How to Make Cold Brew
Everything You Need to Know About How to Make Cold Brew – And More!
Cold brew coffee is a refreshing beverage that is becoming increasingly popular among coffee enthusiasts. Unlike hot brewed coffee, cold brew is made without heat or steam and yields a smooth, mellow flavor that’s perfect for summertime sipping. But who’s to say you should eliminate it in winter?
So, how exactly do you make cold brew coffee? This comprehensive guide will discuss everything from the best coffee beans to use, how long to steep your grounds, and the best coffee makers.
About Cold Brew
|Coffee / Water Ratio
|2 tablespoons / 1 cup
|Glass or Irish Coffee Mug
|no-heat brewing – takes 12 to 24 hours
|the brewing process produces a coffee with less acidity and a slightly sweeter flavor that’s ideal for iced varieties
The Best Beans
When it comes to selecting the right beans for cold brew, many coffee connoisseurs prefer dark roasts for a stronger flavor. Cold brew reduces the bitterness and acidity of brewing darker roasted beans, so you get the best of both worlds.
Now that’s not to say you can’t use a light roast. However, you might want to extend the brewing time for a deeper flavor – especially if you plan to pour it over ice.
As far as steeping goes, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to brewing cold brew. Generally speaking, you should expect a minimum of 12 hours for optimal extraction. However, you might want to allow up to 24 hours of steeping time, depending on the strength desired and the beans you’re using.
Don’t throw in the towel if you need a pitcher pronto, though. You’ll find various cold brew concentrates at your local grocery store that’ll speed things up considerably. We go into the benefits of using a concentrate below, but let’s start with good, old-fashioned cold brew coffee-making.
Cold Brew Coffee Makers
There are plenty of affordable cold brew coffee makers at different price points. They have different options, including relatively new automated systems that’ll speed up the process. But one of our favorites is one of the most affordable.
If you opt for our cold brew model, you’ll have an immersion-style coffee, and you won’t have to go through a messy filtering process. You put your coffee grounds in the included mesh filter and screw the filter onto the lid. Because it’s attached to the top, you won’t have any runaway grounds floating in your beverage. When it’s ready, you can even use the coffee maker as a pitcher – no need to transfer your cold brew into something else.
Cold Brew and Iced Coffee are two different beverages. Cold Brew is typically served over ice, but it’s made without heat. Iced Coffee is brewed hot and then cooled slightly before it’s poured over ice.
Other Ways to Make Cold Brew
If you opt for an electric cold brew maker, you’ll want to follow the instructions included in the package.
Most manual cold brew systems are similar, so the instructions are pretty darn consistent. The same basic process also works – even if all you have is a jar or a pitcher.
How to Make Cold Brew – Step-by-Step
– Instructions for Using a Manual 2-Quart Coffee Maker with a Built-in Filter
1. Gather your two ingredients – just under two quarts of fresh, cold filtered water and one cup of coarse coffee grounds
Note: While you can get away with slightly less coffee, a ratio of two tablespoons for every cup of water provides the best results.
2. Fill your mesh filter with the coffee grounds (if you can grind them fresh, all the better!)
3. Make sure the filter cap (it looks like an extending piece) is in place but don’t screw the lid onto the filter yet. Instead, put the filter into the empty pitcher.
4. Use one hand to hold the filter upright, and, using your other hand, pour the cold water through the filter.
Note: This step might not be in the instructions, but it ensures that all of the coffee grounds are soaked through properly for the best results.
5. After filling the pitcher, pull the filter slightly to screw it into the lid. Then, attach the lid to the pitcher, and it’s ready to go.
6. Put the unit in your refrigerator to brew anywhere from 12 to 24 hours – 12 should suffice if you’re using the recommended amount of coffee grounds.
7. When your cold brew is ready, simply remove the filter, dump the grounds, and wash out the filter, so it’s ready for your next batch. Be sure to put the lid back on the pitcher, it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Optional: After you remove the filter, you can sweeten the batch with sugar syrup (boil equal parts of sugar and water to create the syrup) or have the syrup handy and add it to individual glasses as you go.
No Coffee Maker? No Problem!
A coffee maker with a built-in pitcher and reusable filter is convenient but not mandatory. If you want to experiment with cold brew at home, you only need a jar or pitcher with a lid, cheesecloth, or a fine mesh strainer.
You’ll use a simple immersion method with the same ratio of coffee to water (two tablespoons to one cup). Put both ingredients in your container, give it a quick stir, and then set the timer for 12 to 24 hours.
Once it’s steeped to your liking, pour it through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a server container. The coffee grounds will be left behind, so you have the same delicious result as using an “official” cold brew coffee maker.
Tips for Making the Best Drink
No matter which method or equipment you choose when making your own cold brew at home – always remember that freshness matters!
Make sure to buy freshly roasted and ground beans from a reputable source to ensure quality results every time. Once you’ve got your hands on some fresh beans, experiment with different steeping times and brewing methods until you end up with the perfect glass!
A Few Other Tips
- Start with high-quality coffee beans.
- Choose the appropriate grind size – medium-coarse.
- Use filtered or spring water to avoid any off-flavors from tap water.
- Use the correct ratio of coffee to water.
- Give your cold brew at least 12 hours to steep. Take a little sip; if it’s not strong enough, leave the coffee grounds in for 6-12 hours longer.
- Make some ice cubes with some of your brew – that way, your drink won’t be diluted and too watery.
Nitro Cold Brew
If you’re looking for a unique twist on your daily cup of joe, then Nitro Coffee is the way to go. This cold-brewed drink combines nitrogen gas with coffee grounds after being steeped in water overnight (aka the cold brew method we’ve discussed).
The result? A creamy signature experience without added sugar or calories – making this an ideal pick-me-up beverage! It’s usually served from taps or infusion kettles at cafes that carry the cold brew alternative. And one of those spots is Starbucks. So, give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
What is Cold Brew Concentrate?
Cold brew concentrate is a type of coffee concentrate created by slowly steeping coffee grounds in cold or room-temperature water for an extended period. This method results in a smooth and flavorful concentrate, which can be diluted to create the perfect drink.
You’ll find concentrate in many grocery stores, specialty coffee shops, and online retailers. It usually comes in a premeasured package and is sometimes mixed with sugar or other flavorings, like Starbucks Madagascar Vanilla Flavored Cold Brew concentrate.
Benefits of Concentrate
When it comes to making cold brew at home, using premade concentrate can be much more convenient than grinding your own beans and manually preparing the drink yourself. Because the grounds are already steeped at the factory, you don’t have to wait for your cold brew to be ready for hours (or a day!).
Regarding taste, using concentrate might also have advantages over standard ground coffee for making homemade cold brew – depending on the brand. Concentrates tend to be made from higher quality beans than pre-ground bags of regular coffee and are crafted specifically for creating cold beverages.
Buying premade concentrate allows people quick access to delicious and aromatic beverages at home. The downside is the price tag, though. Quality cold brew concentrates come with a relatively high price tag. You could pay anywhere from $12 to almost $50 for a bottle.
A Few of the Best Cold Brew Concentrates
Homemade Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee
This delicious and refreshing coffee will surely be a hit with your friends and family! Not only is it easy to make, but you don’t even need a cold brew maker. This recipe yields four 16-ounce servings of smooth, non-bitter iced coffee that’s subtly sweetened with a hint of vanilla.
Homemade Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee
- 1 large pitcher or container with a lid
- 1 fine mesh strainer or piece of cheesecloth
- 1 cup coarse ground coffee beans ideally dark or French roast
- 8 cups cold filtered water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a vanilla bean scraped
- 4 tablespoons half & half or cream
- sugar syrup to taste boil equal parts of water and sugar and then simmer for 10-15 minutes
- Start by grinding the coffee beans until coarsely ground. The grains should be slightly larger than what you would use for drip coffee. If you don't have access to an electric grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle instead.
- Place the ground beans into the container and pour in the cold filtered water. Stir the mixture until all of the grounds are evenly saturated.
- Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Once the brew time has elapsed, slowly strain out the grounds using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Discard any solids that remain in either material after straining.
- After the coffee is strained, add the vanilla, half-and-half, and the sugar syrup to taste (start with just a bit of syrup as cold brew is sweeter and less bitter than brewed coffee).
- Pour into glasses filled with ice cubes* and enjoy! You can also store this cold brewed cup of joe in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to three days – just shake before serving each time!
Frequently Asked Questions
Cold Brew is coffee typically served over ice or used in cold coffee-based beverages that’s made by steeping for 12 to 24 hours instead of brewed with hot water. The result is smoother, less bitter, and slightly sweeter.
Cold Brew can be Iced Coffee, but Iced Coffee isn’t necessarily Cold Brew. Iced Coffee is typically made with a drip or other heat-based coffee maker, cooled slightly, and then poured over ice.
While there are inexpensive no-heat Cold Brew coffee makers with reusable filters attached, you can use the immersion method. All you need to do is combine coarse coffee grounds and cold filtered water in a jug or pitcher with a lid. You’ll refrigerate it for up to 24 hours and then strain it through cheesecloth or use a fine mesh strainer.
While you can adjust to taste, the typical ratio of coffee to water is two tablespoons of coarse-ground coffee to every cup of cold filtered water.