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Want to learn how to make smooth, low-acid cold brew coffee at home instead of forking over $5 to a barista? Course-ground coffee beans and time are the two key ingredients in this cold brew recipe. No crazy techniques, expensive machines, or special carafes are required.
To make cold brew coffee, the beans are steeped for hours in cold water, creating a coffee concentrate that is then diluted with hot or cold water. So, even though it is often served cold, The “cold” in cold brew actually describes how the coffee is made, not how it is served. Time instead of heat, extracts the coffee from the beans.
why make your own cold brew coffee
- Easy to digest. People who find traditionally made coffee too harsh on their stomachs rave about the lower acid profile of cold brew. The cold water method affects the acids in coffee differently than hot water does.
- Rich, smooth flavor: Converts to cold brewing; say the smooth, velvety flavor is superior to the flavor of coffee made by hot-water methods.
- Brings make-ahead joy. If you are an overnight oats person or the type who sets a timer on their coffee maker, cold brew is for you. One batch can last many days in the fridge. That means one coffee-making session can do you for an entire workweek.
- Saves money: Coffee shops routinely charge more for cold brew than they do regular coffee.
Ingredients for homemade cold brew
- Coffee: For the brewing process to work, the beans need to be coarsely ground. They should look quite chunky, as pictured below, sort of like the consistency of kosher salt. Many cold brew aficionados prefer darker roasts, but it is a personal choice. Experiment.
- Water: In general, good water makes good coffee, cold brew included. So if your tap water has heavy chlorine or chemical tastes, filter it through a Brita or other type of filter to avoid passing on unwanted flavors.
what is the ratio of coffee beans to water?
- Any cold brew coffee recipe is all about the correct ratios. The ratio of coarsely ground coffee to water is 1:4.
How to cold brew coffee
Making cold brew coffee is a two-part process begun many hours before the coffee is consumed. Coarsely ground coffee is mixed with water and steeped – like tea – overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, the mixture is strained, then diluted with either hot or cold water.
Add coffee & water to Pitcher
- Measure the coffee and put it in a large pitcher or another non-reactive container. Make sure it is something that will be easy to pour from later – especially in the morning when you are caffeine-deprived!
- Add the correct amount of cold or room temperature water. No need to heat the water.
- Stir well. Cover the container and steep overnight in the refrigerator.
Strain THE Coffee
- Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and strain it into a second container. Pour the coffee slowly through the strainer.
- Discard the coffee grounds.
store or Serve
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator or serve.
- To serve cold, dilute with cold water and pour over ice. Add milk as desired.
- To serve hot, use hot water to dilute or add cold water and warm it in a microwave. Add milk as desired.
Tips for making cold brew coffee
- Get the right grind. The “course” level grind is key. Pre-ground packaged coffee does not work. Also, if your blade-type home grinder is not up to the task, have coffee ground at a coffee shop. Also, large grocery stores typically have grinders in the coffee aisle.
- Give it time: Let the mixture sit for the recommended amount of time. Cold brew uses time, not heat, to extract the goodness from coffee.
- Do not rush the pour: Decant the steeped mixture s-l-o-w-l-y into the second container, and do not press down on the grinds in the sieve. That can release bitterness.
- Sub paper for cheesecloth: No cheesecloth? No problem! Try lining the strainer with a paper coffee filter or a layer or two of paper towels.
- Reuse the grounds: Acid-loving plants love coffee grounds. Try spreading the grounds on roses, hydrangeas, or rhododendrons.
cold brew flavor ideas
- Cinnamon sticks, split vanilla pods, or other spices like cardamom seeds can steep along with the beans.
- Simple syrup or flavored simple syrup
- Coconut milk or cream of coconut
- Sweetened condensed milk for Vietnamese-style coffee
how to store cold brew coffee
Store cold brew in a covered container in the refrigerator. Cap or cover tightly because coffee is prone to picking up other odors.
how long will cold brew last in the fridge?
Cold brew will last for 5 days. After that, it will still be safe to drink for another week, but the flavor will degrade.
Frequently asked questions
Traditional iced coffee is coffee that started its life being brewed using a hot water method and was then cooled down by being poured over ice or refrigerated. Cold brew is made using room temperature or cold water and time to extract the coffee.
Yes. Cold brew can steep on the counter at room temperature. And, since temperature affects this method, room-temperature cold brew is done faster than coffee steeped in the fridge. It can be ready to drink in as little as eight hours but will not – obviously – be chilled.
Yes, cold brew coffee can be made in a French press. Steep for the recommended amount of time, and instead of straining, just press down the plunger and pour the brewed coffee into another container.
Cold brew does not necessarily have more caffeine than regular coffee, but because it starts from a coffee concentrate, it has that reputation. The caffeine content of any cold brew depends on so many factors: the beans used, how long it steeps, and how much water is used to dilute it.
Cold brew coffee ticks so many boxes! Cold brew coffee is great for those who like a make-ahead project, people who can’t stomach acidic coffee, and those special hardy souls who drink coffee over ice year-round (you know who you are!)
More easy coffee recipes:
- Whipped Coffee
- Coconut Oil Coffee
- 6 Ways to Use Instant Coffee
- Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
- Cappuccino Nice Cream
- Breakfast Coffee Smoothie
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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
- 1 cup coarse ground coffee beans
- 4 cups water
- Place the ground coffee and water in a large pitcher or jug and stir well to combine. Cover the container and allow the coffee to steep overnight in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- Line a small strainer with a cheesecloth and place over another large pitcher or bowl. Pour the coffee slowly through the strainer and discard the remaining bits left in the strainer.
- When you’re ready to serve, dilute the cold brew with as much water or milk as you’d like. For every cup of cold brew, you can add up to 1 cup of water or milk.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.