How to make ultra-smooth cold brew coffee concentrate at home, just like your favorite coffee shops. Jump to the Cold Brew Coffee Recipe or read on to see how we make it.
Joanne and I have been coffee lovers for some time now. So adding some coffee-inspired recipes to Inspired Taste was pretty much inevitable. Cold Brew is where we wanted to start.
Why you should cold brew coffee at home: It is really, really simple. Mix coffee with water and brew. Drink. Plus, it’s better than iced coffee.
If regular iced coffee — or hot brewed coffee cooled down with ice — is watching TV with old school rabbit ears, then cold brewed coffee is watching TV in HD.
Adding a bunch of ice cubes to hot coffee dilutes things. The flavor is watery and any nuance the coffee had when brewed gets trampled. With cold brew, the coffee becomes ultra-smooth, rich and thick in flavor. A must make!
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Making Cold Brew at Home
Before we get into the how-to. You need to know that cold brew takes time. It’s ridiculously simple to make, but the brew takes 12 to 20 hours. Making it the night before is ideal — 5 minutes hands-on time then just leave it to brew.
Since we have a coffee grinder, we start with whole beans and grind the coffee ourselves. You want a very coarse grind. We choose the coarsest setting on our coffee grinder — you should, too. If you don’t have a grinder, ask the barista at your local coffee shop to grind the beans for you. Again, ask for a very coarse grind. Tell them you are making cold brew and they’ll understand.
See how the grind looks like coarse salt? That’s a good thing. Add the coffee to a vessel that will hold around 34 ounces — we use our 34-ounce French press for this. Pour cold (preferably filtered) water over the coffee. Gently stir then cover with either the lid of the French press — but don’t push it down. Or, cover with some plastic wrap.
Now, you wait. Remember, this takes a while — 12 to 20 hours.
We like to get everything into the French press the night before — it only takes 5 minutes. Then let it sit overnight. In the morning, filter the coffee and pour out the coffee concentrate. Since we use our French press, we just press the filter down. If you used something other than a French press, you’ll need to filter it out in a different way. Cheesecloth over a fine mesh strainer is a good option.
Making Coffee from the Concentrate
You can make a glass as strong or weak as you like. We’ve found a 1:2 ratio of coffee concentrate to water is ideal when served over ice. You might prefer 1:3, though. It all depends on how strong you take your coffee.
So if you follow our recipe below and use a 1:2 concentrate to coffee ratio, you’re looking at a total of 48 ounces of coffee made. That’s eight 6-ounce cups of coffee. Again, you may find that you tweak the final ratio a bit, leaving you with either more or less coffee depending on how strong you like things.
The concentrate will last in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks — although, I can’t imagine it actually lasting that long. It tastes too good!!
Recipe updated, originally posted September 2015. Since posting this in 2015, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
How to Make Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
This takes between 12 to 24 hours (we recommend 16), but it is completely worth it. Just 5 to 10 minutes of hands-on time the night before pays off big in the morning with rich, ultra-smooth coffee concentrate that can be mixed with water (or milk) for a great cup of iced coffee. We recommend a ratio of 1 part coffee concentrate to 2 parts water (mixed and served over ice), but you may find that’s too strong (or, if you’re a serious coffee drinker, too weak). Once you’ve got your concentrate, you can play around with a ratio that works for you. One more note, cold brew is highly caffeinated — more than your regular cup of hot coffee.
You Will Need
6 ounces (170 grams) whole coffee beans (approximately 1-1/2 cups whole beans or 2 cups coarsely ground coffee)
28 ounces (830 ml or 3-1/2 cups) cold filtered water
- Make Concentrate
1Grind coffee beans very coarsely — if using a home grinder, choose the coarsest setting.
2Add ground coffee to a 34-ounce French press then cover with water. (If it isn’t looking like all of the water will fit into your French press without overflowing — ours is filled right to the top — use a different container or reduce the water by a few ounces).
3Gently stir the coffee and water — some coffee experts say metal can affect the brew so use a non-metal utensil if you can. Cover with the lid of the French press — without pressing down. Or, cover with plastic wrap.
4Set aside at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours — we recommend 16 hours. Then, filter the cold brew concentrate by pressing down on the French press filter. Transfer the concentrate to another container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make Coffee from Concentrate
1Fill a glass with ice then combine 1 part concentrate with 2 parts water. Stir then adjust to taste with additional concentrate or water. Enjoy!
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Storing the Concentrate: The cold brew concentrate will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Whole Beans vs. Ground Beans: Since we’re such coffee lovers, we have our own coffee grinder — it’s the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder (highly recommended). We grind whole beans using the coarsest setting — it looks similar to coarse salt. If you do not have your own grinder, ask the barista at a local coffee shop to grind the beans for you — again, ask for a very coarse grind.
- No Kitchen Scale: If you don’t have a kitchen scale at home, we’ve given approximate amounts in American cups for the coffee. This can vary since some coffee beans are heavier than others, but are similar in size.
- No French Press: If you do not have a French press that’s large enough for this, simply use a pitcher or food-safe vessel that will fit both the coffee and water. Cover it while it brews then use a fine mesh strainer covered with cheesecloth set on top of a bowl to filter out the concentrate.
- Why is there only 2 cups of concentrate and not 3-1/2 cups? If you notice in our recipe, we call for 28 ounces (or 3-1/2 cups) of water to be added. After the brew time, you will yield approximately 2 cups of richly flavored concentrate. When we first were experimenting with cold brew, we were surprised at just how much water seems to “disappear”. That’s just a part of making cold brew coffee — the coffee expands over time and absorbs or traps some of the water added.