How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

It’s been nearly two years since I started making my own cold-brew coffee. In that time I’ve barely had a cup of hot coffee – even when the temperatures outside drop.

The cold brew movement has been gaining steam because it’s easy to make at home, far less acidic than its hot brethren, tastes delicious, and can save you big bucks.

As the name implies, cold brew (sometimes called cold press) coffee is “brewed” by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for a long period of time. It’s not like making an iced coffee, where you take coffee that was once hot and pour it over ice.

Cold brew coffee is much more complex and delicious than iced coffee. Cold brew is bold, smooth, rich and has a syrupy consistency. It’s sort of like a like a cross between a shot of espresso and an iced-latte (if you add a splash of milk or half and half)

Perks to making cold brew coffee

  • You can drink coffee whenever you want it because it’s already made and in the fridge.
  • You will save a lot of money by not going to local cafe for a pricey cuppa joe. I am not spending $4 a day on my Peet’s iced-latte habit.
  • It’s also pretty cheap overall. I spend about $16 for a pound of coffee beans. I use 1/2 a pound for a gallon of cold brew and that lasts me all week (and I drink it all day). I think spending just $8 a week on incredible coffee is a bargain.
  • I am having less dairy as this coffee only requires a splash of half-and-half and not an entire glass of milk (which as I age seems to have less positive effects on my body).
  • Your friends will be impressed. Although the downside for me is that I am constantly making extra, putting it in Mason jars and giving to friends.

I’ve refined my cold brew process over time and now have it down to a science. I hope you’ll enjoy cold brewing as much as I do.

The Process

  1. Put 1/2 of coffee into a wide-mouthed jug or container that has an air-tight lid.
  2. Fill up the remainder of the container with cold water.
  3. Put the lid on and let the vessel sit on your countertop (not the fridge) for at least 22 to 24 hours.
  4. After the brewing period, strain the coffee using a colander lined with paper towels or cheesecloth over a large, deep bowl
  5. Once all the liquid has drained out, transfer it from the bowl into an airtight pitcher or jug and put in the fridge.
  6. Drink and enjoy!

The Coffee

In the beginning I tried a lot of different coffee blends and it took a while to get it just right. My favorite manager at my local Peet’s Coffee and Tea suggested that I use a variety called Baridi. Peet’s uses it to make its iced coffee. Although, they brew it up hot and chill it by serving it over ice. Still, he recommended that Baridi would likely be a great choice for cold brewing. He was right. Over this past summer Peet’s began using Baridi to create a completely cold brewed drink called the Black Tie.

The Ratio

I use a gallon jug and put about a half a pound of freshly ground Baridi beans (I grind it for French Press) and fill the rest of the container with cold water. You may need to adjust your ratio based on the size of container and how strong you like the coffee.

The Timing

I’m not a patient person, but this coffee is worth the wait. I can say with certainty that letting the coffee brew for 22 to 24 hours makes a better, smoother, more intense liquid. Resist the urge to stain it any sooner. I’m speaking from experience.

The Equipment

I was doing a lot of pouring and cleaning and generally making a mess. It’s not that you need special equipment, but having certain types of pitchers and containers really reduce the steps and the cleanup.

All you really need is:

Strainer to make cold brew coffee

The Strain

The first time I used cheese cloth and it worked great, allowing me to squeeze all the liquid out. You can find a package of cheesecloth at nearly any grocery store for about $4. If I don’t have cheesecloth on hand, I use paper towels. It works almost as well. You just need to be a little more careful when disposing of the grounds. it can get a little messy.

I’ve also recently seen things called “coffee socks.” They are essentially a cotton bag/pouch with a string that you put the grounds in and then submerge in the cold water. They are rather pricey as part of a cold brew kit (around $20 to $30).

I tried using a similar cotton pouch made for tea ($2) but I found it so messy to empty the bag and discard the grounds and wash out the bag. Also, I thought the coffee wasn’t as strong and didn’t have that rich crema that you get without using the bag.

Joie Ice Cube Trays

The Ice

I like to make sure my cold brew is really cold. I wanted to add ice, but I didn’t want to water down the brew. So, I decided to make coffee ice cubes. To do that, I bought these colored ice trays that have a lid. Not the OXO ones where you need to slide the lid. That was a mess. Instead, these are from JOIE and they have a lid with a pop open top. I can simply leave the lid on and put hot coffee, which I make from my single brewer, and pour it into the tray without any spills or stains. I usually end up transferring all the cubes to a large plastic container with the lid. That way I always have coffee cubes on hand.

Now get brewing!!!