How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home

May 20, 2024

Cold brew coffee has become a popular choice among coffee enthusiasts for its smooth, mellow flavor and reduced acidity compared to traditionally brewed coffee.

Its refreshing quality makes it a favorite in warm weather, yet its rich, robust profile ensures it can be enjoyed any time of year, too.  The best part? With a few simple tools and some patience, you can make delicious cold brew right at home. This process not only allows you to customize the strength and flavor to suit your preferences, but also offers a fun and satisfying way to experiment with different coffee beans and brewing techniques.

In this article, discover what cold brew is and what you need to make cold brew coffee at home— including the tools, ingredients and steps required to craft a smooth cup of joe in your own kitchen.

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What is cold brew coffee?

Cold brew coffee is a method of brewing that involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water over an extended period, typically anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.

This technique differs significantly from traditional hot brewing methods. While both methods aim to extract flavor and caffeine from coffee beans, cold brew utilizes time rather than heat to achieve this goal.

Key characteristics of cold brew coffee

  1. No heat involved: Unlike traditional coffee making, which typically involves boiling water, cold brew is prepared with cold or room temperature water. This absence of heat results in a chemical process that extracts a different flavor profile from the beans.
  2. Reduced acidity: One of the most notable features of cold brew coffee is its lower acidity. The cold brew process extracts fewer acids from the coffee beans than hot brewing methods, making the resulting coffee smoother.
  3. Smooth, sweet flavor: Because cold brew coffee is less acidic, it often tastes naturally sweeter and smoother than hot brewed coffee. This makes it particularly appealing to those who find regular coffee too bitter or harsh.
  4. Concentrated form: Cold brew is typically made as a concentrate, which can be diluted with water, milk or any milk alternative according to the drinker’s preference. This versatility makes it an excellent base for a variety of coffee drinks.

How cold brew differs from iced coffee

Cold brew and iced coffee are not the same thing.

Iced coffee is essentially hot coffee that has been cooled down and then served over ice. Because it’s brewed quickly using heat, iced coffee retains the acidity and flavor profile typical of hot coffee. In contrast, cold brew offers a unique taste due to its prolonged extraction process and absence of heat.

Benefits of cold brew

  • Less bitterness: The slow extraction process reduces bitterness, making the coffee smoother and more palatable without the need for added sugar or creamers.
  • Long shelf life: Cold brew can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks without significant loss of flavor, making it a convenient option for those who want to prepare coffee in advance.
  • Customizable strength: By adjusting the ratio of water to coffee, you can create a brew that is as strong or as mild as you prefer.

Step-by-step brewing process

Before diving into the brewing process, ensure you have all the necessary tools and ingredients on hand for a seamless experience:

  • Coffee grinder: Essential for grinding the coffee beans to the desired consistency. A burr grinder is preferred for its ability to produce a uniform coarse grind, which is ideal for cold brew and prevents over-extraction and bitterness.
  • Large jar or pitcher: A sturdy, large-capacity jar or pitcher is required for mixing the coffee grounds with water. Glass is recommended as it does not retain flavors and is easy to clean.
  • Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer: These are used to filter out the coffee grounds after steeping. Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer ensures a smooth, sediment-free coffee. You may also consider secondary filtration with a paper filter for an even cleaner brew.
  • High-quality coffee beans: The choice of coffee beans greatly affects the flavor of your cold brew. Look for beans that are fresh and from a reputable source. Experiment with different roasts and origins to find your preferred flavor profile; medium roast often provides a good balance of flavor and acidity.
  • Filtered water: The water quality is crucial as it makes up the majority of the beverage. Use cold, filtered water to reduce impurities and chlorine that could alter the taste of your cold brew.

Step 1: Grinding the coffee beans

Grind your beans to a coarse consistency, similar to coarse sea salt. This size is optimal for slow extraction, which is key to achieving the signature smooth, sweet flavor of cold brew without any bitterness.

Step 2: Mixing coffee grounds with water

Generally, a ratio of 1:8 coffee-to-water by weight is recommended (for example, 125 grams of coffee to 1 liter of water). Adjust this ratio to make your cold brew stronger or milder, according to your personal taste. Ensure that the grounds are fully saturated by stirring thoroughly after adding water.

Step 3: Steeping

Seal or cover the container and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours. The steeping can be done in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Refrigeration steeping makes a smoother brew and is less likely to develop off-flavors.

Step 4: Straining

Once steeping is complete, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove all coffee grounds. For the smoothest brew, consider straining several times or using a paper coffee filter after the primary filtration.

Step 5: Storing the cold brew

Transfer the cold brew concentrate to a clean, sealed container and store it in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the concentrate will stay fresh and flavorful for up to two weeks. To serve, dilute with water or milk according to your preference, usually starting at a 1:1 ratio.

how to make cold brew, cold brew coffee maker

Using a Cold Brew Coffee Maker

For those who prefer a more straightforward approach or plan to make cold brew coffee regularly, investing in a cold brew coffee maker can simplify the process and ensure consistent results.

Cold brew devices or machines are designed specifically for making cold brew, often featuring integrated filters and simple release mechanisms that allow the coffee to be easily separated from the grounds without additional tools. Some advanced models can even automate the steeping and filtration processes, making them almost entirely hands-off.

Although using a cold brew coffee maker offers added convenience and consistency, the core process of steeping coffee grounds in cold water for about 12 to 24 hours is essentially the same, whether using a machine or a simple jar. The steeping duration depends on your preferred strength and taste but extending beyond 24 hours can result in over-extraction and bitterness.

Choosing the right cold brew coffee maker

Cold brew coffee makers come in various designs, including automatic and manual options. Automatic models typically handle everything from steeping to filtration, while manual models, such as mason jar attachments or French press-style brewers, require a bit more hands-on involvement.

When looking at cold brew coffee makers, consider how much coffee you plan to make at a time. Some cold brew coffee makers are designed for making single servings, while others can produce several liters of coffee concentrate. You’ll also want to look for coffee makers made of durable, nonreactive materials like glass and stainless steel to avoid flavor retention and ensure long-lasting use.

Troubleshooting common problems in cold brew coffee

Even with a straightforward process like cold brew, occasional issues can arise that affect the quality of your brew. Here are some common problems and how to address them:

Bitter taste

If your cold brew tastes bitter, it may be due to over-extraction:

  • Reduce steeping time: Shorten the brew time to between 12 and 18 hours, tasting periodically to find the right balance.
  • Adjust grind size: If the grind is too fine, it can lead to over-extraction. Try a coarser grind to mitigate bitterness.

Weak brew

A cold brew that’s too weak could be a result of under-extraction:

  • Increase steeping time: Allow the coffee to steep longer, within the 12–24-hour range, checking the flavor periodically.
  • Adjust the ratio: Use more coffee relative to the amount of water or reduce the volume of water for the same amount of coffee.


Sediment in your cold brew can be unpleasant and detract from the smooth texture:

  • Double-filter: After the initial strain, pass your brew through a finer filter, such as a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth.
  • Settle before pouring: Let your cold brew settle in the fridge for a few hours after filtering. Pour it slowly and stop before the sediment at the bottom starts to come out.


Hungry for more? Our Coffee & Espresso Collection has everything you need to kickstart your day! From manual espresso machines and drip coffee makers to French press and pour-over, you’ll find just what you need for that perfect cup o’ joe.

Shop Our Coffee & Espresso Collection

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