7 Fail-Proof Tips For Making Cold Brew Coffee At Home

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Making better cold brew coffee at home is easier than you think.

But before we share our helpful tips for making cold brew coffee at home, let’s back up for a hot minute (or a cold one, as the case may be). 

What’s cold brew coffee? 

Put simply, what makes cold brew coffee different is that it’s brewed using cold water (um, duh) at a much slower pace than traditional hot coffee brewing methods

The result is a lighter, less acidic, and more refreshing iced coffee than your traditional drip coffee drinks and arguably the best iced coffee you can drink

Cold brew coffee is easy to brew at home but does require a bit of finessing to get it just right. 

But, fear not. 

Our tips for making cold brew coffee will have you brewing the perfect cup (or mason jar) in no time.

Tips For Making Cold Brew Coffee At Home:

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1. Use Filtered Water

This may seem like the most obvious of our tips for making cold brew coffee, but it’s frequently overlooked

Think about it: coffee made by any brewing method is mostly water, right? 

Using filtered water for coffee has a big impact on the taste of the coffee, so skip the tap and opt for the good stuff when making cold brew coffee at home.

2. Get The Right Ratio For Cold Brew

The cold brew ratio isn’t an exact science, unfortunately. We all have different tastes and preferences, but a great starting point is a 1:4 coffee to water ratio for cold brew concentrate. 

This ratio for cold brew will work well for most roasts.

For darker roasts, however, a brewing ratio of 1:5 coffee to water may work better.

Adjust as you like, however, the best cold brew ratio will result in a cold brew concentrate that’s delicious diluted with milk or water (more on that later).

Experiment with the brewing ratio and dilution to get your perfect cup of cold brew.

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3. Buy Better Coffee Beans

So, what are the best coffee beans to use for cold brew? Well, that depends on your personal taste.

But one thing is for sure: don’t opt for the cheapest beans you can find. You will use a good amount of coffee when making cold brew, so it’s tempting to grab the cheap stuff. I get it.

But you’ll want to use high-quality beans to ensure the flavor of the cold brew is exceptional (and suits your tastes).

Now, I’m not saying you have to buy the best quality coffee beans in the world. Some of my favorite go-to coffee beans are at Costco and Trader Joe’s.

I love cold brew coffee with nutty or chocolate undertones so I reach for Latin American coffees most of the time (like this Organic blend). 

If you prefer a lighter, fruitier brew opt for a light roast from Africa like this one

(Tip for cold brew coffee newbies: a light roast is a great choice for tea drinkers who are just dipping their toes into the world of cold brew coffee. Using light roast results in a subtler, more delicate brew that often resembles iced tea)

4. Grind Your Own Beans

The most critical of all the tips for making cold brew coffee: freshly ground coffee beans are always best (for cold brew or any coffee brew).

Buy whole bean coffee and grind before each brew, using a cold brew coffee grinder.

Use a coarse grind for cold brew coffee, similar to the coffee grind size for a French press. A coarser grind will allow for easy filtration and flavor extraction.

If you don’t have a coffee grinder at home and are opposed to purchasing one, both Costco and Trader Joe’s have grinders available for use. But, again, we do not recommend grinding coffee until you’re ready to brew.

This is, hands down, the most important of our tips for making cold brew coffee (and any other type of coffee, for that matter).

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5. Experiment With Cold Brew Steeping Time

One of the defining characteristics of cold brew coffee is that it is steeped slowly. This slow, cold extraction process ensures that all of the delicate, smooth, fruity goodness is extracted from the beans without any bitterness.

Cold brew steeping time isn’t an exact science, much like the cold brew ratio. A good rule of thumb is to steep for 16 hours to start, then adjust as needed.

Our tip for making perfect cold brew coffee is to steep it at a cool temperature. Your kitchen counter is fine in most cases; however, you may want to steep cold brew in your refrigerator in warmer months of the year if your kitchen gets really warm like mine.

If using your fridge, we recommend steeping for closer to 20 hours (but, again, experiment with this to get the flavor just right). 

Our favorite cold brewing method is the French press. Instead of plunging after 4 minutes, plunge after 16 hours and slowly pour through a paper filter to finish the cold brew. So easy!

6. Refrigerate Cold Brew In A Sealed Container

One of the most important tips for making cold brew coffee has little to do with the brewing process and everything to do with the storage.

If you steep cold brew at room temperature, refrigerate it immediately once steeping is complete to get the coffee cold as quickly as possible.

If your brewing container is too large to fit in your refrigerator, simply divide the cold brew concentrate into smaller containers, seal them, and store them in the refrigerator.

Using a container(s) with a lid (or covering with tight-fitting plastic wrap) is an important step in proper cold brew storage.

Like dairy products, cold brew coffee tends to absorb other aromas in the fridge, so you’ll want to store it covered to keep it tasting its best.

Cold brew coffee that is stored covered in the refrigerator will last for 7-10 days!

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7. Dilute Cold Brew Concentrate

Once you’ve put all of these tips for making cold brew coffee into practice, and you’re ready to enjoy a cup of the delicious cold brew you’ve patiently waited for, you’ll want to dilute it for the best results.

Our suggestion for diluting cold brew coffee is to use a 1:1 ratio of 1 part cold brew concentrate with 1 part water or your favorite type of milk.

To achieve a stronger cold brew, adjust the dilution ratio rather than the brewing ratio or steeping time. Simply dilute the concentrate with less water or milk if you prefer a stronger cup.

The most popular combination is typically equal parts cold brew concentrate and water served over ice.

My favorite cold brew is made with equal parts cold brew concentrate and low-fat milk (I know, I know).

But I’m a big fan of non-dairy milk alternatives as well and love using pea milk or oat milk when I’m in the mood for something different.

If you’re using milk, of any kind, to dilute your cold brew a medium or dark roast blend tastes amazing.

For black cold brew, diluted with water, try a lighter roast for a smooth, floral experience.

Ready to use what you learned from our tips for making cold brew coffee at home? Check out our picks for the best grinder for cold brew!