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How to Make Decaf Cold Brew at Home

Do you love cold brew coffee but hate the resulting caffeine jitters? You’ll be happy to hear that you can just as quickly enjoy a decaffeinated cold brew. The brewing process is exactly the same. Just start with great decaffeinated beans and go from there. 

Home Grounds will walk you through it, including some handy pro tips, in this easy recipe for the best cold brew.

What You Need

  • 6 ounces decaf coffee beans
  • Filtered water

Time:

12 – 24 hours

Yield:

2 Cups decaf cold brew coffee concentrate

Special equipment:

  • Burr coffee grinder
  • Cold brew coffee maker 
  • Sieve
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen scale

The Decaf Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

If you’ve made cold brew before, you’ll be happy to hear that the procedure for making decaf cold brew is the same as for making regular cold brew coffee. Simply replace your usual choice coffee beans for cold brew with decaf equivalents – and don’t worry, we’ll help you find the best decaf coffee.

If you haven’t made cold brew coffee before, then keep reading. This recipe walks you through the process step by step.

Decaf cold brew coffee recipe

1. Choose your decaf coffee beans

Cold brew coffee is low in acidity, with smooth and mellow flavors (1). So to make sure you don’t end up with a bland brew, it’s essential to start with the best-tasting decaf coffee beans

Fortunately, decaf coffees had come a long way since the days when they ranged from flavorless to burnt tasting. There are plenty of great options at every roast level. And there is no best roast level, and the perfect cup comes down to your taste.

choosing decaf coffee for your decaf cold brew
  • Lighter roasts have a brighter acidity and lighter body, with flavors like fruits, florals, nuts, milk chocolate, and honey sweetness.
  • Darker roasts have low acidity and a heavy body, with bittersweet flavors of dark chocolate, toasted nuts, dried fruit, and caramel or molasses sweetness.

Pro tip: If you plan to add milk or cream to your decaf cold brew coffee, the bold flavor of a medium or dark roast produces the best taste profile. If you like to drink your decaf coffee straight, a lighter roast will provide more complex flavors.

Related: What Is Decaf Coffee? +Its Pros and Cons

2. Grind the beans

Weigh 6 ounces of decaf coffee beans, and grind them coarsely using a burr grinder.

The correct grind size is crucial. You want something coarser than you would use for an automatic coffee machine or even a French press. The coarse grind is crucial due to the long extraction time. A finer grind will over-extract, leading to astringent flavors and a bitter aftertaste.

Cold Brew Grind Size

Pro tip: If you don’t have a grinder, you can’t simply buy any pre-ground coffee at a grocery store because it is usually too fine. Instead, look for brands that offer cold brew-specific blends that come coarsely ground. Or buy from companies that let you choose your grind size when you order, and choose the coarsest option.  

3. Start brewing 

Brewing the cold brew concentrate is as simple as combining cold filtered water and ground coffee in a cold brew coffee maker (or mason jar or French press). 

The ratio of coffee to water dictates the strength of the beverage. For decaf cold brew concentrate, we like a ratio of 1:3 coffee to water, but you can experiment with 1:2 or 1:4 to suit your taste. A 1:8 ratio makes a nice smooth cup for a non-diluted cold brew coffee.

After mixing the water and coffee, put the lid on the brewer and let it sit for between 12 and 24 hours. Again, the exact time will depend on your taste and the flavor profile of your chosen coffee beans. An 18-hour brew time is a great starting point.

pouring water into cold brewer

Pro tip: It is best to brew decaf cold brew coffee in the refrigerator, but you can leave it on the countertop if your cold brewer doesn’t fit.

4. Strain the concentrate

If you are making your decaf cold brew concentrate in a coffee maker designed for the job, it likely has a method for straining the concentrate from the coffee grounds. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using a French Press or mason jar, you can achieve the same effect by lining a mesh sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth and letting your decaf cold brew mixture drain through it.

straining cold brew

5. Dilute and enjoy

Depending on the coffee to water you used for brewing, you may or may not need to dilute your cold brew. If you used the 1:3 ratio of coffee to the water we suggested, dilute it 1:1 with either filtered water or milk. For example, take ½ cup of decaf cold brew concentrate and add ½ cup cold filtered water or ½ cup milk. Slowly pour over ice in a glass and enjoy.

diluting cold brew

Pro tip: You can dilute your cold brew concentrate with any drink you want to create a variety of different drinks. Try cashew or almond milk for a nutty flavor or whole milk for a rich and creamy drink. You can even add tonic water to mimic the famous espresso tonic (2).

Did you know that you can make decaf espresso, too? Here’s where you can learn more about decaffeinated espresso and how to make one.

Final Thoughts

Preparing decaf cold brew is just as easy as making the regular stuff, so now there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a cold brew at any time of day! You won’t need any special equipment or fancy techniques. Just pick up some excellent decaf coffee beans, and you’ll be sipping a delightfully smooth and jitter-free drink by tomorrow.

FAQs

Coffee is decaffeinated via several processes, all of which are carried out on green coffee beans. The Swiss Water Process is considered the best because it uses only water and removes the most caffeine (99.9%) of any method (3). You can learn more about it, and the other methods, in our article: How coffee is decaffeinated.

The difference between cold brew and iced coffee is that cold brew is brewed cold, whereas iced coffee is hot coffee that has been chilled. Using cold water and a long brew time extracts different flavor compounds than hot water and a short brew time, so cold brew and iced coffee made from the same beans will taste different. There are more details in our article: What is cold brew?

Decaf cold brew concentrate can last up to two weeks if refrigerated, though you will notice the flavor start to degrade after week one. Once you dilute your concentrate, it is only good for a couple of days.

  1. Grant, T. (2020, January 16). How Cold Brew Captured the Millennial Market. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/01/how-cold-brew-captured-the-millennial-market/
  2. Kumstova, K. (2018, August 3). Espresso & Tonic: The Story of the Famous Coffee Drink. Retrieved from https://europeancoffeetrip.com/espressoandtonic-story/
  3. Wood, D. (2020, October 5). Understanding Swiss Water Process Decaf. Retrieved from https://library.sweetmarias.com/understanding-swiss-water-process-decaf/
Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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