Cold Brew Coffee
Learn how to make cold brew coffee with this simple cold brew coffee recipe and step-by-step photo tutorial. It is SO easy, and so good!!
It’s no secret that my home away from home is my beloved coffee shop next door. My friends and I joke that it’s kind of like our own little “Central Perk” from Friends. Anytime I walk in the door, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll see at least a few friendly faces I know, often many of those fellow entrepreneurs in the neighborhood who hang out there at the same time each day to be pretend “co-workers” and keep each other company and bounce small business ideas off one another while we work. Which I love. I also love the fact that anytime the guys behind the counter see me, they know — whether it’s the hottest day in the middle of July, or if we’re in the midst of a December blizzard — that my “regular” drink order will be the same:
Oh man. I love good coffee, I love it cold.
Most of the time when I go there, I order my favorite iced pour-over coffee. (You can see my tutorial for that here.) But I have also become a mega fan of the other iced coffee option they offer — cold brew coffee. By contrast to traditional iced coffee, which is brewed hot and then served over ice to cool it down, cold brew coffee is brewed entirely with cold or lukewarm water over a longer period of time. And as such, you lose most of the acidity or bitterness that comes with brewing coffee with hot water, resulting in a deliciously smooth, sweet, and bitter-free coffee that tastes fabulous over ice.
Anyway, the guys at the shop had always told me that cold brew coffee was “crazy” easy to make at home. But it wasn’t until the past few months that I finally tried it myself and began tinkering with the proportions I like. And good grief, they were right. It literally takes me 3 total minutes to make an enormous batch, which I can then keep in the fridge and use over the course of a week or so. SO EASY.
Basically, if you love iced coffee, you must give cold brew a try. Here’s my quick tutorial for how to make it like a pro.
The key to any good coffee is to begin with good beans. Probably obvious, but I can’t stress this enough. Buy your coffee beans fresh (and roasted locally if possible) and buy them whole. Then just before you’re ready to start your cold brew, grind them up to a coarse ground. You don’t want to use finely ground beans for cold brew coffee.
Then pour your coarsely ground coffee into a large bowl or a French press. Add in your cold water, and stir to combine. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. (I like to make mine in the evening and then have it ready to go in the morning.)
Once it has sat for 12 hours and “brewed” in the refrigerator, all you need to do is strain it!
If you made the cold brew in a French press, this part is super easy — just press down the lid to strain the coffee, and then pour it into your serving glasses or a separate (sealed) container to keep in the fridge. (You don’t want to keep the coffee in the French press on top of the old grounds for more than 24 hours.)
If you made it in a bowl, like I did above, just get a separate bowl ready and place a strainer on top of it with a cheesecloth. Pour the coffee and grounds into the cheesecloth and let it sit until the liquid has drained through. Remove the cheesecloth and strainer and serve, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Sidenote: Don’t forget that your coffee grounds are not good for your garbage disposal. So pop them in the compost, or toss them in the trash. ;)
Once your coffee is strained, dilute it with however much water you’d like. I like my coffee pretty strong, so I go for about a 2:1 concentrate/water ratio. Others like the 1:1, or even more water than coffee. It’s totally a matter of personal preference. Of course, feel free to also add in some milk or cream and sweetener. Although, I’d recommend giving it a taste before you add sweetener, because cold brew coffee naturally tastes sweeter than traditional iced coffee.
Then just serve it over ice, and you’re ready to go! So easy, right??
Alright, here is the basic recipe, which I also recommend doubling or tripling if you’d like to make a big batch to carry through the rest of the week or serve to a crowd. Or you can also halve it if you’re making a smaller batch.
Cold Brew Coffee
- 1 cup coarsely-ground coffee beans
- 4 cups cold water
Add ground coffee and cold water together in a large bowl. Stir briefly to combine. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or up to 24 hours).
Then remove the bowl, and place a strainer covered with a cheesecloth in a second bowl. Pour the coffee (and ground) over the strainer, and wait a minute or two until the liquid has filtered through the strainer. Discard the grounds and remove the strainer.
Serve the coffee over iced, stirring in water to dilute the coffee at a 1:3 or 1:2 coffee/water ratio. Refrigerate the remaining coffee concentrate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.