What is Cold Brew Coffee?
When it comes to cold brew, the description is all in the name! The ‘regular’ method for making coffee is to steep the grounds in very hot/boiling water for a few minutes. In contrast, the cold brew method infuses the coffee’s flavor (and caffeine) into cold or room temperature water for 12 – 24 hours. As a result, coffee from these two brewing methods tastes quite different.
You might ask, why the difference? After all, we make both drinks with exactly the same ingredients! Well, the answer is all in the chemistry (stay with me – this is interesting). Heating coffee converts some of its oils into sour and bitter flavors. Conversely, cold brewing stops this from happening (or at least slows it waaay down). Also, the flavors that dissolve in cold vs. hot water are different. As a result, the two brewing methods give different flavor profiles. In the end, this gives cold brew coffee a sweeter and more floral caffeine kick than a regular brew.
Who Started Cold Brewing?
As far as we can tell, the first record of cold-brew coffee comes from Japan – Kyoto, to be exact. In fact, it dates back to the 1600s. However, Kyoto-style cold brew doesn’t look much like what we’re making here. In fact, the Kyoto method brews the coffee drop-by-drop in tall, complicated devices that could belong on a Breaking Bad set!
In the USA, it’s currently more common to make cold brew using a batch process. That is to say, water and coffee grounds are steeped together all at once and separated with a filter. This makes sense because the Kyoto style systems are very expensive! You don’t need all that fancy equipment for great cold brew coffee. In fact, a big jug or mason jar, a strainer and some paper towel (or coffee filters, cheesecloth, etc) are sufficient!
How to Catch a Cold (Brew)
Firstly, let’s discuss the coffee. You’ll need a coarse grind for this recipe. If you pre-grind your beans at the grocery store (like us) – then select the coarsest option (usually the one for french press). Alternatively, if you grind at home, you can make it even coarser. Whatever way you do it, the coarseness makes it much easier to strain the grounds from the liquid.
Next, we need to discuss the water-to-coffee ratio required for cold brew. Basically, the consensus is about 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of ground coffee for every cup of water. This is about twice the ratio you’d use for hot brewed coffee because cold brewing is less efficient at getting the coffee flavor out.
A quick note: the coffee will float after you add it to the water – that’s fine. Just make sure that you stir the grounds into the water so they are wet before you close the container.
Once everything is mixed up, all you need to do is wait. After 12 – 24 hours your coffee will be ready. Use shorter times when infusing at room temperature, and longer times when using the fridge. Once this is done, you’ll need to remove the coffee grounds from your fresh cold brew. We kept it simple and filtered as follows:
- Pour the cold brew coffee through a regular mesh strainer to remove larger grounds.
- Rinse the strainer, line it with a paper towel, and pour the coffee through again. This captures the finer grounds that end up as “silt” in your coffee.
Also, you can replace the paper towel with anything else that will work. For example, you can use cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
How will you Drink It?
Now we’re ready to rock and roll – you have a jug of smooth cold brew at your disposal! Bear in mind that this recipe makes fairly strong coffee. Therefore, we recommend that you:
- Pour it over a full glass of ice.
- Mix it 1:1 with cold water, or plant-based milk/half-and-half.
- Or why not go to town and use it in an Aussie Style iced coffee recipe?
To make an Aussie iced coffee (vegan version), first, get a big glass. Second, fill it about halfway with ice. Then add cold-brew and plant-based milk to taste. Finally, and most importantly, put a dollop of your favorite vegan ice cream on top. We grew up with this treat, and we can guarantee that it’s absolutely delicious!
We hope you made yourself some tasty cold brew coffee after reading this recipe! If you did, please let us know what you thought with a rating and a comment. Every bit of feedback makes the blog even better.
Of course, you probably need some breakfast to enjoy this with! Why not check out our recipes for Tofu Scramble, Creamy Oatmeal, and Fluffy Pancakes?Print
Cold Brew Coffee | Our Simple How-To Guide
- Total Time: 12 – 24 hours
- Yield: 6 cups cold brew coffee 1x
Check out our how-to guide on making perfect cold brew coffee EVERY TIME! With minimal effort you can drink smooth, cool coffee all summer long!!!
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely ground coffee beans*
To serve (optional)
- Dairy-free creamer or milk
- Cold water
- Pour water into a pitcher or container that is fitted with a lid.
- Add coarsely ground coffee beans, and stir the grounds into the water so they are completely wet.
- Close the container and place it on the countertop for 12 hours or in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Once your coffee has finished brewing, you will need to remove the coffee grounds. We keep it simple and filter as follows:
- Pour the cold brew coffee through a regular mesh strainer (into another pitcher or large bowl) to remove larger grounds.
- Rinse the filter, line it with a paper towel**, and pour the coffee through again. This captures the finer grounds that end up as “silt” in your coffee.
- Enjoy your cold brew coffee mixed 1:1 with cold water, dairy-free half-and-half or milk, or poured over ice. If desired, add a little of your favorite sweetener.
Store the filtered cold brew in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within a week.
*We use medium roast, but you can use any roast you prefer. Remember, the lighter the roast, the more caffeine you get!
**You can replace the paper towel with anything else that will work. For example, you could use a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 – 24 hours
Keywords: cold brew coffee how to, iced coffee recipe, cold brew coffee ratio
This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll make a small commission if you purchase using these links. The price you pay as a consumer does not change.
Rachel, I loved your “chemical analysis” part of the article. I make cold brew for my wife’s morning coffee. I’m sure your recipe will work for most people, I say, experiment to find what you like.
For my wife, I put 1/2 cup of medium grind into a 1 quart Mason jar, fill it with filtered water from the refrigerator, shake it, and put it in the refrigerator. This one quart jar will last her 3-4 days.
As a side note: I’ve been mixing her coffee lately with 1/4 cup medium roast with 1/4 cup white coffee. It gives her coffee hints of peanut butter, which she loves.
The hard part if finding whole bean white coffee. My recommendation is to just search the internet for “Whole Bean White Coffee” and you’ll find several good sources.
Thanks for your comment, Russel. We’re glad you enjoyed the article. We weren’t familiar with white coffee – we will try it!
Looks so good and delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe of cold brew coffee. Very helpful.
Thank you! You are very welcome.
Looks so good!!
Thank you so much, Carrie! Cold brew coffee is my fave in the summer!