How to make Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee Method

+ 6 Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers

If already know your stuff and are only here for some recommendations, feel free to skip to the best Cold Brew coffee maker list below!


What is Cold Brew coffee?

So, what is cold brew coffee anyway? Well first I’ll tell you what it’s not... 

Cold brew is NOT iced coffee.  

Iced Coffee is regular brewed coffee that is allowed to cool and then poured over ice.

Cold Brew coffee is NEVER hot.

Cold Brew Coffee must be steeped in cold water over the course of several hours. Yes, it is difficult to wait that long for coffee... so you need to plan ahead a bit! The end result is very much worth it!

The major difference between the two methods arises from the temperature at which soluble solids are extracted from the coffee.  


Cold Brew Coffee Taste

As is the case with regular hot coffee, cold brew can take on a variety of flavors. Although the origin of the beans and the roast level play a big part in the taste, the cold brewing process can highlight different flavors than that of hot brewing. Because of this, the same beans may result in a different flavor profile when brewed hot or cold.

  • Full-bodied
  • Smooth & Mild
  • Low Acidity
  • Notes of chocolate, nuts & earth often concentrated

It's all about the extraction!

The final taste of a cup of coffee is largely dependent on the extraction of soluble solids from the grinds. A good coffee will have an extraction of 18-22%. Depending on the brewing method, certain variables can be adjusted in order to achieve this optimal extraction level.

The key variables that you have control of are as follows;

Temperature

Water Temperature

Grind Size

Grind Size

Steeping Time

Steeping Time

Here’s a break down for how these variables affect extraction...

As temperature increases, the rate of extraction also increases. So a colder water temperature causes a lower rate of extraction than a hotter temperature.

Since the rate of extraction is low at cold temperatures, more time is needed to achieve the desired level of extraction.

As grind size gets finer, surface area increases and extraction increases! As we are using a high steeping time, it is necessary to use a coarser grind (less surface area = less extraction) in order to avoid over extraction.

This may see a little bit convoluted, but this process has been highly optimized over many years. But don’t take my word for it! Make yourself some cold brew with some super fine grinds and let me know how it tastes!

Spoiler Alert: It’s going to be bitter, due to over-extraction.   

For more preaching on the importance of extraction and Burr Grinderrs, you can check out our Coffee Grinding 101 article! 


Cold Brew Methods

There are two main cold brewing methods that you may choose to use...

The Immersion Method

This method is very simple and can easily be completed by anyone at home. All that you need is a some coarse grind coffee, a container, a filter and a little bit of patience!

Check out our step by step guide below!

The Cold Drip Method

The aforementioned expensive piece of equipment. This chemistry-lab-looking apparatus is an ice drip tower that is used for the cold drip method.

One major benefit of the slow drip method is that your coffee will be read in only 6-8 hours, which is quite a bit quicker than the immersion method. That being said, this method requires some attention, whereas the immersion method is more of a set it and forget it type of procedure!

Experimentation is necessary in order to establish the grind size and drip rate that is best suited for your purposes. You may also need to adjust the drip rate to ensure that it remains constant.

For most people, it’s a lot easier and more practical to stick with the immersion method to make the best cold brew coffee at home!


How to make Cold Brew Coffee at Home

The following is a step-by-step guide for Immersion Cold Brewing.

1. Choose a Vessel

Decide what container you want to make your cold brew in. Anything that you can cover will work!

Devices intended for Cold Brewing simplify the filtration process and make things cleaner and easier for you.

Make sure your container is clean before you get started!

2. Grind some beans.

You'll want to take some time to get this step right! Bear in mind that you'll use at least twice as much ground coffee as you would for regular drip coffee.

You'll want to use a coarse grind here, otherwise your coffee may end up too bitter. We recommend using a Burr Grinder to ensure consistent grind size.

Some beans translate better than others to cold brew coffee.

You can check out our 10 best coffees for cold brew for some ideas if you like!

3. Cold Brew Ratio.

Next, decide how much cold brew you want to make, and if you'll be making a concentrate or not. We recommend making a concentrate, because you can always dilute it later on!

Cold Brew Ratio

Typically, cold brewing uses twice as much coffee as hot drip brewing.

The best cold brew ratio is typically 1:7.

This means that for every gram of ground coffee used, you’ll want 7 (mL) of water. 

You're better off making a stronger cold brew, because you can always dilute it... but you can't concentrate it after the fact!

Don't worry, we've done the math for you!

Cold Brew Ratio Chart

Serving Size

Ground Coffee

Water

4 cups

135 grams (~2 cups)

946mL / 32 oz

6 cups

202 grams (~3 cups)

1420mL / 48 oz

8 cups

270 grams (~4 cups)

1893mL / 64 oz

10 cups

338 grams (~5 cups)

2366mL / 80 oz

12 cups

405 grams (~6 cups)

2839mL / 96 oz

14 cups

473 grams (~7 cups)

3312mL / 112 oz

16 cups

541 grams (~8 cups)

3785mL / 128 oz

Depending on whether or not you want to make a concentrate, you can adjust the cold brew ratio accordingly. You'll find your preference with a little experimentation!

4. Add Water.

Combine your grinds and cold water in your container of choice. Cover the top and place it in the fridge or on the counter.

5. Steeping.

There are varying opinions regarding how long you should allow your cold brew to steep. 

Give it 12-24 hours, depending how strong you would like it to be.

We typically go for the 16-20 hour range with our container in the fridge, but experimentation is the best way to find your preference!

6. Filter.

It's now time to remove the ground coffee.

If you're using a Cold Brew Coffee Maker, you'll be able to simply remove the filter and grinds, or allow the coffee to run through the filter into a container.

If you're using any old container, you'll have to pour your concoction through a filter or two! We recommend repeating this process to ensure removal of coffee grinds.

7. Enjoy!

Your Cold Brew is ready to go! Try diluting is with half water, half brew.

How is it?

You can experiment with adjustments to coffee to water ratio, steeping time & dilution until you find your sweet spot.


Cold Brew Vs. Hot Drip Coffee

These two methods could not be more different. From the fundamental differences in temperature, the immersion vs filtration techniques and the final taste of the coffee! We've outlined the differences in the table below.

Drip Coffee Maker

Cold Brew

Drip Coffee

Taste

Smooth, full-bodied, low acid, richer notes are concentrated.

Hotter, more acidic & less body.

Prep Time

Immersion = 12-24 hours

Cold Drip = 3-5 hours

5-10 minutes.

Skill Required

Very little, you just need some patience.

Even less.

Grind Size & Amount

Coarse.

4+ tablespoons / 6 oz (180mL)

Fine.

1-2 tablespoons / 6 oz (180mL) water

How does it work?

Immersion coffee brewing.

Extraction occurs between 2-21 °C / 36-70 °F.

Filtration / drip brewing method.

Extraction occurs between 91-96 °C / 196-205 °F

Keeps For

Up to 2 weeks!

Up to 2 hours... if you're lucky.

Extra

Maybe an optional extra filter depending on the model you have.

You'll need some paper filters.

Expect To Pay

Immersion: $20- 50

Cold Drip:  $250+

$20 - anything


Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Cold Brew coffee makers make the entire process easier and cleaner. They also give you an ideal container for storing your coffee!

We've compiled a list of the 6 best Cold Brew coffee makers for you below. Have a look!


1. KitchenToolz 1 Gallon Cold Brew Coffee Maker

A huge, 1 gallon (4L) capacity allows you to make large amounts of cold brew at a time! If you love Cold Brew and have the space for it, this is the one for you!

  • Convenient tap allows easy pouring. 
  • Screw on cap maintains freshness.
  • 4L / 136oz capacity.
  • Just make sure you have room in your fridge!

2. Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker

This Cold Brew coffee maker is indeed "deluxe", with an advanced filtration system built in. Good size, great price!

  • Best selling Cold Brew coffee maker on Amazon.
  • Interior fine mesh filter keeps grinds out of your coffee.
  • 2L / 68oz capacity
  • Fits nicely in refrigerator door.

3. Toddy Cold Brew System

This well known, patented cold brew system boasts 67% less acid than regular hot brewed coffee.

  • Comes with container, decanter with lid, 2 reusable filters, a rubber stopper, instructions and recipe guide!
  • Easily filter your cold brew by removing the stopper.
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty.

4. Yama Glass Cold Drip Coffee Tower

If you're already a Cold Brew pro and want to take your game to the next level, the Cold Drip method is for you. This device is pricey and complicated, but it offers many benefits.

  • Gives you much more control over strength of your cold brew via an adjustable flow rate.
  • Takes just 6-8 hours.
  • The visual appeal is second to none.

5. OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

This option has a number of innovative features that make the cold brewing process as easy as can be.

  • Perforated "rainmaker" on top ensures an even distribution of water.
  • Stainless steel filter & 50 paper filters included.
  • Easy to use tap filter your cold brew into the provided container.

6. Kitchen Sophisticate Cold Brew Coffee Maker

The least expensive item on our list is a fantastic budget option that will fit into the most crowded refrigerator!

  • Thin design fits easily in the door of your fridge.
  • Easy to clean filter.
  • 1L / 32oz capacity.
  • A serious bargain!

Our Favorite?

KitchenToolz 1 Gallon Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Each of these Cold Brew coffee makers will do the trick, but if we HAD to pick just one...

It would be this juggernaut. This massive container allows Cold Brew lovers to make a huge amount of coffee at once, has an effortless tap system and great filtration. All of this while remaining very affordable!

If you have the space in your fridge, this is the way to go!


That concludes our Cold Brew guide. Thoughts? Comments? Recommendations? We want to hear your thoughts on everything related to Cold Brew!

Have a coffee question? We may have the answer. Ask away!

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