The iced coffee craze might be surpassed by a new coffee brewing method – cold brew. This brewing method has been around for over a century but has gained popularity in recent years.
Cold brew coffee is made using a special brewing method that involves trading hot temperatures for longer steeping times. We’re here to answer questions you may have about cold brew and give you some suggestions for top-notch cold brew coffee brands.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
The key difference that separates cold brew coffee from other brewing methods is the time it takes to steep and water temperature. Regular hot coffee is brewed at almost boiling temperature, typically between 90.5 to 96 degrees Celsius (195-205 degrees F).
Extraction time for hot coffee can vary depending on what brewing method you use, but it generally takes no more than five minutes. Cold brew, however, requires at least 12-24 hours of steep time for proper extraction.
Cold water or room temperature water can be used for cold brewing. It’s just important that the coffee grounds are able to steep for a longer period of time. Hot temperatures allow for quicker extraction, but this doesn’t mean that cold brew coffee is inconvenient to make.
In fact, cold brew might be easier even though it takes longer. You can let your cold brew steep overnight and it’ll be ready to drink by the morning.
Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is not the same as cold brew, even though cold brew uses cold water or even iced water. Iced coffee goes through the hot coffee brewing method. The two drinks are similar, but cold brew and iced coffee go through different brewing methods.
The coffee-to-water ratio is changed slightly to account for ice added to iced coffee. Extra coffee is added to the ratio to make it a little stronger so the ice won’t water the coffee down.
Many cold brew lovers add ice to their drink as well to make it an iced cold brew. However, this isn’t necessary. You can even heat up your cold brew coffee if you want to enjoy it hot.
Cold brew coffee also usually lasts a little longer in your refrigerator than iced coffee can. Iced coffee can last up to four days in the fridge, as long as it’s stored properly. Cold brew can last up to 10 days, if stored properly.
Can I Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home?
You can definitely make cold brew at home, and it’s pretty easy to do! Making cold brew coffee doesn’t require a special coffee maker.
Cold brew can be made using a container with a sealable lid, mason jar or cup and cheesecloth, or French press.
A container with a lid to seal the coffee grounds and water mixture is needed so it can steep overnight. You can also use a container covered with cheesecloth and secured with a rubber band or a sieve to separate the grounds.
Once the coffee is done steeping, you can drain it into a pitcher for easy serving. Coarse ground coffee is recommended when making cold brew. This makes the separation of the grounds from the cold brew a little easier.
What Kind of Coffee is Used to Make Cold Brew?
One of the best things about cold brew is that you can use any type of coffee you want. It’s a very customizable brewing method.
Although it doesn’t matter what kind of coffee you use, grind size is kind of important. Coarse ground beans are suggested for cold brewing. Finely ground coffee can be a little messy and cause some of the grounds to seep into your coffee.
Regular grind size is alright to use if you don’t have any coarse ground coffee on hand. You may just end up with some grounds in your coffee.
When it’s time to separate the coffee grounds from your cold brew, you’ll probably find that it’s easier to get all the grounds out with a coarse grind.
How to Make Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
There are a few different ways you can make cold brew coffee at home. Cold brew coffee brands typically have instructions on the packaging for how to make the best cold brew for that product.
Just like with regular hot coffee, you can change up some of the measurements or steps to make the perfect cup for your taste.
Based on Starbucks’ cold brew drink, the suggested ratio to make cold brew concentrate is 22 grams (4 tbsp) of coarsely ground coffee and 6 fl oz (1 cup) of water. Cold brew concentrate is stronger than regular cold brew.
Cold brew concentrate is combined with water in equal parts after steeping. For example, you’ll add one cup of cold brew concentrate to one cup of water to make your cold brew drink. If you like stronger coffee, you can adjust this ratio to taste.
Steps to Make Cold Brew Coffee
You can make cold brew using a container with a sealed lid, a mason jar, and cheesecloth, or a French press.
Instructions for making cold brews can vary. Some cold brew coffee packaging may give you instructions on how to make cold brew differently. You can adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to fit your preferred taste.
- Measure coffee grounds and water
- Add coffee grounds to container or mason jar
- Add water to a container or mason jar
- Stir grounds and water 2-3 times
- Place lid on container or place cheesecloth around the mason jar and secure with a rubber band
- Let the coffee steep for 12-24 hours (at room temperature or in the fridge)
- Place a coffee filter over a pitcher to separate the grounds from the cold brew concentrate
- Pour cold brew concentrate over coffee filter into pitcher
- Add equal parts water and ice (optional) and enjoy!
If you have a French press, you don’t need a container with a lid or a mason jar. You can follow all of the same steps above, except you’ll use your plunger to separate the grounds from the cold brew concentrate. You can filter it again using a coffee filter, but this isn’t necessary.
Some instructions you may see are for regular cold brew. If you’re making a regular cold brew instead of cold brew concentrate, you won’t need to add water to it before serving.
Cold Brew Coffee Brands
1. Bizzy Cold Brew
- Organic certified
- Wide variety of roasts and blends
- Grounds may make it through French press mesh
Bizzy Cold Brew is a coffee company that specializes in making cold brew coffee products. They sell ready-to-drink cold brews and have a variety of coarse ground cold brew coffee to make at home.
Their sweet and smooth ground coffee is a good option if you’re looking for a medium roast cold brew. Their ground cold brew coffee is USDA organic certified and ethically sourced. The sweet and smooth coffee is 100% Arabica beans sourced from Latin America.
The sweetness comes from caramel and hazelnut tasting notes. Light, dark, and espresso roasts are also available.
2. Stone Street – Cold Brew Reserve
- Wide variety of flavor options
- Grounds are not coarse enough for some methods
Stone Street – Cold Brew Reserve is a dark roast made for cold brewing. The beans are grown at high altitudes in various regions of Colombia. Arabica varieties in this coffee include Caturra, Typica, and Bourbon.
The darker roast brings out the chocolate and nutty flavor notes and gives off a nice aroma. Stone Street also offers other cold brew coffee flavors such as blueberry, caffeine-boosted mocha, and chocolate.
3. Inspired Coffee Co. – Salted Caramel Cold Brew
- Variety of sweet flavors
- 100% Arabica beans
- Small batch roasted
- Flavors lack intensity
Inspired Coffee Co. – Salted Caramel Cold Brew is another coffee company that specializes in roasting and producing cold brews. They offer a variety of cold brew flavors, including this salted caramel coffee.
This brand recommends using a 3:1 ratio for water to grounds. The coffee is 100% Arabica beans from Colombia and a small batch roasted. The salted caramel coffee has a buttery feel that creates a mildly sweet and well-balanced cup.
4. Cameron’s Coffee – Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Brew Blend
- 100% Arabica beans
- Low acidity
- Hazelnut can overpower natural coffee flavors
If you’re looking for a lighter roast, you might enjoy Cameron’s Coffee – Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Brew Blend. This coffee has a strong hazelnut flavor that can be overpowering if you’re looking for a rich coffee taste.
The coffee is 100% Arabica beans that have sweet and nutty notes. The light roast creates a weaker coffee for a cold brew but may be a good option for those who don’t like strong coffee.
Cameron’s Coffee also offers a regular cold brew blend, which is a medium roast.
If you’re looking for an easier cold brewing method, you can try Dunkin’ Cold Brew. They offer a cold brew in pouches, K-Cups, and regular coffee grounds. The pouches make the cold brewing process easier as you won’t have to filter the grounds out.
The Dunkin’ cold brew makes a full-bodied cup and can be great if you want to customize coffee with creamer or flavoring.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Brands – Final Thoughts
Cold brew coffee is made using a different brewing method than hot coffee. Cold or room temperature water is used to extract the properties from coarse ground coffee beans. Steeping time typically ranges anywhere between 12-24 hours.
Some benefits of cold brewing coffee include:
- Easy overnight brewing method
- Stronger coffee (when making concentrate)
- Less acidity
You can use any kind of coffee you’d like to make cold brew. Some brands make coffee especially for cold brewing, but any coarse ground coffee will work just fine.
If you want to try a coffee specifically made for cold brewing, we suggest the Dunkin’ Cold Brew to start. This gives you a standard cold brew coffee that’s easy to make, especially for cold brew beginners.
The other cold brew coffee brands are also good options, whether you’re looking for single-origin coffees or flavorful cold brews.