Want to know how to make cold brew coffee? This drink has become a huge hit in the coffee world. And the best part? You can easily make it at home; with a few tips, it’ll taste better and cost less than your regular coffee shop cold brew!
Below, you’ll learn all you need to know about cold brew: which grounds to use, coffee to water ratio, best coffee, and everything else to get you brewing at home.
Let’s get started!
- What is cold brew coffee?
- What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
- Benefits of cold brew coffee
- How do I make cold brew coffee?
- What kind of coffee is best for cold brew?
- Decaf cold brew: yes, it exists
- Best cold brew coffee maker
- How long does cold brew last
- Tips on making a great cold brew
- Cold Brew Coffee: a Recap
- Recommended Reading
What is cold brew coffee?
In its essence, cold brew coffee is basically coffee that’s brewed at room temperature or cold water for 12 to 24 hours.
Because it’s brewed with cold water, it’s in most cases less acidic and less bitter than coffee brewed with hot water. It’s easy to make it and you can expect a milder and smoother taste.
While this brew isn’t for everyone as it takes a long time to make, many people solve the problem by making a coffee concentrate for a few days ahead. That way they have cold brew on hand at all times of the day and they brew coffee only once or twice a week.
What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
Cold brew coffee is coffee that is brewed at room temperature or in the fridge. Coffee doesn’t come into contact with any heat; you use cold filtered water to brew it. If you want a cold brew, you need to plan ahead: you’ll need to wait for at least 12 hours until you can drink it.
Iced coffee is coffee that’s been brewed with one of the hot methods of brewing coffee: pour-over, French press, espresso, and others. You can make iced coffee in no time if you have ice cubes. It goes something like this: you brew coffee. Then, pour your coffee over ice. Ideally, you can use coffee ice cubes to avoid watering it down. I prefer large ice cubes that take a long time to melt. Some prefer to pour over their coffee over ice in the carafe, which is also known as Japanese style coffee brewing.
Benefits of cold brew coffee
- Easier on the stomach as hot/iced coffee as it’s less acidic
- Cold-brew concentrate works great in various recipes
- More mellow and not as strong
- You don’t have to brew it daily
- Easy to make
How do I make cold brew coffee?
The best thing about cold brew is that you may or may not need special equipment to make it. Here, I’ll show you three ways to make it at home. All three methods are somewhat the same but the equipment is a bit different.
1. Cold-brew with French press
Making a cold brew with cafetiere is very easy. It’s not messy and it doesn’t take up much space in the fridge.
- Coarsely ground coffee (fresh for best results)
- French press
- Filtered water
- Patience and determination
Measure/weigh the coffee and place it in the press pot. Cover the grounds with filtered cold or room temperature water. Stir the coffee and make sure all the grounds are wet.
Cover the press pot with a plunger, but don’t press it down! Place the cafetiere into the fridge and let it brew and sit quietly for the next 12 to 24 hours.
When the time is up, take the pot from the fridge and press the plunger down slowly. Enjoy your coffee, mix it with creamer, water, whatever you prefer.
2. Toddy cold brew system
Toddy system is another way to make cold brew. It was designed to specifically target cold brew in mind and this funky gadget can brew you a container of concentrate easily. It takes up a bit of space on the counter and in the fridge, but that coffee will last a long time as well.
- Coarsely ground coffee (ideally fresh)
- Toddy system
- Filtered water
- An 8-cup Pyrex container
- Patience for handling Toddy
I’ve already written about how to use a toddy system, so visit that post for more ideas, tips, and recipes. Toddy is one of the most popular cold brew coffee kit options according to overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Here’s the video that demonstrates the process:
3. Mason jar cold brew
This is the easiest of the three methods as the chances are, you already have a mason jar at home.
- Coarsely ground coffee (fresh is best)
- Mason jar
- Filtered water
- 5 minutes of your time
The process is the same as with the other two methods. Grind coffee, place it into the jar. Top it up with water and stir gently to make sure all grounds are wet.
Cover the mason jar with a lid and place it in the fridge for the next 12 to 24 hours. When it’s done brewing, remove the lid and strain the grounds through a cheesecloth.
Enjoy your concentrate any way you’d like: with dairy or non-dairy milk, one of the tasty coffee creamers, ice cubes, cream…
What kind of coffee is best for cold brew?
Coffee is the star of cold brew coffee. If you want to make it tasty and refreshing, you have to follow certain steps or you can end up with a funky tasting coffee and a money poorly spent. Let’s say a few words on cold brew coffee beans and all that.
Best coffee grounds for cold brew
For best effects and to extract maximum flavor for cold brew coffee, use medium to coarse coffee grounds.
Best coffee beans for cold brew
A 100% shade-grown Arabica beans, Tiny Footprint Coffee is a perfect cold brew blend. They boast with high-quality beans based and eco-friendly methods. They plant trees in Ecuador for every pound of coffee they sell.
You can choose pre-ground coffee or grind your own.
This coffee is organic and fair-trade and a mix of light and dark roasts. When it comes to the flavor profile, you can expect a smooth and sweet yet rich coffee with subtle notes of fruit and floral tones.
100% Arabica beans from around the world, this coffee comes prepacked in bean bags, which makes it very practical to use as it eliminates weighing and measuring coffee. All you have to do is soak the bags overnight. On the other hand, you can’t control the amount of coffee when brewing. Some people complained it’s too weak or too strong.
There are different flavors/options of this coffee available (think French vanilla and also decaf), but hazelnut is a great alternative to those looking to change their daily cup of coffee a bit.
Originally from New Orleans and its Café du Monde, this coffee is a blend of chicory root (which helps to reduce the bitterness in coffee) and ground coffee.
The coffee is ground and great for those looking for something stronger. Speaking of flavor profile, it’s rich and full of woody aroma. It’s a good strong and dark coffee with a light body.
Best coffee roast for cold brew
When it comes to what roast to choose, I have to say that it’s entirely up to you. Some prefer darker roasts, others light roast coffee.
I’ve seen experts suggest darker roast coffee types as the brewing process eliminates the acidity of the beans, but also because it rewards you with a richer flavor and all its subltle notes than light roast (chocolate, cocoa, smoky aroma…).
You won’t know it until you try it. Keep in mind though that lighter roasts need longer extraction time than dark roasts. If you’re impatient and 20 hours of brewing time is too much, go for a dark roast!
Cold brew coffee to water ratio
There’ a general rule of coffee to water ratio 1:5. That means you get a solid concentrate that you can easily mix with whatever your cup desires: milk, water, or experiment with delicious cold brew recipes for more ideas. In other words, that’s one cup of coffee to 5 cups of water.
You can dilute cold-brew coffee in 1:1 or 1:2 ratio with any other liquids that you like. You can also use cold brew to make easy coffee cocktails this summer and impress your coffee lovers!
You can reduce or increase the amount of cold brew ratio grams per batch; it all depends on what you want to achieve.
Decaf cold brew: yes, it exists
Yes, there is decaf cold brew coffee. If for some reason, you want/ have to avoid normal coffee, you can opt-in for decaf cold brew and enjoy your cold beverage without feeling guilty.
The process of making it is the same as with the classic cold brew except that you change your coffee for decaf.
The Chosen Bean seems like a good decaf alternative to classic caffeinated roasts. Some users reported that it’s slightly on the weaker side, but overall a great value for money. Another decaf for cold brew is Grady’s Coffee and while it tastes okay, it’s a bit pricey for the overall value. Still, you can choose between bean bags or cold brew kit.
Best cold brew coffee maker
I’m a big fan of cold brew, even though I’m a bit impatient for it sometimes. But, I have tested quite a few cold brew makers over the years, and here are my favorite three.
Toddy is similar to Filtron brewer but it honestly looks like a piece of junk. That white plastic container is really ugly, but on the plus side, Toddy can make a great cold brew coffee concentrate and it’s easy to use it. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty straightforward. If you want to brew a large quantity of cold coffee, Toddy is your man.
The coffee has a decent flavor, although not as good as OXO (see below). You can make brewing experience with Toddy easier by following tips on how to use this brewer effectively (think Pyrex cup).
If a watery cold brew is your thing, think Hario coffee pot. It can make a serious mess if you’re not paying attention when brewing coffee but overall it can make up to almost 5 cups of coffee or tea and it’s dishwasher safe.
On the contrary to Toddy, this one makes smaller batches of smooth coffee but it isn’t as easy to clean. It’s not too stable either, but it’s a glass pitcher and it’s easy to use. One thing to keep in mind is that it only fits into the door of the fridge as it’s a bit high.
OXO isn’t the best on the list as it comes with a few faults, but it’s a solid cold brewer and it does what it’s bound to do well. It has some quite awesome features and it really helps to bring out the full flavor of the coffee. It makes a strong coffee and it’s more or less hassle-free.
The great part about this brewer is that it helps to measure the water for brewing with volume markings and it has a pouring pout. It’ll fit on a fridge shelf and it makes coffee with a bolder profile.
How long does cold brew last
Well, there are different info available to answer this question. Some claim you have to use your cold brew within a few days, but there has been some information that a properly sealed cold brew can last up to two weeks in the fridge.
Tips on making a great cold brew
Here’s how to experiment and play around with your cold brew if you didn’t like how it turned out:
- Use a different roast; use medium or dark if you used a light roast
- Change water to coffee ratio. Would you like a stronger brew? Try a 1:3 ratio. Too strong? Go with 1:7 or even less!
- Use beans from a different country
- Did you use pre-ground coffee? Buy whole beans and grind it yourself!
- Brew it on the counter if you brewed it in the fridge and the other way around
- Brew coffee a little longer or a few hours less
- Test different recipes, spice it up a bit, and don’t forget about coffee ice cubes
- Dilute it with water, milk, coffee creamers, other liquids
Cold Brew Coffee: a Recap
Making cold brew at home isn’t difficult. There are a few very important factors that influence the outcome of the brew: filtered water and the right coffee grounds. Even though there are different cold brew makers available and even cold brew coffee kits, you can easily get started with a good old mason jar to see if you even like this type of coffee.
In any case, experiment with different options until you get it right and give your brew time (up to 24 hours) to develop the full flavor and profile. The concentrate will last you a few days and feel free to add anything to keep you happy: creamers, ice cubes, milk…