How to make cold brew coffee at home

how to make cold brew coffee iced
colnihko / 123RF Stock Photo

Sweet, sweet coffee — some of us depend on it to survive through the work day, and others even consider ourselves connoisseurs. Whether you’re a casual drinker or a coffee addict, you can likely tell the difference between a good cup and a bad one.

Although you only need water and coffee beans to make decent cup of joe, it’s pretty easy to make crappy coffee. What makes coffee taste gross? How about when you make it too strong, too weak, use a bad blend, or when you leave the pot sitting on the burner too long. That’s why office coffee is often the worst kind — the pot sits for hours, the coffee develops a burnt taste, and you’re left with something that’s about as palatable as mud.

The key to a great cup of coffee is chemistry. Your cup of java contains organic acids like malic, acetic, and quinic acids, and it has inorganic acids like phosphoric acid. That’s why bad coffee tends to have a bitter, acidic taste. So, what’s the key to making a great cup of coffee that tastes even better than your favorite coffee shop blend? Try cold brew coffee.

Cold brew coffee has a much more pleasant flavor because you get the sweet flavors from the good-tasting acids, without the bad taste of the bitter acids. When some people think of cold brew coffee, however, they think of a long and tedious process or costly equipment and supplies. But, you don’t have to be Starbucks to cold brew your coffee. You can make easy cold brew coffee at home, and it takes only about 10 minutes of work and a bit of knowledge.

What you’ll need

  • Coffee
  • Water
  • A fine strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • A glass pitcher or a large mason jar

How to make cold brew coffee

  1. Grind your beans. You want your beans to be coarse ground, about the consistency of kosher salt. If you only have fine-ground coffee available (like what you’d use in your coffee machine), it will over-extract, leading to a bitter brew.
  2. Mix the coffee and water. Pour four cups of water into your pitcher and add your coffee. If you want a regular brew, add 1/2 cup of coffee grounds, which produces a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water. For a stronger brew, add up to 1 cup of coffee grinds. This is personal preference, but both Blue Bottle and Kicking Horse Coffee suggest a 1:4 ratio.
  3. Give your coffee and water mixture a quick stir to help get brewing started.
  4. Refrigerate your brew for 12 to 15 hours.
  5. Strain the coffee and water mixture using a fine strainer coated in some cheesecloth.
  6. To serve, add water or milk to dilute the concentrate. Again, it’s personal preference, but start with a 1:1 ratio and go from there. We added a vanilla bean, 1.5 cups of skim milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar.
  7. Store your cold brew in a sealed container in the refrigerator for no longer than two or three days. When you add milk, water, or other ingredients, this shortens your coffee’s shelf life. If you leave your cold brew as a concentrate, you can store it for about a week before its quality degrades.

Tips and warnings

  • Use filtered water for best results. You can also use regular bottled water, but filtered water is your best bet.
  • As tempted as you are to remove the brew from the fridge before it’s done, wait at least 12 hours. It’s well worth the wait.
  • Cold brew coffee sits for extended periods of time, and it tends to sit in danger zone temperatures of between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Be mindful of food safety and shelf life guidelines.
  • Cold brew coffee tends to be stronger than traditional hot coffee, so dilute your cold brew if you don’t want to be bouncing off of the walls.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Smart Home

Thanksgiving in an Instant ... Pot? Here are our favorite recipes

Did you know you can cook the majority, if not all, of your Thanksgiving menu items in your Instant Pot? It's all about picking the right recipes. These are our picks for the best Instant Pot recipes for Turkey Day.
Smart Home

Cloud slime, butter slime, scented slime -- we have your next DIY project covered

We researched dozens of different ingredients and tried several slime recipes. While some recipes are generally pretty safe, others are questionable at best. Which recipes should you use, and which should you avoid?
Smart Home

Amazon rejoins the fight against HIV/AIDS with a (Red) second-gen Echo

Now you can rock out to U2 and give to a good cause by buying Amazon's red Echo, a limited edition of the smart speaker that also donates money to the humanitarian organization Project (Red), founded by Bono.
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Smart Home

How to stream music from Google Home to Bluetooth speakers or headphones

Want to stream music on Google Home, but listen to it through a different speaker or a pair of headphones? Here's how to play streaming music on Google Home through Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

These Black Friday furniture deals offer up to 80 percent off

Retailers across all industries use Black Friday to offer incredible deals on everything from kitchen appliances, to full bedroom sets. As such, it’s the ideal time to upgrade your space with pieces that will make you feel more…
Smart Home

These holiday gadgets will make cooking your meal a breeze

Are you dreading the lengthy process of cooking a holiday dinner? Try these holiday gadgets to make the job of cooking much easier. These items will make for an easy, breezy meal.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Clean with a robot vacuum and save $160 on the Ecovacs Deebot, today only

Investing in smart home technology can usually come with a hefty price tag. If you were thinking of getting a robot vacuum, now is your chance. The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is one of our favorite budget-friendly robot vacuums and is currently on…

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…