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How Long Should You Steep Cold Brew Coffee?

If you don’t know how long to steep cold brew, you’ll find yourself with a coffee that’s bitter or…bitter. If you don’t get the cold brewing time right, your coffee won’t get that delicious taste that we all know and love.

A Quicker Method: 8-12h

Strategy number one is for all of the impatient folks out there! If you’re in a hurry and forgot to start preparing your cold brew early enough, steeping your grounds for 8 to 12 hours will work. It’s the ideal choice for drip coffee systems, and you’ve got a few options from which to choose.

The coffee beans you use will also play a significant role in your cold brew’s overall taste and body. For example:

Espresso beans are the ideal choice for cold brew concentrate but if you’re planning to drink it black, you’ll want to use filter beans.

With correct beans you’ll get a little more flavor, but you won’t have that robust and rich taste without the longer steep times. Our guide to cold brew coffee should provide you some extra cold brewing tips.

Using a Drip System

If you’ve watched all the videos of people using a french press or other immersion brewing style, you’re unfortunately out of luck. You simply don’t have enough time to brew using those methods because they require a longer time period to extract the correct amount of flavor and caffeine.

Watch our guide for making cold brew with an Aeropress:

Getting the Ratio Right

Most people think cold brew coffee is stronger than coffee steeped for less time, but that’s not always the case. So, one of the most important factors when making cold brew is knowing the correct ratio.

For a stronger taste, use less water to coffee when steeping your cold brew. This is a better strategy than trying to soak it longer.

If you’re rushing through the brewing process, you might want to consider using a 1:2 coffee to water ratio when drinking your cold brew. The less time spent steeping, the more bitter of a taste you will end up with.

how long should you steep cold brew coffee
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A Longer Method: 18h

Any self-respecting coffee expert would recommend steeping your cold brew for around 18 hours because this will not only give you a stronger but a much more robust flavor. If you’re immersing your ground coffee using a french press, mason jar, or any of the other popular methods, you won’t be able to extract all the subtle flavors from the beans.

Compared to regular hot coffee and iced coffee, you can enjoy more health benefits with cold brew. Most prefer cold brew over iced coffee because it’s easier on the stomach and more comfortable to digest. While other coffees also cause heartburn, the lack of acidity from the slow brew process eliminates the discomfort that many coffee lovers experience (1).

Try making cold brew with a French Press:

How Long is Too Long?

As you would with a slow cooker, you might think that the longer, the better with cold brew. But, that’s not always the case. If you don’t know how long to let cold brew steep, you risk steeping it for too long.

We don’t recommend going any longer than 24 hours at room temperature because the grounds’ bitterness will come back, and the coffee will develop a woody or dusty taste.

You could steep for longer time if you put the cold brew in the fridge. The cold temperature will cause the extraction process to slow down, which will result in a longer steep time of as long as 20-24 hours.

We also recommend drinking your cold brew in at least 7-10 days. If you leave it in the fridge too long without drinking, it goes bad.

Watch our DIY Mason Jar cold brew guide:

Final Thoughts

Basically, you have two ways to do it. For the impatient ones, there is a quicker method, and for those who know how to wait, a longer method is KEY.

The rest is on you!

FAQs

Cold brew is so expensive because you use twice-the-amount of coffee than in a regular, hot-brewed coffee. This is because there is no heat in the process and to get the flavor and the effect right, you need a bigger amount of coffee to make it.

You must stir the ground coffee when you first start the steeping process. You’ll want to make sure that the water covers all the grounds, but you never want to interrupt the process to stir in the middle. This can cause the grounds to become too compressed, which won’t release all the delicious flavors.

There are many ways to make cold brew coffee sweet, but this must all happen after the steeping process is complete. You can add condensed sweetened milk, sugar, cream, and even a variety of flavored syrups. Learn more tricks on how to sweeten cold brew coffee here.

  1. Hood, S. (n.d.) Cold Brew Coffee Lowers Heartburn Risk. Retrieved from: https://howtotreatheartburn.com/cold-brew-coffee-lowers-heartburn-chances/
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I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.

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