Kitchen Confidence

How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee

By • July 11, 2013 • 69 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: What's the big fuss about cold brew? Let us explain.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee in the summer -- it's a given. It's cold, it's refreshing, and for many of us, it is a necessity. But what's the big fuss over cold-brewed coffee? 

There are a few things about a cold-brew that have made it into the summer beverage du jour. The first thing most people note about cold-brewed coffee is the lower acidity level. Since the grounds never come into contact with the intense heat of boiling water, the flavor profile of the final brew is different than with drip coffee. Similarly, when hot coffee is rapidly cooled, it creates a slightly bitter taste. One of the major draws of a cold-brewed cup of iced coffee is that it will have a smoother, slightly sweeter flavor.

 

Finally, a cold brew is pretty much ideal for iced coffee because it is more concentrated than a traditional, hot-brewed cup o' joe; the addition of ice and cold milk or cream will dilute it just enough without watering it down.

Iced coffee is more expensive than hot coffee, and cold brew is even pricier. Yet many people are willing to pay extra because they are intimidated by making it at home.

You're in luck; with only three steps, cold-brewing might be the easiest coffee method out there.

Grind, Soak, Wait

The ratio of coffee grounds to water is pretty debatable; personal tastes will dictate your own. A good place to start is 1/3 cup of ground coffee to 1 1/2 cups of water. After you find the ratio that you like best, you can adjust the size to fit as large a brewing vessel as you want. The type of grind, however, has been universally decided upon: it must be coarsely ground. A smaller grind will result in a cloudier liquid.

Put the coffee in your brewing container and add the water.

Stir to make sure all the grounds have been moistened, then cover and place on the counter or in the fridge over night, for at least 12 hours.

In the morning, strain twice through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve.

Add ice, milk, or your other favorite coffee companions and enjoy.

*Also, to make a simple process even simpler, this can all be done right in a french press: Add the coffee and water and put the lid on but do not plunge. In the morning, press, pour, and drink -- easy enough to do without caffeine.

What are your tricks for cold brewing? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: kitchen confidence, coffee, cold-brew, tips, summer, brewing, how-to & diy

Comments (69)

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about 1 month ago dymnyno

I first tasted delicious cold brew coffee at my New Orleans friends and noticed that they used a vintage Toddy maker. I bought one of my own on Amazon...the design has never changed and it makes perfect cold brew coffee which I have every morning.

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about 1 month ago jkraus10

I am an industrial design student doing research for a client that intends to manufacture a cold brew coffee system, not entirely unlike the Toddy Cold Brew System. I’ve noticed that there is a multitude of articles on how to make cold brew coffee with common household items, but there is not a great number of commercially available cold brew coffee makers.
Is there a sense of pride associated with making your own cold brew coffee with your own assembled equipment? Is this a trait of the cold brew culture? I am trying to identify the motivation for the home made systems and the possible preference over commercially manufactured ones.
If you could design a cold brewer, what features would you most like? Which features (or lack thereof) are frustrating?
Any replies are greatly appreciated. Thank you

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about 1 month ago beejay45

For me, a cook who's infusing, then filtering, things all the time for one use or another, I just went to my fallback French press for cold brewing coffee. I am not a fan of single use appliances, but having said that, if your client were to make a cold brew coffee system that would streamline my infusing and filtering of various things, I'd definitely give it a go. My number one requirement is something that will give me a good infusion yet not leave me with a sludgy mess that needs to be filtered and refiltered and re...ad infinitum. The French press does this quite well, even for things like ground coffee. The lack of bitterness in cold brewed coffee is a factor of the low temp, so that wouldn't be an advantage in an "appliance." But something that allowed me to just pour off an almost clear (of particles, not color) liquid would be ideal.

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about 1 month ago Iggy504

I've never tasted a commercial cold brew that is as strong as what I achieve at home. And I follow the proportion of water to coffee that the manufacturer intended.

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4 months ago Ollie Bolivar

More gentle taste. Voila. As much better as sun tea is to tea that was scorched by the boil.

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6 months ago bernard

I use my large pour over cone. put grinds and water in a plastic bag in the cone and freeze overnight. Remove from plastic bag in the morning and place back in cone with filter paper. Allow to thaw for several hours or more.

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6 months ago Cold Brewed Co.

We love to see this growing thirst for cold brew coffee! So much so that we've put together this Cold Brew Coffee Manifesto: http://coldbrewed.co/cold...

Enjoy!

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6 months ago Jacque Deerwester Loveall

You can see the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Brewing System at their website at:
http://www.filtron.com...

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6 months ago Angie

I use a 1-to-1 ratio for everything the whole way through. Delicious.

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6 months ago jimnjoy

Great to know for when the power is off. Thanks.

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7 months ago obi7690

hi, i've just made 500 ml of cold brew yesterday. something that i improvised was using the hario v60 as the filter. Can anyone tell me what they think about my method?

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6 months ago Cold Brewed Co.

Hi Obi - At Cold Brewed Co., we strongly believe that a little extra filtering goes a long way. As long as you've steeped your cold brew for long enough, putting it through a v60 is a great idea...you'll end up with an extremely smooth brew.

Learn more: http://ColdBrewed.Co

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8 months ago sansan123

What is the toddy system? I'm loving summer with the french press method. However you make it, I agree with John about the bacteria. Keep it in the fridge whatever the method. I was explaining the cold brew concept to my mom over the phone who thought it sounded great. Since she was at a book store with a coffee bar she dutifully asked if the iced coffee was cold brewed. Uh well, she does live in Floriduh. She got a sweet tea

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8 months ago john

This works for tea also. Approximately 1 tsp Ceylon tea (which give the best results I've had) per 6 oz in a pitcher in the fridge. You have to let it sit for longer--4 days--to get a full bodied iced tea. Strain before drinking. It's really crisp and clean. I also make sugar syrup to sweeten it--a cup or sugar and a cup of water in a Pyrex (microwave) or saucepan (stove) heated up slowly to dissolve the sugar. It's better than trying to dissolve granulated sugar in a glass full of iced tea. My only addendum to the brewing method at the top of this page is, I would not recommend leaving cold brew coffee, or cold brew anything on the countertop overnight. That welcomes bacteria.

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9 months ago Steve

Just bought the Toddy system and love it. Some disagreement as to grind: is there a real downside to finer grind, which allows more flavor extraction?

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9 months ago Breanna

I love the Toddy system! I sell it at my coffee shop and use it for making the cold brew that we sell as iced coffee. I also have one at home and gave one to my parents and my brother :) To answer your question: with the Toddy system, a finer grind can clog the specially-made filter and reduce the amount of coffee you're going to get out of your brew. The filter is good for up to 10 brews but you can damage it by using a finer grind. So if you use the coarse grind (as required by the Toddy instructions), you will get great brewed coffee and save yourself some money in the long run! :)

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9 months ago Sarah J. Darlow-Parker

Made some cold brewed coffee yesterday for the first time - I love it!

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9 months ago Jen Taillon

I've been using my french press all summer for cold brew, and my trick is adding some ground cinnamon to the coffee grounds before stirring and soaking. It adds a delicious and easy new flavor!

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9 months ago sansan123

Great idea Jen. I've been adding mine after but your method sounds much better

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9 months ago Sarah J. Darlow-Parker

I like this idea! I use a french press for hot coffee but never thought of it for cold brewed coffee. I'm trying that next time, thanks for sharing :)

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9 months ago Jacque Deerwester Loveall

I use the Filtron (or Toddi) Cold water method of coffee brewing for ALL of my coffee needs. It makes a cold syrup which I then add in ounce+ portions to either hot or cold water. The syrup keeps in the refrigerator or freezer...and like a liquid instant coffee that everyone can make to the strength of their preference in their own cup. Oh, and there is less acid and oil when made this way, so it is healthier, too!

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9 months ago Erica Krueger

I have a tea infuser similar in design to Teavana's PerfectTea Tea Maker that I can use to try this recipe. Now my unitasker has become a multitasker. :)

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9 months ago julesues

The Oskar French press (you can buy it at Oren's) is the easiest and best cold brew I've tried - worth the money!

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9 months ago Foodiewithalife

Coffee is certainly in my food pyramid! I'm usually lazy about my iced-coffee and just use cooled Bialetti espresso. Try this: cold expresso in a martini shaker, add a few ice cubes, almond milk and agave... shake and serve the frothy goodness!

Christina
www.foodiewithalife.com

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9 months ago BurgeoningBaker

Could a cold brewed coffee be used in recipes that call for strong cup of coffee for baking or ice cream making?

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9 months ago sansan123

why not? try espresso

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9 months ago dymnyno

Yes, I have made coffee ice cream using cold brew...delicious!


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9 months ago sansan123

Having developed caffien issues, I have hd to lmost completely cut out coffee. But with summer here,hd the urge for an iced coffee. Tried the cold brew method. YEAH! Had my first cup this morning and it was great. I used preground arabica in the french press finished off with crushed ice,cold milk and tespoon of vanilla sugar.

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9 months ago beejay45

I use decaf since I don't really need that caffeine. No reason to miss out on cold brew for that. I have read that the best (healthiest) methods use to decaffeinate tea and coffee is to "wash" it with water. That first flush through takes out the bulk of the caffeine. So, if that is true, then that would mean that this method is a caffeine bomb...unless you use decaf. ;) I can't say I've investigated this, but I do know that decaf tea is always weaker than regular, so it makes sense.