Cold brew coffee season is here, and that means you have two options: you can spend your whole summer savings on this nicely caffeinated and refreshing beverage (we know some of the best ones to choose from), or you can suck it up and make your own.
Sure, making homemade cold brew concentrate at home requires some work, some planning and a fair amount of cleanup. But it also means you’ll have ample amounts of cold brew concentrate.
To make this a reality, you just need a solid set of instructions. The only problem is, the internet offers about a million different ratios for coffee-to-water, and just as many options for how long you should soak your brew. So let’s weigh your options:
First, find the right ratio of coffee-to-water, and the right brewing time.
Cold brew coffee, in theory, is easy to make. Start with coarsely ground coffee. (Finely ground coffee beans can result in a sludgy outcome, because it’s impossible to filter out the small particles.) Soak them in room temperature water until it has reached your desired strength, and you’re done. But how much water, how much coffee grounds, and how much time do you need?
According to Bon Appetit, the ideal ratio is one pound of ground coffee beans to one gallon of water. (This will make you a lot of cold brew and can be scaled down.) They also recommend brewing for 24 hours, which will result in a very intense coffee concentrate.
But Blue Bottle Coffee, a beloved San Francisco-based company, has a slightly different formula: they halve the amount of coffee-to-water ratio. The Blue Bottle cold brew recipe calls for half a gallon of water to a pound of coffee. That’s double the strength of Bon Appetit’s recipe, but they only recommend a 12-hour extraction period.
Here’s what you need to know: either recipe you choose, you will be in good hands. Because remember, this is just the concentrate. You can dilute it with water as much or as little as you need when it’s time to serve it.
Second, select your method of brewing.
First, you can use the French press, which is convenient if you already have one. For an 8-cup French press, soak 2/3 cups coffee in three cups water for 12 hours. Then simply use the plunger to push all the grounds to the bottom and voila, you’ve made cold brew concentrate.
Secondly, you can use a mason jar, because it’ll help you channel your inner hipster. Take 8 ounces of coffee, 36 ounces of water, pour both in your mason jar and wait 12 hours. Lastly, pour the cold brew concentrate through a fine-mesh sieve.
Or, you can buy fancy gear that is specifically designed to help you brew cold-brew coffee. There are a few different systems out there, but we recommend getting one with the fewest parts ― like Toddy ― to make clean-up easier. These systems usually make the process of filtering out the grounds from the brew easier with specially-designed filters.
But at the end of the day, all these different “methods” are essentially the same. All you need is a vessel for the grounds and the water, and a way to strain the grounds out of the concentrate once you’re done soaking them.
Now, before you make yourself a glass, remember this is concentrate. You’re going to need to dilute it unless you want to feel your heart race at unnatural speeds. The recommended ratio is 1 part cold brew concentrate to 1 part water. Then, add milk, cream or sugar to taste.
Once you do that, be prepared to have a very productive summer! And use your homemade cold brew in some of these summer coffee recipes below: