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Cold Brew Coffee

Updated on August 10, 2014

Cold Brew Coffee

I normally write about travel and places to travel, but I am going to take a minute here to talk about a very crucial travel tool, at least for me. Coffee. Even more so, a good cup of coffee. If you are like me, then you enjoy a good cup of coffee on a road trip. In years past, I settled for coffee shop iced and hot coffee, not knowing that there was another great option out there. Cold brewing. It wasn’t until this year that I learned about cold brew coffee. There are a number of great reasons to try cold brew coffee, so read on and see if it is for you.

Fortunately, I learned about cold brewing just before summer. This was nice because I usually make the switch from hot coffee to iced coffee just before summer. That is one reason for making the switch to cold brew. If you enjoy iced coffee in the warmer months, or if you enjoy iced coffee year-round, then cold brewing is definitely something you should give a try. Cold brew is similar to iced coffee in the way that it is cold. One difference from iced coffee is that you do not need ice. I enjoy getting iced coffee from coffee shops, but I really hate how much ice they put in the cup. The cup is barely half-way filled because of the amount of space all the ice takes up. I have gone so far as to order and iced coffee and ask for no ice. Of course, at this order, the workers look at me like I have three heads.

If you do not enjoy cold coffee, and do not wish to part with your hot coffee, I suppose cold brewing may not be something that interests you. If you are reading this and thinking that this is you, read on. There are some benefits and reasons that may make you want to try switching to cold brew coffee after reading this.

Tools for Cold Brewing

So, let’s get down to it. Here are the things you will need for cold brewing:

- French Press (or similar device)

- Container to hold the coffee when it is done (I use a mason jar)

- Your favorite coffee in whole bean form if you are going to grind it, or coarsely ground coffee if you are pre grinding

  • You need the beans to be coarsely ground because of the French Press. Finely ground coffee may seep through the filter. In my experience, most people do not enjoy getting a mouthful of grounds at the end of their coffee.

If you do not have these items, or you wish to cold brew without them, it is possible. I did not use a French Press for the first few batches of my cold brew coffee. However, let me tell you how much easier it did get once I purchased a French Press. Originally, I was using a large pitcher and dumping the coarsely ground coffee and water in together. I would let it sit for 12 hours, then used a cheesecloth to filter out the grounds. I also went as far as to pour the mixture through my Keurig coffee ground filter to get the grounds out of the coffee. Yes, I understand this is ridiculous, and I was mercilessly made fun of by my wife for going to such strange lengths for my coffee.

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5 stars from 4 ratings of Cold Brew Coffee

Recipe and Directions

Now that you know what you need, here is the recipe:

- 1 Cup coarsely ground beans

- 3 Cups water

As you can see, the recipe is extremely simple. You do not necessarily need to use those exact amounts. I have learned through trial and error that a 1:3 ratio of beans to water is a good mix. I have seen a number of other people on the internet use a 1:2.5 ratio. You may have to mess with the ratio to find what is good for you. I use either medium dark or dark roast coffee, and like I said, a 1:3 ratio is perfect for me.

Once you combine your grounds and water in your French Press or other vessel, allow it to steep without pushing the plunger down for a bit until the water has actually taken on a coffee color. Once that has happened (it shouldn’t take long) go ahead and push the plunger down. Some people like to leave their French Press out to sit in room temperature. I like to put it in the fridge. That way, when it is done, it is nice and cold, and there is no reason to add ice. Whether you leave it out at room temperature or you put it in the fridge, remember that it has to sit for at least 12 hours. You could leave it as long as a day or so, but I’ve never let it go more than 12 to 14 hours.

Preparing Your Coffee Concentrate

One thing that you have to remember is that you are making coffee concentrate. The yield from cold brewing is not the same as what you get when you traditionally brew coffee. While you could drink this coffee as is, it is best to dilute it. First of all, you would waste a lot of beans if you did not dilute it. Second, you would waste an awful lot of money if you did not dilute the concentrate.

Just like there are a number of different ratios you could use with the grounds and water, there is also different ratios for diluting the concentrate. I have heard of people using a 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, and even a 1:4. To be honest, I could never see a 1:1 or 1:4 working. Again, perhaps it is because I use a darker roast, a 1:2 or a 1:3 usually works great for me.

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 12 hours
Ready in: 12 hours 5 min
Yields: 5-7 16oz Cups of coffee (after diluted)

Benefits of Cold Brewing

Now that you know how to cold brew, here are the benefits of drinking cold brew vs. traditional brew coffee.

According to one study done by A. Peters, “cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile than conventional brewing methods” (Peters).

Like the study concluded, the coffee is less acidic. This means that it is far gentler on your stomach that traditionally brewed hot coffee. Also, because of the lower acidity, it affects your breath differently. You will still have coffee breath, but it will be a bit less abrasive.

Try It

If you are a coffee lover, especially an iced coffee lover, then I urge you to give cold brewing a try. Since trying it, I feel I am settling for less when I get an iced coffee at a coffee shop. Remember to make the recipe your own. Your ratios for beans to water and concentrate to water may change based on your particular preferences to coffee strength. I enjoy my coffee black, but you can use milk, cream, sugar, etc. with your cold brew coffee. If you do take your coffee with milk and/or cream, you can dilute the coffee concentrate with the milk and/or cream. If you take your coffee with sugar or another kind of sweetener, add that as usual after you have diluted the concentrate.


A. Peters, "Brewing Makes the Difference" presented at the 14th Colloquium of Association for Science and Information on Coffee.


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      Mario Psomas 3 years ago from Europe

      Very informative article. I thought that cold brew coffee was made in special devices and not French press. I like coffee and maybe this type is a solution to my iced coffee adventures.