Food52 in 5

5 Minutes Now Gets You Cold Brew All Week

February 16, 2018

What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.

My preferred way to spend a Sunday morning is perched at the kitchen table, one hand paging through my (always-accruing) stack of New Yorker magazines, the other wrapped around a mug of good coffee. I love the lead-up, too: puttering around the kitchen, turning on NPR in the background, grinding the beans (by hand!), heating the water, slowly pouring concentric circles through my Chemex—all while enjoying the way that fresh coffee aroma wafts through my whole apartment.

Not so on weekdays. My body still needs caffeine before I can have a coherent thought (let alone conversation), but I’ve yet to master waking up with enough time to enjoy a leisurely coffee ritual. I’ve tried changing my alarm clock; I’ve tried changing my showering schedule. It’s just not going to happen. Recently, though, I’ve shifted my thinking. How about changing my method?

I’ve got plenty of friends who swear by making big batches of cold brew in the summer months. I’ve done the same thing to prep hot coffee for the dessert course at big dinner parties—just as you’d add lots of ice and a little water or milk for iced coffee, add hot water or hot milk to the cold brew concentrate at a 1:1 ratio, and you’ve got a carafe of ready-to-drink coffee at the perfect temperature.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“It takes about ten minutes to distribute the coffee into eight half gallon Mason jars and fill them up with cold water, and another 45 minutes to strain it through cheesecloth and pour it back into the washed jars. I figure it saves me a hundred dollars a month. ”
— witloof

Because it’s steeped at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, it’s less bitter and less acidic than regular brewed coffee, and—my favorite part—it’s much more caffeinated. It’s also quite simple to mix to your taste: Just add more or less water to the concentrate, depending on how strong you like your brew. And while it might have to steep overnight, cold brew only takes only a few minutes to prep—and even less time when you’re ready to have a cup.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Here’s how you do it:

  • Grind beans a little more coarsely than you would for French-press coffee.
  • Add the grounds to a large container, such as a mason jar or large pitcher (it works better if it has a lid, but you can make do with Saran wrap and a rubber band). Then add water; I like a ratio of ¾ cup ground beans to 4 cups water, but you can experiment to find out what works for you. Stir well.
  • Let it sit! For at least 12 and up to 24 hours. The longer it steeps, the more caffeinated your coffee will be.
  • When you’re ready to strain, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can just use a regular coffee filter.
  • The coffee concentrate will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. When you’re ready to drink it, mix with hot water or hot milk at a 1:1 ratio, or to your taste.

Get more details—and some step-by-step photos—right here. Do you have a favorite coffee-brewing method, or a preferred way to drink cold brew? Let us know in the comments!

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    Cory Baldwin
Cory Baldwin

Written by: Cory Baldwin

Food52's director of partner content Cory Baldwin has been an editor at food, travel, and fashion publications including Saveur, Departures and Racked.


witloof April 23, 2018
I admit to brewing two pounds of coffee at a time, which gives me about a month's worth of cold brew. I don't find that the flavor deteriorates, or if it does, not enough to bother me. It takes about ten minutes to distribute the coffee into eight half gallon Mason jars and fill them up with cold water, and another 45 minutes to strain it through cheesecloth and pour it back into the washed jars. I figure it saves me a hundred dollars a month.
AntoniaJames March 14, 2018
Even better if you add roasted chicory, "New Orleans" style; idea courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee. I get roasted chicory from; I never measure, just use about a cup per 12 ounces of coarsely ground coffee. It's crucial that the grind be coarse. ;o)
CaffeineSpasms April 15, 2018
Good to know where to buy chicory! My husband is a fan of Cafe du Monde, but I find it's a little too darkly roasted for my tastes. Let the experiments begin!
Angie T. March 12, 2018
I make my coffee cold brew concentrate in my french press. Add the grounds and water and then put the lid on with the plunger all the way up. Once its stewed long enough I plunge the lid down and pour off the coffee - no extra filter needed :)
Cory B. March 12, 2018
I do that sometimes too—definitely an easy clean up! Thanks for the tip!
AntoniaJames February 20, 2018
I’m glad to see Food52 devoting some editorial real estate to this "what can you do in five minutes?" approach, which I’ve been evangelizing since the earliest days of the site. Several years ago, one of the editors picked up on this to write a short-ish feature on tasks quickly done in the morning, to make the evening meal easier. I created a quick list, just off the top of my head, of the many 2 - 6 minute tasks that I do to take advantage of small “pockets” of time when I’m home. To share it with anyone who might find it helpful, I’ve posted a link to this (still somewhat stream of consciousness) list of quickly completed tasks.

(This general idea is not original to me. I have been doing this in my office since reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” which was published the year I started my own law practice. It’s one of the most useful business books out there. But I digress . . . .)

I’ve added this overarching suggestion to the linked Google Doc about a month ago:

When I plan / review my menus for the following week to lay out my prep activities for the weekend and weeknight evenings, I create a list of every small food prep or other task that will eventually need to be done. I put it on a medium index card, which I keep handy to consult whenever I have a few minutes of "downtime,” or to include in my longer prep sessions.

Also, there are quite a few good suggestions of 5-minute tasks in this Hotline thread started last month: I’m guessing that many of these ideas will be the subject of separate posts in the near future . . . . . . .

AntoniaJames February 20, 2018
Especially good when roasted chicory is added . . . . New Orleans style! This idea courtesy of One can purchase excellent (actually the best I've tried) chicory from I add about 3/4 of a cup - I don't measure -- to every half pound of coarsely ground coffee. ;o)