properly brewed, it lasts for up to 10 days (so you can batch brew)
- You can make cold brew coffee concentrate which can be diluted or used in various recipes
- You can turn it into nitro cold brew coffee! Here’s how to make nitro cold brew at home.
Is cold brew less acidic than regular coffee?
Yes – cold brew is less acidic than hot coffee. In hot brewing, the oils and acids in coffee beans degrade and oxidize more quickly than in cold water, which adds to the acidity and bitterness of the coffee.
The low temperatures and long brewing times of the cold brew process capture more of the sweet flavor compounds which are soluble in cool water, without the oils and acids.
Does cold brew have more caffeine than hot coffee?
No, cold brew does not have more caffeine than hot coffee. But this is debatable (2).
Caffeine dissolves faster in hot water, so even at the higher ratio of ground coffee to water, there’s less caffeine in your cup. If you’re brewing cold brew concentrate, it has more caffeine than regular brewed coffee because you make it with a higher ratio (up to 1:2) of ground coffee to water. But once you dilute the concentrate with hot water to make a cup of regular coffee (or cold water for iced coffee), the caffeine is lower by a significant amount.
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Cold brewed coffee does have a slower release of caffeine which gives it a prolonged caffeine kick. But it does not have higher caffeine content.
Note: If you are interested in a decaffeinated version of this drink, see our decaf cold brew recipe.
Can you make cold brew coffee hot?
Yes – cold brew can be heated. The easiest way to do this is to brew cold brew coffee concentrate and then add hot water to it. If you brew a 1:2 concentrate, you should be able to add 8 or 9 oz. of hot water to 1 oz. of concentrate to get close to that “golden ratio” of 1:19.
From a practical perspective, pour hot water into a measuring cup and add a little at a time, tasting it along the way. Stop when you feel bliss. (Be sure to write down how much you used, so you can feel that same bliss every time.)
Do you need to buy a cold brew coffee maker to make cold brew?
If you’re serious about this brewing style I suggest you buy one of these cold brew coffee makers. But If you want to make cold brew in another way, here are a few more tutorials on making cold brew with:
- How to make cold brew with a Mason jar.
- Use your french press to make cold brew.
- Try this Aeropress cold brew recipe.
- How to use the Toddy Cold Brew system.
We also listed some of the coolest Youtube channels dedicated to brewing coffee.
How long does cold brew coffee last?
Cold brew will last up to 10 days if you keep it refrigerated from the moment you make it. After that, it will start tasting funky. Does cold brew coffee go bad? As a general rule: aim to consume it within 7 days.
How much cold brew coffee should I drink? What’s the point of cold brew coffee?
You should probably drink no more cold brew coffee than you do regular coffee, as it has a bit more caffeine, and its cool temperature makes it easy to drink fast. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, a great feature of cold brew is its relatively low acidity, which might make it easier for you to drink more.
Do you steep cold brew coffee in the fridge?
Ideally, yes, you should steep cold brew coffee in the fridge. However, some brewers will be too large for a standard fridge. It’s okay to steep your cold brew on the counter top, as long as you move the concentrate to the fridge as soon as it is ready.