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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee (With Pictures)

Cold Brew coffee

Rich, sweet, and mellow, cold brew is popular for good reason! But you don’t have to pay a fortune at your local coffee shop to enjoy this cold treat. Cold brew is easy to make — as long as you can wait 16 hours — as long as you follow a few key steps.

Here’s how to make cold brew coffee, including expert brewing, equipment, and serving tips. You’ll be a cold brew pro before you know it! Say goodbye to those $5 coffee shop cold brews.

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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee:

Cold brew coffee


1. Grind your coffee beans.

Skerton Pro manual burr grinder

When you’re ready to start brewing, the first step is to grind your beans. We’re using Lifeboost’s delicious medium roast coffee. The best cold brew coffee-to-water ratio is 1:5, so if you’re making 20 ounces of cold brew, you’ll need 4 ounces of coffee beans. Using a burr grinder (if possible), grind your beans to a coarse grind size. Your cold brew will be steeping for many hours, so you don’t want a finer grind.

2. Add your grounds to the cold brew maker.

RJ3 coarse grounds

For this guide, we’re using an Ovalware RJ3 cold brew maker — but you can also use a French press, pitcher, or Mason jar. See our equipment tips below!

Add the grounds to the coffee compartment of your cold brew maker. The RJ3 has a tall metal tube covered in small holes for this.

3. Add cold water.

RJ3 brewing

Pour cold, filtered water into the cold brew maker, up to the fill line. Then place the lid on top, making sure it seals.

4. Refrigerate for about 16 hours.

RJ3 cold brew

Leave your cold brew in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours, depending on how strong you like your coffee. Don’t leave it steeping for more than 24 hours — your brew will end up over-extracted and bitter!

5. Remove the grounds and enjoy!

Lifeboost Cold Brew

Take the grounds out once your cold brew is fully brewed. If your cold brew maker doesn’t have a great filter, you may want to pour the coffee through a filter (paper or metal) to catch the remaining coffee grounds.

Keep in mind that this process produces a cold brew concentrate, so you’ll want to water it down in your glass. The remaining cold brew concentrate should last up to two weeks in your refrigerator.

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Cold Brew Tips

Cold brewing takes a long time, but most of it is completely hands-off. Here are our expert cold brew tips, from what equipment you’ll need to how long to brew.

Do you need a cold brew maker?

Don’t have a cold brew maker? Take a look at our favorites, or read our guides to making cold brew in a French press or a Mason jar.

Mason jar and coffee beans

Technically, you can make cold brew in any container with a lid. A cold brew maker will make this process much simpler, but it’s not required. If you end up making cold brew without a built-in filter, we recommend setting up a pour-over with a paper filter (like a Chemex, Melitta, Hario V60, Bodum, or Kalita Wave). Pour the brewed coffee through the filter to remove all of the grounds.

And for an option that’s unbelievably easy, try Driftaway’s cold brew subscription — which doesn’t require any equipment or cleanup!

What kind of coffee works best?

Cold brew is famously sweet and mellow, with low acidity and a strong — but not bold or bitter — flavor. You can use any kind of coffee to make it, but we particularly recommend medium and dark roast beans. The fruity and floral notes of light roast coffee may not come through, but flavors like chocolate found in darker roasts generally come through nicely. We especially recommend Lifeboost’s tasty, low-acid medium roast and Coffee Bros Cold Brew beans for a mellow, deeply flavorful cold brew.

Coffee Bros. cold brew

The best coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew is 1:5. That means you’ll need one part of coffee beans for every five parts of water. For 30 ounces of cold brew, you’ll need 6 ounces of coffee beans. Try our handy coffee-to-water ratio calculator!

What’s the best cold brew brewing time?

We recommend letting your cold brew steep for 12 to 18 hours. This is a big range, but keep in mind that it’s a slow process, so the flavor won’t be drastically different at either end of the range. The biggest thing to avoid is brewing for longer than 24 hours, after which your cold brew may be undrinkable and very over-extracted. Try brewing for 12 or 14 hours to start and see what you think! If the flavor isn’t strong enough, let your next batch brew for longer.

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Final Thoughts

Now you know how to make cold brew coffee at home! With cold water, coarsely-ground coffee beans, and a lot of time, you can whip up a tasty batch of cold brew. Invest in a cold brew coffee maker for the easiest process, or use a French press or Mason jar. You’ll save money and have cold brew concentrate around for easy drink preparation!


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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