How to Make Delicious Cold Brewed Coffee (and Perfect Iced Coffee) at Home

Getting my morning cup ready on the patio.
Sweet, sweet cold brew!
"I don't know how people live without coffee. I really don't." (Martha Quinn)

Truth. Though some drink it for the caffeine, I just love the way good coffee, real coffee, tastes. At home, I start the process by grinding beans, boiling water in my favorite kettle, pouring the water into a Melitta Ready Set Joe brewer, and finish with a splash of almond milk. Away from home, especially if I'm camping, taking fresh grounds and using a Press-Bot is my favorite method.

But when summer rolls around, drinking something hot, even if it's coffee, can be downright uncomfortable. Iced coffee is a refreshing alternative to hot java and until recently, I never attempted to make it at home. I'd opt to find my iced coffee at a local coffee spot, and that isn't always ideal.

If I'm buying out, options are limited to the roasts on tap that day, and I'm way too picky. With monthly deliveries from Craft Coffee, buying out means I don't get to try what they send unless I'm willing to sweat through my morning routine. I've also seen hot coffee poured over ice at coffee shops, which is cringe-worthy. And finally, it means if I want my daily java iced, I have to leave the house; some mornings, it's nice to just sit around in your pajamas a bit longer. Plus, if you're camping, there's no guarantee you'll have access to a coffee shop anyway.

Party of my setup. Fresh grounds from delicious beans
and giant glass jar that seals tightly.
My first crack at making cold brewed coffee at home was a great success, and the process showed me how easy it can be to DIY my daily iced java. You don't need fancy equipment, and after you've completed the preparation process, you'll have some high-octane cold brewed concentrated awesomeness to enjoy. Here's how I did it. 

You'll Need: A big pitcher or jar, whole bean coffee, grinder, water, standard coffee filter, ice (eventually), mesh strainer and cheesecloth (optional), condiments (optional)

Step 1: Grind the Beans
Drop the coffee beans into your grinder and set the grinder somewhere between medium and coarse. A coarser grind will make the coffee less bitter.You can use pre-ground coffee, but let's be honest, fresher is better.

Step 2: Mix It Up
Pour the grounds into a pitcher or glass jar, then add water and give it a stir to make sure every last ground makes contact with the water. I use 1 1/2 cups of ground coffee for every quart of water, but you can adjust depending on your taste preferences. It sounds like a lot of coffee grounds, and it is; you'll go through coffee beans faster than you would making a hot brew. But trust me, it's worth it.

Waiting is the hardest part...sigh.
Step 3: Wait
Let the mixture sit for 10-12 hours. I keep it at room temperature, but in the fridge works too. I'll get my brew started a few hours before bed because, let's be honest, home brewed iced coffee is a glorious treat to wake up to.

Step 4 - Strain
Strain the mixture through a standard coffee filter. I use my Ready Set Joe brewer with a filter, just like I would for hot coffee. I go through two filters for my four-cup mixture.

Step 5 - Enjoy!
Pour over ice, add your desired condiments, stick a straw in it and congratulate yourself on making your own delicious cold brew. But beware; the coffee you'll get from this process is intense. I normally drink 16-20 ounces of hot coffee in the morning, but the brew this process produces using 32 ounces of water lasts me at least three days. Dose wisely.

Other Tips and Tricks: You can cold brew in a French press too, or with a Press-Bot if you're on the road. Just add the grounds and water in the same ratio, keep the plunger up and out of the mixture, then use the plunger to separate the coffee from the grounds. Also, I listed the strainer and cheesecloth as optional equipment, but using them rather than a standard coffee filter makes the filtration process faster. It can take a while for the coffee to strain through standard filters.

Enjoying the spoils is the best part. Bottoms up!

Also, my preferred "condiments" are almond milk or coconut milk; stirring a little in adds to the coffee's already nutty flavor. But if you like your coffee sweet, consider adding a liquid sweetener like simple syrup, which you can make at home using a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. If you're feeling adventurous, give Vietnamese iced coffee or the Japanese method of prepping your cold java a try.

If you give this recipe a try, let me know if it works for you! If you already brew your own iced coffee at home, is this similar to how you do it? Any tips for those of us still refining our technique? Leave a comment!


Katie L said…
That's such a good idea, Elizabeth! I'll have to try that method too.
I'm huge iced coffee and tea addict. Great post!
Katie L said…
Thanks! Great to meet another iced coffee addict :)