Learn how to make cold brew coffee! We tell you what you need to make cold brew coffee, what kind of coffee to use, and give you a few different ways to make your own cold brew coffee!
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
Surely, you’ve had cold brew coffee by now (all the cool kids are doing it) and, no, not the watered-down, iced sugar coffee you get at Dunkin’! Cold brew coffee is perfect for warm weather and it’s actually a much healthier way to get your daily dose of Joe. Best of all, it’s ridiculously easy and cheap to make at home, so throw out that Keurig (not really; just sell it on Craigslist) and get to brewing!
So, you mentioned cold brew coffee is healthier...why?
I don’t mean to go all Walter White/Breaking Bad chemistry on you, but it has to do with the temperatures involved in the brewing process. Coffee grounds are made up of a collection of compounds which include oils, acids and aromatics referred to as solubles. Brewing coffee is the process by which these compounds are extracted from the coffee grounds. Introducing heat to the brewing process causes the solubles to degrade and acid is basically (see what I did there?). With cold brewing, heat isn’t available to speed up the degradation of compounds, so much less acid is introduced into the solution.
Traditional Western diets that are highly acidic can lead to a host of health issues, so reducing the pH levels of the foods/drinks you consume will provide you with a much more healthful nutritional program. Coffee that is less acidic may also be better for those with sensitive stomachs!
Yeah, Mr. White...yeah, science!!!
Cold Brew Benefits:
- Less acidity
- Ridiculously easy to make
- Tastier coffee - especially if you drink your coffee black. I’d classify the flavor profile of cold brew as smooth and slightly sweet. I always added stevia extract and organic creamer to my coffee, but I don’t feel the need to add much, if any, to my cold brew
- Making your own cold brew is substantially cheaper than buying it from Starbucks
- Starbucks cold brew - average cost of $4.00 per 16-oz serving
- Homebrew cold brew - average cost of $0.40 per 16-oz serving
- Very little cleanup - say goodbye to cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar!
Cold Brew Drawbacks:
- You should use about twice as much coffee grounds as you normally would with hot brew, but you can “cut” the concentrate with milk, almond milk or even extra water to get back to the ratio you’re used to
- It takes a long time to fully brew (12 to 24 hours), but being proactive helps eliminate this drawback
What kind/brand of coffee to use:
I prefer a darker roast for a couple of reasons: (1) I always buy organic beans, so darker roasts are typically cheaper and (2) you don’t have to brew the coffee quite as long to get the robust flavors you expect from a cup of coffee. In other words, use whatever coffee you like most...it really doesn’t matter, but if you do use a lighter roast just know that you’ll need to brew it longer.
Here are the three brands I typically rotate:
- Mayorga Organics Cafe Cubano
- Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee
- Café de Loja High Altitude Single Origin Organic Coffee
What is needed to make cold brew:
- Water - do yourself a favor and use filtered water or, better yet, spring water!
- Coffee - fresh and coarsely ground (French press grind works perfectly for cold brew)
- Grinder - if you’re a DIYer, otherwise you can do this at your grocery store or Costco (see below for which grind setting to use)
- Cold brew coffee system
The easy process of making cold brew coffee:
- The easiest method is to pour the grounds into a bottle or jar and add water (at the proper ratio), let it sit for 12-24 hours and then filter the brewed solution to remove the grounds. Easy, but pretty messy.
- Another easy method is to use the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System. The system takes up a fair amount of space, but if you have plenty of room to spare then the Toddy is another great option.
- Using this simple system - a mason jar with a stainless steel filter is our preferred method. It’s very simple and cleanup is very easy...there’s literally no mess. Just throw at least a cup of grounds into the filter (we do 1 ½ cups), fill water to the brim, let steep for 24 hours then toss the brewed grounds into the trash (or recycle them using one of these clever methods) and rinse the filter. The system is nice and compact...everything fits into a mason jar (included!). Well worth the $27 investment!
You mentioned using more coffee, so what’s the appropriate coffee to water ratio?
Hot brewing uses a ratio of about 1 part coffee to 8 parts water. So, if you’re brewing 12 8-oz cups of coffee you need about 1.5 cups of coffee to 12 cups of water. Obviously, if you want stronger coffee, you’d increase the 1.5 cups to about 2 cups.
Cold brewing should use about twice as much coffee to the same level of water you’d use for hot brew. This is because it takes more time for all the solubles (mentioned above) to dissolve even at lengthier brewing times of at least 24 hours. Don’t fret over the additional coffee used...cold brew yields a coffee concentrate that can be diluted with water, ice, milk or creamer.
Using our mason jar system we purchased from Amazon, I’ll throw 1.5 cups of ground coffee (coarsely ground) into the filter and fill the jar up to the brim with spring water. I’ll let the coffee brew for 24-36 hours, throw the grounds away (or recycle using these ideas) and refill the jar to the brim after removing the filter.
Tips to make the best cold brew coffee:
- If you buy your coffee at Costco you can grind it for free in the store. Look for the coffee grinders after you check out near the fountain drink machines and membership desk. We grind ours on level 10 to provide a more coarse texture (see picture below).
- Don’t forget to dilute your cold brew unless you want to have the jitters all day!
- Buy quality, organic coffee beans (like this organic coffee)
- Find the proper storage system to keep your ground coffee fresh
- We use this container to keep the CO2 out and keep the beans fresh!
- If you’re grinding your own beans at home - use a burr grinder to get the proper texture of ground coffee
Try your cold brew in our Coffee Protein Shake!22