Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate (Homemade)

In 2006 I wrote about a Cold-Brew coffee concentrate that you could easily make at home. After switching over to WordPress, it got buried. But it is one that is worth re-visiting…

After reading a magazine about cold-brew coffee, I thought it would be an interesting project to try. The article boasted of a less-acidic/bitter brew, yet still strong and tasty – but noticeably smoother. With a multiple batches under my belt, now, I am ready to share some information.

I knew there was an appliance (called the Toddy Maker Cold Brew Coffee Maker) that I could purchase to make the coffee, but decided to take a more rustic approach. If I can accomplish a decent cold-brew coffee without spending any money or cluttering up my house with yet another appliance – I’d be a happier woman.

coldbrewcoffee.jpg There’s instructions out there, most conflicting. Here you will find instructions to how I made cold-brew coffee with success.


I put coffee grounds (nothing special – store bought ground OR your favorite whole bean [set your grind to percolator]) into a glass measuring cup. The ratio I used was 3:1, water:coffee. (You can simplify by doing 1 pot-worth of grounds to 16 oz. water, if you’d like.) I stir mine, though others will say not to. I don’t see how letting dry coffee sit on top of water is going to do anything for you, hence my decision to stir the mixture, making sure all the grounds get wet.

After stirring the mixture, I covered it and placed the container into the fridge for minimum 12 hours.

After the waiting period, I give it one more stir; filter it to get rid of the grounds. (I use a mesh tea-strainer to filter the grounds out. I’ve also had success with first filtering through with a veggie colander, and then using the mesh filter.)

To prepare the coffee I used a similar ratio, but that will depend on your own tastes. I put the concentrate in my mug, and put some fresh water on the stove to warm. I didn’t heat it to boiling, but to the point where steam is escaping. Poured this over my concentrate.

That’s it. Very simple. Generally used 1 cup coffee to 3 cups water and it makes enough concentrate for a day or two. Obviously depending on your ratio of concentrate, you will need more or less to make your coffee. The more times you do it, the better you will be able to make the mixture to suit your own preferences. You can store this in the fridge for up to a week.

Bottom Line:
I really like cold-brewed coffee. It is a simplified, less wasteful way to make coffee (I don’t like coffee that has been sitting on a heating element) and the smooth taste very much appeals to me. This would be a great way to make coffee while camping or traveling.

Misc. Findings:

– Preferred type of coffee grounds used is a percolator-coarse ground, the better the coffee, the better the end product
– “Brewing” coffee more than 12 hours (I went as far as 22) did not alter the taste of the concentrate
– “Brewing” coffee at room temperature rendered a more bitter coffee, though some might like this more, I preferred the refrigerated version
– To strain I used a tea strainer, you can use cheesecloth or whatever strikes your fancy

If you have suggestions or tips, feel free to contact me.

18 thoughts on “Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate (Homemade)

  1. I had to restrain myself from RUNNING to the kitchen to try this out. I’m totally putting some in the fridge in a while, though. I feel the caffeine crazies coming already. Thanks for the post 🙂

  2. LOL @ Aimee.

    Ladies, it is SO much more economical for me to do it this way. The taste is different — smoother, more mellow. I’m so happy to have “rediscovered” this recently. (I like it better than drip, equal to percolator and a little less than french press). It has the flavor of the one-cup coffee that is such a big deal as of late. But waaay cheaper than buying a fancy machine.
    Let me now what you think!!

  3. thank you for the comment on the giveaway. i wanted to personally wish you good luck! hope you have a wonderful upcoming week.

  4. Ok, so I’m an impatient person, right? I only let my coffee brew about 8 hours, but I just wanted to try it, I couldn’t wait! I will wait 12 hours next time. And I need a bigger system, because Ed drinks a lot of coffee. I probably won’t sleep tonight because I just drank a cup of it (I had it cold). Ed almost fainted when he saw me drinking my coffee black, I’m a die-hard sugar/milk coffee drinker. I did end up adding just a little milk. Anyway, it was some tasty coffee, lots of flavor but very smooth. Yum!

  5. Haha – you go, girl!!

    I’ll be interested to see what you think after letting it go 12 hours… gosh, if it doesn’t make a difference, you might be onto something 🙂 I’ve let mine go as long as 24 before, but can’t think of a minimum time.

    I think if we were to do this as our primary method, I’d probably have to brew it pitcher-style. Frank drinks oodles of coffee, too. I’m more of a 2-cup person, with the occasional one in the afternoon, but I’m not able to sleep if I have it too late.

  6. We did an Official Taste Test this morning. I made two cups of coffee with exactly the same proportions. We couldn’t tell the difference. I even made us both take a drink of milk in between tasting to sort of wipe out the flavor of one before having the other. I suppose it’s easiest to just stick it in the fridge overnight, but the 8-hour stuff wasn’t any different. I wonder how low you could go 🙂

  7. How low can you go is the question, indeed…

    Very interesting, Aimee. Thank you for reporting that back. *wheels turning* It is rather dark just a few hours after. I’m going to have to experiment a bit. See, I noticed that going super long (talking over a day, here… I had forgotten it) did not render as good results. It wasn’t throw-it-out bad, but it just didn’t seem as smooth. Sounds like that 12-hour minimum can be adjusted. Just need to figure out how low it can go. 🙂

  8. I was so excited to see a post about coffee concentrate! I’m totally addicted to this stuff called Cool Brew.. it’s coffee concentrate with chicory that you just mix with milk and/or water. It’s so much cheaper than going to starbucks every morning, and they even have decaf!

    1. I love Cool Brew, and I drink it in Louisiana, But can’t find it in Virginia where I live. I’ve been making my own for a while now and it is so much cheaper (I make very strong iced coffee) to do it myself.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I love iced coffees, but I’m tired of paying big bucks for them. Also, I recently realized, that some iced coffees are laced with ingredients (like taurine) that can be harmful to your health when comboned with caffeine. I googled iced coffee recipes, and that’s where I heard of this thing called cold brewing. I goggled cold brewing coffee, and your recipe was the one that appealed to me the most. I got some brewing in the fridge right now. I’m also anxious to try the syrup for hot coffee.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Diane – thanks for the feedback. Please be sure to come back and let me know what you think of the concentrate.

      I did try drinking it at an earlier time. After 1 hour it was not tasty. It sufficed, if I was completely desperate, but it was not as flavorful OR as mellow as a longer wait. I also tried at 4 hours and was not as impressed. I didn’t try it again earlier than 12 hours. 🙂

  10. I’m trying to first cold brew out… wish me luck. I’m curious what would happen if you froze the syrup in ice cube trays for longer storage? I know you’d have to keep it air tight so odd flavors don’t come in.

  11. Hey Matt, that’s a great idea. You could give it a try. I’d be interested in what you find out. Thinking on preparation, I’m wondering if you’d get the cube out a 1/2 hour before and let it sit in a cup – by the time you pour the warm water in it wouldn’t make a huge difference temp-wise.

    At any rate – please let me know how it works out. 🙂

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