How To Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home (Recipes + Tips)

You're about to learn how to make your own cold brew coffee at home. And yes if you follow the tips below it so it tastes BETTER than your local coffee shop (or Starbucks) brew. And it's cheaper. It just takes a few small hints and tweaks (revealed below).

Below we’ve included a simple recipe, as well as 20 more exciting recipe variations. Don't forget to grab our free downloadable bonus by clicking here now: little-known cold brewing tweaks and critical yet common cold brewing mistakes.

Why Cold Brew?

Cold brew is my favourite brew method, and its becoming more popular than Iced coffee. And I don't say that lightly. There is a huge difference between cold brew and iced regular coffee. Here's a huge list of iced coffee recipes. Otherwise, read on to find out what the rave is all about.

information about cold brew coffee and iced coffee

The benefits of cold brew:

  • It's more mellow and less acidic than hot and iced coffee
  • You get a slow release caffeine hit when compared to hot brewed coffee. No caffeine crash even though caffeine levels are higher. (1)
  • More stomach-friendly (less acidity)
  • Properly brewed, it lasts for up to 10 days (so you can batch brew)
  • You can make cold brew coffee concentrate which can be diluted or used in various recipes (see below)
  • You can turn it into nitro cold brew coffee(!)

The Science Behind Cold Brew

An informative information behind cold brew coffee

Those benefits sound nice don’t they? Smooth tasting, non-acidic, soft on the stomach… is this all just marketing talk to sell another beverage to American coffee drinkers?

No! According to good old science. the science behind a good cup of coffee is actually quite complicated.

Coffee beans contain roughly a thousand different chemical compounds (2), including Malic acid (a sour compound also found in green apples) and Furaneol (a sweet compound also found in strawberries).

Making coffee is really the process of extracting these compounds from the beans into the water, thus turning it into the beverage we know and love. There are two important factors to control in the brewing process: TIME and TEMPERATURE.

This is where cold brew gets interesting because the brewing process is completely different from a traditional brew in both aspects.

When we use hot/boiling water, these compounds are released rapidly (within a few minutes). On the flip side, the higher temperature also causes the coffee acids and oils to degrade and oxidize more quickly. This can lead to acidity and bitterness.

The cold brew method relies on a long prep time instead of high temperature. This produces a completely different flavor profile (smooth and mellow). This is because many of the sweeter flavor compounds are soluble even in cool water, but the oils and the acids are not.

a jar of black coffee

Cold brew is definitely “strong” in terms of the coffee grounds-to-water ratio but it does not taste harsh or bitter. This is why its an excellent method of extraction. You can increase the amount of coffee to make it stronger (or for a concentrate) and it still won’t be bitter or harsh. Do this with hot coffee and it will be undrinkable.

Now that you're sold, let's make some!

How to Make Cold Brew at Home

Here’s a basic cold brew recipe. We have some exciting recipes below too.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword cold brew coffee
Prep Time 5 minutes
Steep time 15 hours
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 1 kcal
Author Alex

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coffee beans (coarse ground)
  • 5 cups water (filtered water)

Materials You'll Need

  • 1 mason jar / cold brew coffee maker
  • 1 cheesecloth or paper coffee filter or a fine-mesh sieve

Instructions

  1. Use a measuring cup to organise 1:5 coffee to water. That's all you'll need.

  2. Grind your coffee to a coarse grind (NOT medium or fine).

  3. Add your ground coffee and filtered water to your mason jar, brewer or any large container and give it a good stir.

  4. Steep for 15 hours. If possible, steep in your fridge. If you brewer/jar does not fit in your fridge its OK to steep at room temperature. Prepare to drink it the next day.

  5. Strain into a clean vessel or jar. If you're using a big batch brewer, it will already have some type of paper filter. If you're using a mason jar; strain your brew through a cheesecloth, or use a coffee filter and filter it like you would with drip coffee. Store in the fridge.

  6. Mix and enjoy: add milk, or water at a ratio of 1:1 and pour over some ice cubes.

Recipe Video


FAQ's

Here are the most common questions regarding brewing amazing tasting cold drip coffee:

What cold brew coffee ratio should I follow?

As a general rule you should use a cold brew coffee ratio of 1:5 (ratio of coffee to water) This is going to make you a nicely balanced concentrate which you can drink straight, or mix 1:1 with equal parts water, milk, tonic...or something else (see our exciting recipes below). The most popular option is to just add water at 1:1 with some ice cubes.

If you're using a scale you can work that out yourself: just add 5 times as much water as coffee. I suggest starting with this ratio and then adjusting it based on your taste.

Here's a table with some other common coffee to water ratios for cold brew:

DESCRIPTION

COFFEE TO WATER RATIO

General ratio

1:5

Batch Brew (e.g. Filtron) and cold brew concentrate ratio

1:2

High strength French Press brew

1:7

Low strength French Press brew

1:12

Which coffee beans should I use for cold brew?

This is a hard question to answer since it depends on what YOU like regarding taste. But here's something you should definitely NOT do: brew using cheap beans.

You may be tempted to use cheap beans because to save on costs (as you use quite a lot of coffee). I don't agree with this. If you want your brewed coffee taste to be average; iced your regular coffee. Cold brewing brings out a beans subtle flavors, so choose something with a unique flavor profile. 

Here are some pointers to help you choose:

  • For a fruity, winey flavor profile: try an African bean 
  • If you plan to mix your cold brew with milk or sugar, try something with a stronger flavor profile (any bean from central or South America)
  • If you just want a recommendation to get started; here's a list of the 7 best coffees for cold brew.

Can I steep it at room temperature?

Yes. You can steep cold brew at room temperature. Big batch brewers like the Filtron or the Toddy rarely fit in a domestic fridge (whoops!). Steeping at room temperature is fine, but once it's ready, get it straight into your fridge.

Here's a little tip/hack: Create your own Wim Hof style ice bath around your steeping vessel (if possible) while it's steeping (e.g. use a shallow dish with ice, and cover it with a plastic bag.

Should I use filtered water or tap water?

The better quality your water; the better quality your end product. Here's an article I wrote on choosing the best water for coffee. Let this be your guide for choosing your water. Don't skimp on the water.

How long should I steep cold brew for?

You should steep cold brew for 16 hours. (this is a general guide)

You'll be okay anywhere from 14-20 hours, but make sure you don't steep for longer than 20 hours or you'll start getting some funky flavors.

How long does cold brew last?

Cold brew will last up to 10 days if you keep it refrigerated from the moment you make it, After that, it will start tasting funky. Does cold brew coffee go bad? As a general rule: aim to consume it within 7 days.

Too late? Don't waste it! Here's a 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. Just don’t overdo it" - Brent Wolczynski, Stumptown Coffee

What’s the best grind size for cold brew?

The best grind size for cold brew is super coarse coffee grounds. Check out our grind size chart here. Don't make the mistake of using a too fine coffee grounds: you'll end up with over-extracted, bitter coffee.

You'll need a good coffee grinder to achieve the correct grind for cold drip coffee. If you don't own one; ask your local coffee shop to grind your beans for you.

Is cold brew less acidic?

Yes - cold brew is less acidic than hot coffee.

In hot brewing, the oils and acids in coffee beans degrade and oxidize more quickly than in cold water, which adds to the acidity and bitterness of the coffee. The low temperatures and long brewing times of the cold brew process capture more of the sweet flavor compounds which are soluble in cool water, without the oils and acids.

Does cold brew have more caffeine than hot coffee?

No, cold brew does not have more caffeine that hot coffee. But this is debatable (3).

Published figures for cold brewed coffee from Starbucks claim 200 mg of caffeine in a 16-oz cold brew, compared with up to 360 mg of caffeine in a 16-oz cup of brewed coffee. Caffeine dissolves faster in hot water, so even at the higher ratio of ground coffee to water, there's less caffeine in your cup.

If you're brewing cold brew concentrate, it has more caffeine than regular brewed coffee because you make it with a higher ratio (up to 1:2) of ground coffee to water. But once you dilute the concentrate with hot water to make a cup of regular coffee (or cold water for iced coffee), the caffeine is lower by a significant amount.

Cold brewed coffee does have a slower release of caffeine which gives it a prolonged caffeine kick. But it does not have higher caffeine content.

Can cold brew be heated?

Yes - cold brew can be heated. The easiest way to do this is to brew cold brew coffee concentrate and then add hot water to it. If you brew a 1:2 concentrate, you should be able to add 8 or 9 oz. of hot water to 1 oz. of concentrate to get close to that "golden ratio" of 1:19.

From a practical perspective, pour hot water into a measuring cup and add a little at a time, tasting it along the way. Stop when you feel bliss. (Be sure to write down how much you used, so you can feel that same bliss every time.)

I don't have a cold brewer. Can I use something else?

If you're serious about this brewing style I suggest you buy one of these cold brew coffee makers. But If you want to make cold brew in another way, here are a few more tutorials on making cold brew with:

BONUS: 20 Exciting Cold Brew Coffee Recipes

If you’ve read this far, you have some cold brew concentrate and it’s time to get creative. Here are 20 more exciting recipes you can try once you have your concentrate.

If you'd prefer to work through them slowly, CLICK HERE to download our cold brew recipes e-book (free).

1 - Coco-brew

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml of cold drip concentrate
  • 300 ml of coconut water
  • Ice

Simply mix your cold brew with double the amount of coconut water, drop in a few ice cubes, and stir. I prefer to use a coconut water without added sugar, but if you’re feeling a little naughty, throw in a pinch of coconut sugar and stir.

2 - Cold Brew Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • A cup of freshly brewed cold coffee
  • 3 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk
  • Popsicle molds
  • Popsicle sticks.
  • (Maybe some extra plain milk and sweetener)

Coffee popsicles are nothing new, but most recipes use iced coffee, which will oxidize and lose most of its freshness while you wait for it to freeze over. Cold drip coffee, on the other hand, can last for weeks without its flavors degrading, so a little bit of time chillin’ in the freezer won’t make a difference.

Simply mix together the coffee and sweetened condensed milk, pour into the molds, place the sticks, and let sit in the freezer overnight.

3 - Cold Brew Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of cold brew concentrate
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp of Kahlua

Mix together the Kahlua, sweetened condensed milk and cold drip, and then whip the cream until stiff peaks begin to form. Next, delicately fold the coffee mixture into the whipped cream and place it in the freezer for 2-3 hours, just as it begins to freeze. Or, use an ice cream maker.

4 - Cold Brew Ice Cubes

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite cold drip concentrate
  • An ice cube tray
  • A freezer
  • An extra dose of patience (or proper timing)

So simple that it is hard calling it a recipe at all: more like a “add-on” to the original cold drip. Simply freeze your cold brew in an ice cube tray!

Warning: Don’t water them down too much. Cold coffee does need some dilution, but you don’t want to overdo it. If you are putting these in a glass add only a little room-temperature water, and let the sun do the rest.

5 - Coconut / Almond / Cashew / Macadamia Nut Cold Drip

Ingredients:

  • Cold brew concentrate
  • Cold coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or macadamia nut milk (to taste)
  • Ice

Milk alternatives, like almond, cashew, or macadamia nut milk, go great with cold coffee. The neutrality of cold drip coffee allows the unique flavors to shine through and the inherent sweetness complements the milky texture.

6 - Cold Brew Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of orange syrup
  • 4 dashes of bitters (bonus if you use orange bitters)
  • 6 oz of cold brew concentrate
  • 1 maraschino cherry (garnish)
  • Orange peel (garnish)
  • Ice
  • A naughty optional - 30-50ml of high end bourbon whiskey

Combine your orange syrup and bitters in a glass, then throw in your cold drip concentrate. Stir well, and garnish with orange and cherry. Slowly place your ice cubes in, and if you're feeling naughty, add a lashing of your favorite bourbon whiskey

7 - Cold Brew Tonic

Ingredients:

  • Freshly brewed (important) cold brew coffee concentrate
  • Tonic water
  • Ice

Combine and enjoy. Quite possibly the most refreshing coffee-infused beverage ever. It can be as simple as the recipe or you can open up those fruitier flavors with garnishes like rosemary, lemon, or maraschino cherries. The recipe is typically one part cold brew and two parts tonic, but you can try different variations.

8 - Cold Drip Espresso Martini

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml of vodka
  • 30 ml of cold drip coffee
  • 15 ml of butterscotch schnapps
  • 15 ml of coffee liqueur
  • Ice

Measure all ingredients out accurately into a shaker, give it your best Shake Weight impression, and strain into a cocktail glass. 

9 - Vanilla Almond Swirl

Ingredients:

  • 50-100 ml of cold brew concentrate
  • Almond milk to taste
  • 2-3 drops of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Ice

Combine

Mix and enjoy!

The silky texture of almond milk easily pairs with cold brew’s smooth palette, but the subtle nutty flavors layer nicely with the sweetness. A touch of vanilla extract and cinnamon sprinkled on top makes one feel right at home in the natural aromas.

Don’t add too much almond milk; you don’t want to overpower your cold-brew. The cold coffee is your cake, and the other ingredients are the frosting on top.

10 - Cinnamon Orange Coffee Crush

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml of cold brew
  • ¼ of an orange, cut into a wedge
  • Crushed ice
  • Warmed cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of powdered cinnamon
  • A pinch of coconut sugar

Start by filling a short tumbler glass with ice and then squeeze in the orange peel. Rub the peel around the lip and leave it in the glass. Then roll the cinnamon sticks between your hands to warm them up, and pop them into the glass along with a dose of cold coffee. Finish it off with a sprinkling of powdered cinnamon and coconut sugar.

11 - Banoffee Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml of C.B concentrate
  • 500 ml of pecan nut (or other) milk
  • 250 grams of frozen banana slices
  • 1 tbsp of agave syrup
  • ½ tsp of lucuma powder
  • ¼ tsp of vanilla bean powder
  • 10 ice cubes

Toss everything in a blender and ram down that toggle until creamy smooth. This is a great midday-slump ‘pick me up’. The thick, full body will dispel any rising hunger, but the sweet fruitiness and coffee undertones will revitalize your mind and spirit.

Why the Lucuma powder? Famously known as the “Gold of the Incas,” lucuma is packed full of beta carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium, and protein. Regardless of the rich taste, guilt belongs nowhere near this concoction.

12 - Coffee Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of dilute cold drip concentrate
  • ¾ cup of milk (but other dairy substitutes will work)
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 8 tbsp of chia seeds
  • ½ tsp of vanilla bean powder
  • A dollop of whipped cream
  • Grated chocolate or ground cinnamon to taste

Combine in a bowl and mix, or, if you like to do things the easy way, combine in a jar, shake it like its going out of fashion, and chuck it in the fridge.

If you’re not a fan of morning sweetness: substitute the chocolate and whipped cream with a dash of cinnamon. However you decide to decorate your pudding, make sure you have a sturdy spoon because you will be scraping every last bit from out of your mason jar.

13 - Coconut Kahlua Latte

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz of Kahlua
  • ¾ cup of milk (or preferred substitute)
  • 2 tbsp of cream of coconut
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of white sugar
  • 2 shots of cold brew concentrate

This drink isn’t overly difficult to create, but it does have a unique procedure. Start by placing the Kahlua, milk, cream of coconut, cinnamon, and sugar into a pot and heat on medium for 5-7 minutes. Now that your ingredients are hot, place them in a blender and blend on high until frothy. Warm up your concentrate in another pot, and then pour the froth and coffee into a glass.

14 - Cold Drip Irish Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz of (diluted) cold drip
  • 2 oz of Irish Whiskey
  • 1 tsp of simple syrup
  • 1 oz of fresh cream, or Bailey’s Irish Cream

An interesting twist on the classic Irish coffee recipe. Mix all the ingredients inside your cup. A fresh alternative is to whip up some heavy cream separately, and then use it to top of your drink. Because your drink is cold, the cream won’t dissolve as quickly, and will be a nice introduction for each sip.

15 - Cold Brew Bourbon

iced coffee with cream in a glass

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz of Chameleon Black Concentrate, or your own
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz butterscotch liqueur

Bourbon is the sweeter, more laid back cousin of whiskey, and is meant for slow drinking. Couple this with the invigorating taste of cold brew, add a little bit of rich butterscotch liqueur to meld the flavors, and you’re ready for some patio lounging.

The recipe is simple enough: mix all of the ingredients in a shaker, and then pour in a tall glass over ice. The only thing left to do is parade out to the porch and smirk at the yahoos still sweating over their Lone Star beers.

16 - Toddy Amaretto

Ingredients:

  • ½ oz of Amaretto
  • ½ oz of Kahlua
  • 6 oz of dark roast, CBC concentrate
  • 1 scoop of chocolate ice cream
  • 2 oz of iced water
  • Whipped cream

Think of this concoction as the coffee shake, but all grown up and ready for the weekend. Unlike the Banoffee Smoothie, this soft serve doesn’t masquerade as anything healthy.

Just like anything involving a blender, the process is uncomplicated, just make sure you get your measurements right. Toss everything except the whipped cream into the blender and give it a healthy beating until frothy. Once everything is well mixed, pour it into a tall glass and top with a benevolent dose of whipped cream.

17 - Toddy Suada Iced

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz of dark roast, cold drip concentrate
  • 4 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk
  • Ice

“Cafe suada” is the westernized pronunciation of “ca phe sua da” (which means Vietnamese iced coffee) Even when we try and pronounce something the proper way we still end up westernizing the crap out of it.

Despite how interesting rhetoric can be (yawn), making a Vietnamese iced coffee with cold brew just seems obvious. The original recipe calls for strong hot coffee, so make sure you use the most potent cold drip you can whip up.

To make this drink all your own, toss all these ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill it to the brim with ice, and give it a good shaking. Don’t strain; just pour it all into a tall glass, and you are done! Your beverage won’t have the same sharp bite that standard Vietnamese iced coffee does, but it will have an added layer of creaminess thanks to the cold drip.

18 - Naughty Toddy

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz of CBC concentrate
  • 5 oz of half & half
  • 2 oz of sweet chocolate syrup
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Simply mix everything up in a blender, give the top a good frothing, and then pour into your glass. Now sit back and enjoy this flashback to your elementary school days. Top it off with some sprinkles (naughty version) or some sliced banana and pretend you are being (somewhat) healthy.

19 - Dark Moon

Cream being added in the iced coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of CBC concentrate
  • ½ cup of coffee liqueur
  • ½ cup of spiced rum
  • 12 oz bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola
  • ½ cup of heavy cream

Mexican Coca-Cola tastes sweeter and fuller than standard Coke because it uses natural cane sugar. The rounder body, only slightly less bubbly, and the added sweetness is just perfect when the sun is beating down your back.

To make the dark moon simply mix everything together and pour. The ingredients listed above make four drinks or one real drink (no judgement).

20 - Toddy Yoga Cafe Blended

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz of cold brew 
  • ¾ cup of nonfat, frozen yogurt
  • ½ cup of ice cubes
  • 1 ½ tsp of honey

Throw all of your ingredients in blender and hold that button down until you get a thick, custard-like consistency. Spoon it out into your favorite mug (it is coffee after all) and chow down.


References:

  1. Kallmyer, T. (n.d.). Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee. Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-content/starbucks-cold-brew
  2. Chemical compounds in coffee that produce aroma and bitterness. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://www.scienceofcooking.com/what-is-in-coffee.html
  3. Thomson, J. R., (2017, June 13). The Truth About How Much Caffeine Is In Cold Brew Coffee. Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cold-brew-caffeine-content_n_593eab44e4b0c5a35ca17350


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Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

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