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This Recipe For Cold Brew Coffee Is Basically Life-Changing

Ice splashing into plastic cup of cold brew coffee on cement,
recipe for cold brew coffee
cold brew

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Yep, cold brew coffee is delicious. It’s refreshing, smooth, and goes down easily on a warm day.

It’s our go-to order at our local coffee shop, and many of us make a daily stop to get our fix. But did you know cold brew coffee is incredibly simple to make at home?

Our recipe for cold brew coffee is straightforward and requires minimal effort. The most critical component is time. You see, cold brew coffee takes a long time to brew. Like, 12-16 hours.

So if you find a recipe for cold brew coffee that claims it can be prepared in minutes, that is simply not cold brew coffee. What you have there is an iced coffee. And yes, there are many differences between iced coffee and cold brew.

So before we get to our recipe for cold brew coffee, let’s take a closer look at what makes cold brew coffee so uniquely delicious.

Cold Brew

What’s cold brew coffee?

What sets cold brew coffee apart from other cold coffee drinks is the brewing process (more on that in a moment). “Cold brew” refers to the brewing method, not the serving temperature.

Cold brew coffee is less acidic than traditional iced coffee. It also lacks the bitterness often associated with iced coffee, so many prefer to drink cold brew coffee black.

short glass of cold brew coffee on ice on stone surface with black background

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

As the name suggests, cold brew coffee is brewed with cold or room temperature water, which is one significant difference between iced coffee and cold brew.

Another big difference you’ll notice in this recipe for cold brew coffee is the brewing time. Cold brew is steeped slowly (like 12+ hours slow), allowing all fruity, bright notes to be extracted from the coffee grounds without any bitterness.

It’s a time commitment, but cold brew remains the best iced coffee to make at home because it is so easy, and the result is so delicious.

No special equipment is needed to make cold brew. In fact, our favorite method for making cold brew is the French press, but you can also use a cold brew coffee maker.

Fellow Clara French press in black

Coffee Grounds For Cold Brew

The best grind for cold brew is coarse to extra coarse. The grind should resemble coarse sea salt or even rock salt.

You want the grind to be slightly more coarse than what you would typically use when brewing hot French press coffee.

The extra coarse grind ensures the brew doesn’t over-extract during the long steeping process. 

ramekin of ground coffee on Acaia scale on white counter

Cold Brew Coffee To Water Ratio

The ideal ratio for cold brew coffee is 1:5 coffee to water. 

This cold brew coffee to water ratio will work well with most roasts. We like to use medium-roast coffee for our cold brew, but light roasts are also popular.

For our recipe for cold brew coffee, we use a scale to measure 140 grams of coffee to 700 grams of water when using a French press. You’ll need a French press with a capacity of at least 8 cups for this recipe, and it will yield a full carafe of cold brew.

Remember, the best cold brew ratio will result in a potent cold brew concentrate that’s diluted with milk or water before consumption.

Recipe For Cold Brew Coffee

glass of cold brew on ice on wood surface with black background

French Press Cold Brew

Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need To Cold Brew

  1. French press
  2. Filtered water 
  3. Coffee beans
  4. Coffee grinder
  5. Paper filter
  6. Sealable container(s) 
  7. Spoon

Step 2: Measure Coffee

Working with the 1:5 ratio for cold brew coffee, measure 140 grams of your coffee beans of choice

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Step 3: Grind Your Coffee

Now that you’ve selected your coffee beans, it’s time to grind them

To make cold brew in a French press, you’ll want to use a coarse to extra-coarse grind.

Grab your burr grinder, grind your coffee, and pour it into your French press.

Step 4: Add Filtered Water

Again using the 1:5 ratio for cold brew coffee, measure 700 grams of cool or room-temperature filtered water

Using filtered water for coffee dramatically improves the flavor of the brew.

Slowly pour the water over the grounds in a slow, circular motion. Do not stir.

Use the back of a metal spoon to gently press down any floating grounds near the top, ensuring all coffee is submerged. Place the lid on the French press, but DO NOT PLUNGE.

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Step 5: Steep Cold Brew

Cold brew steeping time isn’t an exact science. A good rule of thumb is to steep for at least 12 hours.

We like to steep ours for 16 hours, but start with 12, then adjust.

We recommend steeping at room temperature for this recipe for cold brew coffee, provided you’ll be available after 12 hours to finish the process.

Steeping cold brew in the refrigerator slows the brewing process. If you plan to be away longer than 12 hours, it might be best to steep in the fridge for best results.

close up of glass of cold brew on ice on wood table

Step 6: Finish Your Brew And Store

Congratulations! You survived the long wait, and it’s time for a cold brew!

Plunge your French press as you normally would, but move very slowly with cold brew. Shoot for a full 30 seconds, and don’t rush it.

Be careful not to press the plunger all the way down.

Place a secondary filter (any pour over paper filter is fine) on the top of your sealable container(s) and, with the screen in place, pour your cold brew into the container(s).

Step 7: Enjoy Your French Press Cold Brew

Now that you’ve mastered this easy recipe for cold brew coffee, you’ll likely become obsessed like us. It’s ok. We’re here for you.

Just remember that cold brew is incredibly concentrated!

short glass of cold brew coffee on ice outside on textured concrete surface

Cold Brew Concentrate

You’ll want to dilute your cold brew coffee for the best results. Pour it over ice and add water (or milk) to taste. A 1:2 coffee to water ratio (or coffee-to-milk) works well in most instances.

Remember that your ice will eventually melt and further dilute the cold brew (after all, something so smooth and refreshing is meant to be savored, right?).

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long is cold brew good for?

Yes, cold brew coffee will eventually expire. While it may not spoil like other perishable foods, it will lose its flavor and become sour over time. 

An adequately stored batch of cold brew should last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Make sure to store your cold brew in an airtight container for best results and consume it within ten days.

  • Does cold brew coffee have more caffeine?

The short answer is that it depends. 

As with all coffee beverages, the actual amount of caffeine in cold brew varies greatly. The average 16 oz cold brew coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine

Remember that when you order a 16 oz cold brew from Starbucks or another coffee shop, it’s already been diluted, resulting in a caffeine content similar to regular coffee (about 95 mg of caffeine per 8 oz).

But cold brew coffee concentrate, if consumed straight, can contain nearly double the caffeine as the same volume of regular coffee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters