Enjoy a delicious cold brew coffee this summer, and save money by skipping the coffee shops. For the best glass, the recommended Cold Brew Coffee Ratio is explained, so you can choose to enjoy your coffee on ice, heated, or as a latte. You’ll find helpful tips explaining how to make cold brew coffee so you end up with the perfect brew every time.
Table of contents
- Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
- Decaf Cold Brew Coffee
- Tools to Make the Best Cold Brew
- How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
- Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
- Cold Brew Concentrate
- Cold Brew FAQ
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
Cold brew coffee is all the rage at coffee shops these days! In the summer, it always sounds refreshing.
I make cold brew often at home. It’s very easy to make, so I like to have it on hand when my coffee cravings hit.
Cold brew is different from iced coffee. Iced coffee is simply brewed coffee that has been cooled, and then poured over ice. Cold brew coffee is slowly brewed in cold water, which results in a smoother brew. While iced coffee needs to be brewed fresh, cold brew coffee tastes great for a week if refrigerated.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee Facts
- Cold Brew is slowly brewed in cold or room temperature water, rather than being quickly brewed with hot water.
- Cold brew is higher in caffeine – cold brew contains 100-200 mg of caffeine, compared to about 95 mg of caffeine in a traditional cup of coffee.
- Regular coffee only tastes fresh on the day it’s made, whereas cold brew coffee stays fresh for 5-7 days when refrigerated.
Decaf Cold Brew Coffee
If you are sensitive to caffeine it’s very easy to make decaf cold brew coffee. I find that cold brewing decaf improves it’s flavor, so it’s a great option if you are also sensitive to caffeine, are enjoying this later in the day, or just like to keep caffeine at a minimum.
My favorite decaf coffee comes from Strictly Organic, and I always pick up a few bags while I am back in Bend in the summer. The coffee is organic and fair trade certified, and it’s a great option for decaf because it uses water processing instead of chemicals for the decaffeination process.
As mentioned above, cold brew has double the caffeine as normal coffee, so decaf or mixing half decaf coffee with regular beans is a good idea. Be sure to use a high quality decaf coffee!
Tools to Make the Best Cold Brew
The set up for cold brew is inexpensive, and they are things you might already have on hand.
1: Burr Grinder
To make the perfectly ground beans, I recommend using a quality Burr Grinder. A Burr Grinder is the best way to grind beans at a consistent size. It will allow you to change the size of grind, so you can use it for coarse ground beans, like for French Press coffee and cold brew coffee, but it also will do finely ground beans for espresso and mid-size grounds for regular drip coffee.
2: A Scale
The key to having the best tasting cold brew every time? Weighing your beans! Whether you weight them in ounces or grams, this handy food scale is inexpensive and accurate. Keep it on hand to quickly weigh your beans for the perfect brew.
You don’t have to use a French Press for cold brew, but if you make it often, I highly recommend it. It’s less messy and makes the process easier than using a jar and a cheesecloth (cleaning coffee grounds out of cheesecloth is not fun!). If you make it often, it ends up being cheaper because you can reuse it for a long time.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
There are two simple ways how to cold brew coffee.
See FAQ on cold brew coffee and alternative methods of brewing below.
French Press Method
- Coarsely grind coffee beans in a coffee grinder. It’s best to use a Burr Grinder, which allows you to select the coarseness of the grounds and produces evenly sized coffee grounds. This means they will brew equally. The beans should be much more coarse than typical coffee grinds.
- Add coarsely ground coffee beans to a French press, and add room temperature water. Use a long handled spoon to press the beans down into the water, and then allow to “brew” at room temperature for about 12 hours. If you know you won’t get to the coffee for more like 24 hours, it’s okay: Allow the cold brew to steep in the refrigerator to slow down the brewing process.
- Press the handle down on the French press to filter out the coffee grinds, and pour coffee over ice to enjoy. Alternately, pour coffee into a jar, and refrigerate it for up to a week.
Mason Jar Cold Brew Method
- To prepared cold brew coffee in a mason jar, coarsely Grind Coffee Beans in a coffee grinder. It’s best to use a Burr Grinder, which allows you to select the coarseness of the grounds and produces evenly sized coffee grounds. The beans should be much more coarse than typical coffee grinds. I like to see some beans still partially in tact.
- Add coarsely ground coffee to a mason jar, and then add room temperature water. Use a long handled spoon to press the beans down into the water, and then allow to “brew” at room temperature for about 12 hours. If you know you won’t get to the coffee for more like 24 hours, it’s okay. Allow the cold brew to steep in the refrigerator to slow down the brewing process.
- Use a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to filter out coffee grounds, then pour cold brew coffee over ice to enjoy.
How Long should Cold Brew Steep?
Regardless of what method you to choose, cold brew steeps for the same amount of time.
Steep cold brew between 16-24 hours.
If you need to leave cold brew steeping longer, for example if you’re gone for a day, refrigerate the cold brew while it’s steeping to slow down the process, and allow it to steep for 48 hours.
Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
The first time I tried to make cold brew, I was sorely disappointed with the watery brew the next day.
Cold brew coffee requires twice the amount of coffee as in typical drip brew.
The cold brew coffee ratio also changes depending on how you’d like to use it. I most often drink my cold brew with just coconut milk as a creamer, and drink it over ice. You can also reheat cold brew and enjoy it hot, but you need more water for that, since ice won’t be melting and watering it down. Another option is to brew extra strength cold brew and then mix it with milk, almond milk, or other non dairy milk of choice to make a latte or flavored coffee drink.
- Cold Brew to Pour over Ice: use 1 ounce of coffee beans per 1 cup of water. I typically make 3 cups of coffee, so I use 3 ounces of coffee beans. This is the most common cold brew coffee ratio.
- Cold Brew to Reheat and Enjoy Hot: Prepare cold brew as above, with 1 cup of water per 1 ounce of beans, and then add hot water to taste. To make a weaker brew, add 2 parts cold brew coffee to 1 part hot water. For a stronger brew, use a 4:1 ratio.
- Cold Brew Concentrate for Iced Lattes: use 3 ounces coffee beans per 2.5 cups of water. To prepare extra brew to keep on hand for the week, use 6 ounces of coffee to 5 cups of water.
*3 ounces of coffee beans is a heaping cup full of whole beans.
Cold Brew Ratio in Grams
- Cold Brew to Pour over Ice: use 28 grams of coffee beans per 1 cup of water (or 85 grams per 3 cups). This is the most common cold brew coffee ratio.
- Cold Brew to Reheat and Enjoy Hot: Prepare cold brew as above, with 1 cup of water per 28 grams of coffee beans, and then add hot water to taste.
- Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio for Iced Lattes: use 85 grams of coffee beans per 2.5 cups of water. To prepare extra brew to keep on hand for the week, use 170 grams of coffee to 5 cups of water.
Cold Brew Concentrate
Cold brew concentrate is great to make if you’re looking to use coffee as a substitute for espresso in a recipe.
It’s also a great option if you’d like to enjoy a homemade latte.
I use Cold Brew Concentrate for the following drinks:
- Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Concentrate
- Coconut Mint Iced Mochas
- Vegan Vanilla Iced Coffees (with cashew milk)
- The Best Vanilla Almond Lattes (these can be enjoyed hot or cold, but it’s best to start with a cold brew concentrate)
Cold Brew FAQ
Is cold brew stronger than regular coffee?
Yes, cold brew is stronger than regular coffee. The long brewing time allows more of the coffee to be extracted into the water, resulting in a strong coffee that is higher in caffeine than regular coffee. This makes it perfect for pouring over ice without diluting the flavor.
Can cold brew coffee be heated up?
Yes, cold brew coffee is great heated. Simply microwave or heat in a small saucepan, and then dilute with hot water. The ratio for hot coffee is between 2-4 parts cold brew to 1 part hot water (1 cup cold brew to 1/2 cup water, or 1 cup cold brew to 1/4 cup hot water, depending on desired strength).
How long to cold brew coffee?
At room temperature, cold brew takes 12 hours. If you won’t get to it until 24 hours, slow down the brewing process by leaving it in the refrigerator. If you’d like to enjoy it sooner than 12 hours, begin with hot (not boiling) water, and leave it for 3-6 hours.
What grind for cold brew coffee?
Cold brew coffee works best with coarsely ground coffee. You should still see partial beans in the coffee. This is for 2 reasons — 1, because coffee that is too finely ground will result in a silty coffee after straining, and 2 because the smaller grind will cause over extraction, leading to overly strong and bitter coffee.
Can you use pre ground coffee for cold brew?
It isn’t recommended to use pre ground coffee. Most coffee shops will grind your beans for cold brew. However, I did experiment with using pre ground beans, and found that while it isn’t ideal, it work. Two tips for using pre ground coffee are to double strain it to remove as much of the grounds as possible, and to brew it with cold rather than room temperature water, and brew it in the refrigerator to slow down the brewing. Pre ground coffee should be ready to drink in about 6-8 hours if left in the refrigerator to brew.
Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
Cold Brew Coffee
- 3 cups water
- 3 ounces whole coffee beans
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 ounces whole coffee beans
Cold Brew to Enjoy as Hot Coffee*
- 1 cup brewed cold brew coffee
- 1/4-1/2 cup hot water
- In a blender or a coffee grinder, coarsely grind beans. Check the photo above to see the texture. It’s important to very coarsely grind beans so that the grounds are easy to filter out and your coffee doesn’t turn silty. Make sure all beans are broken up, but are in much bigger pieces than you’d typically use.
- Add coffee grounds to a French press, or alternately, a mason jar. Pour water on top of coffee grounds, and then use a long handled spoon to mix the grounds into the water. The grounds will float, but make sure they are all wet.
- Allow the coffee to cold brew in the refrigerator or in a cool space in your house over night or up to 24 hours.
- If using a French press, just press down the handle to strain the coffee grounds, and then the coffee is ready to use. If using a mason jar, I have found using a nut milk bag is the easiest way to quickly drain the coffee and separate the grounds. Cheese cloth also works.
- Enjoy the coffee poured over ice, mixed with milk for a latte, or reheated as a hot beverage.