How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Learn how to make cold brew coffee at home! This recipe is energizing, delicious, and SO easy to make - a perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.

Cold brew coffee

Have I ever mentioned that I love cold brew coffee? Like, I really love cold brew coffee. Sure, Jack and I own a regular coffee maker, but we use it so rarely that you can find it tucked away in a cupboard underneath the kitchen counter. I love cold brew’s richer, smoother, and less acidic flavor. Plus, on a hot summer day, drinking a steaming cup of coffee is simply out of the question.

For years, I bought cold brew concentrate at the store…until I learned that it’s super easy to make at home! You don’t need any special ingredients – just coffee and water. And don’t worry about getting a new fancy gadget for your kitchen. To make this cold brew coffee recipe, you just need a Mason jar, a fine mesh strainer, and a piece of cheese cloth or a paper filter. How simple is that?

Mason jar, water, strainer, and coffee on marble

What Is Cold Brew Coffee?

It’s easy to confuse cold brew with iced coffee. Even though both are served cold, they’re actually made in entirely different ways. Iced coffee is brewed using hot water – it’s simply regular drip coffee that’s been allowed to cool and poured over ice. Not surprisingly, cold brew is brewed using cold or room temperature water. It takes longer to make (I like it best when it steeps for 12 to 24 hours), but the flavor is less bitter.

Pouring water over coffee ground in a Mason jar

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

If you’re put off by cold brew coffee’s long steeping time, don’t be. It’s easy to make a big batch at once, so you can keep it on hand in your fridge at all times. Here’s how I do it:

First, coarsely grind your coffee. I don’t recommend using pre-ground coffee beans for this recipe. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, grind the beans at the store yourself, or get freshly ground beans from a local coffee shop or roaster.

Place the coffee grounds in a large Mason jar and pour filtered water on top. I like to use a 1:2 coffee to water ratio, or 1 1/2 cups of grounds for every 3 cups of water. This yields a fairly strong coffee concentrate, so I’ll dilute it with milk or more water before I drink it. More on that below. 🙂

Stirring water and coffee grounds in a Mason jar

Stir to combine the water and the coffee grounds, and let the jar sit, covered, at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. The longer the coffee steeps, the stronger it will be.

Pouring cold brew coffee through a fine mesh strainer

Next, strain the coffee. No one likes a cup of coffee with gritty grounds at the bottom, so it’s important to strain the cold brew well. I do this by placing a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and lining it with a layer of cheesecloth. You could also line the strainer with paper filters. (Or, instead of using a Mason jar and a strainer to make your cold brew, you could brew and strain it in a French press.)

Pour the coffee through the strainer and store it, covered, in the fridge.

Pouring cold brew coffee into glass with ice

When you’re ready to enjoy your coffee, pour it over ice and dilute it with more water or milk to taste. I love mine with almond or oat milk. Enjoy!

Cold brew coffee recipe with almond milk

Cold Brew Coffee Recipe Tips

  • Fresh is best. Whether you’re making hot coffee or cold brew, freshly ground beans will always yield the best flavor. Why? Grinding coffee beans releases their oils. These oils are what add complexity and depth to a cup of coffee. After you grind coffee beans, these oils begin to dry out. As a result, you want to use coffee beans right after you grind them, when their oils have just been released and their flavor is fresh.
  • Grind the coffee beans coarsely. That way, they’ll be easier to strain out of the coffee.
  • Adjust the ratios to taste. One of the reasons I love making cold brew at home is that it’s easy to adjust each cup of coffee to taste. If I’ve made a particularly strong batch of cold brew, I dilute each glass with more milk or water. If it’s less strong, I just add a splash. Don’t hesitate to add more coffee, water, or milk to create a flavor and intensity you love.

How to make cold brew coffee

More Favorite Beverage Recipes

If you loved learning how to make cold brew coffee, try one of these recipes next:

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

rate this recipe:
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Steeping Time: 12 hrs
Serves 4
Learn how to make cold brew at home! I like making a big batch at once and storing it in the fridge for quick, easy cups of coffee throughout the week.

Ingredients

  • cups fresh coarsely ground coffee*
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Milk or plant milk, optional, for serving

Instructions

  • Place the ground coffee in a 28-ounce mason jar, or similar. Add the water, then stir. Cover and set aside for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature.
  • Spread a piece of cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer and place it over a large bowl. Pour the coffee into the bowl to strain it. Store the strained coffee in the fridge.
  • When ready to serve, pour over ice and add milk, if desired.
  • If the coffee is stronger than you'd like, dilute it with water or additional milk, as desired.

Notes

*Freshly ground coffee is best for cold brew. Pre-ground coffee will have a staler taste.

13 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Ava Wilson
    08.31.2021

    Jeanine, thank you for sharing this delectable dish! A cold brew is a lifesaver on scorching summer days. Once prepared, you can dilute the caffeine content to taste with milk or water. The best part is that the concentrate can be stored in the fridge for a week without compromising quality.

  2. elle
    08.01.2021

    Is the coffee measurement 1 1/2 cups of whole beans ground? Or enough beans to make 1 1/2 cups after grinding?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.02.2021

      HI Elle, 1 1/2 cups after grinding.

  3. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    07.12.2021

    thank you, and yes I have always wanted to know how to cold brew, especially in the summer any time after early am, so much appreciated!

  4. Mary J Robbins
    07.12.2021

    5 stars
    Brewing coffee and letting it cool doesn’t taste as good as this method. It tastes stale prepared that way. The most important thing is that the coffee is freshly ground. I use my glass Melitta pour over carafe and a coffee filter to make this. Great recipe!

  5. Chris White
    07.11.2021

    5 stars
    I love making cold brew, only I use a 64 oz. mason jar! Yes, I go through it fast. No more bitter coffee! 😊

  6. Angela
    07.11.2021

    How is this different from brewed coffee, letting it cool, then refrigerating it? Thanks!

    • Leanne
      07.12.2021

      It explains this in the post..

  7. Cynthia
    07.11.2021

    Question! Can I make a big batch of this and keep it for a few days or is it best consumed fresh?

    • Cynthia
      07.11.2021

      Oh, now I see in your post that fresh is best hahah. How much coffee/water would I use if I wanted to make just one cup of cold brew?

      • Kelsey
        07.11.2021

        I think she’s just saying that freshly ground beans are best. She mentions storing the cold brew in the fridge and drinking it throughout the week

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          07.12.2021

          Yep, this size batch lasts me about a week in the fridge.

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        07.12.2021

        You could make 1/4 or approximately 1/5 of the recipe for one serving, but it’s more efficient to make the whole jar and enjoy it all week 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.