Learn how to make cold brew coffee with this step-by-step video tutorial and recipe!
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 loveit 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.
Cold Brew Recipe | 1-Minute Video
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 measuring cup 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 fine mesh 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.
This cold brew coffee recipe is SO easy to make, and it removes much of the acid and bitterness of traditional 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 1:2 or 1:1 concentrate/water ratio. (Or whatever strength you prefer. I recommend just adding the water to taste.) Refrigerate the remaining coffee concentrate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.
I love cold press! Although, I don’t bother diluting it at all and keep it in the fridge so I don’t even bother with ice!
I use two fine gauge strainers. What the first strainer doesn’t catch, the second does. Paper filters haven’t worked for me. The liquid just doesn’t pour through for some reason.
Love this post! Thank you :)
Thank you for this super easy tutorial, I’m loving my homemade iced coffee these days!
Question: the recipe says it yields 4 cups concentrate, but after I “brew” it following the recipe it only ends up being about 2.5 cups concentrate. Am I doing something wrong?!
Now that it’s finally summer, cold brew coffee is my hero! THanks for the recipe, Ali!
I was wondering about your initial coffee grounds to water ratio. I have been making cold press coffee in a 2 quart glass pitcher and transferring into a half gallon beer growler after the steeping time, but I have been using 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans and 8 cups of water. I pour it over ice with a little half and half but don’t need to dilute with any water. Is this essentially the same thing you are doing, or is there a benefit to only using 4 cups of water and diluting it due to it being stronger?
Ah, good question — same thing! I just make my concentrate a bit stronger so that it takes up less storage room in the refrigerator. :)
Hi Ali- I am so intrigued by this idea and I cannot wait to try my own cold brewed coffee! I was also totally blown away to see you mention Quay coffee- when we lived in the Rivermarket we were big time fans of theirs :)
Thanks, Katy! Yes, I LOVE Quay! That’s cool that you used to live in the Rivermarket!
I also freeze ice cube trays and then as the day goes on……..my coffee isn’t diluted.
First let me thank you for sharing this method, I’m a coffee lover since long years, drank and brewed all types of coffee, from all over the world, American, French, turkish, Greek, Syrian, lebanese, Saudis and Italian, was lucky enough to try different seeds as well. This is the first time i read about cold coffee, and it sounds and smells nice. I will try it … thanks in advance .. cheers :)
Sure, and wow, you’ve done some amazing traveling! : ) Hope you enjoy this method!
Hi, great article!!
I’ve heard of cold brew before and always wondered if you had to DRINK it cold or whether it can be heated up after brewing? Would you lose flavour by heating it?
Hey, Chris! You don’t have to drink it cold, you should be able to reheat it without losing any flavor. Hope you enjoy!
Could you also put the coffee grounds into the cheese clothe and it off to make a little bag, and then steep it for 12 hours? That way you could possibly skip the straining step. Maybe my logic is off but I’m just wondering.
Erica, we haven’t tried that, but it sounds like a very reasonable idea! We say go for it, because it seems like it should work! If you try it, definitely let us know.
You make me happy and amaze when i read your post.. haha i taught its very hard to this.. because of you i can do this at home i never go to starbucks :D but i need to master the balancing of taste.. anyway thanks a lot for your recipe
You’re very welcome, we hope you enjoy it! : )
Hi! I love this – such a beautiful post! I just thought I’d mention a few things about your brewing methods! 1. when you’re cold brewing, you should try using a lid that has some holes, this allows the gases in the coffee to release, which is important to really get that sweetness from the coffee. 2. if you brew in a french press, make sure you pour the coffee into a decanter or a bottle right away, as the coffee will continue brewing (and over-extracting) despite the grounds being in the bottom. Just a couple thoughts! :) At our cafe we cold brew at room temperature – you should try that and see if you like the change of flavour it has!
Hey, April! Thank you so much for sharing these awesome tips, we are definitely taking notes! : )
So good and easy. Thanks for the recipe! I feel a new coffee addiction coming on. A tea towel worked perfectly in place of cheesecloth (I can’t be the only one that hates cheesecloth, right?) and I only diluted the concentrate with about 2 cups of water and its perfectly strong. Your photos are beautiful by the way :)
Thanks for sharing Melanie, we’re so glad this worked out well for you! :D
Many, many years ago, a friend and I discovered this interesting ‘gadget’ for making cold-brewed coffee. Basically it is the same as here, but it filtered through this 2-inch thick fibrous filter. The coffee was decadent. This looks much simpler, but just as tasty. The info on cold coffee also explains why my coffee tastes sweeter after it cools down. I think I will make much of my coffee in this manner from now on. I don’t care if it is cold or hot as it is.
Thanks for sharing with us Anne! :)
I just did this last night for the first time with 1 cup of grounds and a gallon of water to mimick my gallon of iced coffee that I would brew each week (using grounds in the keruig and standing in the kitchen for a million years for a few days worth) and it came out great! I’ve heard of cold brewing before but always thought it was way to complicated for me. Thanks for a great post! My new go to!!
We’re so glad to hear that Rhi, happy to help! :)
Your recipe is good, however you are not supposed to stir in the water since you are releasing acid that way. NEVER stir, the coffee grounds will soak up the water gradually without releasing any acid.
You can make simple syrup which is better than trying to mix sugar in a cold drink as it is hard to dissolve. 1 c sugar, 1 c water…mix in saucepan, bring just to a boil or until dissolved and clear. Let cool, store in refrigerator in a container.
Good idea Debbie — we appreciate your tip!
Thank you for this! I love iced coffee! My favorite use for my use grounds is in my strawberry bed, they love the acidity and if you have neighborhood kitty problems it helps with that as well (they don’t like the grounds on their paws)
You’re so welcome Jolene! We hope you enjoy this, and we must say, we’re envious of your strawberry bed! :)
Oo, this looks like fun. I’m hoping you can lend a hand though. I don’t really drink coffee, as caffeine does not go well with my system, but I love the Frappuccinos from Starbucks. What sort of decaffeinated coffee beans would you recommend to try this?
Thanks Rachel — we hope you enjoy it! Any type of good-quality decaf coffee bean would work for this (we like Counter Culture’s “Slow Motion,” Intelligentsia’s “Librarian’s Blend,” or Whole Foods’ brand — Allegro). We hope this helps! :)
I have to drink decaf coffee. Most decaf’s are made with harsh chemicals.. Look for the decafs that are Organic and caffeine extracted with the Swiss Water Process. Much healthier for you. There are many brands on line. I love the Explorer Decaf Concentrate!
Oh my….somehow I missed the part of diluting the end result with additional water? Oh well…that explains a few things. This receipe is delicious and I’ve been given a new reason to get up in the morning – to strain my next batch of cold-brew!!
We’re glad you enjoyed this Shara! :)
In the article you state “2:1 concentrate/water ratio”, but in the recipe, you state the opposite, “dilute the coffee at a 1:3 or 1:2 coffee/water ratio”. Which one is correct? Thanks.
Oops, sorry that was a typo! I recommend a 1:1 or 1:2 concentrate-to-water ratio. Just edited the recipe — thanks for catching that!
I’ve been making cold brew for a few years. If you make it a lot, I highly recommend putting your coffee grinds into reusable bags. It is sooo much easier and quicker than running the coffee through a filter. Here are the ones I use – https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Brew-Coffee–Cold-Filter/dp/B011A2NZFS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1463083230&sr=8-2&keywords=cold+brew+bag
Thanks for sharing Jennie, those are really cool!
i’m definitely going to have to try to make this, been wanting to make cold brew for a while now, lately more then ever.
my question though, where did you get that glass jar/bottle that you have in the picture for storing the coffee? the one from the first image (not the mason jar).
Hey Jonathan! Here you go! :)
Just wanted to say that cold brewed coffee is amazing. I was never a hot coffee fan but am now a “coffee achiever”. I use 1/8 cup of coarse ground coffee beans to 1 cup of water. I pour it through my regular coffee pot to strain it after letting it sit in the fridge 12-18 hours. It has one of those fine mesh metal baskets. Good to go! I don’t add any more water. Try this recipe, cold brewed coffee is delicious.
Thanks for sharing with us, Lisa — we’re glad you love it!
I saw you like yours strong. So as not to water it down make extra and freeze in ice tray to use instead of regular ice.
If I ever have leftover coffee, I make coffee ice cubes. Instead of ice cubes, I use the coffee ice cube to keep the ice from diluting the iced coffee. Coffee ice cubes also work well in the blender…
That’s an awesome idea, we love it! :)
Thank you for this recipe. I love the Starbucks coconut cold brew but it’s expensive. As soon as I saw this recipe I made my own! Thank you!
You’re very welcome, Rachel, we’re so glad you enjoyed it! :)
I’m not a big coffee drinker so I’m wondering how pot brewed coffee then chilled in the refrigerator is different than cold brew? Is the taste different?
Hi Katie! Cold brew is more concentrated, so it’s just stronger and has more flavor. :)
I’ll have to try your method, it would sure save room in my frig. I have been using The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I don’t refrigerate mine while it’s “brewing” and it has never been a problem. I’m anxious to try course ground coffee now. Through trial and error I have found the Starbucks Pike Place to taste great. Cold brew is also great to take on vacations if one has a refrig in the room, so nice to have it avail anytime you want it!
We hope you enjoy it, it’s definitely one of our favorite methods! :)
This sounds so easy! And if you are addicted, it must be great. I’m trying it tomorrow. Will save me tons of money. Thanks!
Thanks, Kat, we hope you enjoy — let us know what you think!
Thanks, I love ice coffee!
Thanks for this. It’s very easy and convenient. I didnt know that cold brewing resulted in less bitter coffee. I definitely have to try this.
Did you know Pampered Chef now makes a cold brew pitcher? This recipe worked perfectly in it, and didn’t need to strain the grounds!! Thank you!
I’ve been making cold brew for years. I use knee high stockings. I wash them in the kitchen, put the coffee in and tie it up. I make sure the coffee has room to spread out some. Cut off the extra hose. When I’m finish brewing just take the bag of coffee out. No straining.
Made coffee ice cubes. I didnt dilute the recipe at the end of the cold steeping, after straining it. Tastes great as is! Will get steeping pouches for the grounds so I wont need to strain anything. I will suggest Double or Tripling this recipe. 4 cups will not last me long. And It is just myself and my husband using it! I will suggest using Honey to sweeten this, or make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten. I also used Bottled water, not tap water. Made a huge difference in the outcome.
I was perfectly happy using my old method of brewing a pot of coffee and letting it cool. Never again!!! I am SHOCKED at the difference this recipe made. The bitter after taste was gone! I’ll never go back to my old way again! Followed directions precisely. And I’m super excited to try different bean varieties! So good!
Nothing beats an ice-cold pour-over coffee on ice with heavy cream.
Where did you get the bottle you have the cold brew in?
Love this recipe. I also make extra and pour in ice cube trays and freeze. It keeps the coffee from being watered down too much from the ice melting in the drink.
Wow!!! This is really awesome.
Love your recipe.
Thanks for sharing
Is it possible to use an ordinary coffe filter instead of a cheesecloth?
Thank you for the information.
Going to try this!!
What brand coffee grinder do you have? Do you like it?
Thank you kindly