Have you tried cold brew? It’s as refreshing as iced coffee—and almost as trendy as these Starbucks secret menu items. But unlike those drinks, cold brew coffee is wildly easy to make at home, with results that rival those of the best coffee shops. (Want to make more coffeehouse drinks at home? We’ve got plenty of recipes.)
The cold brewing technique reduces the acidity of coffee, which in turn enhances its natural sweetness and complex flavor notes. Even those who take hot coffee with sugar and cream might find themselves sipping cold brew plain. The secret? It’s all about how you treat the two ingredients that make up cold brew. Read on to learn how it’s done.
Before You Brew: Here’s What to Know About Cold Brew
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Before you start brewing, there are a few things to keep in mind so you can create the best coffee for you—a cold brew so good, you ditch the cafe for good (OK, maybe you’ll still stop in for a scone).
1. Pick Your Roast
You can make cold brew at home using any coffee roast you like. However, if you’re new to picking out your roasts, you’ll want to choose carefully. Different roasts have different levels of caffeine.
If you’re not sure where to start, grab a bag from your favorite local coffee shop. Ask them what roast they use to brew and you can mimic it at home.
2. Get the Right Grind
Here’s the only fussy thing about making cold brew coffee: you should take care to use coarsely ground beans. A fine grind can slip through the sieve you use in this method and create a gritty, cloudy end product.
When you grab your beans, be sure to grind them coarsely (or ask your local barista to grind them as coarse as they recommend for this method).
3. Get the Ratio Right
Cold brew is just coffee and water. Simple, right? But search for a cold brew recipe, and you’ll find a huge range of ratios. We’ve seen everything from 1 part ground coffee to 4 parts water, to 1 part ground coffee to 16 parts water. We prefer somewhere in the middle, about 1 part coffee to 8 parts water.
Test Kitchen tip: Just getting started? We recommend making a stronger brew. You can always dilute it with cold water or milk. If you brew it too weak, it’s harder to correct.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home
To make cold brew at home, follow this recipe from our Taste of Home Test Kitchen.
- 1 cup coarsely ground coffee
- 1 cup simmering water, optional but recommended
- 6 – 7 cups cold water
Step 1: Bloom the Coffee
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Place the coffee grounds in a clean glass container and pour in the hot water; let stand 10 minutes. You’ll see the coffee swell and bubble up. This is called blooming.
Test Kitchen Tip: While many cold brew recipes don’t use any hot water, we like the effect. The near-boiling water releases carbon dioxide in the grounds, extracting more flavor from the beans. If you want to use cold water only, simply skip this step and add an extra cup of cold water to this recipe.
Step 2: Add Cold Water
Once your grounds have bloomed, stir in the cold water. Cover the container and refrigerate for 12 – 16 hours, or up to 24. The longer the coffee sits, the stronger the flavor.
Step 3: Strain
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Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the grounds. Then, do a second strain, this time pouring the coffee through a coffee filter. This will remove any fine particles or grounds, yielding the smoothest possible cup.
Step 4: Enjoy or Store
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Serve the coffee over ice. It’s delicious black or with a dash of milk or cream. You can even add in a little simple syrup to sweeten the cup.
You can store the cold brew, refrigerated, for up to two weeks. Keep it in a pitcher or large Mason jars.
Test Kitchen tip: Freeze some coffee in ice cube trays. The frozen coffee cubes will chill your beverage without watering it down.
How to Make Cold Brew in a French Press
With its built-in filter, a French press makes cold brewing easy. Simply mix the coffee and water in the chamber and then, without pressing the plunger down, place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, slowly press the plunger down. Then pour the brew through a coffee filter to remove the fine sediment.