Cold Brew Coffee

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Learn how to make cold brew coffee with this step-by-step video tutorial and recipe!

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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:

Iced Coffee.

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.

Cold Brew Recipe | 1-Minute Video

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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.)

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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.  ;)

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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??

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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.

Cheers, friends!


Cold Brew Coffee

  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups concentrate 1x


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


  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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How To Make Cold Brew Coffee: a step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe | #diy

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172 comments on “Cold Brew Coffee”

  1. Pingback: Cold Brew & Chocolate Zucchini Loaf | Make the Best of Everything

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  5. I am a coffee junkie and love this! Thank you for being unoriginal.

  6. I actually like hot coffee, but I’m cheap, so I do my own version of cold brew. I take a tablespoon of coffee grounds, put it in an empty bottle (old starbucks iced coffee bottle – good to recycle, eh?), fill the bottle up about 3/4 of the way (enough to fill a mug) with hot water from the sink, leave it in the fridge overnight, and strain it into a coffee mug (use one of my wife’s tea strainers), then microwave it for a minute and half, and I’ve just created a good cheap cup of coffee. Presto. You can get a lot of mugs of coffee out of a can of coffee if you’re able to do a little bit of work. And I do actually rinse the old grounds down the dispose-all in the sink. No problems from that, but maybe I should be worried?

  7. I made a double batch of this with Columbian roast from Wegmans. It came out great and was super easy. I let it steep in fridge for 20 hours then strained right from the pitcher through cheesecloth. No sediment or grit at all, naturally sweeter and makes an awesome “coffee milk” lightly sweetened w honey.

    ALSO for the old timey glass milk bottle, Wegmans again comes to the rescue with the Bormioli Rocco brand from Italy for a few dollars each. Great stuff Ali, thank you for the additional way I can enjoy caffeine

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  10. I LOVE iced coffee. Even in the middle of winter. And watching milk being poured into a fresh glass is, just magical. I will have to try this cold brew method. 
    I don’t want to clutter up my kitchen, and I’m more of a tea drinker anyway, so I don’t want to buy a coffee maker.  
    This is the perfect way to get my iced coffee fix. I’ve been using Mt. Haagen instant, but have been wanting to adventure into all different varieties of beans. 
    I’ll be checking out your other coffee making tutorials, too!
    (Also, I love your earl grey tea latte. Never thought of adding lavender!)

  11. Actually, I worked for years in a coffee shop that made Cold Brew/Cold Press coffee (long before it became “fashionable” and “hip”), and you’re not limited to coarse ground beans.  You can, in fact, use espresso ground (r drip ground) for Cold Press.  It’s how I do it at home.  It makes for a stronger concentrate.   The only downside, if you can call it that, is that it takes a little long for it to strain.  

    If you want the same strength Cold Brew when using fine ground you can increase the water.  Which is more economical since you’re using few beans and getting more brew.   For drip ground use 1 cup to 5 cups water.   For espresso grounds use 1 cup to 6 cups water.  

    Also, to save money use a good ol’ fashioned coffee filter to strain your Cold Brew instead of cheesecloth.  After a use or two of the cheesecloth it’ll take on the color/smell of the coffee that no matter how well you wash it won’t come out.  It’s a lot more economical to buy a $2.00 pack of 500 coffee filters than it is to repeatedly buy $2.00 cheesecloth.

  12. So i realllly want to try this,  but do not have cheesecloth currently.  Would a paper towel work?  Also,  do you have to grind your own beans or does preground coffee work ok? 

    • Hey Alexandra, I would actually try a dish towel rather than a paper towel. You definitely don’t have to grind your own beans, (I think the coffee tastes fresher and better if you do), but it should still be tasty otherwise! Hope that helps!

  13. Check out a Filtron. I used one back in my barista years a couple decades ago and my father-in-law bought one for me 2 years ago. The design is still exactly the same. It’s the best cold water brewing system. So basic. I make it all year round and in the winter, add hot water to the cold brew concentrate instead…smoothest cup a joe you’ll ever drink.

    • Whoa, I haven’t heard of the Filtron. I’ll definitely check it out. I seem to have a slightly obsession with coffee gear. :)

  14. I love this! Is it completely necessary to use cheese cloth or could you use a regular coffee filter?

    • Hey Elise, you can make it with coffee filters instead, but I would double up on them, since they’re so thin. Just line 2 or 3 of them over a fine mesh sieve. Hope that helps!

  15. 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!

  16.    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. 

  17. Love this post! Thank you :)

  18. 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?!


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  20. Now that it’s finally summer, cold brew coffee is my hero! THanks for the recipe, Ali! 

  21. 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. :)

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  23. 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 :)

  24. I also freeze ice cube trays and then as the day goes on…… coffee isn’t diluted. 

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  26. 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 :)

  27. 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?
    Cheers, Chris 

    • Hey, Chris! You don’t have to drink it cold, you should be able to reheat it without losing any flavor. Hope you enjoy!

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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! : )

  31. Love coffee!

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  40. 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 :)

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  44. 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.

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  48. 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!!

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  50. 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.