Why Cold Brew Coffee is Better + How to Make It

Hi there! How was your long weekend? We had amazing weather here in Richmond but sadly didn’t get to enjoy it as much as we would have liked because we spent most of the weekend gearing up for our move. We’re feeling really good about the packing progress we made so it was worth it. Plus, we did manage to sneak in some fun activities between packing boxes including a little cookout and a quick game of putt-putt so that nice. Having the long weekend was extremely helpful.

You know what else was helpful? Cold brew coffee! It’s been our packing fuel.

As I’m sure many of you know, Isaac and I are big coffee fans and we’ve been on the cold brew coffee train for years. We routinely make a batch of the concentrate in our Toddy every Sunday to enjoy throughout the week. It’s an essential part of our Sunday meal-prep. 🙂

We LOVE cold brew for so many reasons and I pretty much steer clear of regular brewed coffee whenever possible. If I’m traveling and my options are severely limited I’ll get an espresso drink or tea but rarely will you see me drinking regular drip coffee. My stomach (and tastebuds) just can’t handle it anymore.

Luckily cold brew is quickly becoming more mainstream. You used to only be able to find it at independent coffee shops, but now chains like Caribou Coffee and Starbucks are jumping on board. It’s pretty awesome.

So today I’m going to share a few reasons why cold brew is better and tell you a little about how we make ours. Who knows, maybe it will convince you to try cold brew for yourself.

Why Cold Brew Coffee Is Better

Why is cold brew coffee so much better?

  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 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 almond milk to cold brew occasionally (this recipe is THE BEST!) and I do enjoy Bulletproof coffee when I’m drinking hot coffee, but I drink black coffee regularly now.
  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. This works out really well for Isaac and me 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 coffee — just add cold water and ice to the concentrate. 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.

So now that you know why cold brew is awesome, let me tell you how to make it. Don’t worry, it’s not hard!

To start, you’ll need a bag of freshly roasted, high quality beans (coarsely ground).

Lamplighter Coffee

We like buying our beans from local coffee roasters. Lamplighter is one of our favorites.

And then you’ll need a few kitchen gadgets — you can either buy a cold brew system (we have the Toddy and love it) OR you can use a big bowl, a strainer and cheese cloth for the DIY method.

For making the cold brew, we basically follow the steps given in the Toddy instruction manual with 12 ounces of ground coffee and 7 cups of water steeped for 12 to 18 hours. You can play around with different coffee roasts and/or the steeping time to find the perfect method for you.

Lately we’ve been experimenting by adding extra flavors into the mix. Last week we actually made peanut butter cold brew! The draining process was a little slow, but the flavor of the coffee was amazing! Each time I took a sip, the peanut butter lover in me was in 7th heaven. Sometime soon I want to try this version with toasted coconut.


Toddy Cold Brew

We prep our cold brew on Sunday, let it steep overnight and drain it the next morning. Once drained we store the concentrate in the fridge and use the cold brew concentrate throughout the week. The recommended usage is one part coffee concentrate to three parts water, milk or cream. I follow that method, however, Isaac likes his a bit stronger so he uses less water.

Super simple, right?

Don’t have time or the means to make your own cold brew concentrate? Visit a local coffee shop or even check for it at your local grocery store. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both sell their own cold brew and there are a bunch of bottled cold brew coffee brands on the market now too. If you’re local to VA/NC, check out Relay Foods (affiliate link) because they have a good selection of bottled brands.

Cold Brew Coffee

Alright friends, go ahead and brush up on your cold brew coffee making skills (or buy a bottle) because I’ll be sharing a recipe that involves cold brew in the next few days!

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    1. 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.

    2. 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?

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

      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.

    4. 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.

    5. Mark
      October 18, 2016 AT 1:29 am

      I’m a huge fan of cold brew coffee and gulp down glasses of this black liquid gold throughout the day. I own an Iwaki cold drip coffee brewer which makes an excellent tasting cold brew. You’ve inspired me and on my next batch I’m going to experiment by adding some natural flavors.

    6. thomas bell
      September 6, 2016 AT 10:03 pm

      I really love cold brew coffee! I love any coffee.:)

    7. Alex Mastin
      April 25, 2016 AT 2:48 am

      Great Read Brittany! I’m inspired and keen on trying adding some flavours into my next batch of cold brew!

      The Toddy is great – but you can make cold brew with some of your regular old coffee makers – like the French press, or the Aeropress (not that the latter is regular). I’m sure the Toddy make a darn fine cold brew however.

      Oh and one more reason why cold brew is better – it seems to have a longer lasting ‘pick-me-up’ effect! – every time I drink it, I avoid a caffeine crash.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 25, 2016 AT 2:07 pm

        Totally agree, Alex. The Toddy just makes the process really easy.

    8. Tanya
      April 23, 2016 AT 6:00 pm

      Thanks for this post! Can any coffee be cold brewed? I’m looking on the Lamplighter site and am unclear. TIA!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 24, 2016 AT 8:19 am

        Yes, you can use any type of coffee. Just make sure you either buy it coarse ground or grind it coarsely yourself. 🙂

    9. taramdeal
      May 29, 2015 AT 10:32 am

      I am a HUGE cold brew fan and have made it once with the cheesecloth method, but usually I buy it for simplicity’s sake! I didn’t know they made a cold brewer system!! I think I need to buy one…!!

    10. Traci
      May 28, 2015 AT 10:18 am

      Woohoo! I was just mulling over creating my own cold brew and was just looking around for a good method. After loving regular iced coffee for years, I decided to give the cold brew a try when it came to Starbucks not expecting much, and I couldn’t believe how smooth and sweet it was. Plus, I have not been loving the hot coffee turned iced (too watery/acidic) I’ve been trying to make at home. I think I might be trying this out this weekend. Um, and definitely share that pb cold brew recipe!!

    11. Wendy @ Wholistic Woman
      May 28, 2015 AT 8:54 am

      Timely post! I was just thinking it’s cold brew time. Here’s a tip: Instead of using cheesecloth, pick up a hops sack (we had one laying around because DH is a home brewer) or nut milk bag. I find it a bit less messy.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 28, 2015 AT 9:06 am

        Awesome tip, Wendy! My husband is a home-brewer so we have a bunch of those lying around. 🙂

    12. Sam @ Pursuit of Healthy Happinessa
      May 27, 2015 AT 1:51 pm

      My boyfriend has been searching for a product to make cold brew coffee at home. I’m a coffee lover and I’ve always been curious about cold brewing especially since lately, hot brewed coffee has been tasting more acidic to me. And what?!? I had NO idea you could flavor it! This is awesome! Thanks for the great recommendation:)

    13. amie
      May 27, 2015 AT 1:33 pm

      I am so in love with cold brew! Thanks for this!
      Can I add cinnamon to the mix while I brew, have you ever done that?
      I’ve shared cold brew with many of my Health Coaching clients and they love it, too!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 27, 2015 AT 4:44 pm

        I haven’t tried adding cinnamon but I bet it would work great and taste amazing! Let me know if you try it. 🙂

    14. Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio
      May 27, 2015 AT 12:09 pm

      Love, love, love cold brew!!! Worth the hype!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 27, 2015 AT 12:24 pm

        Agreed. 🙂

    15. Lexi @ Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
      May 27, 2015 AT 10:52 am

      Such a good post!!!!

    16. Janelle @ WhollyHealthy
      May 27, 2015 AT 2:50 am

      I love cold brew but haven’t made it in awhile – definitely need to get back on that!

    17. ellen
      May 27, 2015 AT 12:07 am

      I know y’all have been drinking cold brew for a long time. Can’t believe I have never tried it!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 27, 2015 AT 11:50 am

        Wow, I didn’t realize that you haven’t tried it before?!? We’ll have to give you some to try soon. 🙂

    18. danicaliforniacooks
      May 26, 2015 AT 7:12 pm

      This was really interesting! I’ve never tried cold brew coffee, but now I’ll have to give it a taste test…

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 27, 2015 AT 12:00 pm

        Yes, do it. 🙂

    19. Emma @em-poweredwellness
      May 26, 2015 AT 7:03 pm

      I love cold brewed coffee! I started making it in a tiny French press I had in my dorm room, and today that is still my favorite way to make coffee!

    20. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
      May 26, 2015 AT 3:51 pm

      I didn’t realize there was such a difference with cold brew coffee! I like the idea of being able to prep it and hot coffee is definitely sounding less awesome now that it’s hot out!

    21. Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
      May 26, 2015 AT 2:50 pm

      i recently started on a cold coffee train as well and its been wonderful. i didnt know about the lower acidity levels, thanks for sharing that info,

    22. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
      May 26, 2015 AT 2:40 pm

      I do love cold brew! We have made our own in the past, but lately I have been picking it up at Trader Joe’s to save a bit of time on food prep.

    23. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul
      May 26, 2015 AT 2:20 pm

      I love cold brew coffee! Really I love any coffee. I need the caffeine! 😉

    24. Jessi Andricks (@househealthy)
      May 26, 2015 AT 2:18 pm

      Cold brew is so delicious – thanks for the tutorial on it! If you are ever in a pinch on the road and they don’t have cold brewed, have you ever tried a “pour over”? It’s a little stronger but is supposed to decrease the acidity without the sludge that a french press has. Just in case 😉
      Also – we visited Lamplighters on a trip to Richmond a few years ago and it was one of my favorite spots. Such good coffee and food!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 27, 2015 AT 11:58 am

        Oh yeah, Isaac has ordered a pour over before, but I don’t think I have. I’ll have to try it sometime.

        Isn’t Lamplighter the best? We love taking friends from out of town there. 🙂

    25. shelly
      May 26, 2015 AT 2:09 pm

      thank you for reminding me how much I love cold brew. I usually only do it in the spring/summer and the weather is finally warming up enough, I think its time to switch!

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