How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

There are a lot of reasons as to why you should make cold brew coffee. It’s delicious, it’s refreshing in the depths of summer, it’s velvety smooth, it’s a fun and interesting process – I could go on for days. But above all else, the top 3 reasons as to why you should make cold brew are:

1.) It’s so damn easy!

When you think of cold brew – even if you don’t yet know what the process entails – you might think that it’s something from a hipster coffee shop that requires a lot of coffee knowledge and expertise, but it isn’t. In a nutshell, you grind coffee beans to a coarse grind, put them in a container with room-temperature or cold water and let them steep and 18+ hours, then you strain it and drink it! Tada!

2.) It’s dirt cheap

Depending on the kind of coffee you get, it can be $6-12 for a pound of coffee beans. This may not sound like this will be ‘dirt cheap’, but the process that I’m going to show you involves the whole pound of coffee and 2 full gallons of water. That yields a lot of cups of cold brew! If my calculations are (generally) correct, $12 divided by 32 cups in 2 gallons of water = roughly .37 cents/cup. I’d call that dirt cheap compared to the $2 iced coffee from Timmy Ho’s or the $4 latte from Starbucks.

3.) It has a lower acidity than regular coffee

Because the steeping process for the coffee takes place in cold water, less of the acid in the beans gets pulled into the coffee. This makes the flavor of the coffee much sweeter, with less of that typical coffee “bite” at the back of your mouth. I wonder if this is also the reason as to why cold brew coffee stays so well in the fridge. You can make a bunch of cold brew at a time and keep it for a while before it gets that “old” flavor. We make this coffee about every week and a half. The lower acidity in cold brew is also a great thing for people with sensitive stomachs!

So now that you know why you should start making your own cold brew coffee at home, here’s how:

Cold Brew Grounds

Start by grinding the 1lb. of coffee beans into a coarse grind – some big chunks are okay. You can use any kind of coffee beans for this, although blonde roasts are traditional because they roasted for a short amount of time to hold on to the acidity for the flavor. The cold brew process is a way of bringing out the light flavor of the blonde roast, without the coffee being really acidic. We actually use the Biggby’s Best Blend, it’s medium roast and is a bit mellow in flavor. A very coffee tasting coffee.

Pour the coarsely-ground coffee into the bottom of a large pitcher or container. The container must have a lid of some sort. In the picture shown above, we have a 2 gallon pitcher with an awesome little spout at the bottom. I bought this at Meijer just a few weeks ago for $14. Win. We use this container for the steeping process as well as holding the coffee when we’re done.

Cold Brew Steep and Strain

Pour 2 gallons (32 cups) of water into the container and cover it. We put ours in the refrigerator to steep. Let the grinds and the water steep for at least 18 hours. After 18 hours, strain the coffee through cheesecloth or some other thin material. For us, that’s been a layer of paper towels inside a strainer while we wait for Amazon to deliver my earth-friendly cheesecloth. A great thing about cheesecloth is that you can wash and reuse it. Make sure to really squeeze the grounds in the straining process to get all of the liquid.

Ideally, there would be another container of equal volume to strain the coffee into, but as you can see above, three large mixing bowls will also do the trick.

There’s your cold brew coffee. The coffee can be kept in this container, as long as it has a lid. Since our current process involves multiple mixing bowls, we wash out the container that the coffee was steeped in and pour the coffee back into it.

Cold Brew Coffee + Au Lait

Isn’t it gorgeous? So dark and rich. The flavor is mellow like our beans were, but it has a lightness that is very refreshing. It feels like a richer coffee as you drink it, a little like Arabic coffee. It’s not thick by any means, but there is a bit of sediment in the coffee because of the coarsely-ground beans and the straining process.

This coffee will be strong, so I recommend watering it down a bit for a full cup of black coffee. I like to use this cold brew to make a cafe au lait. I fill my pint-sized Mason Jar halfway with coffee and then the rest with almond milk. My cafe au laits are still pretty strong, so those who are wary of strong coffee should use 1/3 cup coffee. I found this neat-o raw sugar syrup at the store and have been adding a generous teaspoon of that to the cafe au lait as well. If you do add a sweetener syrup to this cold coffee, use a fork or a small whisk to really mix it in. I love using Mason Jars for my drinks because I can just spin a top on and take it with me to work!

You really have no reason to not make cold brew coffee. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s less acidic, it stays delicious for days, and it’s just generally awesome.

Recipe/Process for Cold Brew Coffee:

1 lb. Coffee Beans – I use ‘Biggby’s Best Blend’, a medium roast coffee
2 gallons Water
2 2-gallon containers (or 1 2-gallon container and multiple large mixing bowls)
Cheesecloth (or a strainer and layers of paper towel)

Coarsely grind the coffee and pour into the bottom of the 2-gallon container. Add 2 gallons of water and cover the container. Allow to steep for 18+ hours. After 18 hours, use the cheesecloth or paper towel and strainer to strain the coffee from the grounds into another 2-gallon container or multiple mixing bowls. Squeeze the cheesecloth or paper towel to ensure all liquid has been removed. Coffee can be kept in this container as long as it has a lid.

Coffee will stay good for up to two weeks.

Recipe for Cafe Au Lait:

8 oz. Cold Brew Coffee
8 oz. Almond Milk – I use Blue Diamond Original
1+ tsp. Raw Sugar Syrup

*Recipe is measured for a 16 oz. Mason Jar

Pour the cold brew coffee into a 16 oz. Mason Jar. Add almond milk and sugar syrup. Use a fork or a whisk to mix in syrup.


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