Brewed Coffee Guide

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

October 30, 2021 | Kurt Parker

Cold brew is one of those lavish sounding coffee variations at your local coffee shops and generally more expensive than regular iced coffee.

But why must we stand for expensive cold brew coffee when it doesn’t take a genius to brew one ourselves?

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

We’re assuming you’re a fairly new coffee enthusiast looking for an easy cold brew recipe.

Well, you’re in luck! We love sharing all things coffee here at Brewed Coffee Guide! Our team spent days to give you this comprehensive guide on making the perfect cold brew, continue reading!

You’ll learn about:

What is Cold Brew?

Before we dive into making the perfect cold brew cup. Let’s first talk about what cold brew really is.

Cold Brew Vs Hot Brew

There are different methods and techniques in brewing coffee. You might think that cold brew is exclusive to a refreshing caffeinated drink you’d like to sip in a hot summer day. But cold brew coffee isn’t just about the drink itself.

coffee beans on a table, a glass of iced americano & a swan long neck kettle

Essentially, cold brew or cold brewing is a method of coffee brewing. Cold brewing uses cold or room temperature water to extract the flavors from the coffee beans. It’s an immersion technique (soaking coffee beans in water for a period of time) that steeps the ground coffee from 12 hours to 24 hours.

This is different from hot brews or hot brewing methods like the drip coffee, pour over coffee and many more. While hot brew typically uses heat or high temperature water to extract flavors within minutes, cold brew requires more time to get that delicious caffeine drink.

What do I need to make Cold Brew at Home?

Everyone can make cold brew without any of the fancy equipment baristas use. Plus, homemade cold brew coffee is even more delicious and cheaper than store-bought cups! Here’s what you need:

Coffee Beans

The great thing about cold brew coffee is that you can use any coffee beans that you like. Generally, cold brew coffee will have similar characteristics such as a smoother and less acidic cup. So it doesn’t really matter. It’s only a matter of preference.

different types of beans (Excelsa, Liberica, Robusta, Arabica)

But, most people prefer to use 100% Dark Roast Arabica beans for their cold brew because of its sweeter chocolate notes. Excelsa, Liberica and Robusta beans can also make a mean cold brew that you might enjoy.

Don’t let that stop you from using other varieties, though. Here is a comprehensive guide on the best coffees for cold brew. Just make sure that its playing between Medium to Dark Roast coffee beans for best results.

different coffee beans blended together

I personally like to blend my coffee beans with a 4:1 ratio of Dark Roast Arabica and Medium Roast Robusta, respectively. I like my coffee on the stronger side, so a bit of Robusta gives my cup a bit of a punch.

Coffee Grinder

Of course you can’t cold brew your coffee with whole coffee beans. The grind size of your coffee beans is an extremely important factor in your brewing process. It defines the kind of coffee cup that you’ll get after.

For cold brew coffee, coarsely ground coffee is the rule. The use of coarsely ground coffee isn’t without its practical reasons and science. Coarsely ground coffee allows for maximum flavor extraction and avoidance of the grinds clumping at the bottom of your mason jar or French press. You can also agitate your coffee grounds by stirring to make sure that everything is soaked to the core.

different coffee grinds and their suggested equipment

The best way to grind the coffee beans is through a burr coffee grinder. The burr grinder grinds whole coffee beans uniformly compared to a blade coffee grinder. You can find both coffee grinders as a manual or electric machine. Whichever grinder you chose or is available, set it to the lowest setting or second lowest for that coarsely ground coffee.

How to Make Cold Brew at Home?

Now that you know the basic concepts of making cold brew, it’s time to actually make cold brew. There are two methods you can easily try at home.

French Press Method

Equipment:

  • French Press
  • (Optional) Coffee paper filter

The French Press is the cheapest and most common coffee equipment in the market. Traditionally, the French Press is used to for hot brew coffee but you can try your hand at cold brewing with it.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Remove the plunger from the carafe and pour your coarsely ground coffee.

Step 2: Pour your cold water or room temperature water.

coffee plunger beside the french press carafe and hand pouring coffee grounds

Step 3: Stir or Agitate your ground coffee. Make sure that everything is soaked.

french press with water and coffee grinds being stirred

Step 4: Re-attach the plunger to the carafe but don’t plunge!

Step 5: Leave it on your kitchen counter for 12 hours to 24 hours or in the fridge for 24 hours.

unplunged french press with cold brew

Step 6: After steeping, slowly push the plunger to separate the coffee grinds from the cold brew.

Step 7: Pour into a pitcher for storage or drinking.

cold brew being poured from a french press to a tall glass

(Optional) Pour the cold brew through a paper filter to catch any rogue fine coffee grounds. This makes for a smoother cold brew cup.

Step 8: Pour yourself a tall glass and add ice. Enjoy!

Tall glass with ice cubes and cold brew

Mason Jar Method

The mason jar method makes use of equipment you can find at home. If you don’t have a French press on hand, you can cold brew your coffee with the following.

Equipment:

  • Mason Jar
  • Fine Mesh Sieve or Cheese Cloth
  • Strainer
  • Carafe or Pitcher
  • (Optional) Coffee filter

Here are the steps:

Using Fine Mesh Sieve

Step 1: Open your mason jar and pour your coffee grinds

open mason jar and pouring of coffee grounds

Step 2: Add cold water or room temperature water

Step 3: Stir or Agitate your ground coffee. Make sure that everything is soaked.

mixing coffee grounds and water in a mason jar

Step 4: Close the mason jar and leave it for 12 hours to 24 hours on the kitchen counter or 24 hours in the fridge.

Step 5: After steeping, get your fine mesh sieve and place it on top of a carafe, pitcher or another mason jar. Make sure it sits on the spout securely.

fine mesh sieve placed on top of a carafe, pitcher or mason jar

Step 6: Pour the contents of the mason jar into the fine mesh sieve to separate the coffee grounds and cold brew.

(Optional) Use a fine coffee filter to sift out fine coffee grounds for a cleaner cup of coffee.

Step 7: Pour yourself a glass, add ice and enjoy!

Using a Cheese Cloth

When using a cheese cloth for the mason jar method, follow Steps 1 – 4.

Step 5: After steeping, get any strainer or mesh filter and your cheese cloth, place it on top of a carafe, pitcher or another mason jar. Make sure that the strainer or mesh filter sits on the spout securely, with your cheese cloth on top wide open.

open cheese cloth and coffee being poured

Step 6: Pour the contents of the mason jar directly onto the cheese cloth.

Step 7: Wring the cloth with the used coffee grinds inside to extract the last of the liquid.

Step 8: Pour yourself some coffee in a glass, add ice and enjoy!

Why does Cold Brew have a long steeping process?

We steep the cold brew for 12 hours to 24 hours to ease the release of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) from the brewing. Hot brewing your coffee releases the gasses immediately, resulting in the bitter and acidic flavoring in coffee. Cold brewing your coffee releases gasses delicately slower and results in a slightly sweet, velvety texture with low-acidity.

French Press on a table - cold brewing

The standard recommended steeping time is about 16 hours, not too long and not too short. The coffee grounds usually stop flavor extraction at 8 hours, but the excess steeping time ages the drink for that smooth finish.

Steeping in Room Temperature or the Fridge?

A lot of people ask if it’s better to steep cold brew in room temperature or in the fridge. Ideally, steeping cold brew in room temperature infuses the water with the flavors faster.

But, if you prefer chilled cold brew from iced cold brew coffee, you can opt to steep it inside the fridge. Just make sure to steep it longer, as flavors infuse slower in colder temperature.

Can I enjoy Cold Brew Coffee hot?

Yes, you can! Contrary to how cold brew is generally advertised. It’s more of a brewing method than it is a coffee drink. You can turn your hot brew coffee into iced coffee, just add ice. The same principle applies. You can turn your cold brew coffee into hot coffee, just heat it.

Why should I start making cold brew coffee?

For starters, cold brew coffee is delicious and refreshing. It’s highly caffeinated, even more than hot counterpart. And you can store it in the fridge for two weeks! It won’t go stale like hot brew coffee because it was already steeped in cold water.

Cold brew is also a versatile drink. Customize it at will! You want to make it sweeter? Add maple syrup. You want it creamier? Add full cream milk or heavy cream.

Coffee to Water Ratio Recipe

Cold brew coffee uses more coffee grounds than regular hot brew coffee.

If your hot brew coffee generally uses 1:15 ratio, your cold brew coffee uses a 1:5 ratio to 1:10 ratio (depending on your strength preference). So if you have 15g of coffee grounds, multiply that number by 10, you’ll need about 150g of cold water.

Since that’s not a lot of cold brew, you should brew a bigger batch to last you two weeks like its shelf life. Apart from that, I suggest you make cold brew concentrate instead, especially if you’re one to whip a cup of coffee out of the blue.

Cold Brew Coffee vs Cold Brew Concentrate

small mason jar with cold brew coffee

Cold brew coffee is essentially a ready-to-drink version. It doesn’t need any more water to dial down the taste. Just plop a few ice cubes, some sugar if you like it sweeter and its ready to go.

While Cold Brew Concentrate is a stronger brew that requires milk or water to dilute the bitterness. Cold brew is still coffee and it’ll always have some bitterness to it, that’s not always a bad thing.

When making your cold brew concentrate, you should adhere to a the 1:5 coffee to water ratio to 1:7 ratio. More than that, you’d be making cold brew coffee that’s ready-to-drink.

Additionally, if you opt for cold brew concentrate it’ll save you some storage space in the fridge.

Other Methods to Make Cold Brew

In addition to our homemade cold brew methods, there is another way to make cold brew. You can buy a cold brew drip tower, this is typically how Starbucks brews their cold brew. It’s drip coffee but uses cold water to extract flavors. It’s also time-consuming and adheres to the 12 hours to 24 hours steeping process, if not longer. The equipment is expensive though and not really a must-have.

cold brew coffee dripper

Final Words…

Isn’t it great knowing that even with minimal equipment, you can enjoy a cafe grade cold brew all on your own?

I personally cut back on my coffee expenses once I learned the mason jar method. My guilty pleasure is a homemade version of Starbucks’ Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream. You just need a mixture of heavy whipping cream and vanilla syrup to top your iced cold brew concentrate.

Now that you’re guided with the basics of cold brewing. You’re ready to try your hand at it and see which home method is best for you! Be your own barista!

We have more comprehensive coffee guides like this one. Read more guides in coffee making.

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