Cold-brew coffee is hotter than ever. This bold concentrate is made by soaking coarse-ground coffee in room-temperature or cooler water for 12 or more hours, which results in a smooth-tasting beverage that solves the problem of watered-down iced coffee and provides a smooth satisfying taste. Those qualities have made it one of the fastest-growing coffee beverages in recent years.
Cold brew offers a different flavor profile than traditional coffee. Hot-water brewing can extract the more bitter and acidic flavors of coffee, but cold brew can bring out fruity, floral or chocolate flavors. With cold brew the coffee grounds steep in water for hours, resulting in a highly concentrated beverage.
It’s surprisingly easy to make cold-brew coffee at home. While there are a number of popular tools and methods to make cold brew, Renae Clark, who runs the Cold Brew Queen website and has written a book on her favorite beverage, takes a low-tech route.
“My favorite is the simplest: a Mason jar and water,” Clark says. “I let freshly ground (coarse setting) coffee steep in water in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Then I strain it through a paper coffee filter in a cone. As a rule of thumb, the finer the grind, the less time you should steep your coffee for.”
For an even faster route to a pitcher of tasty cold brew, try our ultra-convenient cold brew pouches. Made with 100% select Arabica beans and roasted to perfection, these are expertly blended and ground to help you create a flawless cold brew beverage at home without any mess or filtering. Brew a pitcher and enjoy it all week.
However it’s made, Clark loves cold brew for its versatility. “Almost anything that you can do with hot coffee, you can do with cold brew,” she says. “And you can enhance the flavors in so many ways — the obvious are flavored creamers and syrups, but you can steep spices, chicory, toasted coconut or cocoa nibs right in with the beans. One final idea is to store your coffee beans with spices in a jar. You can try 1-2 split vanilla beans, a couple of sticks of cinnamon or 8-10 cardamom pods. The coffee beans will absorb the aromas of the spices and subtly flavor your cold brew.”
But if you don’t want to stop there with your experimentation, here are a few simple recipes to kick up your cold brew.
Make It Fizzy
Cold-brew coffee and sparkling water is a match made in summer heaven. This one may require a little experimentation to nail down the proper water-to-coffee ratio, depending on the strength of your cold brew and your preference. But the testing is worth it — and tasty.
We’re fond of this recipe that combines cold-brewed coffee, tonic water and cherries for a refreshing beverage perfect for a Louisiana summer afternoon. This excellent version uses a 50-50 ratio of sparkling water and cold-brew coffee, sweetened by honey.
Add Some Chicory
Chicory and hot coffee is a longtime Louisiana tradition, and one that works great with cold brew as well. Clark’s recipe calls for the chicory to be infused with the coffee during brewing. “Adding chicory adds an earthy flavor,” Clark says. “It’s best to start with a little and work your way up until you find the right balance of flavor for you.”
- 1 to 2 tsp. ground chicory
- 1/2 cup coffee, coarsely ground
- 2 cups water
Place all ingredients in your immersion container for 12-24 hours. Strain out the coffee and chicory. Dilute to taste.
Try a Splash of Coconut
Whether it’s added during the brewing process and allowed to steep with the coffee, or mixed into the final product with a sweetener, coconut goes very well with the rich, bold flavor of cold brew.
One of our favorite cold-brew additions is a toasted coconut syrup, a simple concoction typically made with only three ingredients: water, coconut and sugar. The hint of coconut will transform your cold brew into a satisfying sweet treat.
A more subtle coconut infusion combines the mild sweetness of dates with coconut milk, blended together to create a nondairy creamer. This tasty syrup, which keeps for up to a week in the fridge, offers a dairy-free way to turn down the boldness of cold brew. See the full recipe here.
For yet another method, Clark suggests toasting a half cup of coconut flakes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they turn golden, then adding them to your brewing vessel for the 12- to 24-hour period. Strain out the coffee and coconut and dilute with water to taste.