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How to make a cold brew coffee

how to make cold brew coffee
(Image credit: Oxo)

Cold brew coffee – not to be confused with iced coffee - harnesses some completely unique and delicious flavors that will keep you buzzing throughout the summer. Especially when you know the perfect method for how to make a cold brew coffee.

The cold brew method creates a smooth, low-acid beverage that’s perfect for a pep in the warmer months. You will need to prepare your brew in advance as it takes 12-24 hours to steep - so it’s a good idea to make a bumper batch to see you through the week. 

In contrast with a standard hot brew (which extracts the flavors from the grounds very quickly) the slow cold brew takes much longer to extract. Therefore, fewer bitter compounds are released by the cold water, leaving you with a rich but mellow taste that’s unlike any hot coffee. However, some of the best coffee makers do also offer cold brew settings for a faster steep (like the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System)

Intrigued? Follow our easy method for making a champion cold brew coffee.

1. Gather your cold brew coffee equipment

There are a few schools of thought on what kit you require to make a cold brew coffee. Purists will tell you that you need nothing more than a jug, a cheesecloth and a strainer to achieve a delicious brew. Others sit firmly in the cold brew coffee maker camp.

We believe that the maker leads the way as it has the added benefit of even water distribution and a proper lid to lock in flavor and to stop any contamination from spoiling your beverage.

Along with your coffee maker or jug – some even use a French press coffee maker - you will need coffee beans and a grinder, water, a water filter, a spoon, paper coffee filters - and 12-24 hours!

how to make cold brew coffee - coffee beans

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Choose your coffee beans

For a good cold brew, it is advisable to grind the beans yourself to ensure that your coffee will be bursting with flavor. Fresh, whole beans keep the complex flavors locked in, so grinding at home means that none of that zing will be lost.

Don't have a grinder or the time? Buying ready-ground coffee is no big deal  just make sure you buy the correct coarseness (see below).

3. Grind your coffee beans

Once you’ve selected your beans, grind them on a coarse setting as fine grounds may prevent your cold brew coffee maker from draining properly. For best results, your grounds want to be close to the texture of raw sugar.

4. Measure out the cold water

Cold brew requires a higher ratio of coffee to water than the average hot brew. For a good, full-bodied intensity, we recommend one-part coffee to eight-parts water.

Now’s the time to plan ahead and think about how much you’ll be guzzling over the week. Cold brew can be stored for up to two weeks in the fridge, so you may want to crank up the quantity at this point.

Measuring water - how to make cold brew coffee

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

5. Combine the water and coffee

Once you’ve decided on your quantity it’s time to mix the grounds with water. As there is no heating involved in the process, it is highly recommended to use filtered water. This ensures that any impurities are eliminated from the liquid, allowing the flavors of the coffee to shine through without unnecessary distraction.

Once your water has been filtered, add it to the grounds following the ratio of 1:8 coffee to water and give the mixture a stir.

6. Leave the coffee to steep

Your brew can now be left to steep for 12-18 hours at room temperature, or for 18-24 hours in the fridge.

If you are going to brew it in the fridge, make sure to cover with a suitable lid so that there’s no flavor interference from any foodstuffs. You don’t want to taste that last piece of Camembert in your coffee!

7. Strain the coffee

Once your brew has sufficiently steeped, you will now need to strain it. A slow and gentle pour through a paper coffee filter gives good results. You may need a few paper filters to hand if you have made a big batch, as the paper might not withstand a large amount of liquid. Some prefer to use a very fine sieve or cheesecloth, so you can play around a little at this stage in order to get the flavor and consistency that’s right for you.

cold brew coffee

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

8. Serve and enjoy

If the sun is beaming and you’re looking for the ultimate caffeine cooler, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour your new brew over the ice, adding milk if you like it white – enjoy!

Which cold brew coffee maker?

There are a variety of cold brew coffee makers that are stylish and streamline when they are out in the summer, and also nest away well for the winter.

The Oxo 32 Good Grips 32 Ounce cold brew coffee maker is a particular gem. It comes with the ‘rainmaker’ top for optimum distribution of water over coffee grounds, a fine stainless steel mesh for straining, a beautiful BPA-free carafe with stopper for easy fridge storage.

Looking to experiment further? Here's how to make french press coffee.

Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles TechRadar and Tom's Guide produce about antivirus software, VPNs, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews.