How To Make Delicious Cold Brew Coffee: Step-By-Step

Want to make a delicious cup of cold brew but aren’t completely sure how to do it or how to make it good? Here’s what you want to know. 

To make cold brew, put coffee grounds and water in a container and let it steep for 12-18 hours. However, making good cold brew requires a little bit more care and attention to details. Especially the coffee to water ratio is important. 

Let’s get into the details of what you need and how to make good cold brew. 

What Do You Need To Brew Delicious Cold Brew Coffee?

Making cold brew isn’t too complicated but you do need a few other things than for making other types of coffee. However, most people should have everything you need around the kitchen. 

  • Airtight glass container: Airtight is necessary for steeping and storing in the fridge. For steeping outside the fridge it’s not strictly necessary. Glass is always a good idea. A dedicated cold brew maker is also good of course. I like this one on Amazon since it’s made from glass and airtight unlike many others.
  • Coffee: Use the best coffee you can afford. Darker roasts for a more robust taste, light roast for more fruity notes. Try this Bizzy coffee (Amazon) for great results 
  • Bowl: To weigh your coffee in. 
  • Grinder: If you’re using whole beans, you’ll need an adjustable burr grinder. 
  • Water: Tap water is fine if it’s potable without boiling. 
  • Scale: Getting the ratio right is important and a scale is the best way to do this. A good coffee scale is worth the investment. The Timemore scale (Amazon) is excellent.
  • Spoon: For stirring.
  • Filter cone with paper/mesh filter: To filter the grounds out of the cold brew after steeping.
  • Second container: You need a second container to catch the filtered cold brew. 
  • Time: Making cold brew takes 12-18 hours. If you prepare a batch today, you can drink it tomorrow.  

How To Make Tasty Cold Brew Coffee

Here are the steps to make good cold brew coffee. There is nothing too complicated but there are some steps you shouldn’t miss. Here’s how you make delicious cold brew. 

1. Get A Container

The first thing to get right is a good container. There are two requirements;

  • Glass
  • Airtight
This is what I use. Just a 1.2L glass pitcher. Not airtight but outside the fridge this is OK. And some clingfilm will make it airtight if necessary.

Glass is better because it’s non reactive. As long as it’s clean, glass won’t release any chemicals or tastes in your coffee where plastic might. Coffee is more acidic than water so water bottles aren’t necessarily made to be used like a cold brewer. 

And airtight containers are preferable because it slows down of any bacteria and it also prevents smells from the fridge or environment to get absorbed by the coffee. Coffee absorbs other aromas quite easily and you don’t really want the coffee to smell like yesterdays leftovers. 

For brewing outside the fridge it’s not strictly necessary to use an airtight container since there are fewer aromas that hang around long enough to be absorbed. However, for storage in the fridge after brewing it’s still recommended. 

Also read: Cold brew tastes bad: How to fix it.

Make sure the container is clean. Carefully clean it and then pour some boiling water over it. (Make sure the container can handle this). This won’t fully sterilize the container but it’ll be clean enough. 

2. Figure Out How Much Water Fits In The Container

Once you have the container, you do need to know how much liquid fits in there. And then you have to decide how much cold brew you want to make of course. You can make less coffee in a larger container if you prefer. 

Keep in mind you’ll not get 1 liter of cold brew if you add 1 liter of water. 1 gram of coffee grounds absorbs about 2-2,2 grams of water. So adding 1 liter of water to 142,8 grams of grounds will yield about 715 milliliters of coffee.

Suggested: Why does making cold brew cost so much coffee?

3. Weigh Your Coffee

Here is arguably the most important step of making cold brew. Weigh the amount of coffee you put in the container. Don’t use scoops, use a kitchen or coffee scale. How much coffee you need depends on the size of the container and how much you want to make. 

Also read: Can you make decaf cold brew coffee?

From there, you can use a ratio to figure out how much coffee you have to use. For strong cold brew that can be served over ice a 1:7-1:8 ratio is good. That means 1 gram of grounds for every 7-8 grams of water. This brews strong cold brew that can be served directly over ice or be diluted with water and then served over ice. 

To figure out how much coffee you need, simply divide the amount of water in grams/ml by 7 or 8. For example 1000/7 =142,8. So 142,8 grams of grounds for a liter of water. This is also why you have to be accurate with the amount of water used since a difference could throw off the ratio quite a bit. 

Read more about cold brew ratios in this article.

4. Grind The Coffee

You’re going to get the best results with freshly ground coffee but if you prefer you can use pre-ground coffee. It is important to use coarsely ground coffee though. So the bag of filter coffee from the supermarket isn’t going to give the best results. 

You can make pre-ground filter coffee work to make cold brew but you’ll have to significantly shorten the brew time. But it’ll still be 2-4 hours so you can’t use it to make a quick cup. The taste will be different and it’s very easy to make it quite bitter if you don’t get it right. Coarsely ground coffee is very forgiving to use for cold brew. 

A decent burr grinder is necessary to grind correctly. A blade grinder has nowhere near enough control over the size. A TimeMore C2 grinder or Baratza Encore will do fine but better is always good. 

What kind of beans should you use for cold brew coffee? Read more here.

5. Put Grounds In The Container

Once you’re done weighing and grinding, simply dump the grounds in the container. There is no need to pay attention to how or where you put them. As long as they’re inside the container it’s fine. 

It’s going to look like (and be) a lot of coffee grounds.

6. Add Water

Now simply add as much water as needed. You should have planned how much water to use earlier so just add that amount to the container. A measuring cup is the easiest, a scale the most accurate and your eyes the simplest. A measuring cup is the best option for most people since eyes are generally not very accurate at estimating volumes. 

Use room temperature water to pour into the container. Don’t use hot water, the whole point of making cold brew is using cold water. That is what gives it its smooth, low acidity and low bitterness taste. 

7. Stir

After adding all the water, quickly stir the mixture so all the grounds are wet. Stir as little as possible to accomplish this. Stirring more than necessary could release a little bitterness. 

8. Wait

Make sure to cover the container, even if you don’t use an airtight one. Now is when the magic happens and there is nothing you have to do except wait. 

You can choose to leave it in a safe, dark spot outside the fridge or let it steep inside the fridge. The final result will be pretty much the same but the brew time is different. Warmer water extracts faster, even if it’s room temperature vs fridge temperature. 

So if you leave your cold brew to steep outside the fridge it’ll be done in 12-16 hours while letting it steep in the fridge requires a steep time of 16-24 hours. 

Since most people drink coffee in the morning, it is a good idea to prepare the cold brew in the evening so it’ll be ready when you wake up. 

Suggested: How to fix sour cold brew coffee?

9. Stir

After the brew time is up, there will be a crust of grounds on top. Stir just enough to break up this crust. The grounds will start settling down on the bottom of the container. Wait a minute until most of the grounds have settled. This makes filtering easier in the next step. 

You can see a crust forms on top.

Not all the grounds are going to sink but a good chuck of them are. The last little bit is OK to stay afloat. If you would pour into a cup now you would still get quite a bit of sediment which is why there is one more step.

Note: If you’ve got a special cold brew vessel with built in filter

10. Filter

To get rid of all the grounds you can run the finished cold brew through a filter. What kind of filter to use? That depends on what you have available and what you like. A simple pour over cone with paper filter will work well. However, you could also use a mesh filter. Either way, a cone you can put on another container works the easiest. 

A paper filter will get rid of all of the residue and also filter out all the coffee oils which means a lighter, cleaner taste. If you like more body and can live with some residue a mesh filter is good. 

Note: If you’ve got a special cold brew vessel with built in filter, this step is not necessary. 

If you want to keep it, pour it in another glass and airtight container.

Cold Brew Tips

If you want to add something extra to your cold brew, find 12 surprising things you can add here.

Cold brew, like normal coffee is great for KETO diets and fasting but there are some things you should keep in mind. Click here to learn more.

Made cold brew but are you craving hot coffee? Here’s what you can do.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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