Introduction: Cold Coffee Drinks Without Special Equipment

Picture of Cold Coffee Drinks Without Special Equipment
Getting tired of paying $5 a pop for a cold coffee drink, I set about learning how I might make my own. The only issue was, I had no espresso machine, nor do I particularly want one. Casting about on the web, which consisted of asking an online friend who owns a coffee shop in Fort Worth, TX, I learned of something he called "toddy", or cold-brewed coffee. Let's make some!

The things we'll need:

  • Some coffee beans (you should be able to use pre-ground coffee as well). I used 3/4 cup of whole beans this time around, but I think I'll use a full cup next time.
  • Some water, about a half-gallon (8 cups, or two quarts, or four pints, or...)
  • A pitcher that can hold that much liquid with some room to spare.
  • A blender (more on this later).
  • Some time.
  • A mesh strainer, a large bowl, and a paper towel.
  • The aforementioned pitcher again.

A note on the amount of coffee if you're using already-ground beans: Whole beans lose about a third of their volume after grinding, so 3/4 cup whole would be 1/2 cup ground, give or take. This is based on my best guesswork, and I have yet to test it, so YMMV.

You probably see where I'm going with this. On to the first step...

Step 1: The Daily Grind, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Blender.

Picture of The Daily Grind, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Blender.

First off, we need to grind up the beans, unless you're using ground coffee, then you can skip this step. Since we need a large amount of coffee, a regular grinder would require us to work in batches, which is a pain in the rear, and, let's face it, boring.

Enter the blender.

But... Will it blend? Click through the pics below to find out.

You don't need to crush them to a fine powder, but the granules should be about typical pre-ground coffee size.

Step 2: Water We to Do Now?

Picture of Water We to Do Now?

This doesn't really need its own page, but I took the pictures of it, so I may as well use them.

Now we'll transfer the newly-ground coffee to the target pitcher. This is where the flexible cutting mat really comes in handy. Then, measure out and pour 8 cups of cold water into the pitcher. Seal it up with the lid, give it some shaking and agitation to get the granules mixed up good with the water, then stash in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours. If you can, agitate it every once in a while, to keep the water and coffee all mixed up.

Step 3: Putting a Strain on Our Relationship.

Picture of Putting a Strain on Our Relationship.

The next day, your water should be sufficiently infused with coffee goodness. Now, we strain.

Again, regular filters and cups are too small and slow. I have very good luck with my nicely-sized mesh strainer and a paper towel draining into a nice, big stainless steel bowl. I'm a huge fan of big metal bowls, and believe every kitchen should have at least one.

Place your strainer over your big bowl or other catch receptacle, line the strainer with the paper towel, like in the pictures below, then start pouring in the coffee. You may have to do this in batches, but it won't take very long to get it all strained.

After this is all done, take the strainer away, and you're left with the goodness: cold coffee, from which any number of drinks can be crafted. Let's make one!

But first, move your treasure to a second pitcher, or even the first one as long as you wash it out, and place it in the refrigerator.

Step 4: Raspberry + Coffee + Milk = Delicious!

Picture of Raspberry + Coffee + Milk = Delicious!
The pictures tell this story, and it's a simple one:

  • Pour a little bit of a flavored syrup into a glass. I'm using raspberry here, as it is the only one I can find locally that is not artificially flavored. I'm going to have to cast around for other shops I can buy the good stuff at.
  • Pour in some coffee. It really is that simple.
  • Pour in some milk, or if you're feeling naughty, half-and-half.
  • Pop in some ice, stir, and enjoy!

The ratios are up to you, and take some experimentation. I just pour mine based upon where they level off at inside the glass, but I like living on the edge like that.

Cold-brewed coffee is actually a very simple thing to do. So simple, in fact, that I took way too many photos of the process. Nonetheless, I hope this Instructable is of use to someone, maybe someone else out there who's still trying to figure out why these self-same drinks cost so much when someone else makes them for us.

The one thing I'd do different for next time is to increase the amount of coffee from 3/4 cup of beans to a whole cup, per eight cups of water. I've always liked strong coffee, though.

I'll likely update this Instructable in time, as this is my first one, and no doubt there will be many improvements I can make. Thank you, and happy cold brewing!


Asbestos (author)2008-06-05

A couple of random answers to some questions above, since I've just been making this for a few weeks now. The flavor of the coffee is really good -- tastes like coffee without the acidity and bitterness. It's pretty smooth too. It has less caffeine in it than hot-brewed coffee, but I don't know how much, so don't guzzle down gallons of it. Since it is much less bitter, it can be drunk without sugar or with just a little bit. Making a syrup is of course best if you want your sugar to dissolve in cold coffee. It can also keep much longer than hot-brewed coffee. Hot coffee has had all the bitter alkaloids extracted, which end up in the coffee. These keep getting more and more bitter as time goes on (drip coffee left on the hot plate becomes undrinkable for me after an hour or so, and if left cold becomes undrinkable after a day or so). Cold-brewed coffee won't become more bitter, and so can survive happily in the fridge for over a week. Finally, I find that 12 hours is about right to brew it, but the flavors keep getting more intense if you let it brew longer. The bitterness and caffeine content increase as well, of course.

EvanK5 (author)Asbestos2015-09-01

I think you meant to say the caffeine content is much higher than hot brewed coffee

ekabuggo (author)2013-05-08

how can i get download for procedures

Bramael2 (author)2011-06-05

I'm not certain how "safe" paper towels are for filtering, but I know coffee filter papers are produced with pouring liquids through it in mind.

I also use my french press (1L) to brew in, slightly smaller ground to water ratio, it works for me.

I use my aero press to filter the cold brew through, stack 3 or so filter pads in the end, just a precaution, and voila perfect filtered liquid.

gallifreyan (author)2010-11-04

If you get the Toddy press, they recommend 9 cups of water to 1 pound of coarse-ground coffee, and let it sit out (doesn't need to take up half the fridge) for 12 hours or so. Then it's 3 parts water to 1 part concentrate to make regular coffee. Sometimes I'll go 14-16 hours to make it a bit stronger, freeze it in bottles, and then thaw it when I'm ready to use more. I suspect the same would go for a home-brew (so to speak) filter system.

You can freeze it "indefinitely" or keep it in a cold fridge for up to 2 weeks. Don't leave it out or it will go really really bad. You can even freeze it in ice trays to chill hot coffee (or tea! really!) without diluting it like frozen water ice does.

PCfreak (author)2010-11-01

u could also try using the flavored liquid coffee creamer thats what i use in stead of regular half and half but i recently discovered a new kind of liquid CC thats based on H&H but is flavored

hg341 (author)2010-10-17

....i might try this
as i the magic of cold bleaned has not yet come to me in all its full(i tryed to make a frappuccino and FAILED....badly)

ShallMaBear (author)2010-06-15

I love my cold brew coffee, I put my grounds in my coffee press add water.. Go to bed and in the AM I have my cold brew coffee.. YuMmmmm.. (I also put the brewed coffee in my blender on low, add sugar and powdered milk, come back after I get my face on, add just a few ice cubes, and Enjoy a $4.89 'Frap' for pennies.....

KittyF (author)2010-05-10

If you look online for the instructions for cold brewed coffee I think they use a whole pound per half gallon of water.  Not sure though so check before you try that. 

Regarding flavorings for coffee, I'd imagine orange would be a lovely flavor for coffee, since I love to sweeten mine with orange juice.  YUMMMY!!  

austinburke. (author)2009-02-07

Does anyone have any different recipies besides the rasberry one? I don't have any of that syrup stuff!

dmlandrum (author)austinburke.2009-02-21

Any flavor of syrup would work fine. I used raspberry only because it was the only one I could find that wasn't artificial. It was, however, still loaded down with HFCS.

wow. thats embarrassing. i spelled "raspberry" wrong.. with a spellchecker!!

daniel! (author)2009-02-20

will it blend? yes, it blends! mmm i-smoke

chrisbaker (author)2008-09-13

We normally drink 1% milkfat milk, so that's what I used the first couple times I made this. Most recently, I used half and half (half whole milk, half cream), and there's a tremendous difference. So much better with this than the watery milk!

Xial (author)2008-07-22


I had some left over coffee that I had bought a couple of *months* prior to reading this 'ible and doing it. Made a one quart batch last night in a 32 ounce bottle, and been drinking from it all day today.

Normally for an 8 ounce cup, I use about 5 to 10 packets of sugar, but for this 32 ounce bottle, all I've used was 5 packets of sugar. This came out great.


asda653 (author)2008-06-23

I just started a 1-cup tupperware experiment with cold coffee. Well I probably already messed it up, but will this work with instant coffee? I tried it anyways.

FunkNattidelic (author)asda6532008-07-11

with instant, i just make a huge batch, add my cream and sugar and than stick it in the freezer overnight. by morning, it is solid, so i break it/cut it and throw it in the blender. Its awesome.

dmlandrum (author)asda6532008-07-07

Instant coffee is not ground coffee beans, but instead is coffee which has been brewed in the normal manner, and then freeze-dried to create those crystals that will dissolve in hot water. I would say that no, this process will not work with instant. One thing I haven't tried, though, is making a cold coffee beverage simply by mixing instant coffee with cold water. Maybe I'll give that a shot today, as I have some instant coffee handy (it's useful stuff for making coffee-flavored foods, like ice cream).

mr mime (author)2008-06-11

I tried this the other day, 1 cup ground coffee in 8 cups water, and my coffee came out weak, but still bitter and oily tasting. Is one type of coffee better for cold-brewing than another?

dmlandrum (author)mr mime2008-06-11

For the bitterness, you might try a different level of roast. I haven't experimented too much in this area (I usually keep medium-roast coffees around). As for the weakness, I can't really explain that one. I've never had that issue.

reeding (author)2008-06-06

the best part about "cold brew" coffee is it doesn't go stale. when you brew hot coffee it gets coffee oil and the oil gets rancid. cold brew also tastes better

srcskier (author)2007-09-05

Yummm and so much cheaper than buying a coffee machine or espresso machine (which I was seriously considering until now!). One question though, how long would you say it keeps in the fridge? couple days?

I tasted some coffe that had been sitting in my coffee pot for 2 weeks (I dont use it often) and it was the stalest thing I have ever tasted in my life (aside from being one of the most bitter things I've tasted - sugar didn't help much, it tasted really bitter and really sweet all at once)

dmlandrum (author)srcskier2007-09-06

I honestly can't say. I've never had a batch last longer than a week. :) When I make my next batch (I have to go buy some more coffee yet), I'll set some aside for an experiment to see how long it takes before it goes bad.

Cheesecake (author)2007-11-11

mmm. That raspberry coffee looks might delicious at 3:54 am!

callmeshane (author)2007-11-01

Hmmmmmm all the "packet + machine = coffee" mentality.....

You can make perfectly good coffee by simply spooning some ground coffee beans into a cup and adding boiling water.

Or a saucepan... for later processing...

X_D_3_M_1 (author)2007-10-23

yay im out of frappucinno, i need this. how to make frappucino...

mailleman (author)2007-08-26

I wonder who else caught the Strangelove reference..

saites2001 (author)mailleman2007-10-11

I did.

biggreenfeet (author)2007-08-29

Nice tutorial. Here's a little heads up: to make simple syrup might be an easy non-fake flavoring way to go. Probably cheaper too. Equal parts sugar and water for a simple syrup, heat until it boils and then immediately take it off of the heat and stir. Let cool, and mix. You can add some vanilla for vanilla, or if you really want raspberry, buy a little container and heat them in a small pan until they are all mushy-gushy (or blend them in the blender beforehand and add to the sugar/water. I have never tried raspberry, but its something to start with. :)

dmlandrum (author)biggreenfeet2007-08-29

I've given a great deal of thought to making my own flavored syrups, and I even did some experiments some time ago to make lemon and orange ones. The lemon one turned out better than the orange, but lemon mixed with coffee just doesn't work for me. ;-) I might yet make flavored syrups the subject of a future Instructable. You're spot on about simple syrups, though, and they're very handy to have around.

Bran (author)2007-08-26

You say that you use about a cup of beans. I use Instant ground coffee, do you know how much a cup of beans ground down is? Would you say, maybe, 1/4 of a cup? I don't want to over-power the coffee. Thanks, and nice Instructable.

dmlandrum (author)Bran2007-08-26

Thank you for the compliments! You lose about 1/3 of your volume going from whole to ground beans, so the 3/4 cup I did use (sorry for the confusion, I was saying that I would increase that to a cup for next time) would become about 1/2 cup ground, give or take. The ground equivalent of 1 cup of beans would then be 2/3 cup. The thing in your question that trips the bells in my head, though, is the phrase "Instant ground coffee." Instant coffee is not coffee beans pre-ground, but rather, brewed coffee which is then evaporated and freeze-dried, to be later dissolved in hot water. I'm assuming you meant that your coffee was simply pre-ground, in which case I would try 1/2 cup and then adjust according to your taste after you've tried it once. If you want to experiment, you can simply scale the ingredients back linearly for smaller batches at first. I suppose it would be possible to get instant coffee crystals to dissolve in cold water, though, and mix up a drink that way. That may be worth a try. Looks like it might be time to update this Instructable again. :-)

lemonie (author)2007-08-26

What are the differences (caffiene, taste, colour) between cold-brewed coffee and cooled hot-brewed coffee? L

dmlandrum (author)lemonie2007-08-26

Cold-brewed coffee doesn't extract so many of the bitter alkaloids that hot-brewing does. Some people like the bitter flavors, so this is a matter of taste, I think. Caffeine is one of those alkaloids, so less of that gets extracted during a cold-brew as well. I've not noticed any color differences between the two methods, given a similar amount of coffee.

saites2001 (author)2007-08-25

I was honestly just thinking about how this could be done. I think I'll do this tomorrow.

dmlandrum (author)saites20012007-08-25

I'm glad to see I inspired someone. :-) Depending on how strong you like your coffee drinks, I think I would go for a full cup of beans for the eight cups of water. It's a matter of taste, really.

dmlandrum (author)dmlandrum2007-08-25

In fact, I just updated this Instructable to reflect that. Thanks!

About This Instructable




Bio: I was born in 1976 in the town of Atascadero, California, which translates to "mud hole." It's an apt description, believe me. It was ... More »
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