One of the joys of learning about coffee is recognizing roasts as true individuals, and this goes for cold brew, too. In fact, the same roast, prepared as cold brew in different ways, can taste very different. Cold brew can be rich and creamy, but it can also be as crisp and juicy as iced tea. It can be fruity or nutty. It can be comforting, refreshing, and surprising, all at once.
Want to learn how to make cold brew at home? Consider this your official guide to all things cold brew, with everything from the best coffee for cold brew to our tried-and-true cold brew recipe.
Cold brew is a brewing method in which coffee is extracted from the grounds at a low temperature, reducing the overall acidity of the brewed coffee. Heat, generally in the form of hot water used to brew, speeds up flavor extraction; so without heat, cold brew requires more time to make. It's best to let the extraction take at least 12 hours, but no more than 24 hours.
There are so many different cold brew methods, but here’s the basic idea behind all of them: brew long and slow for a creamy, full-bodied, bold coffee drink. The trick is choosing the right coffee for your method, or the right method to suit your favorite coffee. Cold brew doesn't require anything beyond basic equipment and great coffee beans.
Our recipe calls for a slightly coarser grind, which works well with the long brew time. It also works well with a French press, a popular cold brew method. If you'd like to try your hand at a long, slow, full-bodied cold brew, follow this recipe:
Another great cold brew coffee recipe? Bean Box Cold Brew! Available in two flavors (Rich & Creamy and Smooth & Bright), Bean Box Cold Brew is ready to drink, no dilution required.
When choosing the best cold brew coffee, "traditional” coffees from South America like Colombian or Brazilians; blends that list "chocolate," “cocoa," or “nutty” in their tasting notes; espresso blends, and medium or medium-dark roasts are best for cold brew. These are all great options for an overnight cold brew coffee method that yields a thick, syrupy coffee concentrate. Avoid very dark roasts and coffees with extremely low acidity, like Sumatrans or Hawaiians.
The longer brewing process draws out a heavy, creamy texture to the coffee, and the concentrated form lends well to bolstering its creaminess with milk, condensed milk (for Thai or Vietnamese cold brew variations), or even nitro gas. No matter what method you use, it's important you use fresh coffee beans when making cold brew.
Coffee beans need to be coarsely ground for cold brew, so it's best to use a burr grinder with multiple settings.
Keep the water-to-coffee ratio roughly around 4:1 for whatever measurement you like (for example, 36 ounces of water to 8 ounces of grounds or one cup of water to 1/4 cup grounds).
Depending on the cold brew recipe you use, cold brew can steep anywhere between 10 and 18 hours. We recommend making it overnight.
You can make cold brew in massive batches and keep the concentrate in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also take your cold brew concentrate on road trips, camping trips, to tailgating parties... the possibilities are endless!
Because cold brew is typically made with a higher coffee-to-water ratio than hot coffee, it's often stronger in terms of caffeine. The caffeine content of the final drink can also depend on how much you dilute the concentrate with milk, water, or ice. Make sure not to drink the concentrate without diluting it.
The difference between cold brew and iced coffee is simple: iced coffee is coffee brewed hot and poured over ice, while cold brew remains at room temperature before being chilled and served. Cold brew needs to be prepared in advance, while iced coffee can be made on the spot.
Nitro cold brew is made much the same way as cold brew, but with the addition of nitrogen gas that's infused through a pressurized valve and served on tap. It's known for its deliciously creamy texture that's akin to the smoothness of a Guinness. You'll need some additional equipment, but like cold brew, you can also make nitro cold brew at home.