A Beginner’s Guide To How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home 

 Last Update December 11, 2023

By Jenny Zhang

Looking for a change from your usual hot cup of joe? Ready to experience an invigorating coffee journey that will entice your palate and awaken your senses? Look no further than the refreshing cold brew coffee! 

Cold brew coffee has gained popularity due to its unique flavor and versatility. It is particularly favored for its smoother and less acidic profile compared to hot brewed coffee. Through a gradual extraction process, cold brew yields a flavor-packed beverage that is often described as less bitter. Moreover, its reduced acidity has made it a favored option among those with sensitive stomachs or a preference for a milder coffee encounter.

Crafting your own cold brew coffee in the comfort of your kitchen is a breeze. A cold brew is a fantastic option whether you're looking for a refreshing iced coffee on a hot summer day or a smoother alternative to hot brewed coffee. So grab your mason jars and your favorite coffee beans, and let's start delving into the art of making cold brew coffee at home.

What is Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is a brewing technique where coffee grounds are steeped in cold or room temperature water for an extended duration, usually spanning from 12 to 24 hours. Unlike traditional brewing methods that use hot water to extract flavors quickly, cold brew relies on time to slowly extract the coffee's flavors, oils, and caffeine.

To make cold-brew coffee, combine coarse coffee grounds with water in a mason jar or pitcher container. The mixture is then left to steep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for the desired amount of time. After steeping, the coffee grounds are filtered out, usually through a fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter, resulting in a concentrated coffee liquid known as cold brew concentrate.

What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew And Iced Coffee?

While ice and cold brew coffee may sound similar, they can differ. The word "cold" and "ice" sound pretty good during the summertime, and we generally don't look into the specifics of what that means (in this case, the exact temperature). Cold brew is brewed cold and is never put through any type of heat process. In contrast, iced coffee is prepared by brewing coffee with hot water using conventional methods like drip coffee or French press, followed by the cooling process of pouring it over ice.

Cold brew coffee boasts a unique flavor profile defined by its smooth, mellow, and low-acidity taste. The gradual extraction method extracts fewer acidic compounds from the coffee, yielding a beverage that is often regarded as less bitter. Cold brew often has a naturally sweeter and full-bodied flavor. On the contrary, iced cold coffee retains more of the acidity and brightness of hot brewed coffee, although the ice can somewhat dilute these flavors.

Cold brew coffee tends to be stronger than iced coffee due to its concentrated nature. Cold brew concentrate is commonly diluted with water, milk, or ice to attain the desired strength. In contrast, iced coffee is brewed at regular strength using hot water and subsequently poured over ice. As the ice melts, it will leave you with watered-down iced coffee.

What Are Cold Brew Coffee Advantages

Flavor Profile

Cold brew coffee is known for its unique flavor profile. The slow extraction process results in a less bitter and acidic brew than hot-brewed coffee. It brings out the coffee beans' natural sweetness and subtle flavor notes, offering a smooth and rich taste experience.


Cold brew coffee is incredibly versatile. Depending on your preference, you can enjoy it as a concentrate, which can be diluted with water or milk. It can also be used as a base for various coffee beverages like iced coffee, lattes, or even cocktails.

Less Acidity

A key benefit of cold brew coffee is its lower acidity level. The extended steeping time extracts fewer compounds contributing to acidity, making it a great option for coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux issues.


Cold brew coffee can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, allowing you to have a ready-to-drink supply on hand. This makes it ideal for busy individuals who want a quick and hassle-free way to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.


Similar to hot coffee, you have the freedom to personalize your cold brew according to your taste preferences. Feel free to explore various coffee bean types, grind sizes, and brewing ratios, allowing you to attain the desired strength and flavor that suits you best.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home

Making cold brew coffee at home is a gratifying and straightforward endeavor. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating cold brew coffee directly in your kitchen:

You'll need the following:

  • Coarsely ground coffee beans

  • Cold or room temperature water

  • A container (such as a jar or pitcher) with a lid

  • A fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter for straining

  • Optional: additional flavorings or sweeteners


Grind your coffee beans

Begin by choosing your preferred coffee beans and grinding them to a coarse consistency of your liking. Using a burr grinder or a grinder with a coarse grind setting will help ensure an even extraction. The coarser grind allows for better extraction over the longer steeping time, preventing the cold brew from becoming bitter.

Combine coffee and water

In your chosen container, mix the ground coffee and cold or room temperature water together, maintaining a ratio of approximately 1 part coffee to 4 parts water.

Feel free to adjust the ratio according to your personal taste preferences. For instance, you can increase the coffee-to-water ratio if you desire a bolder brew.

The main difference between using room temperature water and cold water when making cold brew lies in the extraction process and the resulting flavors.

Using room-temperature water for cold brew allows for a slightly faster extraction process. The warmer water can help extract flavors more readily from the coffee grounds, which may result in a slightly different flavor profile compared to cold water. Room-temperature water can contribute to a subtle increase in acidity and brightness in the final cold brew.

Using cold water, typically chilled or refrigerated water, for cold brew slows down the extraction process. The gradual extraction process typically yields a smoother, less acidic, and milder brew with reduced bitterness. The cold water helps to minimize the extraction of certain compounds that contribute to bitterness, resulting in a milder and often sweeter flavor profile.

Stir and steep

After adding the coffee and water, thoroughly stir the mixture to ensure complete saturation and even distribution of the coffee grounds. This crucial step facilitates the release of flavors and compounds from the coffee grounds, infusing them into the water. Make sure to stir gently to avoid creating too much agitation that could result in over-extraction.

After stirring, it's time to let the magic happen. You have the choice to steep the mixture either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Steeping at room temperature typically takes around 12 to 24 hours, while refrigerated steeping may require a longer time, such as 16 to 24 hours. Longer steeping times generally result in a stronger and more robust cold brew. Feel free to explore various steeping times to discover the perfect balance of flavor and strength that aligns with your taste preferences.

Strain the cold brew concentrate

When the steeping time is finished, it is time to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. Place a fine mesh sieve, a coffee filter, or a cold brew-specific filter system over a separate container. Gently pour the cold brew mixture through the sieve, allowing the liquid to pass through while capturing the coffee grounds. It may take a few minutes for the liquid to strain fully, and you can gently agitate the sieve or coffee filters to aid in the process.

Dilute and serve

The resulting liquid is your cold brew concentrate, which is stronger than regular coffee. To enjoy a cup of cold brew, it's best to dilute the concentrate with water, milk, or your preferred liquid. Start with a 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate to your chosen diluent and adjust based on your taste preferences. For an additional cooling effect, you can add ice cubes to further chill the diluted cold brew. If desired, you can enhance the flavor by adding sweeteners like simple syrup, honey or flavors like vanilla extract or cinnamon.


Store any leftover cold brewed coffee in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It can typically be kept for up to a week without significant degradation in flavor. Make sure to stir gently before using any stored concentrate, as it may settle during storage.

making cold brew coffee

What is the ideal coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew?

The best ratio of coffee beans to water for creating a cold brew can vary based on individual preferences and the desired strength of the resulting concentrate. However, a common starting point is a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:4 or 1 part coffee to 4 parts water.

The best part of DIY cold brew coffee versus purchasing from your local coffee shop is you can control the strength. To achieve a stronger cold brew, you have the option to increase the amount of coffee grounds used. For example, you can try a ratio of 1:3 or even 1:2.5 (1 part coffee to 3 or 2.5 parts water). Keep in mind that a stronger ratio will result in a more concentrated and robust cold brew that may require dilution before consumption.

The ratio can also influence the flavor profile of the cold brew. A higher coffee-to-water ratio can bring out stronger flavor notes and intensity, while a more balanced ratio may result in a smoother and more balanced flavor. Feel free to experiment with various ratios to discover the one that best matches your taste preferences.

Consider the size of your cold brewing container when determining the ratio. As an example, if you're utilizing a 32-ounce (946 ml) container, a suitable ratio would be approximately 8 ounces (227 grams) of coffee grounds to 32 ounces of water, resulting in a 1:4 ratio.

What is the Best Coffee Bean For Making Cold Brew Coffee

Several factors come into play when selecting the ideal coffee beans for crafting cold brew coffee. While personal preference undoubtedly plays a vital role, specific attributes of coffee beans can elevate the cold brew experience.

Medium to Dark Roasts

Medium to dark-roasted coffee beans are commonly favored for cold brew due to their robust and full-bodied flavors. These roasts tend to have lower acidity, which complements cold-brew coffee's smooth and mellow nature. They also tend to offer chocolatey, nutty, or caramel notes that can shine through in the cold brew extraction process.

Single Origin or Blends

Both single-origin and blends can work well for cold brew, depending on your desired flavor profile. Single-origin coffees from a specific region or farm can offer unique and distinct flavor characteristics that can be appreciated in cold brew. Blends, on the other hand, combine different coffee beans to create a harmonious flavor profile, and they can provide complexity and balance to your cold brew.

Coarse Grind Compatibility

ground coffee

Consider choosing coffee beans that are suitable for a coarse grind, as this is the recommended grind size for cold brew. Beans that are specifically labeled as "coarse grind" or "cold brew" can be a good choice. Opting for a coarse grind enables better extraction during the extended steeping period, preventing over-extraction and the potential for bitterness.

Tips On How To Elevate Your Cold Brew Coffee

Customize with syrups or sweeteners

If you enjoy a touch of sweetness in your coffee, consider adding flavored syrups or sweeteners to your cold brew. To add depth and sweetness to your cold brew, consider incorporating flavors like vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut syrups. Alternatively, try natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup for a more nuanced flavor.

Explore milk or alternative milk options

Explore a variety of milk or non-dairy alternatives to craft a creamy and personalized cold brew experience through experimentation. Add a splash of dairy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or coconut milk to your cold brew to create your preferred taste and texture.

Consider flavor infusions

Elevate your delicious cold brew coffee by infusing it with additional flavors. Add ingredients like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, or even herbs like mint or lavender during the steeping process. This allows the flavors to meld and impart a unique taste to your cold brew.


How Do You Chill Coffee Without Diluting It?

In addition to refrigeration, another option to cool your coffee is by utilizing coffee ice cubes. Unlike regular ice cubes that can dilute your coffee, coffee ice cubes will not. Prepare a robust brew of coffee, allow it to cool, and then carefully pour it into an ice cube tray for freezing. Once frozen, use these coffee-infused ice cubes to chill your coffee without dilution.

Can you make a decaf cold brew?

Yes, you can absolutely make a decaf cold brew. The process of making a decaf cold brew is similar to making a regular cold brew, but you use decaffeinated coffee beans instead.

It is important to note that decaffeinated coffee still contains a small amount of caffeine, although substantially less compared to regular coffee. The exact amount of residual caffeine can vary depending on the decaffeination process and the specific coffee beans used. If you're extremely sensitive to caffeine and don't drink coffee frequently, it's advisable to check with the coffee supplier for more information on the caffeine content of their decaf beans.

Can I use regular ground coffee for cold brew?

Yes, you can use regular ground coffee for cold brew. However, it's important to ensure that the grind is coarse enough to prevent over-extraction. If you're using pre-ground coffee, check if it's labeled suitable for cold brew or adjust the steeping time accordingly to avoid over-extraction.

Do I need any special equipment to make a cold brew?

While specialized equipment like cold brew makers or filters can make the process more convenient, you don't necessarily need them. You can make cold brew at home using a mason jar or container, a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth for straining, and a stirring utensil. However, investing in a dedicated cold brew maker or filter can simplify the process if you plan to make cold brew regularly.

Should I steep the coffee at room temperature or in the refrigerator?

You have the flexibility to steep the coffee either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Steeping at room temperature generally results in a slightly faster extraction and may have a different flavor profile compared to refrigerated steeping. It's a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment with both methods to find the one you prefer.

Can I heat up cold brew coffee and drink it hot?

Yes, you can heat up cold brew coffee and enjoy it hot. Cold brew concentrate can be heated and consumed as a hot beverage. You can either microwave the cold brew or dilute it with hot water. You can also place your cold brew in a saucepan and heat it on the stovetop. 

Is cold brew stronger than regular coffee?

Cold brew coffee is often perceived as stronger than regular brewed coffee, but it's important to note that strength can be subjective and depends on various factors.

Typically, cold brew coffee is prepared as a concentrated beverage by utilizing a greater proportion of coffee grounds to water compared to traditional hot brewing methods. This concentrated form can give the perception of strength.

Cold brew coffee may have a higher caffeine content per ounce compared to regular brewed coffee due to the longer steeping time. Nevertheless, the caffeine content in cold brew coffee can fluctuate based on variables like the specific coffee bean variety employed and the brewing technique employed.

How long can I store cold brew coffee?

Cold brew coffee can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days, and proper storage is essential to maintain its freshness and quality.

After brewing, transfer the cold brew into a clean, airtight container. To prevent oxidation and preserve the flavor integrity, it is recommended to utilize a glass jar, bottle, or pitcher with an airtight lid when storing cold brew.

Store the sealed container of cold brew in the refrigerator. The cold temperature helps slow down the growth of bacteria and helps preserve the flavor of the coffee for a longer period. Light can also degrade the quality of cold brew over time. Keep the container in the dark area of the refrigerator, or use a dark-colored container to minimize light exposure.

If you've brewed a concentrate, it's best to keep it undiluted until you're ready to drink it. Diluting the concentrate with water or milk can reduce its shelf life.

Cold Brew Essentials

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.