Introduction: Cold Brew Coffee

Picture of Cold Brew Coffee

I've been a Barista in high end coffee for about 4 years now. One of the things you learn early on is that it is distasteful to ever ice espresso. Many go forward never questioning why this is such a bad idea, but I have an inquisitive mind and looked into it further.

It turns out that coffee is high in chlorogenic acid, which, as the coffee cools, forms quinic acid, which has a noteable and overwhelming astringent flavor. So the task is to brew coffee in a way that does not involve heat, and also reduces the apparent acidity. In the 60's the Toddy method became popular and it produces a finished product that is notably less bitter and actually puts forward a deep caramel and chocolaty flavor. Cold brew coffee is perfect for a warm day.

I decided to make my own cold brew coffee brewer.

Step 1: Materials

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-6oz of a well roasted coffee
-one piece of felt (.29 cents at michaels)
-two large coffee filters
-a two-liter bottle

Step 2: Begin

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Cut the bottom off of the two-liter bottle.

Step 3: Stand

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Use a broad glass to act as a stand for the brewer

Step 4: Filter

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Fold a piece of felt

Step 5: Filter Insertion

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Roll up the felt and stuff it into the opening of the brewer.

Step 6: Weigh

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Weigh out 6 ounces of a good, quality coffee. Bad coffee will only get you bad cold brew.

Step 7: Grind

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Grind to the coarsest possible setting.

Step 8: Make Coffee "tea Bags"

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Split the coffee into 2-6 coffee filters - it will depend on the size filter you have. If you've got large ones, you can do it in two - for small filters you may need six.

Step 9: Tie

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Tie them off with thread.

Step 10: Set in Your Brewer

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Set them in your brewer, fill with a little over 6 cups of good, clean water. Give the water a second to soak into the coffee - you may be able to pour more in after.

Step 11: Brew!

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Brew for 12-24 hours, this batch brewed for 14 hours.

Step 12: Take Off the Cap!

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Take off the cap and a slow drip should start.


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So so close

Step 14: Enjoy!

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End product. A super clean, crisp, cold brewed coffee. You can use this as a concentrate and dilute with a few ounces of water or drink it straight up. Tastes delicious and huuuuuuuuge caffeine content.


The double filtration is extremely important. A lot of places that do cold brew use the reusable fabric filters, but they tend to leave solids in the coffee and it gives it a certain grittiness that I can't stand. Double filtered cold brew coffee is one of my favorite coffee preparation methods.


IanC113 (author)2017-10-01

Here is an idea for a filter. it is reusable and organic.

SparkySolar (author)2016-07-16

Why plastic bottle???
It can leak chemicals!!!
Otherwise I love the way you made your instructable

joeactually (author)SparkySolar2016-09-09

You are kidding, right? Leaking chemicals? Because that nasty Dihydrogen Monoxide is going to kill you.

That is dumb. The only way a plastic bottle is going to leak chemicals is if it gets heated up, and if you didn't notice, this is COLD brew coffee.


Godshelper (author)joeactually2017-03-30

I agree puffff! Chemicals! Lol!

I thought that was only if you ate 60 of them...

That is dumb. The only way a plastic bottle is going to leak chemicals is if it gets heated up, and if you didn't notice, this is COLD brew coffee.

CharlesR149 (author)2017-07-13

I do something similar... Typical filter coffee ratio is 1:15 or 1:18 (coffee/water by weight), so I cold brew with a 1:4 to 1:6 ratio. Then...

When I want a cup I only need to pour about a third of cold brew in my cup and fill the rest with boiling water. This way, the coffee never heated above 80C/175F


If i want it cold, I add ice and/or milk to the cold brew

grannyjones (author)2017-03-13

I really like the idea of squishing out all the goodness with a French press.

namora (author)2016-12-28

I prefer my coffee hot but still cold brew it because it is not bitter like strong perked coffee. One minute in the microwave and its ready. I do like double filtering and use a reusable fine screen filter for the first run then do it again with a paper filter added to finish it off,. I have found that if you pour the coffee into the filter without disturbing the grounds, which are loose in the brewing jar, you can skip the first filtering altogether. I also settle the grounds by gently adding cold tap water to the brewed coffee before filtering. A cup or two will do.

tnwhatzit (author)2012-04-22

How about cheese cloth instead of the felt?

mjenkins1 (author)tnwhatzit2012-11-20

A little bacteria and mold in my food do not bother me in the least. 

But the chemicals in the felt do worry me. It would be nice to find an inexpensive reusable filter. Cheesecloth seems like it would let grounds through. Perhaps a well-worn/well-washed cloth would work.

I will commence experimentation...

ithica2012 (author)mjenkins12015-10-15

Try a new washed handkerchief. I find they work better then cheese cloth I buy them and toss in the wash to remove the starch and things they use on them. A peace of either unbleached cotton or linen also work but you need to hem and wash before use.

Spectrum1 (author)ithica20122016-12-17

If you don't wash the handkerchief, you experience many new flavours too :-)

AlexD60 (author)mjenkins12015-09-15

I tried using cheese cloth and it let a lot of grounds through.

Double layer the cheesecloth.

KimberlyL1 (author)mjenkins12015-11-17

Flour sack dish towels... fine weave and kitchen friendly. :)

BethB2 (author)mjenkins12014-10-21

Try straining through a nut milk bag? I just ran mine through the reusable filter from my coffee maker and all was well. I know several of the nut milk bags are marketed towards cold brewing though.

mjenkins1 (author)mjenkins12012-11-20

Just minutes later, I found a tutorial that uses cheese cloth and a microfine strainer:

MashellS (author)tnwhatzit2016-04-22

Its neither, its microfiber.

works fine. its much easier to buy a couple plastic strainers. i got sick of buying cheesecloth.

ThoughtsByBen (author)2016-11-02

Love this and have been doing it for-ev-er. Since my mom knew i am obsessed with cold brew, she bought me pre-bagged sachets that you add to a mason jar - I was pleasantly surprised so I tried bagged my own and it was just as good and cheaper too. You can get sealable bags at a tea shop and use an iron to seal them, that way you can just toss them in before bed and enjoy them in the morn! Whoa, too much cold brew today - I am typing a 1,000 words a minute here!

PremiumBean (author)2016-06-08

Maybe you should add a warning actually about the huge amount of caffeine? :) There may be caffeine sensitive people! Otherwise, this looks awesome!

I'm curious, why do you suggest using the coarsest setting for grinding the coffee?

ryht (author)PremiumBean2016-09-06

I think it's about paper filter and felt pores.

EdwardE19 (author)2016-08-16

this is not a replacement for esspresso. It's to make American coffee for hot coffee and for iced coffee. It is smoother than hot brewed coffee. And you taste notes of chocolate and caramel more. But you taste coffee less. Keep your espresso maker for the purpose of a good strong pure coffee flavored shot.

ElizabethR63 (author)2016-03-15

I have just tried making cold brew coffee. I soaked 1 part by weight ground coffee beans with 4 parts by weight of water. When I filtered them the coffee grinds appeared to have soaked in lots of water, and at the bottom I only collected about 1/3 of the volume of the amount of water I originally used, despite leaving the filter set up for several hours. Is that what everyone else finds too, or am I doing something wrong? Many thanks!

TimothyM70 (author)ElizabethR632016-04-24

Also, try and filter twice. I found that if I went right for the paper filter then it took forever since the grounds were clogging it up. So now I strain once from the jar with the coffee and grounds through a wire mesh strainer. Then I rinse out the jar that was brewing the coffee. Then I put a paper filter in my wire mesh strainer and pour the coffee back into the original jar. You do lose a bit but that is fine since it is concentrated. Just add additional water. What I did was I had a 1 quart mason jar that i filled with 3 cups of water and 3/4 cup of coffee. Then after straining it, it was just sitting at about 3/4 full so I topped it up with filtered water and put it in the fridge. When I drink it I pour it over ice to dilute it even a bit more.

TimothyM70 (author)TimothyM702016-04-24

I have also read that the sooner after you grind the coffee the less water it absorbs so try again but grind the coffee just before you use it.

Chillistarr (author)TimothyM702016-05-05

My guess as to the origin of that idea would be that the sooner after roasting and grinding, the more CO2 will still be present in the structure of the coffee, so this may result in less water being absorbed in the short term...and therefore lower extraction of the soluble compounds that you want in your finished beverage! So probably trying for lower absorbtion is counter-productive. In any event, brewing for the length of time we are talking here would likely give ample time for the water to soak in regardless of how fresh your ground coffee is... next batch I roast I'll give it a try right after roasting and again a few days later, see if I can detect a difference in volume or flavour, and try and remember to post back here...

bluenevus (author)ElizabethR632016-04-19

Only getting a third back seems low. I get more than this! However I don't let it drip but instead filter it twice - once in a French Press (a plunger, cafetiere, Bodum, whatever), then again in an Aeropress.

bluenevus (author)ElizabethR632016-04-19

Only getting a third back seems low. I get more than this! However I don't let it drip but instead filter it twice - once in a French Press (a plunger, cafetiere, Bodum, whatever), then again in an Aeropress.

bluenevus (author)ElizabethR632016-04-19

Only getting a third back seems low. I get more than this! However I don't let it drip but instead filter it twice - once in a French Press (a plunger, cafetiere, Bodum, whatever), then again in an Aeropress.

Chillistarr (author)2016-05-05

Been doing cold brew coffee for almost as long as I've been roasting beans (actually really easy and great fun to do as well, and impossible to get a fresher cup...) but I really like the ideas for both double filtering and for supporting the brewing container while draining out, thanks very much for the inspiration!

Luna- (author)2016-04-23

Can one heat this coffee up or does that defeat the purpose of this method? I've been finding my plunger coffee, brewed hot and then cooled to drink cold, is very acidic and bitter.

TimothyM70 (author)Luna-2016-04-24

It is a concentrate so you need to dilute it. I have seen people just add about 1:1 coffee concentrate to hot water. So yes you can drink it hot.

Luna- (author)TimothyM702016-04-28

Thank you Timothy. I made it according to this instructable and it was delicious. Will try and see how it is when heated up.

TimothyM70 made it! (author)2016-04-24

Here is what I did:

I bought 12, 1 quart Mason jars for $9.99. I bought 4 gallons of filtered water, $3.97. I had some old labels so i put them on four of the jars and since a quart is about 4 cups I used 3 cups of water for each jar to allow for the coffee. I did four different concentrations.

1/2 cup Coffee to 3 cups water
2/3 cup Coffee to 3 cups water
3/4 cup Coffee to 3 cups water
1 cup Coffee to 3 cups water

I didn't cheap out on the coffee either. I bought a one pound bag of Kenya coffee from Starbucks and had them grind it for me at the coarsest setting, $14.00, (just for the coffee they will grind it for free). They are brewing right now, and tomorrow I plan on taking them to work and doing a blind taste test with my coffee snob co-workers.

Not including the price of the jars because they are reusable, and since I only used half of the bag of Kenya coffee I can get another 4 jars or two gallons total. So all in all, it cost me $18 for 2 gallons of cold brew coffee, (Starbucks charges $3.25 for a venti cold brew which is 20oz so doing the math in my head, that is roughly $40 if you bought the coffee). This was my first go at this but my plan is to continue with the four jars but from now on I will brew one every day, so I will have 3 in the fridge and 1 brewing at all times. From what I have read they will keep anywhere from 1 -2 weeks in the fridge so to be safe I will make sure to drink them within a week.

Tomorrow morning I will just pull the jars out, strain them first with my fine mesh metal strainer to get most of the big stuff, then I will pour them back into clean jars with a paper coffee filter in the mesh strainer.

TimothyM70 (author)TimothyM702016-04-24

Oh and by "I made it" I mean I made the coffee, I didn't mess with all that fancy stuff in the article.

cocco.gianni (author)2016-04-22

How is taste in comparison to a classic espresso coffee?
I'm italian and usually our coffee is short (20-25ml) and pretty strong/condensed ... this one seems very diluted...

TimothyM70 (author)cocco.gianni2016-04-24

It you do it right it is VERY strong, I am not even joking in the slightest but I drank about 4 ounces of it without reading that you need to add ice or water to dilute it and I slept maybe 2 hours last night.

TeresaW42 (author)cocco.gianni2016-04-23

The bitterness is very subdued in cold brew, since the hot water doesn't extract the more bitter compounds. This is also closer to a drip or press coffee than espresso, so it is thinner in texture with fewer oils and no crema, but that's partially the point.

Cold brewed coffee is better for iced coffee or coffee drinks because hot coffee iced goes bitter and sharp and is kind of unpleasant to a lot of people (including me), but cold brewing doesn't extract the bitter compounds that come out in hot brews, producing a sweeter, smoother product. Depending on the coffee and roast, cold brew can have a good bit of body or it can be thin. It's also fairly concentrated in flavor because of the long steep.

When I make cold brew, I actually tend to use a French press. For me, bound up coffee and tea in bags doesn't hydrate as well because the bags don't allow room for expansion. Loose coffee and loose tea brew better and with fuller, rounder flavor. So I grind coarse and drop it into the bottom of the press, cover with the filter all the way to the top and let it steep. When it's done, slowly press the grounds to the bottom and pour. Press coffee can still have some sediment, so if you like, pour through a paper filter to catch the small lees.

dix-huit (author)2016-04-20

Step 1: Acquire 4 years of experience as a Barista in high end coffee.

Step 2: Spend 12-24 hours making a cold brew with freshly ground, good quality coffee beans.

Step 3: Aaaah, whatever, serve it in an old jar :D

MashellS (author)dix-huit2016-04-22

Your post put a smile on ny face! Thanks!!!! Goes great with the awseome mug of coffee!!!

wquoyle (author)dix-huit2016-04-20

An artisanal jam jar mind you... ;)

dirizary (author)2016-04-20

People make this so complicated, but it's not.

1. put some coffee grounds in a jar.

2. fill it with cold water.

3. refrigerate it 8+ hours

That's it. Done. All the other fine points and techniques do make a difference, but most folks couldn't tell in a blind test.

- Coarse, medium, grind... Doesn't make a bit of difference.

- Fine coffee, bulk bin Denny's grade... doesn't matter, use what you like, but $2/lb processes the same as $20/lb and the results are surprisingly close.

- 8, 12, 24, hours... It's weak at <8 and starts to taste musty >72. The sweet spot is the first couple days, but there is a 30 hour margin of error.

- Coffee to water ratio... I use 5/8 cup coffee per quart, but half/double this ratio worked ok too, I just dilute it more or less when serving.

RoskisJ (author)dirizary2016-04-21

sweet :)

xntrick (author)dirizary2016-04-20

That's pretty much what I do but I don't put mine in the fridge. I figure that just slows the process down. I generally let it sit for 18 to 24 hours.

drzcyy (author)2016-04-21

Isn't this basically the same way as making regular coffee, the only difference being cold water is used instead of hot, and the longer soaking time?

ithica2012 (author)2016-03-06

Step 1 Take a coffee you like either store ground or whole bean (Grind your self at home) measure out the amount you need into large mason jar. 1 roundedTBSP per 6 oz water .

step 2 Add cold water filtered or spring water is best but plane from the tap will work. Remember 6 oz per TBSP water to coffee

step 3 Screw lid on jar shake and let sit at least 24 hours you can shake every so often if you wish.

step 4 pour through filter I like the cone filters best but the other kind works just as well you may have to repeat this step several times.

Note you may need to adjust the amount of coffee to suite your taste I add more coffee but I like it strong.

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