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

Picture of Materials

-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

Picture of Begin

Cut the bottom off of the two-liter bottle.

Step 3: Stand

Picture of Stand

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

Step 4: Filter

Picture of Filter

Fold a piece of felt

Step 5: Filter Insertion

Picture of Filter Insertion

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

Step 6: Weigh

Picture of Weigh

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

Step 7: Grind

Picture of Grind

Grind to the coarsest possible setting.

Step 8: Make Coffee "tea Bags"

Picture of Make Coffee "tea Bags"

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

Picture of Tie

Tie them off with thread.

Step 10: Set in Your Brewer

Picture of Set in Your Brewer

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!

Picture of Brew!

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

Step 12: Take Off the Cap!

Picture of Take Off the Cap!

Take off the cap and a slow drip should start.


Picture of ALMOST THERE!

So so close

Step 14: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

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.


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!

BossTom (author)ElizabethR632017-11-24

I make mine with 1 ounce ground to 2.5 ounce H2O, this ratio needs to be 4 H2O to 1 cold brew for like a coffee drink, I have never tried making a less stronger cold brew as I like mine very strong and since I control the brewing, roasting and grinding process it works great for me and my wife uses the 4 to 1 for her Americano's

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.

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.

BossTom (author)EdwardE192017-11-24

I have over the years made my Toddy coffee and have owned a espresso drive tru and I would not label this Toddy as espresso as it is not made in the way espress has been made for decades however I do not for my coffee drink ever use 200 degrees of pressured water at 130. pounds per inch to make it. For me by controlling the grind the type of my beans the ratio of grounds to water and time of soak I make a better tasting non acidic, not bitter and in my tastes more caffeine drink than the espresso machine. And I guess we should call our cold brews an American coffee drink

grannyjones (author)2017-03-13

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

BossTom (author)grannyjones2017-11-24

i started using a French Press over 30 years ago when I was on the road, went to a major grocery store grabbed some of their beans, had my little grinder with me at all times, threw in the grounds filled it with water next morning I had some wonderful coffee, years later I found the Toddy Maker, when I was in the same town for a while I would use it and always traveled with a cooler, would fill it with the motel's ice to keep it cold. I might note this was in California, there was no Charbucks, oops Starbucks at that time. When I moved back to Oregon when I got off the road, I opened an Espresso drive tru used only my Toddy Maker Brew as my espresso shots, heat never touched my untill the steam milk was poured over it. By then I had figured out how to make 5 gallons at a time. Since I roast and blend my coffee I find that blending 4 to 5 different quality beans I have a coffee that is high in caffeine no acid and taste like coffee, I grind this for cold brew pretty fine not the normal course grind. I love you idea and a person can use you process very easy. Thanks for sharing

loubee2 (author)2017-11-24

I'm too lazy! I grind a bag of coffee beans (coarse) & zip bag it into 12oz quantities-(approx 3 cups each) so I can just grab a zip bag & make more coffee "concentrate" as needed. Use more grounds for a stronger batch of concentrate if desired!

I pour the 3-ish cups of ground coffee into a gallon of "Spring Water" (88¢ at Walmart) after I remove some of the water from the gallon to make "space" for the grounds & then return some of the water to "top" the gallon off.

Let it sit on the counter for a day, shaking it occasionally & then refrigerate it overnight so it's cool when you want to use it!

I use one of those "gold" metal filters (a thrift shop find) & slowly pour the cooled coffee concentrate into another container using a large funnel Harbor Freight), like an empty water gal, pitcher or? I'm holding the filter over the funnel placed opening of the empty gallon bottle to "decant" the coffee concentrate!

I "jiggle" the metal filter if grounds start to accumulate as I pour, but if you pour the concentrate slowly enough, that might not be necessary.

My preference is a 2/3 part coffee concentrate to 1 part almond milk (or ?) with a generous splash of liquid sweetened vanilla creamer & poured over ice,...yum!

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...

AlexD60 (author)mjenkins12015-09-15

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

Double layer the cheesecloth.

Triple layer cheesecloth WITH lasers!

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 :-)

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.

ScottaBlanchat (author)2017-11-23

I use a sock, tying off the end. 24 hours later, squeezing out the goodness.

To hell with going through all of this instrctable's unnecessary steps. Or do . . . but it's ridiculous.

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

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.

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.

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.

djebel (author)2015-04-29

shane. shane, arbiter of line cook culture. you sir, have grown past shaquille size, even far past andre the giant size by having only what i can assume is massive amounts of your procedure declared bull$#¡±.
i actually am aware, as a wandering waitstaff wunderkind, that in fine dining, the line is hell.
feeling the air displacement and sound similar to machine guns raised to frantic pitch, each minute on the line is a potential catasrophe, mediocre warmed over mess, or Himalayan air, dragged into near failing lungs, instead representing a triumph of poetry made from meats, roux, just torn herbs, steady high gas heat, and over 10,000 hours of unfailing focus resulting in savory, as a definition or a step closer to great, better than great, and best.
what im wondering is: why no concrete step by step improvement in procedure for the Original Poster?
Do they not deserve to grow, as do you, noble linecook?
Where art thine heart, if not only beating to spread thine art?!?

MashellS (author)djebel2016-04-22

Wooow! You are (or were) all worked up! All over how to brew cold coffee?!!
Dude, maybe you should cut back on the coffee...maybe? A little? A cup or two? Maybe?
Breath grasshopper and listen to the words not spoken! Lol

That headband on the sweaty hat looks somewhat tight. Pull your hand out of the front of your jeans as you post.

TeresaM7 (author)djebel2016-04-19

My heart is all aflutter from your eloquence, sir. It has made this day worth living. I shall sit here and bask in your greatness.


GngerBckGorilla (author)djebel2016-04-19

This response right here is why we have the internet

Twitchy411 (author)djebel2016-03-07

Beautifully put! I have grown from no more than playing witness to your dignity and humanity. Howrah, you sir are a Gentlemen.

cheekypaper (author)djebel2016-03-06

well spoken.

Pauleridu (author)djebel2016-03-06

Praises to your thoughtful and scrumptious comments. Bravo, bravo!

ClintM5 (author)djebel2015-11-03

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. There is still beauty in the internet comment sections. Thank you for restoring my faith in humankind, noble eloquent linguist.

dizzle976 (author)djebel2015-07-30

my god....that ...that was the most beautiful thing ive ever read.

About This Instructable




More by LeDesordre:Cold Brew Coffee
Add instructable to: