How to Make Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate
Ahh. Iced coffee. Deep, rich, cool, and creamy. Even a little chocolaty. There’s nothing like it.
And, guess what? It’s so easy (and inexpensive!) to make cold brew at home. I even created a handy-dandy little infographic to show just HOW easy and inexpensive it is to make your own iced coffee!
Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio
1 part ground coffee beans to 4 cups water. Done!
Okay, here’s a little more.
I’ve been making my cold brew iced coffee at home for years now, and through lots of trial and error, I think I’ve pretty much got it down.
After trying it several different ways, I settled upon the cold brew method. It’s basically a magical way to brew coffee into pure deep-roast goodness without any of that shiver-inducing, bitter acidity. Pure mild-tasting – but potent – goodness.
“Cold brew” really means room temperature, by the way. The first time I tried it, I put my jar of grounds and water into the fridge. (I do silly things, and then I share them here so that you don’t have to.)
This tutorial, by the way, is the new and improved version of an old, related iced coffee post from several years ago. I had so much I wanted to add to that one that I decided to pretty much start over with step-by-step instructions, new photos, answers to questions I’ve received, and other little tidbits I’ve learned since I shared the first time.
Cold brewed iced coffee results in a delicious, potent elixir which, if you’re not careful, could give you a seriously surprising caffeine jolt. Start slowly! I’m serious – the extreme jitters are no fun, and trust me – I’ve been there. This concentrate is meant to be mixed with an equal amount of water and poured over a glass packed with ice.
Ready? Let’s do this!
How to make cold brew coffee
Step 1: Pick great beans
You want good beans for your cold brew! No weak blondes here. Go for a robust, medium to dark roast. My very favorite beans for iced coffee come from a local chain, Cafe Ladro. Their Ladro Blend is big and bold, but still uber-smooth and chocolaty. It makes the perfect cold-brewed iced coffee.
Step 2: Now grind ’em
Take one cup of beans and grind them. Go for a medium-to-large grind – not too fine. Preferably, you can grind your beans at home for the freshest, most flavorful result – but if you need to have them ground at the store or coffee shop, you’ll still be in good shape.
Step 3: Just add water and stir
Place the grounds in a 40-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid, and add 4 cups cool water. I like to use one of my big 2-quart mason jars (affiliate link). Preferably filtered, but if you don’t have it, no biggie. And then stir! The grounds and water need to be good and stirred together to get the everything flowing.
Step 4: Let it steep!
Put the lid on the jar or pitcher and sit it somewhere on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. And let it sit overnight (at least 6 hours), or up to 12 hours.
Step 5: Strain
I’ve strained my iced coffee a gazillion ways, and I suppose every single one qualifies as a hack. Here are a few ideas for how to strain cold brew coffee:
- Pour it into a French press and gently push down the plunger. Pour out the iced coffee concentrate.
- Place a coffee filter into a funnel and set the funnel over a bottle. Pour the concentrate into the funnel to strain out the grounds.
- Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth or, in a pinch, paper towels. Set it in a bowl and pour the concentrate over the sieve.
- Or, my current favorite method: use a nut milk bag (affiliate link). I’ve been using the same fine-mesh bag I use for making almond milk, and it’s the easiest method I’ve found, by a mile. Note: a reader mentioned that pantyhose works as a great stand-in for nut-milk bags. I can see how they would work perfectly, but … well, hey, it’s an option, right?!
Step 6: Drink!
The best part! Pour 1/2 cup iced coffee concentrate and 1/2 cup water over a glass of ice or coffee ice cubes. Add cream and a little sweetener, if desired. Stir, plop in a straw, and enjoy the good (caffeinated) life.
I also really enjoy this concentrate straight-up, without water – it tastes incredible and has quite the jolt of caffeine, so I do have to take it easy.
Your cold-brew should keep in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Iced coffee variations and enhancements
Once you’ve enjoyed a few iced coffees, you might be in the mood to shake it up. Here are a few ideas for your cold-brewed iced coffee concentrate including DIY coffee syrups to spice it up and more:
- Cinnamon Dolce Iced Coffee
- Orange Spiced Iced Coffee
- Vanilla Iced Coffee
- Maple Vanilla Iced Coffee
- Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee
- Drizzle a little of this Homemade Chocolate Syrup into a glass. So good!
- Try coffee ice cubes – no more watered-down coffee!
- And try my favorite non-dairy creamer alternatives: 3-ingredient coconut coffee creamer, DIY almond milk coffee creamer or DIY cashew milk coffee creamer.
And here’s the actual recipe and handy-dandy print option if you’d like.
How to Make Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate
These step-by-step instructions show just how easy it is to make delicious iced coffee at home.
For the concentrate:
- 1 cup coffee beans, coarsely ground
- 4 cups room temperature water
For your iced coffee:
- Add the grounds and the water to a 40-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid. Stir. Put the lid on and put the jar/pitcher somewhere out of the way on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight.
- Let it sit for at least 6 hours, up to 12.
- Line a fine-mesh sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the water and grounds over the strainer and discard grounds.
- Pour the iced coffee concentrate into an airtight jar or pitcher and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for up to one week.
- To make iced coffee, fill a glass with ice and add 1/2 cup coffee concentrate and 1/2 cup water. Add cream/sweetener as desired and serve.
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