How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

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Make cold brew coffee at home! It's so easy, and your iced coffee will never taste watery or bitter again.

Photography Credit: Emma Christensen

If you crave a good iced coffee in the summer, but loathe the way so many end up tasting watery or overly bitter, then there’s only one solution: cold brew coffee. This method guarantees a smooth and icy cup, every time.

Making cold brew coffee is no great secret, nor does it require the ninja-level skills of a trained barista in order to master. You don’t even need much special equipment beyond a large container for making the coffee and a strainer.

Steps for Making Cold Brew Coffee

Here’s how it works: Grind the coffee coarsely, which you can do yourself at home or wherever you buy the beans. Combine the grounds with water, then let it steep overnight, or for around 12 hours.

During this time, the coffee slowly infuses into the water, creating a strong, concentrated brew. Strain the next morning, and you’re ready to go.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Why Should You Cold Brew Your Coffee?

This coffee-making method has a few things going for it. The slow infusion pulls all the great coffee flavor from the beans (and, yes, the caffeine – not to worry!), but leaves behind most of the compounds that can make coffee taste bitter and sour. Cold brewed coffee is incredibly smooth and almost sweet-tasting. Perfect for iced coffee.

You can also adjust the concentration of your cold brew coffee, making it stronger or less strong to suit your taste. Start with one cup of beans steeped in four cups of water. This will make a fairly concentrated coffee on its own, but it’s perfect for pouring over ice or mixing with milk – or both. If that ratio of beans to water isn’t quite to your taste, adjust it up or down until you hit the perfect balance for you.

I also really love that this method for making coffee actually saves me time in the morning. I make a big batch over the weekend, starting it on Saturday or Sunday night and straining it the next morning, and then stash it in the fridge for an easy coffee fix all week long.

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How to Serve Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold brewed coffee can be served iced or piping hot, dealer’s choice. You follow the same method for making the coffee either way, and then either serve it over ice or warm it up in the microwave for a hot cup. When warming it for hot coffee, I often add a splash of water to dilute the coffee before warming. But this, again, is a matter of personal taste.

Ready to give cold brew coffee a try? Below is everything you need to know to make your own batch at home.

Tips for Success

  • Make sure your beans are coarsely ground: Beans that are ground to a sandy powder, like for drip coffee, can result in an over-infused coffee and make the strained coffee gritty and muddy. Your beans should look like coarse cornmeal, or even slightly rougher.
  • Use filtered water, if possible: This is just good coffee advice in general, really. Your cup of coffee will have a cleaner, sweeter flavor if you use filtered water to make it.
  • Steep for at least 12 hours: It’s fine to cut this time a little short, but don’t get too stingy. The coffee needs this full time to fully infuse the water. Straining too early can give you a weaker cup of coffee. Also be careful of over-steeping, which can start to extract some of those bitter flavors we’re hoping to avoid. I’d say not to steep for more than 15 hours or so.
  • Chill your cold brew with coffee ice cubes: Want a totally undiluted coffee experience? Make coffee ice cubes to chill your iced coffee!

Try These Other Hot Weather Drinks!

Watch This Video On How to Make Cold Brew Coffee!

 

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Steeping time time: 12 hours
  • Yield: About 3 cups

If you normally have your coffee ground when you buy it, ask for it to be ground on a coarse setting. You'll need a scant cup (or 4 ounces) for this recipe.

You can also make cold-brew coffee in a French press. Steep the coffee overnight, then press to separate the grounds from the coffee. Transfer the coffee to a bottle or jar for longer storage.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (4 ounces / 113 grams) whole coffee beans
  • 4 cups (32 ounces / 907 grams) water

Special equipment:

  • Coffee or
  • 1 1/2 quart (or larger) glass, ceramic, or plastic container (I use a )
  • Small strainer
  • Cheesecloth or cotton flour sack cloth (I like )
  • Bottle or jar, for storing your cold-brew

Method

1 Coarsely grind the coffee: Grind the coffee beans on the coarsest setting on your grinder, or in short 1-second pulses in a spice grinder. The grounds should look like coarse cornmeal, not fine powder. You should have just under 1 cup of grounds.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

2 Combine the coffee and the water: Transfer the coffee grounds to the container you're using to make the cold brew. Pour the water over top. Stir gently with a long-handled spoon to make sure the grounds are thoroughly saturated with water.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee How To Make Cold Brew Coffee How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

3 Steep overnight: Cover the jar with a lid or a small plate to protect it from dust and bugs. Let the coffee steep for about 12 hours. The coffee can be left on the counter or refrigerated; steeping time is the same.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

4 Strain the coffee: Line a small strainer with cheesecloth or flour sack cloth and place over a large measuring cup or bowl. Pour the coffee through the strainer.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

5 Store the coffee: Transfer the coffee to a small bottle or jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

6 Serve the coffee: Dilute the coffee with as much water or milk as you prefer. Serve over ice or warm for a few minutes in the microwave.

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the managing editor for Simply Recipes, as well as a food writer and homebrewing expert. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.

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114 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Mcpherson

    I still filter it all with coffee maker filters

  • Katie

    Any tips on how to serve this to a crowd? In the past, if I set out concentrate, there would need to be a lot of explaining or else people would inadvertantly assume the concentrate was just iced coffee. But I like the idea of letting people dilute as needed. Thanks!

  • Janice

    Love this recipe! I used Seattle’s Best vanilla pre-ground coffee grounds. Followed each step. When it was ready I added just a small amount of vanilla syrup, to the bottom of the cup, used whole milk to delete it. So good and creamy!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Mary

    It is delicious, this is the recipe I have been using for a couple of years, also, I use a regular coffee filter to line my strainer with, and strain it twice …

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Anna

    I went online today to find accurate measurements for CB coffee. I made it from another recipe last night that called for 5-1/2 scoops coffee to 32 oz water. That just didn’t seem right when I realized my scoop was only 1 T bsp, which meant I used only 5-1/2 Tbsp coffee to 32 oz water. According to your recipe, I should have used 16 Tbsp since 2 Tbsp equals 1 oz. (BTW, your recipe inaccurately converted 1 cup grounds to 4 oz). Can I add another 13 Tbsp to the already brewing coffee (it has been brewing about 18 hrs) or do I need to just dump it out and start all over again?

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How To Make Cold Brew CoffeeHow To Make Cold Brew Coffee