Few things are more delicious than a good cup of cold brew coffee on a hot summer day. Though you may have once had to go to a local coffee shop to get a cup for yourself, cold brew has become so popular that you can pick up a bottle just about anywhere.
If you really want to take control of your coffee experience, though, the best thing to do always involves making the drink yourself. While the price of cold brew might make you think that this process is somehow especially complex, the truth is that making your own cold brew is probably far easier than you imagine.
While virtually anyone can make cold brew coffee, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few tips that will help you to make your next cup of cold brew even more delicious. Fortunately, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to do to make the perfect cup of cold brew coffee.
What is Cold Brew Coffee
Before you start the process of making your homemade cold brew coffee, you should probably at least familiarize yourself with the drink. So, what is cold brew coffee? The great news is that cold brew coffee is pretty much what the name suggests—it is a type of coffee that is brewed with cold or room-temperature water rather than hot water, which does take longer but ends up giving the coffee a unique flavor. There are no special tools used to create this kind of coffee, nor do you need to invest in anything special in terms of ingredients. The real secret to making this particular coffee drink comes from the brewing method.
Why Drink Cold Brew?
If you’re a traditional coffee fan, the idea of drinking any kind of coffee that isn’t piping hot might seem ridiculous. You’ve probably had plenty of tepid coffee in your life, and what you had to drink definitely wasn’t great. It’s important to note, though, that cold brew coffee isn’t just cold coffee. In fact, it isn’t even iced coffee. It’s a specific kind of drink that has its own benefits.
One of the big benefits of making cold brew is that you can make it in a fairly large batch. As long as your ratio of coffee beans to water is correct, you can make enough coffee for a week in just a single attempt. That means no more wasted time brewing coffee and a great drink for you as long as your supply holds out.
Cold-brew coffee also has a very unique taste. Though the type of coffee beans you use will have an impact, most do describe this kind of coffee as lighter, sweeter, and much less acidic than traditional coffee. If you crave caffeine but struggle with the taste of a typical cup of coffee, cold brew might be for you.
Of course, the other big benefit of cold brew coffee is obviously that it is served cold. This will give you access to a great, caffeine-filled drink even when it’s hot outside – something that might be invaluable when you need to get going in the morning but the temperature is starting to rise.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make your own cold brew coffee. That doesn’t, however, mean you should go into this process without everything that you need. You’ll need a couple of fairly easy-to-source tools for this process, as well as the ingredients that you’ll use to make your own cold brew.
The first thing with which you’ll need to start is a good container. Since you have the potential to make roughly as much cold brew coffee as you like, it’s important to stop and look at the options that you have when it comes to choosing a good container.
One of the more popular choices made by cold brew fans is a French press. A repurposed traditional French press is okay, but using one of the best cold brew coffee makers work incredibly well for those who make this drink regularly. They are made specifically for making cold brew coffee, relatively inexpensive, and have several size options. If you’re not looking for a large container, though, you might want to go with a basic mason jar. So long as you can add a good cover to the top of the jar, you should be able to make your cold brew without having to take any extra steps.
If you’re not using a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, you’ll need another major tool—some kind of filtering device. Since you don’t want your coffee to be full of grounds, it’s generally a good idea to find something that’s going to be able to strain out of all of the detritus before you start brewing your coffee.
As you might expect, there are quite a few different options available for those who want to make cold brews. Virtually everyone who brews their own will have a preferred method, but almost any of these tools are worth looking at.
So, what can you use to filter your coffee? As you can imagine, a typical basket coffee filter is a fairly popular option, but those who don’t have a filter might want to go with a thin tea towel to do the job—though this might take more work than you think. You can also take a look at using a sieve if you happen to have one that’s fine enough, or even at pouring your beans directly into a grinder. One of the big reasons that actual cold brew coffee maker is recommended as a container is the fact that it also makes it very easy to strain your coffee, though, and this method is probably best for those who really don’t want to deal with a mess.
Finding the Perfect Coffee to Water Ratio
If you want to pour the perfect cup of cold brew, you’re going to want to start with a ratio that is one part coffee to three parts water.
As you might imagine, there are plenty of arguments about this one. While there are some who might say that more or less water is better, we’ve found that using this to three ratios gives you a strong cold brew that isn’t very bitter. More water might work if you really want to cut the strength, but there are better options available if that is your goal.
Changing the Strength of Your Coffee
If you’re just looking to change up the strength of your cold brew coffee, there are definitely some things to keep in mind. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that letting the coffee sit longer means that it’s going to get stronger. While there may be some extra kick to coffee that sits longer, there’s also an added level of bitterness that will turn off most drinkers.
So, what do you want to do if you want to make your coffee stronger? Don’t just lessen the water—add more grounds to the coffee. If you’re really interested in making your coffee a bit weaker, don’t add more water during the brewing process; instead, use the recommended ratio and then pour a little water in your cup before you drink.
Choosing the Right Grounds for Your Coffee
Since we’ve already discussed water and tools, we have to look at the other ingredient you need for your cold brew. The obvious final ingredient is coffee beans, another very contentious ingredient. Regardless of what you end up choosing, you do need to know how to get your coffee beans ready.
The real key to making sure that your cold brew isn’t too full of grounds to drink is to make sure that you have your beans prepared correctly. You’re going to want to start with beans that are ground coarsely rather than finely. The finer the beans, the more likely it is that you’re going to end up with grounds in your coffee if you aren’t using your filter perfectly .
As for the beans themselves, the type and brand really don’t matter that much. We definitely recommend looking at brands that you already like and spending some time experimenting with them. The more you play around with flavors, the better a chance you’ll have of making the best cold brew coffee that you’ll love.
Making Cold Brew Coffee: The Simple Steps
Now you’re ready to make cold brew coffee at home, so let’s run through the process.
Start by grinding your coffee beans. You’ll want to place a cup of beans into your grinder and grind them coarsely. Take these ground beans and put them directly into your cold brew coffee maker. Once you have your coffee grounds in place, you’ll add three cups of water to the container. You should make sure that all of the coffee grounds get wet and you should let them sit for about five minutes before mixing them again. Once you’re done mixing, it’s time to cover the top of your container.
Now you’ll let the coffee brew. This means taking the container and placing it in your refrigerator for anywhere between twelve and eighteen hours—we generally recommend about fifteen hours, but your mileage may vary here. Once you’re done, you’ll only have to remove the filter. If you are using a different container, use one of your filtering tools to make sure that you filter out all of the grounds.
Once done, you can serve the cold brew as you like. We recommend serving it over about half a cup of ice, but you can add whatever you like to your delicious brew.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you use regular ground coffee for cold brew?
Yes, you can absolutely use regular coffee when you make cold brews. The important thing to keep in mind is to use coarsely ground coffee, though. If the grounds are too fine, you’re going to have a much tougher time when you finally filter your coffee. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to use finely ground coffee, of course, it just means that you’re going to be setting yourself up for a tougher process.
2. How do you make cold brew without a coffee maker?
Although coffee makers offer the convenience of instant filtering to avoid mess, it’s still fairly easy to make cold brew without it. Simply grind some beans (a coarse grind is preferred), then place them in a mason jar or large container. Add three cups of water for every cup of beans that you used, then stir and cover. Leave the container in the refrigerator for about fifteen hours and then enjoy your coffee maker-free cold brew!
3. What is the coffee to water ratio for cold brew?
The ideal coffee to water ratio for cold brew is about one to three. If you’re going to try to alter the ratio to make it stronger, be aware that you’re going to not just take out water but add more beans. Never alter the ratio in order to make the coffee weaker, though; instead, look at adding a bit of water to your coffee before you drink it in order to water it down and save the rest of your brew.
4. How do you make a cold brew?
Making a cold brew is deceptively easy. As long as you have water, beans, a container, and something to filter the coffee you should be fine. Start by coarsely grinding your beans, then adding them to your container. Add three cups of water for every cup of beans you used, then stir and cover the container. Put the container in the refrigerator for twelve to eighteen hours, then take it out, filter out all of the grounds, and serve over ice. While it may take a bit to make, you can actually make enough cold brew for an entire week at a time.