• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Written by: John Beans | Last Updated on April 17, 2021

If you've tried cold brew coffee, you probably have some questions: How to make cold brew coffee at home?

Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have large machines that make many varieties of iced coffee and serve drinks in a flash. However, these machines also use cold brew coffee, which is infused for 10 to 24 hours. Good news: You can make cold brew coffee at home!

There's no need to spend extra money on a cold brew in a coffee shop when you can make it yourself. All you need is filtered water, high-quality coffee beans, and patience.

Scroll down to read our guide for more information on making cold brew coffee. Here you will find helpful tips on preparation, recommendations for coffee-to-water ratios, and recommendations for which beans to choose.

Features You Need to Know Before Brewing Cold Brew Coffee

Concentrated cold brew is comparable to espresso in its flavor saturation. To obtain cold brew coffee, you need to mix ground coffee beans and cold water in a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio, leave for 24 hours, and filter. This concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cold brew won't taste the same as espresso, though. Cold water dissolves fewer complex acids than does hot water, so cold brew is a unique-tasting drink.

Which Coffee Should I Use for Cold Brew Coffee?

The answer depends on your individual tastes. But in general, avoid using cheap beans. Cold brew is good at revealing the intricacies of coffee, so choose something with a unique flavor profile.

If you like fruity notes, try Kenyan or Ethiopian beans. If you like nutty and chocolatey flavors, try Colombian or Brazilian beans. If you drink coffee with milk, then try a medium or dark roast blend for a pleasant, balanced taste.

Coffee Beans Grinding

Grind size doesn't play such a huge role in cold brew as it does, for example, in espresso. But because larger grinds are easier to filter out of the finished concentrate, we recommend using a coarsely ground coffee, the size of brown sugar or sea salt.

Plus, because cold brew extracts for so long, a finer grind can lead to over-extraction and a less tasty drink. Coffee lovers recommend grinding the beans with a manual coffee grinder so you get an even, coarse grind that will result in a delicious cup of coffee.

Water

For cold brew coffee, the choice of water is especially important. Don't use chlorinated or boiled water. Soft bottled water with a mineralization of about 150 mg/L is most suitable.

Cold Brew Coffee-to-Water Ratio

The most important part of making cold brew coffee is the ratio of coffee to water. If you don't use the right ratio, your drink will be either weak and tasteless or much too strong.

There is still a raging debate on the web about the exact amount of beans to use: some coffee lovers call for a 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, others recommend a 1:3 coffee-to-water ratio.

A 1:3 ratio is actually convenient when making a concentrate. The more ground coffee you use, the stronger the concentrate will be. As a result, you won't have to use as much concentrate in each diluted cup of cold brew, so you'll get more servings of coffee overall.

So what's the best ratio for cold brew coffee?

Objectively, a 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio produces a well-balanced drink. Then, to dilute the concentrate, mix in equal parts, water, milk, or any other beverage that you like.

For a milder taste, mix at a 1:2 ratio.

For cold brew to be drunk “clean” without diluting, brew at a 1:12 or 1:15 ratio, and infuse for 12 hours or more. Keep the drink in the refrigerator while it's infusing, so the finished drink will have a smooth, clean taste.

Extraction Time

Another aspect that significantly affects the taste of cold brew is the extraction time, also known as infusion time. To be precise, extraction time affects not so much the taste itself, but the aftertaste, which is just as important.

This nuance is most noticeable when brewing with darker roasts. An interval from 8 to 16 hours will give the drink a light, juicy aftertaste with a less bitter tinge.

Each subsequent hour of extraction will add a richer and deeper flavor. An interval of 16 to 24 hours will give a perfectly rich taste but can cause a dry aftertaste.

Cold Brew Coffee Taste

If you want to drink cold brew diluted with just water, then the taste of the concentrate itself will be of great importance. You must properly brew it using your favorite beans.

When choosing coffee, know this: the more descriptors, the more interesting the cold brew.

During hot weather, choose coffee with bright acidity for a refreshing drink. The classic taste profile will include red berry, citrus, and floral notes in its description. Coffee from Kenya is a good choice.

For cooler seasons, consider low- to medium-acid varieties that show off the beans' sweetness. As a rule, these are naturally processed varieties with notes of chocolate, dark berries, and sweet spices.

Most Brazilian or Asian varieties can be heavy in cold brew unless they are experimental varieties that have very different notes than most coffees from these regions.

Experiment With Coffees to Find Your Favorite

We recommend choosing 5-6 suitable coffees and making a cold brew from each, following the same recipe. Then choose the one that produces your favorite cold brew and keep using that in future recipes.

Then, experiment with that coffee. Change things like the volume of water, water temperature, and brewing time. Only change one thing at a time, so you can tell which variable made you like or dislike a recipe.

How to Make Cold Brew at Home

To make cold brew coffee at home, you need just a few tools and ingredients.

What you need:

  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee beans or coarsely ground coffee
  • Sieve or special filter
  • Two large-volume containers (or maybe a French press)
  • Cold drinking water

Instructions:

1. Take your favorite coffee and weigh out the required amount. For a well-balanced cold brew coffee, the usual coffee-to-water ratio is 1:5, but the ratio can be changed.

2. Grind the coffee beans coarsely.

3. Mix coffee and water in your first container (the one with a lid). Stir throughly so that the ground coffee beans is in full contact with the water.

4. Cover the container with a lid and put it in the refrigerator.

5. Set a timer and wait. The infusion process has just begun. When using a 1:5 ratio, the extraction time is 14-20 hours. If you don't infuse long enough, your concentrate will be weak and watery. And if you leave it for too long, it can taste bitter or astringent. The best option would be to infuse your cold brew for 15-16 hours.

6. Remove the concentrate from the fridge and strain it until no visible coffee grounds or particles remain. Filtering is important because it stops extraction and gives a smooth, clean drink.

7. Your cold brew coffee is ready. You can add water, ice, milk cream, or various syrups or juices to the concentrate.

Useful Tips

  • If the coffee is too strong, just add water. If you want a stronger coffee, add less water.
  • If the coffee is too acidic, it means that you have not extracted for long enough. Try adding 1-2 hours next time and see how the taste changes.
  • You don't need to use beans that are too fresh for a cold brew—ideally, the beans should have been roasted 2-5 weeks ago.
  • Select the grind carefully. Using too fine a grind will lead to over-extraction. Depending on the infusion time, use a coarse or very coarse grind.
  • Keep track of the expiration date. Cold brew coffee must be stored in the refrigerator, and for no more than 2 weeks. Don't dilute the whole batch at once, especially with milk, or it will only have a shelf life of 2 days. Only dilute a small portion of the concentrate right before drinking it.
  • You can make cold brew coffee at room temperature, as many large cold brew devices like the Filtron or Toddy won't fit in your home refrigerator. You'll just have to increase the extraction time, maybe even up to 24 hours.

How to Make Cold Brew in Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Toddy was the very first cold brew device. In the 1960s, engineer Todd Simpson, who tasted cold brew in Guatemala, was so impressed with its taste that he invented the device for making such coffee.

Although the Toddy is made almost entirely of plastic, the reusable filter compensates for the environmental impact and the glass decanter is very durable and works well as a storage and serving container. The simplicity of design and ability to work with a relatively large volume (up to 2.5 gallons) allowed the Toddy to gain a foothold in the market.

Using this recipe, you will get a complete cold brew coffee, not a concentrate. Therefore, the ratio of coffee to water will be 1:14 instead of 1:5.

What You Need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Grinder
  • Clean water
  • Toddy coffee maker
  • Paper filter

Instructions:

1. Grind the coffee (medium-coarse).

2. Insert the rubber stopper into the bottom of the brewing container.

3. Moisten a paper filter and insert it into the brewing container.

4. Add coffee to the container with the filter and then add water. Pour the water slowly, in a circular motion, until you've reached the 1:14 ratio. This will prevent the ground coffee from sticking to the filter at the edges and help the extraction to be even. You can use a spoon and stir everything gently. Make sure the coffee is completely soaked in water.

5. Next, cover the container with a lid and let it brew at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Make sure that the coffee maker is not exposed to sunlight, as this will spoil the taste.

6. After 24 hours (or more), remove the rubber stopper, and let the coffee drain into the Toddy carafe. You will get a drink with a mild, rich taste. This coffee can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.

You've prepared your cold brew coffee or a non-concentrated batch of cold brew, but now what? You can't drink it as is. Now you need to decide what kind of cold brew drink you're going to make.

Let's dive in and look at some simple and creative iced coffee recipes. You can easily prepare these recipes at home, and most importantly, you'll get to explore new, delicious drinks.

Popular Cold Brew Coffee Recipes

All recipes have two stages. First, you make the cold brew coffee (or a non-concentrated batch of cold brew), then then you add various ingredients.

Here's an example:

Stage 1. Preparation of pure (not concentrated) cold brew coffee

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite coffee beans - 150 g
  • Cold drinking water with mineralization of 100 mg/L - 1500 mL
  • Ice - 1500 g

Preparation:

  1. Grind the beans coarsely
  2. Put ice in a container, add ground coffee, add water, and stir.
  3. Refrigerate for 10-12 hours.
  4. Stir.
  5. Filter the coffee fraction through a sieve.
  6. Filter again.
  7. Add syrups to taste.

Stage 2. Adding syrups

Ingredients:

  • Pure cold brew - 280 mL
  • Orange Flowers syrup - 2 mL
  • Jasmine Flowers syrup - 4 mL
  • Apricot syrup - 4 mL
  • Lemon juice - 10 mL

Preparation:

Measure out each ingredient, then mix thoroughly with the cold brew. Add some lemon juice to help the drink stay fresh longer. Pour into a bottle or jug for storage.

Avoid These Common Mistakes:

  • Wrong extraction time. Use a timer to make sure you let your coffee extract for the correct amount of time. Filter immediately after removing from the fridge to stop extraction. It is important to stop the extraction on time, otherwise, the taste will be either watery or too strong.
  • Wrong proportions. It is important to weigh each ingredient (especially coffee grounds and water) separately before mixing. Otherwise, you can end up with an incorrect ratio of ingredients and either a watery drink or a drink that's too bitter.
  • Poor filtration. To ensure your cold brew has a smooth consistency, make sure to filter several times to make sure all the grounds are removed from the finished drink.

As with any other coffee, it is important to pay attention to grind size, water mineralization, temperature, and much more.

Recipe 1 - Coconut Cold Brew Recipe

This delicious coconut drink will please you and all your guests.

You will need:

  • Cold brew - 800 mL
  • Coconut milk - 200 mL
  • Sugar (coconut or cane) - 60 g
  • Coconut flakes - 70 g

Mix the coconut flakes with the sugar and pour over the coconut milk. Heat on the stove, stirring to make a syrup. Pour the syrup into the cold brew coffee. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or serve immediately over ice.

Recipe 2 - Black Bubbles

This is a great cold brew coffee with tonic water. It's ideal in the heat at home, in the car, on a walk, or on the way to the gym—you'll get a boost of energy. Try pink rhubarb tonic water or Valencian orange tonic water.

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 60 mL
  • Tonic water - 150 mL
  • Lime juice - 10 mL
  • Lime slice for decoration
  • Ice cubes

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in cold brew coffee, lime juice, and tonic water. Garnish with a wedge of lime. Drink through a straw.

Recipe 3 - Bumble

This is a very interesting-looking cold brew. Its secret lies in its layers, which make it resemble a bumblebee. It will quench your thirst and keeps you in good shape.

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 40 mL
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice - 150 mL
  • Caramel syrup - 2 tbsp
  • Ice cubes

Pour the ingredients into a glass in the following sequence: first the caramel syrup, then the freshly squeezed orange juice, then the cold brew. Add ice at the end.

Reccipe 4 - Winter Dream

Cinnamon, cranberries, and citrus fruits inevitably evoke pleasant evenings spent under the Christmas tree. This drink has an amazingly deep and rich taste.

You will need:

  • Cold brew drink (not concentrate) - 100 mL
  • Cranberry juice - 50 mL
  • Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice - 50 mL
  • Orange slice
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Ice cubes

Fill a glass with ice and add all ingredients except cinnamon and orange slice. Mix gently with a spoon. Insert cinnamon stick and garnish with an orange slice.

Recipe 5 - Nutty Cold Brew

Nut milk goes well with cold brew. This drink is creamy, light, and very balanced.

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 50 mL
  • Coconut milk - 50 mL
  • Almond milk - 50 mL
  • Cashew milk - 50 mL
  • Ice
  • Sugar syrup to taste

Fill a tall glass with ice, pour in concentrate and milks in equal proportions. Mix gently with a spoon. You can add chocolate or caramel syrup if you wish.

Recipe 6 - Whiskey Cold Brew

Sipping this alcoholic coffee drink is a great way to relax.

You will need:

  • Orange zest bitters - 4 dashes
  • Cold brew concentrate - 40 mL
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • Orange zest
  • Ice
  • Your favorite bourbon whiskey - 40 mL
  • Cane Sugar - 1/2 tbsp

Pour sugar into a glass. Add bitters and cold brew coffee. Stir well with a spoon to dissolve the sugar a little.

Next, add ice and whiskey. Garnish with cherry and orange zest.

Recipe 7 - Cold Brew With Vermouth

This alcoholic cold brew will pleasantly surprise you.

You will need:

  • Sweet white vermouth - 30 mL
  • Cold brew concentrate - 30 mL
  • Butterscotch schnapps - 15 mL
  • Coffee liqueur - 15 mL
  • Ice
  • Mini chocolate bar

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour the finished drink into a cocktail glass. Decorate with a chocolate bar.

Recipe 8 - Vanilla Cold Brew

The silky texture of almond milk blends easily with the smooth palate of a cold brew coffee, and the subtle nutty flavor pairs well with sweetness. A touch of vanilla extract and cinnamon sprinkled on top will make you feel at home.

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 50 mL
  • Almond milk - 100 mL
  • 2-3 drops of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Ice

Combine the coffee concentrate, cold almond milk, and vanilla extract in a glass with ice. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Recipe 9 - Cold Brew Smoothie With Banana

A very appetizing coffee-and-banana smoothie will perfectly satisfy your hunger and boost your mood. It's a surefire way to start a productive day.

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 50 mL
  • Cashew or almond milk - 80 mL
  • Fresh banana slices - 100 grams
  • Caramel syrup - 10 mL
  • 2 oatmeal cookies (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You can choose any syrup, not just caramel, to match your tastes.

Recipe 10 - Cold Brew Amaretto Milkshake

Amaretto is an Italian liqueur made with almonds, apricot kernels, and spices. There are also non-alcoholic amaretto syrups. This drink would be great at a party.

You will need:

  • Amaretto liqueur - 15 mL
  • Coffee liqueur - 15 mL
  • Cold brew concentrate - 40 mL
  • 1 scoop of chocolate ice cream
  • Ice water - 80 mL
  • Whipped cream

Blend everything except the whipped cream in a blender. Once everything is well mixed, pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream.

If you want to make a non-alcoholic cocktail, then replace the liqueurs with syrups (10 mL each).

Recipe 11 - Cola Cold Brew

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 50 mL
  • Coffee liqueur - 15 mL
  • Spiced rum - 30 mL
  • Cola - 200 mL
  • Heavy cream (15%) - 15 mL
  • Ice

Pour the coffee concentrate, liqueur, rum, and cola into a large glass with ice. Mix with a spoon and pour cream on top. Mix again. Drink through a straw.

Recipe 12 - Cold Brew With Honey

This healthy cold brew coffee has a great taste and will energize you and cheer you up.

You will need:

  • Honey - 2 tbsp
  • Lemon juice - 15 mL
  • Almond milk - 150 mL
  • Cold brew concentrate - 40 mL
  • Ice

Mix the almond milk and honey over heat, but do not bring to a boil. It is necessary for the honey to completely dissolve in the almond milk. Pour cold brew coffee into a glass with ice and add the honey-almond milk mixture. Add some lemon juice and stir.

Recipe 13 - Cold Brew Latte

You will need:

  • Cold brew concentrate - 40 mL
  • Cold milk - 150 mL
  • Hot milk - 100 mL
  • Ice

Heat 100 mL of milk and pour it into a French press. Whisk the milk by moving the plunger vigorously up and down to get a thick, dense foam. Fill a glass ⅔ with ice and pour cold milk into it. Then pour in the cold brewed coffee. Gently spoon the milk foam on top. You can refrigerate leftover warm milk.

Recipe 14 - Cold Brew Frappuccino

You will need:

  • Almond milk - 200 mL
  • Vanilla ice cream - 1 scoop
  • Caramel syrup - 30 mL
  • Cold brew concentrate - 80 mL
  • Whipped cream

Pour the almond milk into an ice tray and freeze. Do the same with the concentrate.

Place frozen milk cubes, frozen concentrate cubes, ice cream, and caramel syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream. You can also add other toppings, like chocolate shavings or vanilla syrup.

Conclusion

Cold brew coffee is a very versatile beverage that can be consumed in many different ways. The correct ratio of water to coffee is very important. The perfect cup of cold brew coffee is a matter of trial and error.

However, by following the steps above, you can learn how to brew your best cup of coffee. Delightful glasses of homemade cold brew are waiting to be enjoyed.

The Team That Worked On This Blog Post

Patty-Cramer-Editor-Coffee-Consultant-at-MyFriendsCoffee

Editor & Coffee Consultant

Patty Cramer

I'm the coffee consultant at MyFriendsCoffee. I've been in the coffee business for over 21 years and still have a passion for coffee. My most important skill is that I know how to organize work processes.

John Beans Editor & Founder

Resident Editor-in-Chief

John Beans

I’m the resident Editor-in-Chief of MyFriendsCoffee. For more than 5 years I tried a large variety of coffees from different brands and master 7 ways to brew coffee and am not going to stop there. I switched my first coffee maker with a professional espresso machine and now my kitchen is filled with various coffee equipment.

Tessa Dixon – Beginner Barista & Content Creator

BArista

Tessa Dixon

I was born in Seattle, and this city has a strong connection to coffee culture, so it's no wonder I decided to become a barista! I’ve learned many ways of making coffee and now I know how to make any coffee delicious.