How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

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Make delicious cold brew coffee at home with this easy recipe! No fancy coffee maker needed. The end result is smooth coffee that’s flavorful and less acidic than regular coffee. 

As I’m sure you know, we are big coffee fans over here! We recently invested in a Jura so we can make fancy espresso drinks at home, but we’ve been cold brew lovers for years… way before it was trendy and Starbucks starting selling it. 

It all started with a trip to Austin, Texas! We discovered cold brew and I became totally hooked, but when we got back to Richmond we couldn’t find it anywhere so we has to start making it at home.  

Two tall glasses of cold brew. One is black and one had cream being swirled in.

We bought a Toddy cold brew system and the rest is history!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a cold brew maker for the recipe I’m sharing today. This method is really easy and requires minimal kitchen equipment. 

What is Cold Brew Coffee? 

Just in case you’re new to the concept, cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in room-temperature water for 12-24 hours. This creates a coffee concentrate that you mix with cold water or milk for a perfectly smooth and delicious cup of joe. 

Glass jar with cold brew and cream mixing into the coffee.

Why is Cold Brew Coffee So Much Better?

We routinely make a batch of cold brew concentrate to enjoy throughout the week during the spring/summer months. It’s become an essential part of our Sunday meal prep and one of my favorite ways to drink coffee. Here’s why: 

  1. It’s lower in acidity – According to a study done by Toddy, cold brew coffee is over 67% less acidic than hot brewed coffee. The acidity of regular coffee can cause heartburn, as well as, damage to your teeth and the lining of your stomach. The lower acidity of cold brew is also better for keeping your body’s pH levels balanced. I can attest to the fact that regular hot brewed coffee makes my stomach start grumbling almost immediately and often times it sends me directly to the bathroom. Cold brew coffee doesn’t seem to have this affect. 
  2. It’s sweeter and smoother – Because the coffee grounds aren’t exposed to high temps, cold brew coffee usually tastes more flavorful and less bitter. Some people find that they need less sweetener and cream when drinking cold brew, which is great if you’re cutting back on added sugar or watching your calorie intake. I was honestly never a fan of black coffee until we started drinking cold brew. I still add non-dairy milk (like almond milk or oat milk) to my cold brew occasionally. This almond macadamia milk added to cold brew is the best! 
  3. There’s little to no waste – You can use the cold brew concentrate to make a cup of coffee (hot or cold) at the strength you prefer, one cup at a time.  And the concentrate stays good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, without tasting stale the way leftover hot brewed coffee. This works out really well for me and Isaac because he prefers his coffee stronger than I like mine. Previous to making cold brew we would use our regular coffee pot or a french press and usually the coffee was either too strong for me or too weak for him. And we were always making more coffee than we drank so inevitably a lot of brewed coffee went down the drain. Now we rarely, if ever, waste coffee.
  4. You can serve it cold or hot – As I mentioned, you can serve cold brew cold or hot. Obviously, it’s super simple to make iced cold brew coffee – just add cold water and ice to the concentrate and milk, if desired. For hot coffee, you simply boil water and add it to your cold brew concentrate. It can also be heated in the microwave if you’re in a rush.
Wooden spoon with coffee beans.

So now that you know why cold brew is awesome, let me tell you how to make it. 

Here’s What You Need

  • coarsely ground coffee beans – if you buy your coffee beans from a coffee shop and don’t have a grinder, you can ask them to grind them for you! If you buy your coffee beans at the store, you can use the self-service area to grind the beans. You can also grind the beans at home if you have a personal grinder.
  • cold water – use filtered water for optimal flavor!
  • a large mason jar – any large container will do, I just prefer a large mason jar for storing. 
Glass of cold brew and cream with a metal straw in the glass.

How to Make Cold Brew

The recipe I’m sharing here is the basic technique that uses minimal kitchen equipment. 

Mason Jar

  1. Add coffee and water: Pour 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans into a large 32 oz mason jar. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water. Gently stir to ensure all the grounds are wet and then add remaining 1 1/2 cups water. 
  2. Steep: Put the lid on the jar and place in your refrigerator. Allow the coffee to steep for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how strong you want the cold brew to be. Be aware that the longer it steeps, the stronger your coffee will be.
  3. Strain: After steeping, set your strainer over the large bowl and place a coffee filter, mesh cloth or thin dish towel (that you don’t mind staining) in the strainer. Pour the coffee mixture through the filter to catch the grounds. Rinse your jar out, and transfer the cold coffee back into the jar for storage.
  4. Serve: To serve, fill a glass with ice and add cold brew concentrate and water. The ratio to use will depend on how strong you like your coffee, but I usually do a 1:1 ratio 1/2 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/2 cup water or sometimes I’ll do 3/4 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/4 cup water, especially if I’m also adding milk, which will dilute the coffee even more.

French Press

Another option is to use a French press to make your cold brew. It depends on the size of your French press, but you may need to halve the recipe I’ve shared below to ensure it will fit in your French press. 

  1. Add coffee and water: Add ground coffee into your French press and add water. Place plunger lid on top and press the plunger down 1 to 2 inches to make sure all coffee grounds are fully submerged, but don’t press it all the way down. Let coffee steep at room temperature for 16 to 18 hours. You can place the French press in your fridge or leave it out at room temp. 
  2. Stain: Press plunger all the way down transfer concentrate into an airtight jar. If desired, you can strain coffee through a coffee filter or mesh cloth in a small strainer. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  3. Serve: To serve, fill a glass with ice and add cold brew concentrate and water. The ratio to use will depend on how strong you like your coffee, but I usually do a 1:1 ratio 1/2 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/2 cup water or sometimes I’ll do 3/4 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/4 cup water, especially if I’m also adding milk, which will dilute the coffee even more.

Cold Brew Coffee Maker

If you fall in love with making your own cold brew you may want to invest in a cold brew coffee maker like the Toddy cold brew system. With this system you can make a big batch of cold brew at once! We LOVE ours.

Cold brew in a mason jar. Coffee beans are around the jar.

Can You Use Regular Ground Coffee for Cold Brew?

I actually wouldn’t recommend using regular ground coffee! You want a course grain so you can easily filter out the coffee grounds. Thinner grounds will seep right through the strainer. Fine grounds can also result in a more bitter coffee concentrate. 

Pyrex glass measuring bowl with cold brew strained from a sieve and cheese cloth with coffee grounds.

How to Serve Cold Brew

After letting your cold brew steep, you strain it and then you’ll have cold brew concentrate! Play around with how much water you need to dilute it based on how strong you like your coffee. I recommend using equal parts coffee concentrate to water so I would do a cup of ice with 1/2 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/2 cup of cold water. If you want your coffee a bit stronger I’d do 3/4 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/4 cup water. Add milk, cream and sugar to your liking and enjoy!

Like I mentioned earlier, you can serve this warm or cold. If you want a warm cup of coffee simply add hot water or milk to the concentrate or pop your cup in the microwave. 

Does Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

Cold brew usually has more caffeine than hot brewed coffee by ounce, but most people are diluting the cold brew so the caffeine level is comparable or just a bit higher than regular coffee. It all really depends on how much water/milk you’re adding to your cold brew concentrate. 

Iced coffee, on the other hand, is just hot brewed coffee poured over ice which results in a watered down coffee and in turn, less caffeine per ounce.  

Jar of cold brew and jar of milk on a wood board. A glass container with a gold spoon is beside the board.

Storing Cold Brew Concentrate

Make sure you strain the coffee grounds from the concentrate after allowing to steep for 12-24 hours. If you keep the grounds in your coffee, the end result will be stronger and more bitter. 

After straining, store the cold brew concentrate in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I like to use a large mason jar or glass carafe for this!

Glass jar with cold brew, cream, ice cubes and a spoon to mix. Beside the jar is a jar of cold brew and a jar of cream. Coffee beans are on the table.

More Coffee Drinks to Try

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

4 from 41 votes
Make delicious cold brew coffee at home with this easy recipe! The end result is tasty cold brewed coffee that’s smooth, flavorful and less acidic than regular coffee.
Two tall glasses of cold brew. One is black and one had cream being swirled in.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Steep 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 5 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarsely ground coffee beans
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 32 oz large mason jar

Instructions
 

  • Add coffee: Pour 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans into a large 32 oz mason jar. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water. Gently stir to ensure all the grounds are wet and then add remaining 1 1/2 cups water. 
  • Steep: Put the lid on the jar and place in your refrigerator. Allow the coffee to steep for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how strong you want the cold brew. Be aware that the longer it steeps, the stronger your coffee will be.
  • Strain: After steeping, set your strainer over the large bowl and place a coffee filter, mesh cloth or thin dish towel (that you don’t mind staining) in the strainer. Pour the coffee mixture through the filter to catch the grounds. Rinse your jar out, and transfer the cold coffee back into the jar for storage.
  • Serve: To serve, add cold brew concentrate and water into a glass with ice. The ratio to use will depend on how strong you like your coffee, but I usually do 1:1 so 1/2 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/2 cup water. If you want your coffee a bit stronger I’d do 3/4 cup cold brew concentrate with 1/4 cup water. Add milk, cream and sugar to your liking and enjoy. I love serving my cold brew with a splash of creamy oat milk!

Notes

  • French press: You can also make cold brew using a french press. See my notes within the post for this method!
  • Cold brew coffee maker: If you are a cold brew lover and have space in your kitchen for another gadget, it might be nice to buy a cold brew system like the Toddy. We love ours!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup of cold brew without milk Calories: 33kcal Carbohydrates: 6g Protein: 2g Fat: 1g Sodium: 2mg
Course: Drink
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cold brew coffee

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment and star rating on this post and share on social media using the hashtag #eatingbirdfood. I love seeing your recipe shares!

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

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Recipe Rating




    35 comments
    1. Alex
      July 27, 2021 AT 7:59 am

      5 stars
      Not a big coffee drinker (caffeine is sometimes too much) but I really wanted to make the coffee smoothie. Of course, once I made the cold brew, I had to drink a cup. This coffee is everything it’s described as: smoother, gentler on the stomach, and most importantly so easy to make!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 2, 2021 AT 11:56 am

        Oh my goodness, yay!! So glad this cold brew coffee was such a hit, Alex! Thanks for the review. I so appreciate it!

    2. Russell Volz
      August 25, 2020 AT 7:23 pm

      I like my coffee hot; real hot. And that’s all fine and dandy in August. But when I look out my kitchen window and see a foot of snow, I’m thinking hot coffee is better than cold brew.

      But as you say, cold brew is smoother and naturally sweeter. I have a dozen different ways of making hot coffee, but my all time favorite is cold brew that’s been heated in the microwave.

      Surprisingly, heated cold brew, is still as smooth and sweet as the cold cold brew.

    3. Allie
      May 18, 2018 AT 10:55 am

      I’m looking to switch to cold brew coffee and I saw you made a peanut butter cold brew, are you able to share how you did that?

    4. Kim Stone
      March 1, 2018 AT 7:49 am

      5 stars
      Cold coffee is something that I really love. I am happy that it is good for my health. Also, thanks a lot for the recipe.

    5. Mastura
      November 8, 2017 AT 8:12 pm

      For those who have acidity problem, I feel somewhat though,cold brew coffee should be the perfect choice. Its smooth and sweet taste really worth of praise.

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