Making homemade Cold Brew Iced Coffee is extremely easy! It's also way cheaper than buying it at Starbucks, Dunkin', or your local coffee house. In less than a day you can make a pitcher of the cold brew coffee you're craving.
(This recipe was originally published in April 2015, but was updated with new photos and content in 2022).
I'm a year-round iced coffee drinker. In general, I prefer iced lattes to iced coffee because they taste less bitter. The one exception to my latte-specific love is cold brew iced coffee.
Cold brew is quite simply coffee that has been brewed with cold (or room temperature) water instead of hot water. It involves a long steeping process which yields a smooth, low-acid, less bitter flavor.
It can be considerably strong and concentrated. The longer you let it "brew" the stronger it will be, so this can easily be controlled by the maker.
Most importantly, it's extremely easy (might I even say fool-proof) to make, and you don't need any special barista skills or fancy tools to master it. It's so simple to make, with little to no effort.
- Coffee: When it comes to selecting coffee beans, it's a matter of preference and in some cases trial and error. Try a few different kinds of beans until you see what flavor you like best in your cold brew. I recommend grinding your own coffee for this purpose. Many grocery stores and supermarkets have coffee grinders in the coffee aisle which you can use to grind your beans if you don't have a coffee grinder at home. Select the coarsest setting (which may labeled as "coarse" or "coarse for French press" depending on the grinder). I generally tend to prefer a medium roast for my cold brew, and sometimes select ones labeled as Breakfast Blend or Wake Up Blend.
- Water: Use filtered water for the best results!
How to make cold brew coffee
Place the coarse coffee grounds and water in a pitcher and stir vigorously to combine. The coffee with float like a raft on top, but that's ok. Cover and let it steep at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours (the longer the stronger).
Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place over a bowl. Give the coffee mixture a stir to allow the grounds to sink to the bottom. It will get foamy on top.
Then, working in batches, slowly pour the coffee into the filter until all of the liquid has strained (this may take a while).
Stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the pitcher. Discard the grounds and the contents of the strainer. Wash and dry the pitcher. Transfer the strained coffee concentrate back into the pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
To serve, for each cup of iced coffee dilute the concentrate with some milk or water. Sweeten with simple syrup, if desired, and serve over ice.
Expert tips and FAQs
Since this is quite concentrated, it can be strong and should be watered down a bit before drinking it. On the positive side, it won't be watered down simply by adding ice. Personally, I go a bit heavier on the coffee than on the milk as opposed to a 50/50 ratio.
It's extremely easy to multiply this recipe. I include general measurements below, but in terms of volume (assuming you have ground your coffee to the coarsest grind), it's about 1 part coarse ground coffee to 3 parts water, or ½ cup coarse coffee grounds to 1 ½ cups water.
You can whip up a batch any time you're running low! Just beware that if you multiply the recipe, you may want to swap out your coffee filter for a fresh one partway through straining. It can really start to slow down after a while.
Yes, you can. Just make sure your French press is large enough for the amount of coffee and water you plan to use. Don't push down the plunger until after the 12+ hours and then pour it into cups to serve or into a small pitcher or jar to refrigerate.
Although I wouldn't keep it in your fridge indefinitely, it easily lasts for up to a week. You may finish it before then if you're an avid coffee drinker.
Recipes to serve with it
- Viennoise au Chocolat (Vienna Bread with Chocolate Chips)
- Chocolate Chip Scones with Espresso Glaze
- Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins
- Plum-Almond Muffins
- Lemon-Ricotta Waffles with Blueberry-Citrus Syrup
- Belgian Liège Waffles
- Hawaiian Loco Moco (Hamburger Steak with Gravy)
- Eggs Shanghai (Chinese Eggs Benedict)
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Cold Brew Iced Coffee
- 4 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups) coarse ground coffee
- 4 ½ cups filtered water
- Place the coffee grounds and water in a 2-quart pitcher, and stir to combine. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
- Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place over a medium bowl. Stir the coffee mixture to allow the grounds to sink to the bottom of the pitcher. Working in batches, slowly pour the coffee into the filter until all of the liquid has strained (this may take a while). Stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the pitcher. Discard the grounds and the contents of the strainer.
- Wash and dry the pitcher. Transfer the strained coffee back into the pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. This concentrate keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge.
- To serve, for each cup of iced cold brew coffee, dilute the concentrate with some milk or water. Sweeten with simple syrup, if desired, and serve over ice.
- The longer you steep it, the stronger your concentrate will be.
- I've also made this concentrate even more concentrated, using 4 ½ ounces of coffee to only 3 ½ cups water. It works great, but is a little too strong for me on a daily basis. You can play around with the coffee/water ratio and length of steeping and see what combination you prefer best.
- You may want to swap out for a clean coffee filter about halfway though straining. It can really slow down after a while once the filter is soaked.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*