How to Make Cold Brew Coffee (Plus Secret Ingredients You Need to Try)

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Here’s a little secret: Cold brew coffee sounds artisanal and hipster café chic, but in reality is as easy to make as one, two, steep. Want to learn how to make cold brew coffee in your own kitchen? You’ll simply need a large mason jar or French press, filtered water, and coffee beans. Who knew that being coffee savvy was this easy?

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee

First thing first, what’s the difference between the two types of cold coffees? Iced coffee is simply hot coffee brewed normally, cooled down, and poured over ice. On the other hand, cold brew is brewed at room temperature and never heated. The final product is smoother, less acidic, and slightly more sweet than iced coffee.

Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee

1. Bye Bye Bitter. In traditional coffee making methods, boiling water is poured over ground beans releasing volatile oils and fatty acids. Translation: a bitter cup of joe. With cold brew, ground coffee beans brew in cold water for up to 24 hours at room temperature before being filtered. This creates a distinctively smooth cup of coffee without the bitter bite.

2. Coffee: Batch Cooked. We’re big on sanity-saving batch cooked meals, especially when it involves our morning hit of caffeine. Once prepared, cold brew coffee will keep in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for two weeks – hello easy summer mornings!

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

3. Digestive Friendly. One of the woes many people face when drinking coffee is its not-so-friendly effects on their digestive systems. Those with tummy troubles take note – cold brew may actually be better suited for your sensitive system. The reason lies in the acidity levels of cold brew versus regularly brewed coffee. Due to the coffee beans never being heated, cold brew is 67 percent less acidic, according to The Daily Beast.

4. Health Benefits: Although specific research on cold brew coffee is minimal, what we do know is that coffee provides a nutritious morning boost. Just one (8 oz) cup of coffee provides 11 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B2, 6 percent of vitamin B6, and 3 percent of manganese and potassium. Along with nutrients, certain compounds in coffee may also have skin-loving benefits as well. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute notes that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day is associated with a lower risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

Even more, drinking coffee is associated with reduced motor and cognitive deficits in aging thanks to coffee’s polyphenols and other bioactive compounds. Of course, coffee is not a health panacea, and its high caffeine content is often linked to cardiovascular issues and insomnia. If you are pregnant or sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to avoid coffee in all forms.

5. Choose Your Own Adventure. Hot coffee + ice = a watery and weak cuppa. The good news about cold brew is that you can choose exactly how intense or diluted you’d like your cup to be. If your cold brew ends up a bit too strong for your liking, the addition of ice, water, or nut milk won’t weaken your coffee flavor.

6. Wallet Friendly. Remember those aforementioned hipster cafes? They tend to charge an arm and a leg for cold brew, while picking up a bottle of cold brew at your local health food store is oftentimes even pricier. To reap the most bang for your buck, make your own cold brew at home.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Step 1: Start With a Good Bean. The secret to a good cup of cold brew coffee? Good coffee beans, of course. Stick with organic and fair-trade coffee beans, as coffee crops are often the targets of heavily sprayed pesticides and linked with labor issues. Local health food stores and retailers like Whole Foods have wonderful selections of quality coffee beans for you to find your favorite.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Step 2: Grind Baby, Grind. It’s best to grind your beans right before prepping the cold brew in order to make the freshest and most flavorful brew. Although the ratio of beans to water is entirely dependent on personal taste preferences, a good starting point is one-cup of ground beans to four cups of water. This roughly means grinding a heaping ¾ cup of coffee beans into a coarse grind. The coarser the better, as finely ground beans result in a cloudy and less flavorful concoction.

A good ratio is 1 cup coarsely ground coffee beans to 4 cups filtered water.

Step 3: Brew. Simply place your ground beans into a large mason jar, glass bowl, or at the bottom of a French press. Fill with measured water, give everything a good stir, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12 or more hours. If using a jar or bowl, cover with cheesecloth. If using a French press, simply place the lid on top, but do not press down the strainer.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee with french press

Step 4: Strain. Once your coffee has brewed, the last step is to strain the coffee mixture from the grounds. If using a French press, simply press down the strainer and pour. If using a bowl or mason jar, grab a separate bowl and place a strainer lined with the cheesecloth on top of it – this helps to nicely strain out all ground coffee particles. Pour the coffee into the cheesecloth and let sit until the liquid is fully drained through.

Step 5: Drink! Once your coffee is strained, you can dilute it with more water if the flavor is too strong for your liking. You can also add in ice, nut milk, cream, or any of our other favorite additions, found below.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew Elevated: The Secret Ingredients You Need To Try

Once you have a delicious cup of cold brew ready to go, adding in goodies, superfoods, and other ingredients ups the fun factor. Here are our favorite ways to elevate your morning cold brew:

  • Spice it up: Add a few small pinches of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cloves to the coffee grounds before adding water and steeping. This will result in a delicious and spicy coffee drink that tastes amazing with almond milk.
  • Plant powered milks: Not only will plant milks boost the protein content, they’ll also keep the recipe vegan and deliver a creamy taste. We love almond, cashew, coconut, and brazil nut milks.
  • Very vanilla: Add in a drop or two of vanilla extract to the finished product for a warming taste, or try almond extract for a nutty and sweet flavor.
  • Go Coconuts: Mix 1 cup cold brew with 1 cup coconut water for a refreshing and energizing morning drink.
  • Ch-ch-ch-chia: Turn your brew into a coffee chia fresca drink. Mix 2 cups cold brew with 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds and sweetener to taste in a large mason jar. Cover jar, shake, and let sit 10 minutes. Enjoy your energy drink!
  • Get Superfoodie: Add in collagen peptides for joint health benefits, cacao powder for a rich chocolate taste bursting with antioxidants, maca powder for an energizing boost, or lucuma powder for a hint of sweetness and micronutrient powers.
  • Sweeten The Deal: Add in raw honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup for a hint of satisfying sweetness.
  • Bulletproof it: Blend cold brew with a teaspoon of coconut oil or grass-fed butter and a splash of coconut cream on high for 30-50 seconds. Sip that frothy, iced latte goodness.
  • Spike it: We suggest these alcoholic brew blends after 5pm if caffeine in the evening doesn’t cramp your sleeping schedule.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

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Photos by Kate Gavlick

Kate Gavlick
Kate Gavlick

Kate is a Nutritionist with a Master's of Nutrition from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and the blogger and photographer of Vegukate. Kate believes in nourishing the whole body with real, vibrant foods that feed the mind, body, soul, gut, and every single little cell. Her philosophy is simple when it comes to food and nourishment: cut the processed junk, listen to your body, eat by the seasons, eat plates and bowls filled with color, stress less, and enjoy every single bite. When she's not cooking in her too tiny Portland kitchen, Kate can be found perusing farmer's markets, doing barre classes, hiking, reading, and exploring.