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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home

Cold brew coffee is a favorite among coffee drinkers who prize it for its smooth, robust flavor and its low acidity. For people who are prone to indigestion, a cold brew coffee diluted with milk can be a way to get their daily bean buzz without ending up with a case of heartburn. 

Below you’ll learn how to make the perfect batch of cold brew coffee and how to serve it. Keep reading to learn tips about getting the most out of your coffee grounds in cold brew and how to prepare it in advance.  

If you’re looking for how to make the best cold brew coffee at home, read on!

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Unlike most brewed coffees that begin with boiling water poured over coffee grounds, cold brew coffee is simply coffee brewed with cold or room temperature water.

Because cold water is used, it takes a long time to brew: 12 to 24 hours.

Cold brew coffee has gained a following because the result is a smooth, non-acidic and slightly sweet coffee. Totally worth it if you have the time.

how to make cold brew coffee at home
My favorite way to make cold brew at home is with a mason jar.

This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is sort of boring, but you can find it here.

Do You Need a Special Coffee Maker for Cold Brew?

The quick answer is NO!  

You do not need a fancy brewing machine to make excellent cold brew.  It’s super easy to make cold brew using just a few items you may already have in your kitchen.  This article is going to share two different ways to make cold brew coffee:  

However, you’ve got the money and the space in your kitchen or fridge, by all means, feel free to buy a specialized cold brew device.  If you’re a kitchen gadget lover, here are a couple of highly rated cold brew makers to try if you don’t want to go the simple route:

KitchenAid KCM5912SX Cold Brew Coffee Maker 38 Ounce Brushed Stainless Steel

This Kitchenaid Machine is convenient, but is a heavy monster that takes up a ton of real estate in your fridge.

OXO Brew Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker

The OXO Cold Brew Machine requires special filters, but the finished coffee goes into a cool looking science experiment type of flask that will better fit in your refrigerator. 

What Do You Need to Make Cold Brew Coffee?

There are two keys to making great cold brew coffee: the first is to leave enough time for the coffee to properly steep, and the second is to use the right ingredients and equipment to make it. Here is a list of the things you’ll need to make cold brew coffee: 

  • Time:  True cold brew coffee is not something you can whip up at the last minute.  Cold brew coffee should steep for 12 to 24 hours, so this is something you need to set up well before you are ready to drink.  If you love cold brew, it’s worth the wait though!
  • Coarse ground coffee beans: Any coffee beans can be used for cold brew coffee, but the coffee should be a coarse grind to keep the taste of the coffee mellow. This allows less of the coffee’s oils to leech into the water during steeping.
  • Brewing Container:  This needs to be big enough to hold the amount of cold brew you want to make.  IF you don’t mind going through the process often, a smaller container will work, but if you’re like me, you’ll use a larger container so you can brew up a big batch.  
  • Fine mesh strainer: A fine mesh strainer is necessary for removing the used coffee grounds from the finished cold brew coffee. 
  • Something to stir with: I use a chopstick since it’s long enough to reach the bottom of my brewing vessel.
  • Optional paper filter or a piece of cheesecloth: A paper coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth is needed if you want to perform a secondary straining of the coffee after it’s finished. This will get rid of most of that fine silty residue you find swirling around the bottom of your coffee cup.
  • Water (preferably filtered): Water forms the basis of coffee, and the amount of water in your cold brew will determine how strong the flavor of the coffee is. The more water you use, the more diluted and “weak” the coffee. 
  • A Kitchen Scale: While not a requirement, it can make measuring the right amount of coffee a breeze and it makes getting repeatable results a lot easier.

Since making cold brew coffee doesn’t require that many supplies, it’s a good idea to spring for the best quality water and coffee beans you can find and grind the beans up fresh for each batch. This will give you a cold brew coffee with the best possible flavor. 

cold brew equipment mason jar and French press
You can use a mason jar or a French press to make cold brew coffee at home.

Steps for Making Cold Brew Coffee

Making cold brew coffee requires a few simple steps. Follow this procedure to make the perfect batch: 

  1. Coarsely grind coffee beans. You’ll want to avoid fine ground coffee for cold brew because this will result in a very bitter mixture. Instead, grind your coffee beans coarsely to create a more mellow coffee.
  2. Place the grounds in the brewing vessel. Most people who make cold brew coffee use one part coffee to ten parts water for the brew ratio, but you can increase the ratio to one part coffee and eight parts water for a stronger brew.  
  3. Stir to combine. Agitating the coffee grounds and the water with a spoon is essential for getting the coffee grounds to release their aromatic oils. Since coarse ground coffee has less surface area than fine ground coffee, this helps improve the coffee solution as it steeps.  If you use a really deep container, chopsticks can be a great stirring tool.
  4. Steep the coffee. The batch of cold brew should be steeped for 12-24 hours.  For best results, make sure to steep for at least 12 hours. Steeping overnight is convenient and yields great results. 
  5. Strain the coffee. Once your batch of cold brew coffee has been steeped, the grounds have to be strained out so that the resulting coffee contains no gritty residue. Strain the coffee through a fine mesh strainer to remove the used grounds.
  6. Strain a second time if desired.  If you really hate the swirling silt at the bottom of your cup, you’ll want to strain it once more through a piece of cheesecloth or a paper filter. 

At this point, your cold brew is ready to drink. Keep in mind that cold brew coffee tends to be concentrated, so you’ll need to dilute it if it’s too strong to drink straight. Cold brew coffee can be diluted with water, milk, or ice cubes. 

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a Mason Jar

IMO, a large Mason jar is the best container for cold brew coffee because the glass is a neutral material that won’t give the coffee any off-flavors as it steeps. It can also be sealed against air to prevent excess oxidation that may cause the coffee to taste stale.

Most people have an empty mason jar around their kitchen, so it’s a great place to start. I tried this once with a regular size mason jar and loved it so much I purchased a jumbo size jar that holds 8 cups (4 pints or 64 ounces).

large mason jar to make cold brew coffee at home

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

  • Mason Jar
  • Filter
  • Stirring Implement ( I use a chopstick for this)
  • Coarsely Ground Coffee
  • Filtered Water
cold brewed coffee equipment
Cold Brew Coffee Equipment that makes my life easier.

As I said before, I use a 64 ounce mason jar. I also splurged on a special filter that is made for cold brew that fits inside perfectly, and a handle with a pour spout. You can get by without both of these, but you’ll need to strain your brew well after it’s completed it’s long steeping.

Here’s what I personally use:

1 Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Half Gallon Mason Jar

This filter is what I upgraded to. It’s a super fine mesh so I don’t have to double filter my coffee anymore. It fits perfectly inside the large mason jar, and when you’re done brewing, it’s easy to lift out and clean.

The TUBE+: Cold Brew Coffee Maker and Tea Infuser Kit. Premium Stainless Steel Mesh Filter Designed to Fit 64 Oz. Wide Mouth Ball Mason Jar . Brew Guide and Recipe eBook Included

This handle turns your jar into a pitcher that’s super convenient when you’re rushing around in the morning.

County Line Kitchen - Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid with Handle, Airtight and Leak-Proof Seal - Wide Mouth, Gray

I also use a kitchen scale to measure my coffee. I found that by measuring, I got a result that I could repeat week after week with the same great flavor. IMO, every kitchen should have one of these. I bought it to measure flour for bread, but I’ve also used it as a postal scale. Inexpensive too.

Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale, Black, 8.25

Step 2: Measure Your Coffee: YMMV

There’s a bit of trial and error when you make your own cold brew coffee. It took me a few batches to figure out the perfect strength for me. This is something you’ll probably have to play with on your first few batches.

Almost anything is possible, you just have to figure out how you like it.

Rest assured though, this cold brew will be amazing, even during your perfecting stage!

When I started brewing my own cold brew I found the information that Stumptown Coffee has published to be super helpful.

If you don’t have a scale, a good rule of thumb is a 12 ounce bag of ground coffee = 340 grams.

When looking at these ratios it’s helpful to use metric system units: ml/L of water to grams of coffee. Using the measured weight (grams or ounces) of your coffee grounds is going to work way better than using a cup to measure.

Ratio of Coffee to Water for Cold Brew Concentrate is about 1:5

Most concentrates are somewhere around 1:4 to 1:6. A good ratio to start with is a 1 part coffee : 5 parts water ratio.

Water CoffeeVessel Size
425 ml (~14 oz) 85 grams 1 pint
850 ml (~28 oz) 170 grams 1 quart
1.7 L (~56 oz) 340 grams 2 quarts
Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio 1:5

Ratio of Coffee to Water for Ready to Drink Cold Brew is about 1:8

Ready to drink ratios can vary from 1:8 to 1:16. You’ll need to see what you like best. A good ratio to start is a 1 part coffee: 8 parts water ratio since you can always dilute if you need to.

WaterCoffeeVessel Size
425 ml (~14 oz)55 grams1 pint
850 ml (~28 oz) 110 grams1 quart
1.7 L (~56 oz) 220 grams2 quarts
Ready to Drink Cold Brew Ratio 1:8

Then, simply pour in cold filtered water up to the top, screw on the lid and wait.

Measure coffee
The strength of your cold brew can be adjusted to your taste.

Step 3: Brew for at Least 12 hours

Now comes the hard part. Waiting. Your cold brew needs to steep for 12 to 24 hours. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated at this point, you can just leave it out on your counter.

steep your cold brew at least 12 hours

Step 4: Filter and Enjoy

Now, just filter your cold brew to remove the spent grounds. If you’ve used the filter I recommended, simply remove from the mason jar. Your cold brew is ready to drink!

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press

Making cold brew coffee in a french press is a great idea if you happen to own a french press and are just getting started.  A french press acts as both the brewing vessel as well as the strainer so it reduces the number of gadgets you need.   

When I first started making my own cold brew coffee I wasn’t sure how much I’d love it, so I used a french press I already had in my cupboard, rather than investing in more kitchen equipment.

Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee and Tea Maker, 34 oz, Black

The steps are the same:  add coarsely ground coffee to cold water, allow to brew, and strain.

The ratios of coffee to water are exactly the same as making cold brew in a mason jar. Choose the one that corresponds to the size of your French press.

After brewing from 12-24 hours, gently push down the plunger and your cold brew is ready.

Questions You Have About Making Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee Is a Delicous Way to Start Up Your Day

Cold brew coffee makes a great iced drink for hot summer mornings, and making it ahead of time means you have more time to relax before you head off for the day. Try making a jar of cold brew coffee to test out this mellow brew yourself! I love keeping a pitcher on hand in my fridge to mix into an iced caramel macchiato on a hot day!

Ready to kick things up a notch, how about making some nitro cold brew?

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how to make cold brew coffee at home