Have you ever wondered how your favorite local coffee shop makes that delicious cold brew coffee? If you’re like me, at one you point you might have tried pouring hot coffee over ice or some other tactic in an attempt to recreate coffee shop cold brew coffee. Not knowing that there’s actually a difference between cold brew and iced coffee. It might not have been gross, but it definitely wasn’t the same. So then I was off to the internet to find out how to make cold brew coffee at home. Maybe that’s what brought you here.
Another thing that might make that coffee shop cold brew taste a whole lot more amazing is the convenience of someone else making it. Am I right? It’s probably a scientific fact that everything tastes better when you didn’t have to make it. So what’s the secret to minimizing the inconvenience of making your own? Big-batch cold brew. Did you know that your cold brew coffee can be stored in your refrigerator for 7-10 days! That’s the key to convenience for your at-home cold brew coffee.
It’s probably hard to believe based on the high price of cold brew coffee from a coffee shop, but it’s really easy to make high quality cold brew coffee at home. You don’t need anything too fancy and I’m here to share my experience and teach you all about it.
This is what you need to make cold brew coffee at home:
- Coffee grinder. The key here is nice, course (we’ll get into that later), freshly ground coffee beans. You can be as fancy as you want with your grinder, but you’ll do just fine with the cheapest one you can find.
- Reusable Cold Brew Coffee Filter Pouches or a cheesecloth. The pouches are so handy and make the process easier. But a cheesecloth will do the trick if you don’t want to splurge for the pouches. If you’re in a real pinch, you can even use a coffee filter but it will be harder to work with. A cheesecloth is larger and can be laid over the opening of your container easily.
- Your favorite coffee beans. There isn’t a specific kind of coffee you should use, but some roasters are making special blends for cold brew and iced coffee. It can be fun to experiment with different kinds. For your first time though, I would make your first batch with your current favorite beans.
- Large jar. A glass jar or container that closes and seals tightly is best for keeping your cold brew coffee fresh during storage.
- Filtered water. The water you use to make your coffee will make a big the difference in the final taste. It’s just as important as the coffee beans.
So how do you make cold brew coffee at home?
Prepare to be baffled by the simplicity of this process. Follow these steps and don’t be too worried about incredible accuracy. There’s a pretty big margin for error in cold brew coffee (at least in my humble, coffee-loving opinion).
Getting the right grind will mean the difference between a nice smooth taste or a bitter bite to your cold brew. Grind your beans to the size of raw sugar, that’s a fairly large and coarse grind for brewing coffee so it might look strange, but take my word for it. Also, if you are using a small grinder, grind several small batches so you don’t over grind some of the beans.
Now that you have your coffee grounds, all you have to do is add them to water and let them soak. But how much water? You’ll find differing opinions on that. Some say 1 oz of coffee for every 1 cup of water, others 1.5 oz of coffee for every 1 cup of water, and it continues to vary. That might sounds like a lot of coffee either way. But cold brew coffee is a concentrate, which means it’s way stronger than drip coffee. You’ll be cutting it 1:1 with water or milk when you drink it. I would rather err on the side of too strong than not strong enough. With that said, I would recommend the 1.5 oz of coffee for every 1 cup of water because you can always add more water or milk when you’re ready to drink it if it’s too strong for you.
Okay, back to soaking, also known as steeping. Measure out your water and add your coffee grounds. If you’re using a coffee filter pouch, fill it with your coffee grounds and put it inside your glass container (or whatever you’ve decided to use). Slowly pour cool water through the opening of the pouch, soaking the coffee grounds as it filters through into the container. After you’ve poured in all the water, use the container’s lid to hold the opening of the pouch above the water. If you’re going to be using a cheesecloth to filter, you’ll just put the coffee grounds directly into the water.
Soak (steep) the coffee grounds over night for 14-16 hours or closer to 20 hours if you’re steeping in the refrigerator. It doesn’t have to be exact but I wouldn’t go beyond 20 hours to keep a nice taste. If you are looking for a stronger taste just try diluting it less during daily prep.
Filtering and Storage
Once you’re cold brew is finished soaking, it’s time to filter. If you used a reusable filter pouch then all you’ll do is remove the pouch. Easy peasy. If you didn’t, you’ll need to filter out the coffee grounds. Grab your storage container and place the cheesecloth over the opening. I suggest using a small strainer for stability with the cheesecloth lining the strainer. Slowly pour the water and coffee grounds into the strainer/cheesecloth.
As the water filters, resist the urge to press on the coffee grounds. Doing so will extract some bitter flavors. Just take your time and let gravity do all the work. In order to make this an easier and faster process, pour in small batches and toss the coffee grounds little by little so the water isn’t filtering through all those grounds the whole time. Keep it in a sealed container and refrigerated to maintain freshness for 7-10 days.
Serving Your Cold Brew Coffee
Like I mentioned earlier, cold brew is a concentrate so you’ll want to dilute it so it’s not super duper strong. This part is totally up to you. I like the 1:1 ratio, or half cold brew and half water. Sometimes I add almond milk and I’ve also tried sweetened coconut milk. Some say that cold brew coffee doesn’t need sweetener because it’s naturally sweet and smooth. It is true that cold brew has about half the acidity of traditional brewed coffee, but you still might want to sweeten it. Especially depending on the kind of coffee beans you use. For me it’s a day by day, case by case basis kind of thing. You can even use your cold brew to make all sorts of coffee shop like recipes. Enjoy it however you like.