A Simple DIY Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

You don’t need fancy equipment (though that might help) to craft a refreshing, cold brew coffee. All you need is what’s already in your kitchen and a little bit of curiosity.

Are you ready? Be careful - You might feel a little bit like Macgyver along the way.

What is cold brew coffee?

Cold brew is another technique to brew coffee; just like pour over, or espresso. 

Read: The ultimate guide to mastermind cold brew coffee.

The basic idea is that you mix coffee grounds with room temperature water, and let it steep for 12-24 hours before filtering it.

Since the coffee never touches hot water, it takes much longer to steep. As a result, you get a cup of coffee that is much easier on the stomach with a much smoother taste.

When you make coffee this way, you get a coffee concentrate that you dilute with water or milk for the perfect cold coffee beverage. The concentrate can keep in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks before going bad.

Plus, it’s extremely easy to make!

Do It Yourself vs Cold Coffee Brewer

There are a tons of cold brew coffee makers out there, and many of them do a wonderful job. If you are serious about making a lot of cold brew, we recommend picking one up.

With an actual cold brewer you will be able to brew more coffee at one time. They also have specific filters designed to produce the best results with the least amount of work.

But if you are new to cold brew and want to try before you buy, we will dive into a method of making cold brew with the stuff you have in your kitchen right now.

That’s right, you can make cold brew without buying anything (other than coffee, of course). The process may take just a little longer to set up and filter once it’s done, but it can be done.

What you will need to make DIY cold brew coffee

Let’s get started. We are basically going to grind the coffee, put it in a large container and add room temperature water. We will let it steep for 12-24 hours and filter it using a cloth.

The filtering process is definitely easier with a cold brewer, as they have specifically designed filters to get all the large and fine grounds out of the coffee easily. However, with a little more effort, we can get similar results.

This recipe creates a cold brew concentrate that can be used to make about 6 cups of coffee. If you don’t need as much, or if you want more, simply double or cut the recipe in half.

What You'll Need

  • ½ lb roasted coffee beans - You didn’t forget to buy coffee, did you?
  • ½ gallon room temperature water - It doesn’t need to be cold, even though it’s called ‘cold brew.’ For best results, make sure the water smells and tastes great.
  • Burr coffee grinder.
  • Kitchen scale - Using weight is the most accurate way to measure the right amount of coffee.
  • Large pitcher or similar object that can hold the coffee grounds and water for 24 hours.
  • Cloth - A nut milk bag or cheesecloth would be easiest, but a kitchen towel will work just fine. I’d use a dark colored towel since the coffee will stain a lighter colored one.
  • Paddle or spoon - Anything that can reach into the pitcher and stir the coffee grounds.
  • Large, wide bowl - We will be squeezing the coffee out of the grounds, so a wide bowl will prevent a big mess.

How to make cold brew coffee

Although it will take a long time to get the coffee ready, the steps to get it done are as straightforward as they could be!

Step 1 - Weigh out the coffee beans

Weigh out ½ lb roasted coffee beans. ½ lbs = 8 oz = 227 g.

PRO TIP: You can put any old coffee to good use with this method. It may not make excellent hot coffee, but the process of cold brewing hides a lot of the negative characteristics of old coffee.

Step 2 - Grind coffee. Add to pitcher

Grind the coffee pretty coarse. Similar to a french press grind. You don’t want the coffee too fine or it’s going to over extract and taste bitter. A coarse grind will give you a smooth, refreshing cup of coffee.

Add the coffee grounds to the pitcher.

PRO TIP: Get serious about your home coffee brewing game and pick up a burr grinder already. It will change your life.

Step 3 - Add Water and stir

Pour ½ gallon of room temperature water over the coffee grounds.

Using a long spoon or paddle, gently stir the grounds to make sure they are all covered by the water.

PRO TIP: Place a lid or plate on top of the pitcher to lock in freshness and lock out unwanted objects (I once saw a fly go into my cold brew because it wasn’t covered. Needless to say, the fly did not come out…)

Step 4 - Let steep 12-24 hours

A true test of character. Can you wait an entire day for a cup of coffee? Well, you have to. So forget about it and go on with your day.

If you like your coffee stronger, wait 18-24 hours for maximum extraction. Don’t let it steep any more than 24 hours though.

PRO TIP: Don't like waiting that long? Trying grinding a little bit finer and steeping for only 12 hours to see if you get the level of extraction you are looking for.

Step 5 - Filter the coffee using a cloth

Here comes the fun part. Grab an empty, wide bowl, preferably something that also has a pour spout.

Lay a clean cloth on top of the bowl. Push down on the cloth so it takes that shape of the bowl.

Pour your coffee grounds and water directly onto the cloth.

Grab the corners of the cloth and fold them up, trapping the coffee grounds in the center.

Gently squeeze out all the liquid in the bowl below. Dispose of the grounds in the cloth.

Now you have a cold brew concentrate, filtered and ready to go.

PRO TIP: If you have a nut milk bag, not only can you use it to filter your cold brew, you can also use it to make an almond milk to add to your cold brew. Double whammy.

Step 6 - Dilute with water, add ice, enjoy

What you do with this concentrate is up to you. You can leave it in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

But if you’re ready to drink, add some water and ice and enjoy! I recommend starting with 1 part coffee to 1 part water. Adjust to taste.

Once you add water to the concentrate, the shelf life is only 2-3 days. So don’t add water until you are ready to drink.

Store the concentrate in a mason jar or some other container that seals shut.

PRO TIP: Many people make cold brew because it’s less acidic. But if you want hot coffee without all the acid, try diluting the cold brew concentrate with boiling water instead of cold water.

It’s your turn

Cold Brew Coffee

How easy was that? You’ve got what it takes to make DIY cold brew coffee. Now go give it a try.

All you need is a few everyday items and a little patience to get you through the long wait. In no time at all you’ll be sipping on some quality cold brew.

Alternatively, you could make cold brew in a french press if you have one around. Or if you’re ready to take your cold brew to the next level, consider upgrading to an actual cold coffee brewer.

Was this helpful? How did your cold brew taste? Let us know in the comments below.


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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