Cold Brew Coffee :: A Step-by-Step Guide {along with a story}

Once upon a time there was a recently-turned-thirty-one year old gal who loved to live it up and get fun drinks at places like Starbuck’s, Peet’s Coffee, Nordstrom E-bar, Pannikin, Bird Rock Coffee Company… you get the idea. Iced beverages were her favorite. It started with freshly brewed and often flavored {but never sweetened} iced teas. From there her obsession moved toward the occasional nonfat latte. Then, in an effort to save a little cash and eliminate nonfat milk from her life {whole milk! all the way!} she switched to iced coffee. This opened up a whole new world to Little Miss Live It Up, a world in which she discovered that Japan was even more obsessed with iced coffee than she was, and that her favorite type of iced coffee was brewed cold.


Cold brewed iced coffee was smoother and less acidic, but it was also a little harder to come by.  Little Miss Live It Up only treated herself to it once or twice a week. At $2.15 a glass, she felt good about living in moderation while still enjoying a hint of the luxe life.

Enter the fiscal cliff. Nope, not THAT fiscal cliff. This fiscal cliff was a little more personal, impacting only the fun-loving Little Miss Live It Up and her fun-loving-but-slightly-more-sensible hubby.  Iced coffee had to go. Not forever, but for a little while.

Whatever was Little Miss Live It Up to do? What would the world think of her if she didn’t have a brownish beige beverage to sip out of a straw while running errands in workout clothes?!?! Not to worry, my friends, she figured it out and started cold-brewing her own iced coffee at home.  Phew. That could have ended badly.

Here’s the How-To:

Start with 1 1/2 Cups of coarsely ground coffee. I bought whole beans and ran them through the grinder at my local grocery store. You could also have them ground for you at a coffee shop, just make sure you ask for them to be ground coarsely.


Place it into a French Press to make life easy, or just pour it into a medium-sized bowl.


Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cold, filtered water.


Cover with plastic wrap and let sit either in the refrigerator or at room temperature if your house feels like a refrigerator. Allow it to sit for 12-24 hours. It will be very sludgy and kind of look like mud.

If you used a french press, press it on down and pour the liquid into a carafe.  If you used a bowl, use cheesecloth to strain the coffee grains out of the liquid, then pour the liquid into a carafe.


The rich brown liquid you are left with is your iced coffee concentrate.  It is FULL of caffeine.  Don’t be tempted to drink it as-is or you may never sleep again. Trust me.


When you are ready for an iced coffee, I use a 1 to 2 ratio of concentrate to other liquids. You can experiment and see what you like best, but here’s how I make my perfect iced coffee: 1/2 cup coffee concentrate, 1 cup cold filtered water, 2 tablespoons half and half or whole milk, 2 packets sugar in the raw.


Put a lid on it and slurp!