How to Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee makes a smooth, non-bitter coffee that is especially perfect for iced coffee. I shared this over at the other week, but it’s such a favorite I thought I should share it here too. Whether you should drink coffee or not from a health perspective is up to debate, but if you are going to drink coffee this is a lovely way to do it.

Coffee never really appealed to me. At least, that’s what I thought. Cold-brew coffee is what first won me over and now I enjoy coffee made a variety of ways. There are both health benefits and disadvantages to drinking coffee, but that aside, I have discovered a love for coffee, and it all started with cold-brew coffee last year. If you are looking for a smooth cup of Joe, then this is an excellent method.

Plus, it is so simple! You leave coffee in water for 12 hours or more, and then you strain it. You now have a coffee concentrate that will last at least a week. What more can you ask for? The advantages of cold brewing coffee, as I see it, are as follows.

1. It is simple and easy to do.
2. It is less acidic, which many people find helpful on the stomach.
3. There is less caffeine per cup when cold brewed.
4. The cold-brew method is less bitter, which promotes a smooth flavor.
5. The cold-brew method allows a different flavor profile to appear. Without as much bitterness, the fruity, chocolate, vanilla or other undertones are allowed to shine. So, even if you like a good cup of drip coffee, cold brewed coffee can give you a wonderful variation.

I make this the most simple way possible with a mason jar (like these ones from my Amazon affiliate). But you can also use some of the great cold brew systems out there to make the process even simpler. The Toddy was the first system, but this one is a lot more classy, and this Bodum one looks great too!

Here is how I make mine. The amount of coffee to water can be tweaked to preference. A good rule of thumb is 1/3 cup of ground coffee to 1 cup of water. I make batches of 4 cups, but you can certainly make less or a lot more by using the same ratio.

Cold Brew Coffee

1 1/3 cup of fresh finely ground coffee (Even cheap coffee tastes good using this method, but I recommend buying organic coffee beans, since coffee is a highly sprayed crop. I personally lean toward a medium roast bean)
4 cups of filtered water

1. Combine ground coffee and water in a mason jar or French press. Stir to combine well. Cover and leave for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours at room temperature.

2. Put a coffee filter in a fine sieve over a small mixing bowl or 4 cup measuring cup. Slowly pour coffee through the filter. This is your coffee concentrate.

3. Keep refrigerated. To serve, dilute to preference. A one-to-two ratio is common (one-third coffee concentrate, two-thirds water). For a stronger cup of coffee, use a one-to-one ratio. I like to add a little almond milk. My husband likes to add a tablespoon or two of organic cream and just a little sweetener.

It will keep at least one week.

Yield: 4 cups of concentrate (makes at least 8 cups of coffee).

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Papa Black says

    Most of these comments are a little too off-the-wall and “green” for me, so forgive me if I missed something: how long can you keep coffee grinds in water of cold brewing systems?

    • George Tollefson says

      The author mentions in the article that 24 hours is the max. I haven’t heard anything from other sources.

  2. Kiran says

    This information could be dangerous to someone tryimg to.avoid drinking to much caffiene due to health reasons, cold brew infact contains as much as twice the amount of caffiene in regular coffee.

    • says


      Since I wrote this post, cold brew has become popular – however it is now most often served straight. This will indeed have more caffeine. However, if you serve it like I do above- diluted, it will be less than the typical cup of coffee.

    • mmctec says

      That is not what other articles say. They claim, because coffee isn’t brewed with hot water, it contains less caffeine. The reason why people believe it contains the same or more caffeine than in hot coffee is because the person drinks the cold brew coffee much faster than a cup of hot coffee.

      See an article from MSNBC which quotes the Toddy company which makes a device for easy brewing of cold brewed coffee. Apparently, in a side by side test of Toddy cold brewed with Starbuck’s hot brewed, the caffeine content was ~30% less in cold brewed than in hot.

  3. Penny says

    I’m not allowed caffeine so is it possible to do this with de caffeinated coffee as well, love the flavour of coffee, and I’m hoping I can use this as well for a smoother cup, thanks!

  4. Bean says

    When you start with 4 cups of filtered water, how much concentrate do you get out at the end? I am getting about 1 1/3 cups…. is that right or is something going wrong?

    • Michelle says

      4 cups concentrate. The ground coffee is just quietly flavoring the cold water as you leave it for the 12-24 hours, then you strain out the grounds and use them on your roses.

  5. Barb says

    What is the benefit of filtered vs. tap water, or does either work? Also, must it be a glass mason jar or would a plastic container or glass thermos work too?

  6. says

    One of the stores I went to said they let their coffee bru for 18 wks and believe you me, it was some awesome coffee. how would you go about doing this??? Cold or on the counter?? any tips would be appreciated.

    • D Abel says

      Sandra, not sure how they do it but I went on vacation for 10 days and forgot to empty the grounds from the coffee maker. Upon my return the grounds were growing mold. Not sure I would want to leave it room temp because of that. All the information I have says cold brew lasts about 4 weeks in the frig. If you try it please let us know.

  7. says

    just so you know <3

    "Cold brew coffee caffeine
    A coffee concentrate to water dilution ratio of 1:2 will give a cold brew caffeine content of 259 mg/8oz cup, a whopping 45% more caffeine than a hot brewed coffee to which we are accustomed. Many people dilute at even less than 1:2 and create a very highly caffeinated cup of coffee."

    • says

      Since I wrote this post I’ve found that some coffee shops don’t dilute it at all – which makes is extremely concentrated and high in caffeine. However, traditionally it was so diluted that it would be less caffeine. It’s all in how much you dilute it!

  8. Joyce says

    Remember that melting ice cubes will dilute your cold brew as you use it. I like my cold brew strong so do not dilute it and use ice cubes made from the same cold brew.

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