Learn how to make cold brew coffee with 2 ingredients for a budget-friendly option that’s easy to create and tastes even better than your local coffee shop’s version!
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee, sometimes shortened to just cold brew, is made by steeping ground coffee in water for hours. After steeping, the grounds are strained out, and the leftover coffee is kept chilled before serving.
Is It the Same as Iced Coffee?
Cold brew and iced coffee are often confused with each other, but they aren’t exactly the same.
- Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Iced coffee is made by brewing regular hot coffee and chilling it or serving it over ice.
- Cold brew is more heavily concentrated, meaning it has a bolder taste and higher caffeine content.
Why You Should Cold Brew Your Coffee
You’ll find that learning how to make cold brew coffee at home not only ensures you always have a refreshing drink but also:
- Provides a better, smoother flavor that is much less bitter than other coffee.
- Saves time by eliminating the need to make a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. Just make a big batch in advance, and store it in the fridge!
- Allows for easy customization with your favorite mix-ins and toppings.
- Helps save money as it is much more budget-friendly than coffee shop cold brews.
Cold Brew Coffee Ingredients
- Coffee beans – You can buy pre-ground coffee (that’s coarsely ground). Or, for more flavor freshly grind your own in a coffee grinder. Use the freshest roasted beans possible for the best flavor.
- Filtered water – If possible, I highly recommend using filtered water over non-filtered water for all your coffee needs. It will help create a cleaner more pure taste.
Determining The Perfect Ratio of Beans to Coffee
The general rule of thumb when learning how to make cold brew coffee is to use a 1:4 ratio of beans to water. Once you’ve got the process down, feel free to experiment with different ratios to meet your caffeine and flavor preferences.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
- Combine the coffee and water: Add the ground coffee to a large jar or pitcher. Stir in the water, combining the ingredients well.
- Chill: Cover the jar, and transfer it to the fridge for 12-24 hours.
- Strain: Shake or stir the mixture, and strain the coffee grounds by pouring the cold brew through a nut milk bag or over 2 layers of cheesecloth set on a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or large liquid measuring cup.
- Use coarsely ground coffee beans. Beans that are finely ground are likely to drip down into the coffee and create a gritty texture that isn’t ideal for sipping. Your beans should look somewhat chunky, similar to coarse cornmeal.
- Allow plenty of steeping time. The longer your coffee steeps, the better the flavor will become. Cutting the steeping time short can result in watery cold brew.
- Don’t steep too long. On the flip side of not steeping long enough, steeping the cold brew coffee longer than 24 hours can cause a bitter flavor, which is not what we want!
- Use coffee ice cubes. Love your cold brew extra cold but don’t want to water it down? Chill your coffee with coffee ice cubes to keep it cold without diluting the flavor!
- Double the recipe. Feel free to double or even triple the recipe. Just make sure you have a container large enough. Or, make several batches at once.
- Make decaf cold brew. Love the taste of cold brew but don’t want all the caffeine? Use decaf coffee grounds instead so you can sip on it all day.
- Use a cold brew pitcher. This makes it super easy to steep and pour your coffee with very little prep work or cleanup needed.
- Milk: This homemade cold brew is quite strong. I personally like to mix with a ratio of 2:1 cold brew with regular cow’s milk or almond milk.
- Cream: If you prefer a richer taste and creamier texture add a splash of cream.
- Sweeteners: Sweeten your drink with sugar, honey, maple syrup, or any other sweetener you prefer.
- Cinnamon: Add a stick or two of cinnamon to the cold brew before setting it aside to steep for a warm flavor with just a hint of spice.
- Vanilla: Make a Starbucks-inspired vanilla cold brew by stirring vanilla syrup into your glass. Or, add 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste to the liquid as it steeps. You could also add a whole vanilla bean, but that can be pricey.
- Syrups: If you’re feeling fancy, stir in syrups like caramel, chocolate, lavender, pumpkin spice, or lavender for a cafe-inspired creation.
- Transfer your cold brew to an airtight container, and transfer it to the fridge.
- For the best results, use it within 3 days.
- Any leftover cold brew should be tossed out after 1 week.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make cold brew with regular coffee?
Yes, as long as they are coarsely ground any type of coffee beans can be used to make homemade cold brew.
Does cold brew get stronger the longer it sits?
The longer you steep your coffee, the stronger the flavor will be. However, once transferred to the fridge, leftovers will become weaker each day.
Can I use pre-ground coffee beans?
If you don’t have a coffee grinder you can use store-bought coarse ground coffee, such as this one. Just note that the flavor won’t be as fresh and bold as freshly ground coffee.
How long does it take to make cold brew coffee?
When prepared correctly, cold brew takes at least 12 hours. Some people steep the beans for 8 hours, but I’ve found the flavor just isn’t quite as good.
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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
- 1 cup medium-roast coffee beans, ground course*
- 4 cups filtered water
- Add ground coffee to a large jar or pitcher.** Stir in water or cover and shake mixture together well.
- Keep covered and chill 12 to 24 hours.
- Squeeze nut bag to strain liquid, or if using cheesecloth wrap ends up and twist then strain.
- To serve you can thin with more water to taste, ice, milk or cream of choice. Sweeten as desired with sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia or other sweetener or choice.
- *You can buy pre-ground coffee (that's coarsely ground), or for more flavor freshly grind your own in a coffee grinder. I just have a cheap Krups grinder that works well that only cost around $30 (I love using it to grind spices too).
- **For this recipe you can just use a 32 oz. mason jar and in the first step. Just add 3 cups of water since that's all that will fit, then the following day after straining mixture stir in the 4th cup of water when returning to cleaned jar.
- This homemade cold brew is quite strong. I personally like to mix with a ratio of 2:1 cold brew with cows milk or dairy free milk.
- If you are looking for the an even easier way to make cold brew I love this cold brew pitcher. It comes with a built in strainer.