Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to make cold brew coffee (plus, our 3 favorite grounds for cold brew)

Cold brew coffee: Making this popular drink is easier than you think it is

Pouring cream in cold brew coffee
Magda Patsogianni / Pixabay

I grew up in a house where iced coffee was made by pouring the hours-old leftovers from the coffee pot over a glass of ice. Maybe a little milk was added, or if you were feeling extra fancy, a splash of flavored creamer. Embarrassingly far into adulthood (before Keurig came along and cramped my style), that’s how I made my “cold brew.” For years, this was how I drank my warm-weather coffee. But oh, did I have it wrong.

But what is cold brew coffee? In case you’re unaware, cold brew, real cold brew, is made using an entirely different method than hot coffee. While hot coffee is generally made by running hot water through finely ground coffee beans, cold brew is made more like our grandmothers made sun tea — set to steep for a while, becoming flavorful and delicious on its own with nothing added but love, water, and time.

The result is a much smoother, silkier, bolder, and more flavorful cup of morning magic. When coffee is steeped this way, much of the bitterness smooths to be much gentler on the palette, allowing you to really taste the flavor of the beans in a whole new way. So how do you make cold brew at home?

Using a French press
ktasimar / Shutterstock

How to cold brew coffee

There are plenty of gizmos out there, like cold brew coffee makers, jugs, and infusers, but there’s no need for these. Like many needless kitchen tools, these accessories end up being shoved into the back of the pantry, never to be seen again.

Cold brew recipe

Our favorite method of making cold brew coffee involves nothing more than a good old-fashioned French press.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coffee beans
  • 3 1/2 cups filtered water

Method:

  1. Grind coffee beans to a medium/coarse consistency.
  2. Add coffee grounds to a large French press and add water, stirring to combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  4. Place the lid on the French press and slowly press the plunger down.
  5. Pour the cold brew into a pitcher and discard the grounds.
  6. Serve plain or with any desired add-ins, such as milk or sweeteners.
  7. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Man pouring coffee from a French press
Getty Images

Cold brew coffee tips and tricks

  • If you’re not a fan of watered-down coffee, cold brew cubes are an easy solution. Simply freeze some of your leftover cold brew in ice cube trays and use them instead of regular ice. Problem solved!
  • While finely ground beans are perfect for hot coffee, you’ll want a coarser ground for cold brew. Cold brew made with finely ground coffee beans can easily become muddy or overly infused.
  • While it isn’t necessary, filtered water makes for the best flavor when making coffee, be it regular or cold brew. A simple filter like Brita works for this.
  • If you don’t have a French press, this process can be easily done without one. Simply steep your grounds and water in a jar or pitcher in the fridge. After 12 to 24 hours, strain the liquid through a strainer and cheesecloth, filtering out all the grounds.
Cold brew ice coffee
Adobe Stock

The right grounds make the best cold brew coffee

To make the best cold brew, you need to start with the best coffee, and we’ve got some suggestions that will help you make that perfect cup.

Hikers Brew coffee
Hikers Brew Coffee

Hikers Brew Coffee

Hikers Brew Coffee started in Wisconsin in 2016, and the company focuses on creating great coffee from sustainable sources. It roasts all its coffee in-house and has a variety of roasts and flavored coffees, including “Yurt Dirt,” Hikers Brew’s dark roast that the company says is “robust, flavorful, and just like your favorite campfire flannel, has the perfect hint of smoke.”

As part of its mission to be sustainable, Hikers Brew packages all of its coffee in multiuse and compostable packaging designed to be the perfect complement on your next outdoor adventure.

Fire Dept. Coffee
Fire Dept. Coffee

Fire Dept. Coffee

A veteran-owned business, Fire Dept. Coffee started in Illinois in 2016, and was inspired by how important coffee is to firefighters and first responders working long shifts. The company is run by active and retired firefighters and first responders and offers a wide variety of whole beans, grounds, and pods, and it even has ready-to-drink varieties.

What sets Fire Dept. Coffee apart is its line of spirit-infused coffee. The blends, which are infused with bourbon, whiskey, rum, or tequila, come in a wide variety of flavors. The green coffee beans are infused with the liquor and then roasted. While the alcohol cooks off during the roasting process, the flavor and aroma remain.

Steeped Coffee
Steeped Coffee

Steeped Coffee

Steeped Coffee was designed with travelers in mind. If you don’t want to rely on hotel room coffee when you’re traveling (and who does?), but you want to pack light, Steeped Coffee has the solution. Steeped Coffee comes in single-serve brew bags, similar to tea bags and they’re made from fully compostable packaging. Just put the bag in hot water and brew a great cup of coffee in just a few minutes.

And you don’t even need hot water, as Steeped Coffee also offers a cold brew kit, which comes with eight-pack brew bags and a cold brew Mason jar. Steeped Coffee offers a variety of blends and flavors, including French roast and decaf.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
The transfusion drink is our favorite golf cocktail — here’s how to make it
Vodka, grape juice, ginger ale, and lime. What's not to love?
Transfusion cocktail

Sure, golf is a great game. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the sun, even if your last name isn't Woods, Scheffler, Mickelson, or Spieth. If you don’t take it too seriously (and don’t spend all day stuck in sand traps), it’s a fairly stress-free leisure activity. The best part? After you finish the back nine, you can head to the clubhouse for a much-deserved cocktail. That is if you didn’t spend the whole eighteen holes downing Miller Lites.

And while there are countless famous golf course cocktails like the Azalea and the always popular Old Fashioned, we don’t think a day at the golf club is complete without a refreshing, flavorful Transfusion.
What is a Transfusion?

Read more
How to open a beer bottle without an opener – you have lots of options
Don't worry, you will get that bottle open
Opening a bottle with a lighter

The crisis? You want to enjoy a beer, but you have no bottle opener. Don't panic, because we're going to get through this thing. After all, it's surprisingly easy to open a beer bottle without an opener. All the bottle opener does is use a bit of leverage to bend the cap, anyway. So let's create some leverage, and then let's drink some beer.

A quick note before we get started: It's easy to open beer bottles using rings, but the potential for damaging your ring or your metacarpal is very high, so we've left that one out.
How to open a beer bottle with a lighter

Read more
How to store coffee beans: 3 tips to keep your coffee fresh longer
Not today, Costco.
Coffee beans in hands.

For most of us, coffee beans are every bit as much a necessary kitchen staple as eggs or milk. After all, these are the magic beans that give us the energy to get out the door in the morning, to put on our big kid pants and go to work, to do the things we might not want to otherwise do. But when it comes to storing this precious ingredient, it's not quite as simple as shoving a bag in a cupboard, even if this is what many of us have done in the past.

Coffee beans are a fragile, temperamental ingredient, however life-giving and wonderful they may be. So it's important to treat them with the care and love they deserve and learn the right way to treat them after their stay in the grocery store. This is how to store coffee beans the right way.
Store them properly

Read more