How to Make Cold Brew Coffee – Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

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Dutch Cold Brew Coffee
How to Make Dutch Cold Brew Coffee

The objective of this page is to teach you how to make cold brew coffee at home, be an expert at it and get it better than the commercially made one. Yes, you can make your own cold brew and make it delicious, is not all that hard. You just need to understand the science behind cold extraction, and how the science translates into actionable tips and tricks. I bet you chose this coffee brewing method either because you want to make the best iced coffee. If it’s not that, maybe your stomach is sensitive to coffee and you can only drink the mellow, delicate cold press coffee. We explained here why cold brewed coffee is gentle on the stomach. We will also talk about why cold brew is perfect for iced coffee.

What Is Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew is a coffee brewing method, in which the brewing takes place at low temperatures ranging from room temperature or colder. The method involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water, in order to preserve volatile compounds and avoid extraction of substances that soluble at high temperatures. Commonly, cold brewing is done for extended periods of time, to compensate for the low temperatures.

Cold Brew Pouring Over Ice

Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew Coffee

Many people confuse cold brew coffee with iced coffee. Iced coffee is just a recipe that refers to brewed coffee then chilled. Iced coffee usually contains milk and sugar and many times flavorings. Iced coffee can be brewed hot and then chilled before going into the blender.

Chilled hot brews are not the best ingredient, because hot coffee needs to be consumed fresh. Once it cools down it changes chemical properties and it tastes bad. One way to fix this is to cool the coffee down as fast as possible. The other way is to use cold brewing.

Brewing over ice cubes, cools coffee down very fast, and it doesn’t allow it to oxidize. When I prepare my iced coffee, sometimes I brew espresso over ice cubes. You can do this by brewing drip coffee over ice too. This is a very popular method, and it allows you to have the rich, bold flavor profile of hot brew with your iced coffee.

Cold brew is the best for iced coffee, because the flavors extracted that way are very stable, they will not oxidize, and the flavor profile just works with iced coffee, simple, or flavored. This is probably why many times cold brew is associated with iced coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee Extraction

We discussed this in our quick cold brew method, but here is a resume of what we said there:

  • When brewing coffee we need to dissolve soluble compounds in the grounds.
  • The process of dissolving the soluble solids in coffee can be improved in a few ways with the most common way, heating the solution.
  • Besides heating, you can improve extraction by agitating the solution, and by adjusting the grind size.
  • In absence of heat to speed up the dissolution, we need more time to achieve a complete dissolution.

Cold Brew Coffee Benefits

Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee ConcentrateThere are many benefits for brewing with cold water, and we already touched a few of them. Here is a complete list:

  • Cold brew is less acidic than traditional iced coffee. When brewing with hot water, more acids are extracted, and this gives coffee the rich flavor and bold profile. For some coffee lovers this is a good thing. Other people find the taste flat. It depends on your palate.
  • Cold brew has a lower acidity, as we said, is naturally sweeter, and it is less bitter than hot brew.
  • Cold brew is more stable than hot coffee. It can be bottled, or kept in the fridge for days without any chemical changes.
  • Cold brew coffee is better for the digestive system. The compounds that stimulate your stomach to produce acid are not extracted at low temperatures. This is why cold brew is perfect for people with sensitive stomach. Read this article if coffee hurts your stomach.
  • Although most of the people will drink it cold, you can serve cold brew … hot.

Cold brew is more flavorful than the regular one. Many of the flavor accents of coffee is lost during hot brewing, because the compounds that make up those flavors are volatile. Brewing cold ensures that delicate flavors are retained.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee – How to Cold Brew Coffee

Homemade Cold Brew Coffee

There are a few methods you can use to cold brew coffee at home, and none of these methods are expensive. The most convenient and most used methods are:

  • No special device – just a simple coffee filter
  • French press
  • Coffee sock, (coffee bag)
  • Cold brewing filter such as Toddy

The Paper Filter Method

How to make cold brew coffee without a French pressLisa Lavery shared a frugal cold brewing method, which only requires a coffee filter. Here is the procedure:

  1. Pour 3 1/2 cups cold water in a 2 quart mason jar, or a pitcher.
  2. Place about 4 1/2 ounces coarsely ground coffee in the mason jar, and stir to combine. Stir thoroughly until all the grounds are wet and they sink at the bottom of the jar. This will ensure a uniform extraction.
  3. Cover with the lid or with plastic wrap and let it steep at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. If you steep it in the fridge, you can increase the steeping time to compensate for the low temperature.
  4. Line a strainer with paper coffee filter and place it over a coffee pot or a bowl. You can also use a funnel instead of the mesh strainer. Slowly pour the coffee into the filter, trying to not disturb the grinds at the bottom of the jar. Pour in batches until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer. You might need to replace the paper filter if the flow is slowing down too much. Stop filtering when you reach the solids at the bottom of the mason jar. Discard the grounds and the filter.

Wash the pitcher and transfer the strained coffee into the pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours. You can store it in the fridge up to 5 days.

Cold Brew – The Coffee Sock Filtration Method

Cold Brew Coffee Coffee SockAnother great option for cold brewing is shared by Maddie from Kicking Horse Coffee. Maddie teaches us how to make cold brew coffee using a textile bag as a filter. All the equipment you need is a mason jar and the textile bag. The textile bag filter is known as the coffee sock. You can make your own coffee sock filter, if you are handy and you have a sewing machine. Otherwise you can buy one online. The best materials for the coffee sock filter are cotton and hemp. This is the second inexpensive cold brew method; you don’t need anything fancy, just time. Here is the method as outlined in Maddie’s cold brew article, with our additions to make it even easier for you:

  1. Grind about 1 1/2 cups of coffee beans. Here is an article to help you pick the best coffee beans for cold brew.
  2. Use a coarse grind to make the filtration process easy. Using a coarse grind will also lower the bitterness of the final cup.
  3. Pour 3 1/2 cups cold water in a 2 quart mason jar.
  4. Place the grounds in the coffee sock, and then immerse the sock in the mason jar.
  5. Use a wooden spatula or spoon to stir the grinds in the water. Make sure the grinds are fully saturated. Put the lid on your mason jar and put it in the fridge.
  6. Steep for 12 to 24 hours, depending on your taste. The more you leave it in the fridge, the stronger the coffee will be. Steep too long and coffee will be bitter.
  7. Remove the coffee sock and gently press it to fully drain. If the material of your cotton bag is too thin, just rest the coffee bag filter above the jar’s mouth.
  8. If you want a clear cup, you can further use a funnel lined up with a paper coffee filter, to quickly filter out any fines in your coffee.
  9. Put the coffee in the fridge for a couple of hours and serve. You can store cold coffee in the fridge for up to a week.

Maddie suggested in her article to wrap your ground coffee in a paper filter, and only then place it in the coffee sock, or nut bag. This eliminates the need of the second filtration. Either way, you should get a clean and bright cup of cold brewed coffee.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee with a French Press

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee with a French PressProbably the cheapest method to make a cold brew is to use a French press. That implies you already own one, of course. If you have a French press coffee maker, you just need to add water and some grounds, and let it steep for 14-24 hours. Then press the plunger to separate the grounds from your beverage and pour.

Julie R. Thomson from Huffington Post has put together a nice article on how to make cold brew with a French Press. Here is our detailed version of this method:

  • Grind 1 cup of medium or light roast coffee beans and place in a large (8-cup) French press.
  • The grind size should be coarse to medium-coarse.
  • Add 4 cups of cold water, (room-temperature or colder).
  • Stir in to make sure the grounds are fully expanding and saturate with water. This ensures a complete and uniform extraction.
  • Place the plunger of your French press on top of the beaker and immerse just enough to cover the brew.
  • Let it steep in the fridge for 16 hours. You can also steep at room temperature, and adjust down to 12-14 hours.
  • Take it off the fridge and slowly press down on the plunger to push all the coffee grounds to the bottom.
  • Further filter using a pour over paper filter, if you like a clear cup. If you are like me, and you love a bold gritty cup, don’t filter it.
  • Add water to this concentrate coffee syrup, and pour it in cups.

Toddy Method- Easy Cold Brew Coffee

Toddy Cold Brew Coffee SystemWe call it the Toddy method since Toddy is the original cold brewing coffee maker. However, there are a few other manufacturers of cold brew coffee makers on the market now. The most notable ones are Toddy, Filtron, and Oxo. We wrote an article here, comparing the best cold brew makers on the market.

This is the most convenient way to make cold brew, because you can brew large batches, and you avoid the inherent mess with cheap methods. The filter is also pretty good, and you get a great, clear cup.

Blue Bottle Coffee has a great tutorial on cold brewing with a Filtron coffee maker. Our guide here is slightly different, because it’s for a Toddy filter, but the main idea is the same.

  • Start by securing the brewing container with the provided stopper.
  • Wet the reusable filter and place it at the bottom of the brewing tank.
  • In a separate pitcher, or a bowl, mix 12 ounces of coarsely ground coffee and 3 cups of cold water. Make sure all the grounds are wet.
  • After all the grounds are evenly saturated with water, pour the mix into your brewing container.
  • Add 4 more cups of cold water into the brewing tank.
  • Do not mix, or you will clog the filter slowing down, or even stopping the filtration, when is time. This is the reason we mix the grounds in a separate bowl before.
  • Let it steep for 14 to 24 hours at room temperature or in the fridge.
  • Remove the stopper, allowing the coffee concentrate to flow into a decanter.
  • Keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • When serving, add water or milk to your concentrate, in a ratio of 1 part cold brew concentrate, 2-3 parts water or milk.

coffee ice cubes in milkNow that you made your cold brew coffee concentrate, you can pour it in an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then, you can add water or milk. This way the coffee doesn’t water down at the end, and it will be even tastier. Here is our iced coffee recipe.