How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home

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Cold brew iced coffee is so easy to make at home and with a cold brew maker — it’s completely foolproof!

Iced cold brew coffee in a cup with half & half.

Homemade Cold Brew Coffee

The easiest and best way to make iced coffee at home is to cold brew it. It’s the only way I make iced coffee at home.

Cold brew is smoother and mellower than regular iced coffee (hot coffee that has cooled down) due to the slow steeping process.

It’s low in acidity so it’s not as harsh on your stomach. Because there is no hot water involved, the coffee is less bitter.

Starbucks makes their cold brew by steeping coffee in cold water for 20 hours. Dunkin’ makes theirs by steeping 12 hours.

To make cold brew at home, all you need to do is combine ground coffee and cold water and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?

Iced coffee and cold brew may seem similar since they are both iced drinks but the difference is in how they are made. 

Iced coffee is coffee brewed hot and then served over ice. Iced coffee can be made quickly and by the cup. 

Cold brew is coffee steeped in cold water for a few hours. Cold brew is usually made in batches and cannot be made immediately. 

My Trick to Making Cold Brew

I’ve tried many, many times to make cold brew coffee at home and none of them ever turned out nearly as good as the ones I’ve had at coffee shops.

Until…I started using a cold brew coffee maker.

My Cold Brew Maker Pick
This is the secret to my perfect cold brews! The super fine filter makes coffee cloudy-free.
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What You’ll Need

Cold Brew Coffee Ingredients
  • Coffee: Medium-coarse/French press grind is best.
  • Filtered water: Use the best quality water possible for a better tasting cold brew.
  • Cold brew coffee maker: Basically a pitcher with a fine mesh filter inside. Get the 1000ml sized pitcher to make 4 cups.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps. For full ingredients and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Grind coffee.

Use medium-coarse grind, which is what you would use to make coffee in a French press. If you have the Barataza Encore coffee grinder, set it to #24.

You can also buy ground coffee and use that to make cold brew.

Barista’s Tip: The one thing you should splurge on to improve your coffee experience at home is a burr grinder.

2. Put ground coffee into the strainer.

Put the coffee into the cold brew maker’s strainer first, then place it into the pitcher to make sure you don’t accidentally put any of the ground coffee into the pitcher.

3. Pour room temperature water on top of the ground coffee.

Use filtered water if possible since water quality can make a huge difference in how the cold brew tastes.

4. Cover pitcher and put in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

After at least 12 hours in the refrigerator, the coffee will be nice and dark.

5. Remove filter and pour coffee into a cup with ice.

Serving Suggestions

No need to dilute the coffee with water — adding the cold brew into ice dilutes it perfectly. But if you feel the cold brew is too strong for you, feel free to add some cold water.

Serve with milk or half & half and sweeten with quick simple syrup.

Add vanilla extract if you want to add extra flavoring to your cold brew.

Expert Tips

  • Grind coffee medium-coarse, which is the same setting as for brewing in a French press.
  • I found 15 hours to be the sweet spot for making cold brew with medium-coarse coffee.
  • Only have pre-ground coffee for a drip coffee machine? That works too! Just brew it in the refrigerator for 8 hours instead of 12 – 15 hours.

Questions You May Have

Is this recipe a concentrate?

No. The recipe doesn’t require it to be watered down before drinking.

Should I add ice?

I usually do but it’s not necessary since the coffee is already chilled from being in the refrigerator.

Do I really need a cold brew maker?

I haven’t had as much success making cold brew coffee without a cold brew maker since the filter is key. A fine mesh filter makes sure all the tiny coffee bits don’t go into the drink, which means the coffee will come out clearer — no more cloudy coffee!

What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?

Iced coffee and cold brew can seem similar since they are both iced drinks but the difference is in how they are made. Iced coffee is coffee brewed hot and then served over ice. Iced coffee can be made quickly and by the cup. Cold brew is made using cold water and takes much longer. Cold brew is usually made in batches and cannot be made immediately. Iced coffee retains much more of the flavor of a hot coffee, whereas cold brew is distinctly less bitter. 

Related

Cold Brew Coffee Made Easy

Author: Jee Choe
Cold brew iced coffee is so easy to make with a cold brew maker — it's completely foolproof.
4.8 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Brew Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Yield4 servings

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 1 cup coffee beans
  • 4 cups filtered water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Grind coffee medium-coarse.
    Medium-coarse is the same setting used to brew coffee in a French press. On the Barataza Encore coffee grinder, set it to #24.
    You can also buy ground coffee and use that to make cold brew.
  • Put ground coffee in the filter of a cold brew coffee maker.
    Put the coffee into the filter first, then place it into the pitcher to make sure you don't accidentally put any of the ground coffee into the pitcher.
  • Pour room temperature filtered water on top of the ground coffee.
    The better the water, the better the coffee so use water that tastes great.
  • Cover pitcher and put in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
  • Remove filter and pour coffee into a cup with ice.
    Optional: Serve with milk or half & half and sweeten with simple syrup. No need to dilute the coffee.

NOTES

No coffee grinder? Buy pre-ground coffee and cold brew for 8 hours instead of 12-15 hours.

NUTRITION

Sodium: 12mg | Calcium: 7mg

16 thoughts on “How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home”

  1. What exactly is filtered water? From the refrigerator? A water filter device? And previously I let it steep on the counter instead of frig! Any advantage to frig?

    Reply
    • Hi Carol, filtered water is water that has gone through a filtering device, like a Brita or Pur water filter. I like steeping in the refrigerator since I don’t want any bacteria to form.

      Reply
  2. I just got my cold brew pot, did a med course grind and was very disappointed. It was too weak, I think the problem was not enough grounds for the basket. No instructions came with the pot. Will try again tonight and fill the basket!!

    Reply
    • Hi Candice, it should be 1 cup of ground coffee to 4 cups of water. Make sure to let it steep in the refrigerator for 12 hours when it’s med-coarse grind.

      Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Nice recipe, but if we use medium grind coffee (which usually used for V60 / pour over). How long should we brew in refrigerator? Is it also 8 hours like pre ground coffee?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Daniel, the finer of a grind you go with cold brew, the shorter cold brew time you need. Start with 8 hours of cold brewing and adjust it from there!

      Reply
  4. Curious, can the cold brew coffee be then heated for a cup of hot coffee that would be better/smoother than coffee brewed with hot water?

    Reply

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