Learn how to make homemade cold brew coffee at home with just a few simple ingredients and minimal equipment for a fraction of the price.
Homemade cold brew coffee is essentially just how it sounds: it is coffee…that is cold…made at home. Um, yes!
Coffee culture has evolved drastically over the years. A cup of coffee is no longer just a cup of coffee.
It’s an experience.
Options for cold or iced coffee
With these ever evolving trends it can be hard to keep up. If you are wanting a cold coffee there are 3 options available:
- Iced coffee: made using traditional coffee making methods. Hot water is used to extract the oils, sugars, and caffeine from the beans then poured over ice. This is definitely the way to go if you need a cold coffee NOW. However, the quick results come at cost. It’s typically less preferred by the coffee connoisseurs as the coffee is diluted in the process. It is also more bitter and more acidic than it’s counterparts.
- Cold brew: coffee beans/grounds are seeped for a prolonged period in room temperature or cold water. This process is much more time consuming than the iced coffee method but the results are superior. Just make sure you have plenty of coffee beans. Cold brew requires about twice the amount of coffee beans than hot brewed coffee. This is why those cold brews are more expensive. However, I don’t like my coffee overly strong, so twice the coffee beans may be a bit aggressive in my book.
- Nitro brew: cold brew coffee that has been infused with nitrogen to produce an ULTRA smooth product with a foamy top. Kinda like beer. Coffee in a keg.
Why make cold brew at home?
The perfect coffee beverage on a hot day
I love my morning coffee.
It’s an essential start to my day.
However, as the heat of a Missouri summer looms closer, I find myself gravitating more toward cold beverages than hot.
Lucky for me cold coffee is now a thing and I can easily enjoy it in the comfort of my own home and for just a fraction of the cost.
Beyond the obvious answer that sometimes we just want to drink a cold beverage, there are additional reasons that cold brew is the preferred choice for many.
Cold brew coffee has less acidity than hot coffee with estimated 60+ percent less acidity.
This decrease in acidity also means a decrease in bitterness and a smoother textured beverage.
Cold brews tends to have more stability than hot coffee. Ever tried to heat up that day old hot brewed coffee? Not great, right? Well, cold brew’s taste holds true for days, so you can make a huge batch and slowly enjoy it.
The cost of cold brew coffee is very pricey indeed. A venti cold brew coffee from Starbucks is about $3.75.
The cost of making cold brew at home depends on the type of coffee you buy. I typically look for sales and was able to find a bag of coffee for about $6.00. Which comes to about $4.00 for an entire gallon of cold brew coffee.
How to make homemade cold brew coffee?
Making cold brew coffee at home is surprisingly simple.
Add 8 ounces of coffee grounds to a large container filled with 4 quarts (1 Gallon) of room temperature water. Since the beans are steeped in room temperature or cold water, it takes much longer to extract the sugars, oil and caffeine from the beans. Recommendations vary on the soaking time for the beans, anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours. Or as little as 2 hours if you are antsy for your cold brew. I personally recommend at least 12 hours.
Then give the mixture a stir.
This mixture can then sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. Since I can’t wait to drink it once it’s ready, I like to store it in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cold.
The grounds are then filtered out using a coffee filter in a fine mesh sieve set over a large container.
Strain it in batches until you are left with a smooth, cold beverage that can be enjoyed on its own or used as the base for a specialty coffee. I recommend trying it with some of my homemade Sweet and Spicy Chili Simple Syrup and a few other goodies to make the Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Cowgirl Coffee. So yummy!
Frequently asked questions
The kind of coffee grounds used to make cold brew coffee is dependent on personal preference. Many prefer a darker roast for a more intense depth of flavor and a lower price point. Also, the coffee you use to brew your hot coffee may not be the best choice for your cold brew coffee. To determine the best coffee roast for YOUR cold brew coffee will require trial and error. My personal preference is light roast as I enjoy a more mild flavor.
No, there is no right or wrong roast for making cold brew coffee. Even though dark roast coffee is more commonly used for cold brew coffee, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Room temperature water is ideal for making cold brew coffee.
The general consensus is coarse ground coffee creates the very best cold brew coffee. However, many use finely ground coffee as it is more readily available and doesn’t require a coffee grinder. The best way to get coarse ground coffee is to by whole bean and grind your own at home.
You can seep the whole coffee bean when making cold brew coffee but there is some controversy over the result. Some believe seeping the whole bean results in a more bitter beverage whereas others believe it results in a smoother beverage. Regardless, it will take more time to extract the flavor from the whole bean than it will from the ground bean.
Yes, it is much cheaper to make your own cold brew coffee at home. The cost of making your own cold brew at home can be up to 1/6 the cost of store bought, though the cost can vary greatly depending on the type of coffee used. 2.5 cups of cafe bought cold brew coffee averages about $3.75 whereas homemade is about $0.60.
Cold brew coffee can be ready in as little as 2 hours but for best results allow 12-24 hours.
Cold brew coffee can be stored in the refrigerator, in a air tight container, for up to one week. Quality will degrade the longer it is stored.
Although cold brew coffee and cold brew concentrate are often referred to as the same thing, there is a difference. Cold brew coffee is ready to drink as is, whereas cold brew concentrate is concentrated cold brew that requires the addition of water or ice to dilute prior to drinking.
The possibilities for using your cold brew coffee are endless. Use the cold brew coffee as a base for a variety of dessert coffees (including Spicy Cowgirl Coffee), coffee floats, dairy free coffee with almond milk or dairy free alternatives, and boozy iced coffee like Irish Cream Cold Brew.
Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
- fine mesh sieve
- coffee filters
- large 1 Gallon container for storage
- 8 ounces coffee grounds
- 4 quarts water room temperature
- Combine the coffee grounds and water in a large container.
- Stir well and cover.
- Let sit for 12-24 hours (or minimum of 2 hours if you need your caffeine fix sooner). Allow it to sit at room temperature for best results but you can also store in the refrigerator.
- After sufficient seeping time is done, line a fine mesh sieve with a coffee filter and sit it on top of large, clean container. Cheesecloth can also be used to strain the liquid but you may need several layers.
- Strain the cold brew, replacing the filter as needed until all of the cold brew has been strained.
- Store in a container with a lid in the refrigerator for up to one week.