What Is Cold Brew Coffee?

What Is Cold Brew Coffee & How Do You Make It?

As the summer months approach, many coffee connoisseurs are turning to cold-brew, a smooth, sweet and refreshing way to enjoy coffee. Just as with hot-brewed coffee, there are several different brew methods you can use to make a cold brew. They all, however, use tepid water in the brewing process, which produces a flavor profile that is different from both hot and iced coffees’.

Cold-Brew Coffees Extract Solubles at Lower Temperatures

The primary difference between cold-brew and other methods of making coffee is the temperature of the water that’s used. Most coffee, including iced coffee, is brewed between 195 and 205°F. (Iced coffee is cooled after it’s brewed.) Standing apart from most other brew styles, cold-brews use room-temperature water.

Using cooler water affects which solubles are extracted during the brew process. Critics complain that some of the most aromatic and flavorful solubles are left undissolved, but so are some of the most undesirable compounds found in coffee. It simply doesn’t capture all of the flavors, including both good and bad ones, found in the coffee. The end result is a coffee that’s not as acidic as some might like but should be praised for its smoothness and sweetness.

Cold-Brews Have More Caffeine

To compensate for the lower water temperature, cold-brews use some of the longest brew times. Recipes take anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. As a result, cold-brew coffee has more caffeine than coffee that’s only brewed for a few minutes.

Because it has an extremely high amount of caffeine, cold-brew coffee isn’t usually drunk straight-up. Instead, it’s treated like a concentrated and mixed with either water or milk. The ratios people use to mix the concentrate vary according to people’s tastes and caffeine needs, but a typical ratio is 3 parts water or milk to 1 part concentrate.

Make Your Own Cold-Brew

It’s easy to make your own cold-brew coffee at home. While there are systems you can purchase that streamline the process, something as simple as a large Mason jar will work initially. If you find yourself making this type of coffee regularly, you can always invest in more equipment later.

To make your first cold brew:

  1. weigh 2,000 grams (2 liters) of water
  2. weigh 1 pound (454 grams) of coffee
  3. grind the coffee on a finer grind (like one you’d use for an Aeropress)
  4. add the grounds and water to your brewing container
  5. stir the grounds in, so they’re submerged
  6. steep for 12 hours
  7. filter out your grounds (this is where kits can be helpful)
  8. pour over ice, and enjoy

Once brewed, this concentrate will last for three to five days if it’s kept in a sealed container.

The world of cold-brew coffee is vastly different from hot and iced coffee. If you’ve never tried it before, we invite you to see what you think of this different brewing style. You might just find a new way to make coffee.

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • Autumn Wright

    I use my french press to make cold brew: I use 75g of coffee and a pint of water (I use a mason jar, which I then transport and drink my coffee from) and let it sit for about 12 hours in the fridge overnight. I press, pour into my jar, add a little ice and half-and-half.

  • Mike

    This differs quite a bit from what I’ve heard elsewhere: 1. I’ve heard you should use coarse ground, why the different grind size? 2. I’ve heard 1lbs coffee to 1 gallon water, this ask for about almost twice as much coffee, how come? 3. I’ve been able to store my cold brew for well over a week with no real decline in taste, any reason this says only 3-5 days?

    Also, keeping things out on the counter for so many hours makes me a little nervous, so I brew in the fridge and double the time (I do about 36 hours). Any thoughts on that?

    • https://driftaway.coffee Driftaway Coffee

      Hi Mike! You can play with all 3 factors 1) grind size 2) time and 3) ratio and achieve the same or similar taste. Our recipe is much faster but you can try otherwise as well. 36 hours is on the higher side.
      You can brew it outside (covered) or in the fridge – it shouldn’t make much of a difference (outside will be a bit faster). For storage, I’d definitely put it in the fridge.

    • Maxon Amadeus Mendel
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