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.

Video! How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

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 it also leaves behind most of the compounds that can make coffee taste bitter and sour.
  • This means that 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.

Too strong for your taste? Iced coffee does make a particularly strong cuppa joe! If you’re serving it iced, the ice is meant to melt and dilute the coffee a little. If it’s still a bit too much for you, just dilute your glass with some water or milk to 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!

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How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

  • 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.

Adjusting coffee strength: This recipe makes a fairly strong cup of coffee. To make it less strong (or stronger, if that's what you like!), just adjust the amount of coffee beans to your suite your taste.

Ingredients

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

Special equipment:

  • Coffee or spice grinder
  • 1 1/2 quart (or larger) glass, ceramic, or plastic container (I use a 2-quart canning jar)
  • Small strainer
  • Cheesecloth or cotton flour sack cloth (I like these)
  • 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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How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes, and has over 10 years of experience creating food and content for web and print. 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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174 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Ronald McCoy

    I tried this. It was simple to make. I did use coffee filter papers that I use for percolated coffee. The result: perfect! Thank you! This recipe is an absolute keeper!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Jules

    This is awesome! I’ve tried the “concentrate” way in this recipe as well as using the full amount of water and both are beautiful. It keeps well in the fridge for at least 4 days, but I’ve never kept it around longer than that to see. ;) I steep it for up to 24 hours for a stronger flavor and now have a lot of success using a #4 filter over my Bodum. I drink it cold with ice or reheated on the stove. Love both! And it cuts way down on the bitterness and acidity. I’m definitely going to try adding cinnamon and vanilla as other reviewers suggested. Thanks for the simple and easy tutorial!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. BoyMom2010

    This is GOOD. I prefer cold brew over hot coffee and the stuff from the store is way too expensive. This uses a lot of coffee beans but I think in the long run it will be less expensive! Really great recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Maggie

    I carefully poured the finished product into my French press for straining purposes. This was my first batch and it was delicious. Reading through the comments I see some great suggestions.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Staci

    Used this recipe to make cold brew at home for the first time, and I really enjoyed it! I didn’t want to dirty a towel to strain, and for me, a coffee filter sitting in a wire strainer worked just fine.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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