Cold Brew Coffee

Pouring Cream Over Cold Brew Coffee
The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Steeping: 12 hrs
  • Yield: 4 cups (6 servings)

Cold brew coffee is not exactly the same as iced coffee, though it's often served chilled and over ice. Instead of using hot water, cold-brew is made by steeping ground coffee beans in water. There's no special machine or equipment required, and it's incredibly easy to make at home. While the method does produce a great tasting cup of coffee, it takes longer (about 12 hours), so you will need to plan ahead. 

This simple brewing method produces a richer, sweeter flavor with the true taste of coffee beans. It's almost as concentrated as espresso, but without the bitter taste or high acidity of hot-brewed coffee. The health and flavor benefits make it a great option for coffee drinkers, even those who gave it up because of digestive issues.

Freshly ground coffee beans and cold or room temperature water are the only ingredients needed. You will also need a vessel to brew in, a lid or plastic wrap, something to stir with (e.g., long spoon, chopstick, etc.), and a way to filter it. There are cold-brew coffee makers explicitly designed for this method. If you prefer, a French press works well, though any medium-sized glass container will do.

Begin with 4 cups of filtered water and 1 cup of ground coffee. It will produce 4 cups, or six servings, of coffee. You can make a larger or smaller batch if you like, simply keep the 4:1 ratio.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coffee (coarsely ground)
  • 4 cups filtered or distilled water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Cold Brew Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. Grind 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans.

    Coarsely Ground Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. In a large jar, add the ground coffee. Slowly pour 4 cups of water over the beans as you stir until the coffee is thoroughly saturated.

    Combining Ingredients for Cold Brew Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator and let it steep for at least 12 hours. You can brew up to 24 hours, depending on your personal taste.

    Finished Cold Brew Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Filter the beans from the coffee. Pour slowly and stop as needed to avoid overflowing the filter.

    Any filter system will do, so use whatever's most convenient: A paper coffee filter set inside a funnel is easy and inexpensive. A cold-brew maker has a built-in filter. When using a French press, push on the plunger and pour your coffee like normal. You can also use a fine-mesh strainer or sieve to catch the larger particles. If you find small grounds left over, run it through a paper or metal coffee filter.

    Filtering Cold Brew Coffee
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  6. Store filtered cold-brew in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to a week—a shelf life hot-brewed coffee can't touch!

    Finished Cold Brew Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Serve and enjoy!

    Cold Brew Coffee
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Tips

  • Cold brewing produces a coffee concentrate. It has a nice, bold flavor that's very smooth, but it also has a lot of caffeine. When serving, it's often diluted with water: 2 parts coldbrew coffee to 1 part water is an excellent place to begin.
  • If you're in the mood for a hot cup of coffee, add hot water. Do not microwave coffee! It's just as devastating to cold brew as it is to any other coffee, ruining all that amazing flavor you were so patient to obtain.
  • Sweeten cold-brew with your favorite liquid sweetener, milk, or cream. You can serve it over ice or freeze some to make coffee cubes to avoid diluting future drinks with water.
  • This type of coffee also makes superior iced coffee drinks compared to a hot brew method, and it's already chilled, so there's no waiting. It's an excellent alternative for mixing up iced coffee cocktails, giving you the rich flavor of espresso without the need for a fancy machine. Since it lacks the bitterness, cold-brew is an excellent way to add the taste of coffee to baked goods, marinades, and sauces.