Tips and Techniques for Making Cold Brew Coffee at Home
Cold brew coffee is delicious, refreshing, and energizing. Or at least it should be. If that doesn’t sound like the cold brew you’ve been making, you owe it to yourself to check out these helpful cold brew tips.
1. Choose the cold brew technique that suits you best.
You have a few choices for getting your hands on some cold brew, each with pros and cons. You can use a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, your French Press, Aeropress or a budget-friendly mason jar. Or you can opt for convenience and buy a can at the store.
The best option depends on your lifestyle. To help you decide, we have a whole article on how to make cold brew coffee at home.
We made some useful coffee brewing videos. Here’s one if you want to use your French press to make cold brew:
If you want to make cold brew with an Aeropress at home:
Or, if you don’t own any brewers and are a fan of DIYs:
2. The cold brew ratio is more important than you think (get it right)
As a general rule, use a cold brew ratio of 1:5 coffee to water. This is easy to measure using a scale. Just weigh out five times as much water as coffee.
Try this ratio as a starting point. You can always adjust it based on your taste.
The right coffee to water ratio will make a nicely balanced cold brew concentrate that you can either drink straight or dilute with water, milk, tonic, or whatever strikes your fancy. The most popular option is to mix equal parts cold brew coffee concentrate and cold water and serve over ice.
But DON’T CONFUSE IT with iced coffee. You can learn about the difference between cold brew and iced coffee here.
3. Choose the right beans.
Cold brew simply makes the best iced coffee to drink but your choice of beans matter. So, which should you get? The answer depends on what flavors you enjoy. But make sure to avoid using cheap beans. Though it’s tempting to save money, as cold brew uses a lot of coffee, the results won’t be worthwhile.
Here are some bean suggestions:
- If you want to make cold brew coffee with fruit-forward flavors, try Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee beans (1).
- If you like nutty and chocolatey flavors, try Colombian or Brazilian coffee beans (2).
- If you plan to add milk, try a medium or dark roast blend for bold and balanced flavors.
Always remember that freshly ground coffee beans are most ideal for making cold brew. Instead of buying pre-ground coffee, buy whole beans and make ground coffee at home with a cold brew grinder. If you do not have your own grinder, you can buy whole beans at a local coffee shop and ask them to ground the beans there.
4. Steep in a cool temperature if possible.
Yes, you can steep cold brew at room temperature. This is nice especially if you’re using big batch brewers like the Toddy or Filtron as they won’t fit in a domestic fridge. Just make sure you get it straight into the fridge when it’s ready.
Or try this: create an ice bath around your steeping vessel while it’s steeping. Just fill a shallow dish with ice, and cover it with a plastic bag.
5. Choose your water wisely.
Better quality filtered water means better quality cold brew. So with that in mind, don’t skimp on the water.
6. Experiment with steeping time.
As a general guide, steep your coffee for 16 hours. But you can experiment with anything from 14 to 24 hours. Steeping longer than 24 hours can produce some funky flavors.
7. Don’t let it sit in the fridge for too long.
Cold brew will last up to 10 days if you keep it refrigerated from the moment you make it. After that, you might notice some off-tastes.
But if you waited too long, try this cool tip:
If your cold brew starts to taste off, some of your plants might want it! Dilute it with 2 parts water, 1 part cold brew. Water plants that prefer a slightly acidic soil like roses, begonias, and ferns.
The best thing about cold brew coffee tips is that they teach you how never to waste it.
The thing with cold brew is that the basic principle for making it is so simple that you can experiment in many different ways. Still, the basic principles need to be followed. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a weak drink. And we don’t want that.
Now go and enjoy your cold brew!
The best grind for cold brew is very coarse because of the long extraction time. Like with any other type of brewing, getting the right grind size is crucial. It might not seem like it, but the taste of your coffee changes drastically if you get the wrong size. This is because the method you use won’t allow the proper extraction of the necessary ingredients, if the size is wrong.
Don’t stir cold brew while steeping. Best practice is to stir it at the beginning of the immersion process. This is because stirring later in the process might cause the coffee to sink too early, which results in weak taste. However, you can always experiment and see what method suits you best.
Cold brew should taste chocolatey, with a smooth after-taste feel. According to many people, cold brew tastes better than regular, hot-brewed coffee. One of the reasons for this is the amount of acidity in it. Namely, cold brew has half the amount of acidity than regular coffee. Not only does this affect the taste, but it’s also easier on your stomach.
- Palaikyte, P. (2018, January 26). African Coffee Bean: Vivid flavors from Ethiopia & Kenya. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/paulina-palaikyte/january-2018/african-coffee-bean-vivid-flavors-ethiopia-kenya
- Bantatua, L. (2021, May 20). Coffee 101: Colombian Coffee vs Brazilian Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.coffeedrs.com/blog/colombian-coffee-vs-brazilian-coffee