Making cold brew coffee at home

I’m currently on a cold brew coffee kick. We’ve been coffee home roasters for a number of years, but just in the last year, got pretty serious about it. We replaced our small popcorn-popper roasting system with something a little bigger with a bit more roasting power.

We bought the vintage commercial coffee roaster we’d seen for a couple years collecting dust in a corner at the Oasis Café in Marathon, and have been roasting as much as we can consume in a reasonable time ever since the big, red Otto Swadlo roaster joined our family last spring.

Our most recent roasting session… the smaller jars are quarts, and the two large jars are two quarts each. Davis Mountains coffee mug for scale.

I love coffee and am grateful to be married to a fellow coffee lover, who has exposed me to the finer points of coffee appreciation, from green bean to savored sip. I can actually taste the notes of date, or tropical fruit, or chocolate, or cherries in a coffee now.

Cold brew coffee is a coffee concentrate made by steeping your coffee grounds in cold water for at least 12 hours. I like to let ours steep all night, so it’s ready to enjoy the next day. It’s lower in acidity than hot brewed coffee (one study showed it was 67% less acidic) and it’s also sweeter and smoother than hot brewed because the coffee grounds aren’t exposed to the high temps of traditional hot coffeemaking.

Because the grounds aren’t exposed to the heat, they retain the magnesium, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are lost with heat exposure, and the coffee is healthier for you than a traditional cup.

Why make cold brew at home? Cold brew is pretty pricey at stores and coffee shops, especially with its rise in popularity. When you make it at home, you not only save money but you can tweak it to your tastes. My husband likes his cold brew a little weaker so that he can drink it throughout the day. I like mine nice and strong to power me over the afternoon wall I hit about 4 p.m.

Four o’clock and all is well…
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Do yourself a favor and freeze an ice tray of coffee… your full-strength iced coffee will thank you.

Cold brew also eliminates that bottom of the pot, leftover sludgy coffee that nobody wants to drink, especially after the heat dissipates and the bitterness is in full effect. Because of that, wasted coffee is virtually eliminated.

I’ve been experimenting with different techniques for cold brew, from equipment to coffee-to-water ratios.

Prepping cold brew coffee in the French press and a jar of overnight oats before bed makes for an easy, healthy start to the next day.
French press filled with cold brew in the making… next to my overnight oats. Prepped before bed and ready in the morning.

I’ve used our French press, one-quart mason jar with just grounds and water, two-quart mason jar with a large just-for-these-jars diffuser inside of it, and have enjoyed trying the different results because they have all been different in flavor and intensity.


So far, my favorite method has been to put measured course-ground coffee in a quart-size mason jar, pour cold water over the coffee, give it a stir, put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge overnight. Strain it at least once to make sure you have no grounds in your cold brew.

Since we drink our morning cups of hot coffee from a French press or using the pour-over method (depending on my mood), I first tried making cold brew in the French press.

It worked well, and eliminated the need to strain the cold brew. The only problem was that it wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator because the French press plunger was too tall. If you use a French press for your cold brew, don’t leave the coffee in the press for longer than 24 hours.

Enjoy it straight up black and full strength, over ice, with a little bit of boiling water to heat it up if you prefer, with a splash of half-n-half (that’s how I like it this week) or however you want… be sure and take a sip or two before adding anything to see if you actually need to dress it up.

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Small samples 🙂

You might find that you don’t even need to sweeten it since it has all of the flavors and sweetness naturally found in coffee, and is so nice and smooth.


Cold Brew Coffee at Home   

1 cup coarsely-ground coffee beans
4 cups cold water

Add ground coffee and cold water together in a large container (bowl or in a one-quart mason jar). Stir briefly to combine. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or up to 24 hours), or leave it on a safe spot on the kitchen counter.

Remove the container, and place a strainer covered with a cheesecloth in a second bowl or jar. Pour the coffee (and grounds) over the strainer, and wait a minute or two until the liquid has filtered through the strainer. Discard the grounds and remove the strainer.

Serve the coffee over ice, stirring in water to dilute the coffee at a 1:2 or 1:1 concentrate/water ratio, or to taste.  Refrigerate the remaining coffee concentrate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

To make iced coffee, pack a glass full of ice cubes. Fill glass 2/3 full with coffee liquid. Add healthy splash of half-and-half. Add 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (or use maple syrup, honey, plain sugar or your sweetener of choice instead) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust half-and-half and/or sweetener as needed.


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