There’s nothing quite like a steaming hot cup of joe.
But let’s be honest – in this crazy heatwave or for many in general in the summer time, cold brew is the name of the game. Cold brew is a go-to, keeping you both cool and deliciously caffeinated through the hotter months. For some of us, even year-round (cough, you know that friend I'm referring to...).
While it sounds fancy, it’s a lot easier to make than you might think. And you can enjoy a smooth sippin', less acidic brew while staying cool.
With just a few quick steps and a pinch of patience, you’ll have a rich cold brew whipped up right in your own kitchen – one that tastes even better than your local shop’s (and at a fraction of the price).
So – ready to make cold brew at home like a champ? Read on for the ultimate cold brew recipe (just scroll to the bottom). But first...
Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee
First off – what exactly is cold brew coffee?
For those who still don’t know, iced coffee is not the same thing as cold-brewed coffee. So let’s get the facts straight – what’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
Iced Coffee is coffee that’s been brewed normally (hot), then chilled and poured over ice. Because it’s diluted by the ice, the coffee can be brewed strong, and with its chilled it’s become a summer favorite – but it’s essentially regular coffee served cold.
Cold Brew, on the other hand, uses a different brewing method altogether – the cold brew method. By letting coffee grounds steep in cold/room temperature water for about 12-24 hours, slowly pulling out the flavors and caffeine from the grounds, you end up with a smooth, rich, and far less acidic cup of coffee than any other brewing method. Those with sensitive stomachs or sensitive taste buds definitely prefer cold brew over anything else.
After removing the grounds, it’s best enjoyed cold and often nitrogenated for an extra smooth and creamy experience – even without additives.
So, now that’s cleared up – why should you give cold brew a try?
5 Unique Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee:
Cold brew actually has a whole lot of perks beyond being a refreshing way to escape the heat. So, if the scorching weather isn’t enough to convince you, here are five benefits unique to cold-brewed coffee:
1. Cold Brew Is Less Acidic
Do you struggle with a sensitive stomach? You’re not alone – and for many people with IBS, GERD, acid reflux, and similar conditions, the acids in coffee can trigger pain and discomfort.
If that sounds like you, definitely give cold brew a try. Because of the low-temperature brewing process, less acid is extracted from the beans than with regular brewed coffee, but even more caffeine – making cold brew coffee less acidic and kinder to sensitive stomachs, while still packing that energy punch.
Sources report cold brews are between 60-70% less acidic than regular coffee – which is a significant difference!
Psst… We have more tricks to try if you’re sensitive to acids in coffee. Read our best, science-backed tips here!
2. Same Caffeine Level (Or Stronger)
If you’re hesitant about cold brews because you don’t want to miss out on your morning caffeine slap in the face, you can relax: cold brew often has more caffeine than regular coffee.
Because the ratio of coffee to water is much higher in the cold brewing method, the initial concentrate is actually higher in caffeine than regular coffee. But since the concentrate is then diluted with water, it usually evens out or is even stronger – depending on your ratio, of course! Caffeine is water soluble, so the longer it steeps the more it extracts.
Caffeine levels depend on so many factors, so exact amounts will vary – but the bottom line is, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the energy boost you’ve come to love.
You could, however, skip that nasty afternoon crash.
See, cold brews also have a slow-release effect on caffeine, meaning the caffeine boost is prolonged – and less likely to make you crash after a few hours. Yes, please.
3. Cold Brewing Saves You Time (You Brew in Bulk)
Cold brew is so easy to batch make, and can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to 10 days. Talk about a time saver!
Whenever you want a cup, just open the fridge, pour the concentrate over ice and add your preferred amount of water or milk. Luxury coffee in a pinch!
4. Cold Brew is Less Bitter
Cold brewing doesn’t just make cold brew less acidic – it also makes for smoother, sweeter flavor.
Brewing with hot water extracts more acidity – which makes the coffee more acidic and bitter. And the heat affects other flavors, too.
See, many of the sweet compounds in the coffee are soluble in cold water. The long brewing period and cool temperature draw them out, leaving the more bitter acids and oils in the beans.
The result? Sweet, rich flavors that are more than worth the wait.
5. Control the Strength of Your Coffee
Finally – it’s so easy to control the strength of your coffee with cold brew!
Because cold brew is meant to be diluted, you can choose for yourself how strong you want your coffee – and control the acidity, caffeine levels, and flavor easily! Not to mention make it last longer, of course.
Convinced yet? Thought so – let’s get to the how-to part
What You Need to Make Cold Brew:
There are a few things you need to make cold brews at home. Luckily, most of them are probably already in your kitchen! Here’s a list of equipment you’ll need:
Coffee Grinder or Mill – you’ll need to grind the beans coarse to make cold brew. Most pre-ground beans will be too fine for cold brew, resulting in a bitter taste or clogging the drain filter.
Filtered Water – if you can’t get your hands on filtered water, normal water works too. But the difference in flavor is worth it if you can!
Large pitcher or jar(s) – make sure whatever container you choose is big enough to fit up to 8 cups of liquid, especially if you’re making a big batch. You could also have multiple jars on hand.
Cold Brew Toddy, Cold Brew Filters, or a Fine Mesh Strainer – There are multiple methods for straining cold brews – but the most important part is that your strainer is fine enough to catch all the coffee grounds! You don’t want those to slip through.
Coffee filters, nut milk bags, tea towels and fine-mesh sieves usually give good results for cold brews.
We like the toddy method to keep it simple, which holds 7 cups of water and 12 oz of coffee.
Psst… There is an alternative, namely using a french press – if you make your cold brew straight in your french press, you can simply use your french press’s metal filter!
The Crucial Coffee–Water Ratio:
The trick to a great cold brew is getting the water-coffee ratio just right. Too much coffee and it becomes bitter – too much water and it becomes watery and weak. There are two ratios to keep in mind:
Coffee Grounds to Water Ratio:
When making the cold brew concentrate, you’ll want to use more coffee grounds than you usually would making regular coffee – this brewing process requires it!
We’ve found that a ratio of 1:4 of coffee grounds to water (by weight) makes a great brew concentrate. You can always adjust it to your own tastes, and increase the amount of both for a bigger batch!
Cut at 1:1:
After the coffee has steeped and been strained, the cold brew concentrate is far too strong to be had straight. That’s why the next ratio to keep in mind is for when you prep your actual drink.
This one, of course, is more subjective – depending on how you like your coffee, you might experiment with less or more water (or milk, if you prefer). But a great starting point is a 1:1 ratio – meaning, half of each.
Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee:
So, you’ve got your equipment and your beans – let’s make some cold brew, shall we? Here’s a step by step guide on how to make cold brew coffee:
1. Grind Your Coffee Beans
First up is the beans, of course (or should we say, of coarse). We cannot stress this enough – use the coarsest setting on your grinder! With such a long brewing period, the coffee will over-extract and come out very bitter if the grounds are too fine.
So again, go for the coarse setting on your grinder. When the beans look like coarse cornmeal, they’re ready. You’ll want a burr grinder for this (or request it from whoever you buy your beans from this way).
2. Add Grounds to Water
Next, combine the coffee grounds with cold water in a pitcher, jug, or filter-lined Toddy. You want to put half the grounds in first and pour the water over the grounds to saturate them as much as possible. Then add the second half and repeat. Give the mix a little stir to ensure all the grounds are wet. And keep the ultimate ratio in mind here, by aiming for a 1:4 ratio of coffee to water by weight.
If you prefer to use your french press, simply combine the two straight in the press – just make sure you can fit the amount of water you’ll need for the right ratio to your grounds! If you're using a 34 oz french press, that's 6 oz of coffee.
3. Cover and Steep 12-24H
Then comes the waiting game. Cover the jar or pitcher with an airtight wrap or a lid, and let it sit in your refrigerator or on the counter for between 12-24 hours (we like 24). You don’t need to stir or check on it – just set your timer!
We like to prep it while we are drinking our morning coffee, so it's ready by tge same time the next morning.
4. Strain Cold Brew Concentrate
Once the wait is up, it’s time to strain the coffee.
Again, there are multiple ways to do this – it really depends on what you have available. Just make sure whatever method you use catches all the grounds!
With a toddy brewer, just pull the cork and let it drain into your jar. If your coffee has steeped in your french press, then press the filter through as normal right before you want to consume it.
And voilá! Your cold brew is ready. But you’ll want to throw this bad larry in the fridge if you haven't already, or pour over ice.
5. Dilute As You Serve
Now, you’ve got enough cold brew concentrate to last you for a while. If you made with 12 oz bag in a 7 cup toddy, you have about 7 cups.
Store your concentrate in the fridge for up to 10 days, and simply make a cup at a time when you want one.
If you wanna get fancy, add some ice cubes to your cup and pour over your concentrate and cold water (or milk, if you prefer). Again, we recommend a ratio of 1:1, but you might want to experiment to your own tastes, accounting for ice melt.
And that’s it! All that’s left to do is enjoy.
Toddy Cold Brew System Specific Instructions
If you’re a fan of cold brews and make them on the regular, you might want to consider the Toddy Cold Brew System. The Toddy is essentially a cold brew coffee maker, that preps your cold brew in 8-12 hours – and makes coffee with 67% less acidity on average, compared to your regular hot brew.
Pretty neat, if you ask us.
The Toddy’s been around since the 60s, so this method is true and tested. If you wanna check it out, here’s how to make cold brew at home using the Toddy:
What You’ll Need:
- Toddy Cold Brew System
- Toddy filters
- Filtered water
- Large pitcher or jar
Instructions for Toddy Cold Brew:
Push the rubber stopper into the base of the Toddy’s bucket, then wet the filter and place in the bottom of the bucket.
Next, grind your beans coarse and measure out both grounds and water. For the toddy, aim for a similar ratio of coffee to water as usual with cold brews: between 1:4 or 1:5, depending on your tastes.
Start by adding about 50g of grounds and 200ml of water to the bucket, and let this bloom for about a minute. Then add the rest of the coffee grounds and water to the bucket, and gently fold the grounds into the water to make sure it’s all wet. But don’t over-mix them! This could lead to a cloudy and bitter brew.
Place the cover over the toddy, and set the timer for 8-12 hours – depending on how strong you like your coffee.
Once the time is up, pull out the rubber stopper in the Toddy’s base, and place it over the large pitcher to strain. This could take up to 1 hour.
And that’s it! Store your cold brew concentrate in the fridge, and dilute and serve as you go. The biggest benefit of the Toddy is that it makes the straining process smoother and the brew’s acid levels more precise – and it could even cut down on the brewing time, depending on how strong you like your coffee.
Cold Brew FAQs – Our Pro Tips
But before we finish, let’s answer some more burning questions about cold brew coffee, so you can level up your brewing game.
Can I Use Any Beans for a Cold Brew?
You can definitely use whatever beans you’d like for cold brews. That said, dark roasts tend to taste better by bringing out the chocolate notes with this particular brewing method.
When roasting beans, the hot temperatures roast away much of the acidity – and since dark roasts are roasted for longer than light ones, they are generally less acidic than light roasts to begin with.
Can I Use Decaf Beans for Cold Brews?
Using decaf beans for your cold brew is no problem at all. In fact, our dark-roast, delicious decaf beans make a mean cold brew for anyone sensitive to caffeine!
How to Store Cold Brew Coffee:
One of the best things about cold brew is that it keeps fresh for so long – if stored properly, it can last up to 10 days (if there’s any left, that is)! We’d recommend drinking the concentrate within a week, though, to avoid any flavor degradation.
So, how do you store cold brew properly? Keep the concentrate in an airtight container in your refrigerator (we like a mason jar), and prepare your diluted brew when you want it.
Can You Make Cold Brew Coffee Hot?
Although cold brew is naturally cold, you can serve it hot too, if you prefer – since it’s kinder on your stomach, for example, you might find yourself wanting to stick to the cold brew method all year long.
So how do you go about serving cold brew hot?
The easiest way to do it is to make the concentrate as usual at room temperature, and then add boiling water instead of cold when you prepare your drink. Taste along the way to find the perfect strength and heat for you!
Cold Brew with Benefits – The Perfect Summer Brew
Eager for a cold brew, but too busy to make your own?
Peak State’s Cold Brew is made from our delicious dark roast, boasting notes of chocolate. All our beans are organic, shade-grown, and Fair Trade-certified, as well as naturally low-acid and gut-friendly to support your health and the environment.
This pre-made cold brew is of course low-acid, with that creamy, smooth flavor you’ve come to love. Even better, it’s infused with five different adaptogens to support immunity, brain health, and balance stress levels.
Try our seasonal Cold brew for just $6.99, and taste the difference for yourself!Psst… Want to learn more about coffee and the environment? Check out this post all about sustainable coffee!