How to Make the Best Cold Brew Coffee at Home

How do you make cold brew coffee at home? How do you make cold brew concentrate? Which cold coffee drink is best? What is the easiest way to make them? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more.

Anytime warm weather starts creeping in I start craving cold brew coffee. Clearly I am not alone because anytime I goto a coffee shop I can’t help but notice everyone else drinking some sort of cold coffee beverage too. Cold coffee’s uptrend has been going strong for a few years now (news source). Whether it’s iced coffee, cold brew coffee, or some other sweet iced concoction, we want cold coffee to beat the heat.

To help you stay cool, yet caffeinated, I decided touch on the easiest, most practical way of making cold coffee drinks.

Check the table to contents below to jump to the section you are looking for.

Why I chose these methods to brew

yama cold brew towerThere are many ways to make cold brew & iced coffee. Some of them just might be better than the methods I discuss in this article.

That being said, when I want to make something it should be a combination of easy to make, easy to clean, and tasty.

You can buy this Dutch slow drip coffeemaker from YAMA Glass on Amazon for $400 and be satisfied. Although this looks really cool and reduces the time to make cold brew to 3-4 hours, it appears impractical for the average coffee aficionado.

For the sake of this article I am aiming for simplicity.

What's the difference between cold brew coffee & iced coffee?

Coffee brewed with hot water and iced afterwards is iced coffee. Coffee grounds submerged for at least 12 hours in cold or room temperature water is considered cold brew coffee.

Iced coffee is more bitter because the acidic flavors are released when hot water is used. When coffee is less acidic it is easier on the stomach, has better flavor and depending on the coffee beans, naturally more sweet. Cold water doesn’t extract the bitterness from the coffee grounds like hot water does.

Coffee brewed with hot water and iced afterwards is iced coffee. Coffee grounds submerged for at least 12 hours in cold or room temperature water is considered cold brew coffee.

What is the cold brew coffee to water ratio?

Everyone is going to say something different. That is why I recommend you start at a minimum strength coffee. Any amount less will taste diluted.

The best cold brew coffee recipe ratio is 3/4 of a cup of ground ground beans for every 4 cups of cold water. Let me explain how I came up with this number. This cold brew water to coffee ratio is a great place to start. Want more cold brew? Add more water and coffee. Want it stronger? Add more grounds, but don’t increase the water amount. You get the idea. This ratio is also the amount for a standard 32 ounce French press.

How coarse should coffee grounds be for cold brew?

Extra Coarse.

You want to keep your coffee grounds as large or coarse as possible. If you have them too fine it will turn into sludge and somewhat difficult to get the sediments out. Which is a waste of precious coffee. Besides, you’ll end up with over extracted, bitter tasting coffee. You may feel a bit of that gritty mouth feel too.

If you brew with finer grounds there is more surface area on the grounds. Which means you can brew for a less amount of time.

Best to avoid these issues and get a coarse grain of coffee. Grind yourself with a burr coffee grinder to make sure they stay uniform in size. If you buy yours pre-ground make sure it’s not espresso coffee.

The best cold brew coffee recipe ratio is 3/4 of a cup of ground beans for every 4 cups of cold water.

How to make cold brew coffee with a French press

best french press coffee makerAs mentioned there are many ways to make it, but the easiest way is using a French press. (pictured – my favorite one on Amazon) Especially since I already already own one. 

To make cold brew coffee at home with a French press you should add 3/4 of a cup of coarse coffee grounds for every 4 cups of water.

  • Dump 3/4 of a cup of coffee grounds in a French press
  • Add 4 cups of water
  • Stir (don't use metal spoons)
  • Refrigerate for 12 to 36 hours
  • Push the plunger slowly
  • Serve

Try to stir it every couple hours during the brewing process. In my experience, it turns into an undrinkable sludge at the bottom if you don’t. I set my phone timer to remind me & stir it real quick with a wooden spoon. 

I rather use a French press than other methods. Other ways require something to strain it with, like cheese cloth or paper towels and a sieve.

I always made a mess that way. The mess and added effort made me avoid the process. I would end up spending $4 for a cup of cold brew instead of making the coffee at home. If you’re like me, know yourself, and buy the affordable equipment.

What is the easiest way to make cold brew coffee at home?

Hands down easiest way to make cold brew coffee at home is buy a cold brew coffee maker. The best cold brew coffee maker on Amazon is made by Takeya. Owners swear by it and I have found very few negative reviews. It makes a great gift for coffee lovers too. 

  • Add 14 – 16 tablespoons of coffee beans to the center of the coffee infuser
  • When coffee is in the center infuser twist it shut
  • Add 4 cups of water to the pitcher
  • Drop the infuser down in the center and close tightly.
  • Swirl it baby!
  • Store in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours
  • Serve

best cold brew coffee makerThis method creates a coffee concentrate. That means you add half a cup of this concentrate then the rest with milk, ice or more water to taste. You still get a great strong cup of coffee. If you keep it sealed air tight and kept refigerated it can stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. Yes, 2 frickin’ weeks!

Keep in mind that light roasts take longer to brew because of the beans haven’t been broken down as much as dark roasts during the roasting process.

I personally prefer a medium or dark roast because they release a sweeter flavor usually with a hint of chocolate and nuts.

How to make cold brew coffee without equipment

Do you want a cup of cold brew and can’t wait until Amazon prime delivers the right equipment? I feel you. 

More of a visual person? Check out this totally unpretentious way of making cold brew coffee in a mason jar. 

  • 2 cups of coarsely ground coffee beans
  • 4 cups of water
  • Mix in a 1.5 liter jar/container
  • Leave coffee mixture in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours
  • Swirl it baby!
  • Strain it with coffee filters or paper tower while using a sieve.
  • Serve

Which is better iced coffee or cold brew?

Cold brew is better than iced coffee. This is because the acids that make coffee bitter are not released in cold water. So you have a strong, yet smooth cup of iced coffee. Iced coffee can be made without planning. Clichés can be annoying but they’re mostly true; good things come for those they wait.

Coffee is no different.

I remember I tried to make iced coffee when I was younger. I would brew coffee, then throw in some ice. As you can imagine I was left with acidic, watered down, bitter coffee.

Not yum.

Then I learned you could make coffee iced cubes with your remaining morning coffee. Neat but that required planning, which wasn’t my strong suit.

What is the best iced coffee recipe?

I got better by adding twice as much coffee as I normally would to my drip coffee maker.
  • 1 cup of water per 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of course coffee grounds.
  • Add a few ice cubes to the carafe. Try to place them directly under the drip.
  • When finished pour over ice.
  • Serve

When the coffee drips directly over the ice it reduces the amount of bitterness your coffee will have (academic source).

That’s the super easy, fast, yet delicious way to make iced coffee, without having to buy any extra equipment or plan ahead.

Cold brew is better than iced coffee. This is because the acids that make coffee bitter are not released in cold water…


Easiest way to make cold brew? Buy a cold brew coffee maker from amazon.

Best way to make iced coffee? Make regular coffee but twice as strong add iced to the carafe directly under drip. Pour over ice in cup.

Stop paying $4 a cup and enjoy cold brew from home the way you like. Always in a hurry? Make a coffee concentrate and save those precious 4 minutes it takes to make coffee and make cold brew coffee as good as a barista.

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