How to Easily Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home
It seems like cold brew coffee is on every cafe menu these days. But because it goes through a longer brewing process (hours versus minutes for regular coffee), the cost is usually higher than your average cup of joe. To save money, start brewing your own cold brew at home. There are plenty of cold brew coffee makers available to help you get started, but it's also easy to brew with tools you probably already have on hand. We'll show you how to make cold brew coffee from the comfort of your home, plus tips for selecting the right beans.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
Before you begin making cold brew, you'll need the following materials:
Our base cold brew recipe uses 1 pound coffee (about 1-1/2 cups) and fills a 2-quart container (six 6-ounce servings).
- Grind your coffee beans using the extra course setting on your grinder ($80, Sur La Table). Stir your coffee grinds and 6 cups cold water together in your pitcher or jar. Cover (with plastic wrap if you don't have a lid) and let stand at room temperature 12 to 24 hours.
- Line a fine-mesh sieve ($25, Crate & Barrel) with a cheesecloth like these made from 100% pure unbleached cotton ($11, Amazon) that filter out all the sediment. Pour coffee into a large bowl or another 2-qt. container.
- To serve, pour cold brew coffee over ice with creamer (if desired). Since cold brew is concentrated, dilute it with up to a 1:1 ratio of water or milk/creamer to suit your preference. Store remaining coffee in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Test Kitchen Tip: Ground coffee can be added in any ratio you like for cold brew coffee, but we like to use 1 to 2 Tbsp. coffee per 1/2 cup water.
Choosing the Right Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
When selecting coffee for cold brew, choose a medium-dark roast, also referred to as a full-city roast, after-dinner roast, or a Vienna roast. Beans roasted to this stage have a fuller body and a nutty, chocolaty flavor. African and Central American coffees also work well for cold brew. If you prefer a lighter roast, that's fine, but you might want to increase your steep time to extract the most flavor. Whatever coffee beans you choose, make sure they're fresh.
Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew Coffee
Although they are both served cold, the similarities between iced coffee and cold brew stop there. Iced coffee begins with a hot brewed coffee that is poured over ice. Hot-brewing coffee releases the acids from the ground beans, so even served cold, you get the full (sometimes bitter) flavor and aroma. Pouring the hot brew over ice may dilute those robust flavors. Cold-brewing uses time instead of heat to steep the coffee so minimal acids are released. This makes cold brew coffee rich and smooth with a gentle natural sweetness.
Don't just DIY coffee; make your own creamer too! It is cheaper (you probably own all three ingredients already), and you'll know exactly what you're using to flavor your coffee. Start with our classic vanilla flavor or switch it up to one of the delicious variations, including caramel and amaretto.