How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
Maryna Gray • April 07, 2021
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.
Table of Contents
- What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
- How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
- Best Cold Brew Recipe
- Best Coffee for Cold Brew
- Best Coffee Grinder for Cold Brew
- Coffee-to-Water Ratio for Cold Brew
- How Long Does It Take to Make Cold Brew?
- How Long Does Cold Brew Last?
- How Much Caffeine Is in Cold Brew
- Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
- What Is Nitro Cold Brew?
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
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.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
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.
Best Cold Brew Recipe
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.
- Filtered water
- Freshly ground coffee
Step 1: Mix grounds and water together in your container of choice, such as your French press or a mason jar. You can cover it, but it shouldn't be airtight. If using a French press, don't push the plunger down.
Step 2: Let sit 10 to 12 hours at room temperature, then strain out the coffee grounds and stick the resulting brew into the fridge to chill.
Step 3: This produces a very strong cold brew concentrate, which should be diluted with water or milk at a 2:1 ratio.
Step 4: Serve over ice and savor!
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.
Best Coffee for Cold Brew
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. You can't go wrong with Kuma Coffee's Sun Bear, which is specifically meant to be used for cold brew!
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.
Best Coffee Grinder for Cold Brew
Coffee beans need to be coarsely ground for cold brew, so it's best to use a burr grinder with multiple settings.
Coffee-to-Water Ratio for Cold Brew
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).
How Long Does It Take to Make Cold Brew?
Depending on the cold brew recipe you use, cold brew can steep anywhere between 10 and 18 hours. We recommend making it overnight.
How Long Does Cold Brew Last?
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!
How Much Caffeine Is in Cold Brew?
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.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
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.
What Is Nitro Cold Brew?
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.
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