Guide to Cold Brew Coffee

Complete guide to Cold Brew Coffee And 3 Ways To Make It

Just because you love cold brew coffee, doesn’t mean you have to spend the big bucks for it every day. In fact, you can easily make cold brew coffee at home and I’ll show you exactly how to do it!

If you want to get into the cold brew coffee world, find everything you want to know to get started! Discover cold brew coffee grounds, coffee to water ratio, best coffee, and everything else to get you brewing at home.

Let’s get started!

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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.

From that point on, it’s pretty versatile. You can mix it with creamer or another alternative, use non/dairy milk, ice cubes or even make a popular Nitro cold brew with it.

Iced coffee is coffee that’s been brewed with one of the hot methods of brewing coffee: pour-over, French press, espresso, and many others. You can make iced coffee in no time if you have ice cubes.

Iced coffee is very straightforward to make and 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

Cold brew coffee is one of my favorite ways to brew it especially the hot summer months. it’s becoming more popular but it doesn’t have to break your budget if you learn how to make it at home. Plus, cold brew comes with benefits that make it more suitable for a wider public.

Here’s why:

  • Easier on the stomach as hot/iced coffee as it’s less acidic
  • Cold-brew concentrate works great in various recipes
  • A slow release of caffeine without any caffeine crash
  • More mellow and not as strong
  • You don’t have to brew it daily
  • Turn it into Nitro cold brew (and save money!)
  • Easy to make

Since the brewing process is different from the hot method, cold brew coffee really is something special. It may seem like a lot of marketing to sell the drink, but in fact, it’s all based on science.

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.

The general cold-brew coffee to water ratio is 1:5 so keep that in mind when reading through the following recipes (that is 1 cup coffee beans to 5 cups water). When you’re done steeping, use the cold brew concentrate to combine it with anything you’d like at a ratio of 1:1 (milk, water, creamer, ice cubes).

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.

You’ll need:

  • 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.

You’ll need:

  • 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.

You’ll need:

  • Coarsely ground coffee (fresh is best)
  • Mason jar
  • Filtered water
  • Cheesecloth
  • 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?

Getting the right coffee with the correct ground beans is the key to a delicious cold brew. I can’t stress enough how important this part really is. Getting a poor-quality coffee or stale beans can result in a funky tasting coffee and money poorly spent.

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

One of the worst coffee beans are cheap ones. Yes, you use a lot of beans when making cold brew, but if you want it to excel in taste, you have to use high-quality beans.

Stone Street Coffee Colombian Single Origin

Coming from the world’s most praised coffee growing regions, Colombia, Stone Street coffee is specifically meant for cold brew coffee since it comes with bold flavor and unique sourcing. Stone Street packs dark roasted single-origin Arabica Colombian Supremo beans for a sweet, smooth, and bold flavor.

It’s available in whole bean or pre-ground option.

Café Du Monde Coffee with Chicory

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. It’s inexpensive and produces smooth results without any bitterness.

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 subtle 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.

If you’re looking to brew a whole batch or a cold-brew concentrate, the best coffee to water ratio is 1:2.

For a powerful concentrate in a French press pot, use a 1:7 ratio. For a more mellow French press concentrate follow the 1:12 ratio.

You can dilute cold-brew coffee concentrate 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!

Feel free to 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. Two of the current best options for decaf are the following:

The Chosen Bean Decaf Dark Roast

The Chosen Bean is an organic and fair trade coffee that’s an excellent decaf alternative to classic caffeinated roasts. What’s more, it has an excellent smooth taste without any bitterness. It’s best for people who like their coffee on the weaker side as it’s not strong, but it’s a great value for money.

Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee

Designed especially for cold brew coffee, Grady’s Coffee goes a step further, enabling you to choose between coffee bean bags and cold brew kit! No matter what option you choose, this is a super-easy way to prepare cold brew. The kit helps you save the trouble of getting a cold brew coffee maker since you can pour the water straight into the zipper bag and let it steep there!

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.

OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Maker

I have spent and tried numerous coffee machines over the years, but for cold brew coffee, there were only a few makers that I tested. It worked well with a mason jar and French press that I didn’t bother to look elsewhere. Those two work great if you’re on the budget, but at some point, I wanted something cold-brew specific. I checked dozens of online reviews, Reddit, and other places to see what people were saying. When I narrowed my choice down, I was left with the Toddy and OXO Good Grips.

OXO Coffee maker is one of the most popular cold brew coffee makers on the market and for a good reason. I loved the fact that it’s not as clumsy as Toddy yet very easy to use, and efficient. What’s more, it can easily make cold brew just for one person, which is a great advantage if you live alone or with people who’re not too big on cold brew. It has a minimal footprint and it’s built to help you achieve maximum flavor and extraction.

This brewer is made of plastic, apart from the glass carafe but it’s easy to use with minimal mess and hassle. It’s not good for large batches (I still use Toddy for that) but if you’re like me, looking for something to use in a straightforward way that’s easy to set up and clean, OXO is an excellent and reliable option. It’s one of those-let-it-steep-and-forget kind of brewers!

FAQ On Cold Brew Coffee

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.

The general rule is to drink the coffee within 7 days from when you brewed it and make sure to keep it in the fridge!

Should cold brew steep in the fridge?

You can steep cold brew in the fridge or at room temperature. Brewers designed for big batches (Toddy and Filtron) rarely fit into the fridge anyway.

Steeping cold brew at room temperature is okay, but make sure to move it into the fridge once it’s ready.

Should I use filtered or tap water?

the better the quality of water, the better the quality of your coffee. Water plays an incredibly important role in the overall coffee quality, so you want to make sure to use the best. After all, coffee is 98% water!

Tap water can taste funny; if that’s the case, it’ll make your coffee taste equally funny. Use filtered or purified water for the best results.

Is cold brew coffee stronger than regular coffee?

Cold brew coffee doesn’t have more caffeine than hot coffee (even though it’s debatable). Generally, if you’re making a cold brew concentrate with a 1:2 ratio, the concentrate itself has more caffeine as you’re using more coffee to brew.

But, when you dilute the concentrate, the caffeine will be lower. What’s more, cold brew has a slower caffeine release, but not higher content of caffeine.

Can I heat my cold brew?

Yes, you can and the best way to do it is to mix it with hot water.

What do you put in cold brew coffee?

There are a number of options when it comes to dressing up your cup of cold brew:

  • Dairy and non-dairy milk
  • Creamers
  • Ice cubes, coffee ice cubes
  • Ice cream
  • Alcohol

How do I make my cold brew less bitter?

If your cold brew is too bitter, there are two possible reasons that it went wrong:

  • You’ve let the coffee steep for much too long
  • Coffee was too finely ground

Use a coarser ground coffee and let it steep on the counter (and not in the fridge where the steeping time is longer).

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:

  1. Use a different roast; use medium or dark if you used a light roast
  2. 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!
  3. Use beans from a different country
  4. Did you use pre-ground coffee? Buy whole beans and grind it yourself!
  5. Steep it on the counter if you brewed it in the fridge and the other way around
  6. Steep coffee a little longer or a few hours less
  7. Test different recipes, spice it up a bit, and don’t forget about coffee ice cubes
  8. 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…

Recommended Reading

How to Make Coffee Without A Filter

Best Alcoholic Coffee Drinks And Mocktails

Best Travel Coffee Mugs to Keep Your Coffee Hot

What’s Better: French Press VS Drip Coffee

Toddy Cold Brew System: Make Cold Brew Hassle-free

Healthy Coffee Creamers and Alternatives

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