How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee) | The Rising Spoon

Friday, July 21, 2017

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee)

Learn how to make the best cold brew coffee at home using two simple ingredients and a few household items likely sitting in your kitchen right now. This cold infusion method produces gloriously smooth, strong coffee that's less acidic, not bitter, and tastes just like the expensive coffeehouse stuff. You'll kick yourself for not trying it sooner!

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee)

Welcome, fellow coffee lovers! If you've never tried cold brew coffee before or you're already addicted to the pricey bottled/coffeehouse versions, then you're in the right place.

Today I'm sharing a super easy, quick & no-fuss method for making cold brew coffee, which just so happens to make THE BEST iced coffee

Yes, I applied bold, italic AND underline formatting all at the same time. I save that trifecta for things I feel extremely passionate about, like a "damn fine cup of coffee" (now I'm craving cherry pie). 

You'll want to make batch after batch of this smooth, strong coffee for hot summer mornings when you're breakfasting on overnight steel cut oats or cherry turnovers and busy, muggy afternoons when you need a cool drink to recharge + perk you up. 

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is coffee grounds infused over a longer period of time in room temperature or cold water. This is in contrast to classic brewed coffee, which uses hot water to quickly extract flavor from ground coffee beans. This slower "brew" time (really infusion or steeping) results in smoother, less acidic coffee that has more caffeine since it's hanging out in the water longer. 

Before we get to the exact HOW of cold brew coffee, let's discuss the WHY. If you're a fan of regular iced coffee, you're probably curious why anyone would use this method instead of the brewed coffee + ice combo.

Making Cold Brew Coffee (It's Super Easy & Tastes Amazing!)

Cold Brew Iced Coffee VS Hot Brewed Iced Coffee

Let's do a compare & contrast with pros and cons of each method.

Iced Coffee (Hot Brew)

  • quick to make start to finish (if you're serving it immediately over ice)
  • flexible for groups (lets you serve hot to some folks & cold to others)
  • good for all different types of roasts (light, medium, dark & everything in between)

  • requires a ton of ice (if serving immediately)
  • ice quickly melts & dilutes/weakens coffee
  • more acidity
  • less smooth
  • can be bitter depending on type of roast used
  • requires a lengthier chill time (if cooling first before serving)

Iced Coffee (Cold Brew)

  • smoother & more mellow taste
  • less acidity
  • no bitterness
  • stronger coffee (good for folks who like espresso or energy drinks)
  • quick prep (only a few minutes to put together & then it's all hands off)

  • longer to make start to finish (most is inactive infusing time - worth it in my opinion)
  • best with dark or medium blend roasts (I think that's actually a pro, but light roast lovers will think it's a con)

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

If you're like me and appreciate strong & dark coffee (if someone makes a weak batch of coffee, I just won't drink it), then using hot brewed coffee seems pretty pointlessI understand if it's a last minute I need iced coffee right this second kinda thing, but Who wants weak lukewarm coffee swimming in half melted ice cubes? 

The alternative is brewing a large batch of hot coffee, letting it cool down, then sticking it in the fridge for half the day until it's completely cold. At that point, you might as well just spend a few minutes making a batch of cold brew instead! If you can't tell already, I think cold brew coffee is better. ;)

Why I Started Making Cold Brew Coffee At Home

I'm a huge fan of hot buttered coffee a.k.a. bulletproof coffee and drink it almost every morning. However, my better half prefers cold drinks and thus cold brew coffee. I'm happy to report that over the past several years he's transitioned from sugar-free energy drinks (gross) to canned yerba mate tea (yay) and now to extra strong coffee.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee)

It's honestly a bit weird that he loves coffee so much now since I've been the coffee-obsessed person practically our whole relationship. But now he understands where I was coming from in all those under-caffeinated & grumpy moments! :P

The problem with his cold brew addiction is that the really good bottled cold brew drinks are pricey. His favorite brand is almost $5 a pop for 16 oz. It's strong coffee with an ahhh-mazing flavor that really packs a punch (unlike many other brands we tried with lackluster or "off" taste), but when he's drinking one almost every day it really adds up!

I considered making it at home last year but wrongly assumed that cold brew coffee involved fancy equipment. After all, I kept seeing "nitro" cold brew everywhere and though "eh...I'll let him drink the stuff from the experts". I should have known better! I mean, I already make cold brew iced tea. Duh. 

Easy Cold Brew Coffee For The Best Iced Coffee

Do I Need a Special Coffee Maker or Fancy Equipment For Cold Brew Coffee? 

Nope! Unless you live in a home with little to no kitchen equipment, you probably already have everything you need right now.   

To make a simple batch of cold brew coffee here's all you need:

  • 2 containers (one for infusing, one for storing the finished product)
  • a filter (coffee filter, fine mesh filter, paper towel, cheesecloth or even a clean pillowcase all work)
  • ground coffee beans (a medium grind that's in between coarse & fine)
  • purified water (this is important as tap water will impart an "off" taste to the coffee from the chlorine & minerals) 

That's it! So stinking simple, right?

The ease of the recipe gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to containers & filtering methods. My preference is a large glass container for infusing & storing the cold brew. 

A mason jar (a half gallon or bigger), big mixing bowl, or large pitcher all work well for infusing, and right now I'm storing my finished cold brew in glass jars with swing tops. For filtering, I just use an inexpensive fine mesh nut milk bag + a plastic funnel! 

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee)

What's The Correct Ratio For Making Cold Brew Coffee?

It really comes down to the person's preference for coffee strength so the answer is subjective. This is the other reason I waited so long to attempt homemade cold brew coffee. Whenever I looked up recipes I ran into a slew of different answers, many of which involved complicated ratios and weights. I don't own a digital scale (yet) so it's much easier for me to work in a measurement like cups. 

I finally bit the bullet when I realized the company who makes my beau's favorite bottled cold brew coffee also sells their own roasted coffee beans! I picked up a pound of the beans and one of their bottles from the same grocery store and felt confident in my experiments since I could test the homemade & store-bought versions side by side.

Here's the ratio that I settled on (which I think is a solid starting point): 1 part ground coffee beans to 4 parts purified water. For example, 1 cup of ground coffee to 4 cups of water. 

I don't know the exact grind and coffee to water ratio the company uses BUT when my beau and I tasted our version, it was pretty spot on to the bottled stuff & got his picky seal of approval.

Can I make it even stronger? Definitely. I'm going to test it out with a 1 to 3 ratio soon to see how much kick that has, but for now the 1 to 4 ratio works for us and makes more coffee. You can also make coffee ice cubes (shown here in the mason jar pictures) using any leftover brewed coffee you have on hand to give it extra oomph. :D

What about weaker? I wouldn't recommend it. You can always add more water or liquid to the final product, but you can't take it out if it's too weak.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee (The Best Method For Iced Coffee)

Does This Make a Coffee Concentrate? Do I Need to Dilute It Before Drinking?

That's a personal preference and depends on your drinking habits. 

I drink this cold brew on ice with a generous splash of creamer and nothing else. However, I typically only drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day, so I want it to have plenty of caffeine. If you're the type of person who drinks a lot of coffee throughout the day, you may want to dilute it so you don't get jittery.   

How Much Money Will I Save Making Cold Brew Coffee at Home?

Potentially a lot of moolah depending on the price per pound of your coffee beans! I've been using beans from the same company that makes my beau's favorite bottled cold brew so I could do an accurate side by side comparison of homemade versus store-bought.

They were locally roasted, organic & fair-trade at $11.99 a pound, so definitely not cheap. Despite this, when I broke down the price per ounce of the whole beans versus the bottled stuff...I was blown away! 

The homemade version was .07 per ounce and the bottled cold brew was about .30 per ounce (it varies depending on sale price). That one bag of coffee beans ($13.31 for a little over a pound) yielded 192 ounces (24 cups) of cold brew coffee at the 1:4 ratio. That's enough for 12 (16 ounce) bottles of the store-bought brand, which would have cost around $57, so the homemade version saved me about $43!! 

Now imagine if you used less expensive coffee from a place like Aldi, for example. The last time I checked their organic ground coffee was around $5 for 12 ounces (maybe less) so that's almost half the cost of regular organic coffee.

Making it at home will definitely save you money, but the biggest issue is keeping enough around for everyone! This cold brew coffee goes down smooth and disappears fast. Not such a bad problem to have, eh?

Making Cold Brew Coffee with Coffee Ice Cubes

Homemade Mix-Ins For Cold Brew Iced Coffee

If you're making cold brew at home to save money, you might miss those fun coffeehouse mix-ins. Don't worry! I've rounded up some recipes so you can concoct them at home yourself (often using better quality ingredients & less sugar).


Sweetened Condensed Milk (Popular For Vietnamese Iced Coffee):

Simple Syrups:

Chocolate & Caramel Sauce:

Whipped Cream


Looking for more recipes for pantry staples (drinks & food)? Check out my kitchen pantry staples round-up for 100+ ideas!

Watch The Recipe Video

If you're a visual learner, make sure to watch my short recipe video by clicking below. It illustrates the super easy process of making cold brew coffee!

Yield: 8 cups

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

prep time: 5 MINScook time: 18 hourtotal time: 18 hours and 5 mins
Learn how to make the best cold brew coffee at home using two simple ingredients and a few household items likely sitting in your kitchen right now. This cold infusion method produces gloriously smooth, strong coffee that's less acidic, not bitter, and tastes just like the expensive coffeehouse stuff. You'll kick yourself for not trying it sooner!


  • 2 cups of whole coffee beans
  • 8 cups of purified water
Recommended Equipment
  • electric grinder (not necessary if using pre-ground coffee beans)
  • 1 big container, 2 1/2 quarts or larger (for infusing - I prefer glass mixing bowls or pitchers)
  • strainer/colander or funnel (the latter is helpful if you're pouring directly into a bottle)
  • fine mesh nut milk bag, coffee filters, paper towels, OR cheesecloth (for filtering)
  • glass bottles or jars for storing cold brew in fridge (I use these glass swing top bottles)


  1. Measure your coffee beans and grind in small batches to a medium-coarse texture. (Skip if using pre-ground coffee.) If you want your cold brew stronger, you can make the grind a bit finer, but you may have to filter your coffee twice with paper towels or coffee filters in order to remove all the small particles.
  2. Transfer the ground coffee to your large container and measure out the purified water separately. Pour in half the water and stir the coffee grounds with a wooden spoon or another utensil until all of the coffee is saturated with water. Pour in the rest of the water and stir again.
  3. Cover the coffee & water mixture with a towel or lid and let it infuse at room temperature for 18-24 hours (no need to stir). When it's ready to go, line a strainer/colander with several layers of cheesecloth, paper towels, or coffee filters and place over a large bowl. Alternately, (if you're pouring directly into a narrow bottle) line a funnel with a fine mesh nut milk bag, cheesecloth, paper towel, or coffee filter and place directly into a bottle.
  4. Slowly strain the coffee by pouring it through the filter into the new container, pushing down on the last bit of grounds to extract all the coffee. If you use a finer grind of coffee beans you may need to do this 2-3 more times with a super fine filter to get out all the particles. (I've only had to filter mine once because I do a medium grind.)
  5. If you haven't already, pour the cold brew coffee into glass jars or bottles with tight fitting lids for storage. You can serve it immediately over ice while it's still room temperature or wait for it to get cold first. If the coffee is a bit too strong or caffeinated for you, feel free to dilute with equal parts water or cream (I just add a generous splash of cream). Keep in the fridge and consume within about a week.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Learn how to make the best cold brew coffee at home using two simple ingredients and a few household items likely sitting in your kitchen right now. This cold infusion method produces gloriously smooth, strong coffee that's less acidic, not bitter, and tastes just like the expensive coffeehouse stuff.

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