How to Make a Cold Brew at Home

On a sweltering hot day, there are some things we can’t get enough of. Like a cold, cold brew. Note: It’s not the same as regular iced coffee, which we’ll explain later on.

The thing about ordering a cold brew from a coffee joint is its price as it can easily set you back by SGD8 / MYR24. With our easy-to-follow cold brew recipe, you can make a refreshing cold brew that might taste even better than your favourite cafe’s. All you need are coffee grounds and water. The only hard part of it? It takes patience… lots of it.

Why cold brew, not iced coffee?

a glass of iced coffee
Adding ice cubes to coffee will result in a diluted brew, reducing its caffeine strength. Photo from Battlecreek Coffee Roasters.

We all know how ice dilutes our beverages – and the same goes when we add ice cubes into hot-brewed coffee. It is quick and easy to make. However, it won’t taste amazing. The sudden temperature change causes a chemical change in the coffee’s flavour notes and reduces its caffeine strength as the coffee-to-water ratio becomes unproportionate.

On the other hand, a cold brew is made from slowly steeping cold water and coffee for 16-24 hours. The extended steeping time produces a completely different flavour profile than coffee brewed with hot water. Unlike the latter, sweeter flavour compounds of coffee grounds are extracted during the cold water brewing process. As a result, a cold brew is not only smooth and mellow, but less acidic and stomach-friendly.

The best thing about cold brews is that you can increase the amount of coffee grounds to suit your preferred caffeine strength without the resulting brew tasting overly harsh or bitter. Do it with hot water, and it will most likely be undrinkable.

Basic Tips and Tricks to Perfect the Cold Brew

To make the perfect cold brew, you might want to consider these tips.

1. Use Dark Roast Coffee

light and dark roast coffee beans placed on a marble table
Lighter roasts produce muted flavours whereas darker roasts give cold brew its dark and rich flavours. Photo from Anastasia Zhenina.

Using a darker roast will produce robust and rich flavours that taste chocolatey and earthy. You can use lighter roast. However, it might take a longer steeping time to extract the flavour notes that you are looking for.

2. Only Use Fresh Beans

Before you ground your beans, ensure that you are only using fresh coffee beans. Using coffee beans that have been stored for too long will result in under-extraction, giving the brew a stale and lacklustre taste.

Here’s a guide on the shelf life of coffee so that your morning cuppa is always fresh.

3. Use Coarse Grounds

coarse ground coffee in a coffee filter drip cup
When rubbed between fingers, coarse coffee grounds feel gritty, similar to beach sand. Photo from Vlad Tchompalov.

When it comes to making coffee, grind size makes the difference between a good and bad tasting cup. The coarseness of the grind greatly depends on the brewing method.

For cold brews, a coarse grind will ensure a faster steeping process, allowing sweet flavours to extract fully. Using a fine ground requires a longer filtering time and risk over-extraction.

Need a coffee grinder for your home? Here’s one.

4. Use Filtered Water

Thinking of using tap water? That’s an absolute “no” from us. Regular tap water is treated with chlorine and in turn, affects the taste of coffee.

On the other hand, filtered water is free from chlorine and removes unwanted chemicals present in tap water. But it leaves the optimal amount of minerals for flavour enhancement – an important part of any coffee-making process.

How to Make Cold Brew at Home

milk being pouring into a glass of cold brew
Add milk for a creamy and rich-tasting cold brew. Photo from Avel Chuklanov.

Now that you understand the science of making a perfect cold brew. Here’s how to make it at home.

What you need:

  • 1½ cups of coarse ground coffee
  • 6 cups of cold filtered water
  • 2  large jars
  • A cheesecloth or paper coffee filter
  • Cold milk (optional)

Instructions (serves 8):

  1. Add the coffee grounds and filtered water to a jar and stir well.
  2. Steep for 16-24 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Using the cheesecloth or paper coffee filter, strain the coffee mixture into a separate jar. Allow the mixture to drip naturally.
  4. Add milk or cold water at a ratio of 1:1, and store the remaining cold brew in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

If you are lactose-intolerant, here’s how you can make non-dairy milk at home.