Cold brew coffee has hit popularity in the last few years with more people spending time at home. Cold brew is easy to make, has benefits over hot coffee, can be enjoyed as a refreshing iced drink all year round, is less expensive than the chain cold brews, and you don’t need any fancy equipment to make it. We’re going to show you how to make the perfect cold-brew coffee from the comfort of your own home.
Learn cold brewing tips and tricks for the perfect cold brew every time; you’ll never want bitter or watered-down iced coffee again!
Making cold brew at home is easier than you might think. It’s also more cost-effective than stopping at Dunkin or Starbucks every day. Cold brew is easy to brew and ready to drink at home or take on the go.
Cold brew is brewed ahead of time and can be enjoyed quickly and easily throughout the week. It actually saves you time from having to brew hot coffee each day. Just pour into your favorite cup or travel mug over ice.
First, you need to know that cold brew coffee is not the same thing as its popular chain store relative, iced coffee.
Cold brew is a type of iced coffee, but iced coffee is not always cold brew.
What is the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
Cold brew coffee and iced coffee use different methods of brewing, which results in different tastes, chemical profiles, and acidity levels. Many people will say that cold brew coffee tastes “stronger” because it is brewed over a longer period of time with a greater ratio of coffee to water. Since cold brew coffee is less acidic, it also results in a smoother and gentler cup of coffee.
Cold Brew is made when coarse coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for an extended period of time (12-24 hours), and then strained. This elongated brewing process results in a less acidic, smoother coffee. Cold brew has a different chemical profile than iced coffee because some of the acids and oils (the compounds that add bitterness) in coffee are not soluble in cold water, but the sweeter compounds are. This means that cold brew can have a sweeter flavor and be easier on sensitive stomachs. Cold brew is also a good option for people trying to cut down on sugar because it's naturally sweeter and requires less sugar than iced coffee.
Iced Coffee is brewed with hot water and then poured over ice (hence the “iced”). When Iced coffee has been brewed over heat it does not inherently eliminate the acidity, as the cold brew method does. Iced coffee can tend to have a slightly bitter flavor depending on how long the hot brewing process takes. The bitter flavor is why many of us like to add more sugar and cream/milk to iced coffee.
What are the benefits of cold brew compared to iced coffee?
We may be a bit biased, but cold brew is superior to iced coffee. Cold brew is how coffee was originally meant to be consumed. Here are a few reasons why we think cold brew if better than iced coffee
Cold brew has a better flavor. Cold brew is naturally smoother, less bitter, and sweeter when compared to iced coffee.
Cold brew is less acidic than regular coffee. A cold brew can contain up to 60% to 70% less acid than regular coffee (unless the cold brew concentrate has not been diluted). Cold brew is better for people with sensitive stomachs.
Cold brew is sweeter. Cold-brewed coffee contains sweeter flavor notes so it requires less sugar or sweetener than iced coffee. If you are trying to cut down on sugar, you may find it a better option than regular coffee because they may not need to add as much sugar or none at all.
Cold brew is ready to drink (saves time). Once you have brewed your cold brew, it is ready to pour and enjoy right from the refrigerator.
How To Make Cold Brew at Home
Cold Brew is a preferred iced coffee drink over traditional iced coffee for many at-home coffee makers because it is better tasting and easier to make than brewing hot coffee and then cooling off with ice.
Preparing cold brew at home is a simple process that doesn’t require any special equipment.
Here is what you need to make cold brew coffee:
- Large mason jar or coffee container (4-5 cups)
- Freshly ground coffee beans (course) or Woah Cold Brew pouches
- Strainer and coffee filter (if you are not using Woah Cold Brew Pouches)
It Starts with the Right Coffee Bean
Fresh beans deliver the best flavor regardless of how you’re brewing it. This is especially true when making cold brew as it will bring out the bold flavor and sweet notes.
Do not use generic store bought ground coffee. Coffee grounds that have been sitting on a store shelf most likely have lost the important characteristics needed to brew a quality cold brew. Old coffee grounds will taste bitter when brewed cold.
For cold brew, you need coarsely ground coffee – as opposed to fine ground. If you have a coffee grinder at home, set it on the coarsest setting – usually the one designated for French Press coffee.
If you do not have a coffee grinder, you can purchase coffee beans at a local coffee shop or roaster and ask them to grind the beans for you – on the coarsest setting. Be sure to tell them you are using the beans for cold brew at home.
Some grocery stores have a coffee grinder available for you to use when you buy coffee beans in bulk at the store. Use the coarsest setting which is often referred to as French Press.
If you want an even easier method, use Woah Cold Brew bags. Woah Cold Brew used freshly ground coffee beans packaged into perfectly sized pouches ready to brew in water. This is the easiest way to make cold brew.
Just Add Water
The next step is adding the coffee grounds to the water. I like using a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar to brew my cold brew. You can also use a large quart glass measuring cup, bowl, or pitcher.
Depending upon how big of a container you use, will depend on how much coffee you will need to add.
Pour the water over the grinds into your container filling the container. Use a spoon to gently press the grounds down to ensure they are thoroughly wet.
If you are using a Woah Cold Brew Pouch simply add the pouch to your container and fill it with water.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Cover the jar or pitcher and place it on the counter or in the fridge (to be cold-ready) and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours.
The first time you make cold brew will be more of a test run to get your ratio of coffee and time right.
How long cold brew steeps is a personal preference as everyone has different tastes. The more time coffee has had brew the greater the darkness, richness, and boldness.
If you like your coffee strong, let it steep longer.
If you like a lighter flavor of coffee, remove the bag earlier.
Strain it (or Remove the Bag)
Once the coffee has been brewed, it’s time to remove the coffee grounds from your cold brew.
If you used Woah Cold Brew pouches, simply remove the pouch and toss it in the trash, compost, or garden.
If you brewed with coffee grounds directly in your coffee, you will need to manually remove the grounds. To remove the coffee grounds from your cold brew you will need a strainer and a cheesecloth or coffee filter. The most important part of straining the cold brew is ensuring you’re using a strainer and filter that is fine enough to catch all the grounds. We recommend putting the coffee filter (or cheesecloth) directly into the strainer over the sink and slowly pouring the cold brew over the strainer and into another container below.
Straining the coffee is a messy process. This is honestly the reason we invented Woah Cold Brew, to make this process simple and less messy. If you have not already, order a 6-pack of pre-packaged cold brew coffee pouches and save your kitchen from the mess of coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds make great fertilizer for your garden. After removing the coffee grounds from your cold brew, you can put them directly into your garden or add them to your compost.
TIP: Sometimes you will find sediment or grounds after your first filter process. If you don't like the sediment, you can run the cold brew through a paper filter and back into your container.
Ready to Drink!
As soon as the coffee grounds have been removed from your cold brew, your cold brew is ready to enjoy.
Pour your cold brew over ice and add sweetener and/or dairy to your liking. Many even choose to drink it straight as it is from the jar as the cold brew is often smoother and bolder than traditional cold coffee that has been brewed hot.
Cold brew must be stored in the refrigerator cold and will stay fresh for about one week (if it lasts that long!).
Ratios for Cold Brew
The benefit of a make-at-home cold brew is that you can adjust the ratios of coffee, water, and time to your own personal preference.
The ratio of 1:4 of grounds to water with a 24-hour soak is the common ratio for making cold brew. Start with 1 cup of ground coffee beans to 4 cups of water. This ratio can easily be doubled (2 cups ground to 8 cups water) to make a larger batch. The time can also be adjusted to change the darkness (less time = lighter darkness). This ratio can easily be adjusted to match your taste. More coffee and more time will make a darker cold brew.
The Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
The coffee bean you choose is important for a great-tasting batch of homemade cold brew coffee. Choose a coffee that you love – you can use a light or dark roast, it’s simply about the flavor you prefer.
We find the best results with medium to dark roast coffee beans for cold brew. The cold brew process results in a much smoother taste when compared to hot coffee brewed with the same coffee beans since cold brew is naturally less acidic. Using a darker roast creates a rich, smooth coffee flavor in the cold brew.
At Woah, we use 100% fair trade arabica beans. Our original cold brew blend is a medium-dark roast specifically made for cold brewing.
How to Make Cold Brew Concentrate
A cold brew concentrate is a batch of cold brew that is brewed to be diluted with water or milk when served. Concentrate requires a stronger ratio of coffee grounds to water. Concentrated cold brew is a great idea for anyone who likes to add a lot of milk or if you have a small refrigerator.
If you prefer lighter coffee you can use the same 1:4 ratio as described above as your concentrate, and dilute it with your favorite milk or creamer.
For a stronger concentrate, use a 1:2 ratio in a quart-sized mason jar. That would be 1 cup of coffee grounds to 3 cups of water.
If you are using Woah Cold Brew pouches, add 2 pouches per batch of cold brew.
Extra Woah! How to Spice up your Cold Brew
Cold Brew is a naturally bold and smooth beverage. Adding sugar and cream can make it even sweeter. But there are a million other ways to spice up your make-at-home cold brew. Try these variations to add a new flavor to your cold brew.
Add a cinnamon stick. Drop in a cinnamon stick to the grounds as you brew the coffee. Cinnamon blends naturally with coffee. The cinnamon stick can be used several times or used to stir your next cup.
Add Vanilla. Vanilla is another flavor that pairs perfectly with the bold flavors of cold-brew coffee. Make vanilla cold brew by adding in a few drops of vanilla syrup to your glass of cold brew.
You can also add actual vanilla beans to your coffee grounds when you brew. Make sure you stir the grounds before steeping to make sure the vanilla is incorporated.
Add maple syrup. Maple syrup will add a different flavor and a hint of sweetness. Pour a little maple syrup into your glass, add the cold brew, and sti.
Want a bolder cup of cold brew? Use coffee ice cubes. Pour the cold brew into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer. Use cold brew ice cubes in your cold brew to prevent your drink from being watered down. Plus, as the ice melts, you have a more cold brew to drink.
Common cold brew questions
What is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
Cold brew coffee is brewed at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Iced coffee is brewed hot and then “iced” to serve cold.
Is cold brew better for you than iced coffee?
Cold brew is naturally less acidic than coffee that is brewed hot, making it better for your stomach and teeth.
Is cold brew less acidic than hot or regular iced coffee?
Yes. When coffee is brewed cold, it is naturally less acidic than coffee that is brewed hot.
Can you make a decaf cold brew?
Absolutely. Simply use decaffeinated coffee grounds when making cold brew. The ratio and recipe is the same.
What do you do with the coffee grounds after making cold brew coffee?
Coffee grounds can be discarded after making cold brew. Coffee grounds make great fertilizer so add them directly to your garden or compost.
Why does cold brew cost more than regular coffee?
Cold brew is often more extensive than regular coffee because it's more time-consuming to make. Some of the fancy coffee shops also use a better bean for cold brew.
Does cold brew have more caffeine than iced coffee?
Caffeine is a compound in coffee that is more easily dissolved (or soluble) in hot water. So cold brew retains more caffeine compared to iced – however, it will depend on if and how you dilute the cold brew to determine which cup has more caffeine.
If you do not dilute cold brew when you drink it, then it would have more caffeine than the same amount of hot brewed regular coffee. If you dilute cold brew, it will have less caffeine.
What is the easiest way to make cold brew at home?
The easiest way to make cold brew at home is to use Woah Cold Brew Pouches. Drop a pouch into the water, let it soak, and remove the pouch. No measuring, no filtering, no messy coffee grounds all over the kitchen. Click here to grab a bag of Woah.