Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate is easy to make. Learn how to make cold brew concentrate with this detailed guide. Get the recipe, the perfect grind size and the correct water ratio, so you can make the perfect concentrate at home.
Learn how to make cold brew coffee concentrate
This guide will teach you how to make cold brew concentrate that tastes even better than the kind you can buy at the store! It's very easy to make cold brew coffee concentrate at home. And you will save yourself a lot of money.
Most importantly though, while the cold brew concentrates sold in the stores have a long shelf-life, coffee is best consumed fresh. If you make cold brew concentrate yourself, you won't be drinking coffee that is months old.
TIP: You can store this cold brew coffee concentrate recipe for about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Once you have your hands on this cold brew concentrate recipe, it's an eye opener. I really mean it.
So after you learn how to make cold brew coffee concentrate, I doubt you'll be going back to the store bought cold brews. And yes, I promise it is easy to make at home.
Different types of cold brew coffee - make concentrate or not concentrate
Let's take a step back real quick. Cold brew coffee comes in two varieties.
- The first type of cold brew coffee is intended to be consumed as is, without any dilution.
- The second type, which I'm writing about in this post, is cold brew coffee concentrate.
Cold brew coffee concentrate
Many of the cold brew coffees you see sold in grocery stores are cold brew concentrate. The concentrate is intended to be diluted with water or milk.
Cold brew coffee (not concentrate)
Cold brew coffee (not the concentrate) has a very light color and if brewed well, the taste is reminiscent of a tea. It should be very light, fruity, aromatic.
The color will be a reddish brown and slightly translucent. It's a very pleasant drink on it's own and has a very strong caffeine kick, but it is as far from the intensity you get from an espresso as you can get.
Find more information about cold brew (not concentrate) in this post, including a very detailed guide on how to make it at home.
But let's get back to this recipe: how to make cold brew coffee concentrate.
Should I Make Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate?
Yes! From a time perspective, cold brew concentrate yields a lot of coffee. With our OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker, I can get about 15 servings with one brew.
From a taste perspective, a concentrate gives you a bit more flexibility. Whether you want to dilute it with water to basically make a cold brew coffee or to dilute it with milk to make yourself espresso-like drinks, both options are open.
TIP: We use a simple milk frother and treat cold brew coffee concentrate as a shot of espresso to make lattes, flat whites, and piccolos.
What's the best coffee grind size to make cold brew coffee concentrate?
The best grind size for cold brew coffee concentrate is a coarse grind. What does that mean exactly?
How to tell if your coffee is a coarse grind?
I think of it like the same as coarse ground pepper.
How to tell visually:
- The coffee should be a finer than McCormick Grill Mates steak seasoning,
- but not as fine as their granulated garlic.
- Probably something like this McCormick Grill Mates chicken seasoning, minus the long herbs.
If your grind size is too fine, you risk clogging up the filter in a cold brew coffee maker. It means that the coffee will get stuck, because there isn't enough room between the coffee grounds for the water to run through.
Watch how fast your cold brew coffee concentrate drains through your filter to help you determine if you have the right grind size
It takes a bit of experience to be able to easily recognize the perfect grind size, so if it's your first time making cold brew coffee, try to aim for a French press coffee grind size if you are familiar with that.
If you use this OXO cold brew coffee concentrate maker, it should take about 10-12 minutes for the coffee full drain through. If it takes longer than that, then the coffee grind size is probably too fine. If it takes quicker than that, then the coffee grind size is probably too coarse.
What's the correct coffee to water ratio for cold brew concentrate
From my experience, different cold brew coffee makers specify different ratios, and I believe this has to do with the way the brewer is designed with respect to the surface area for example.
There is also the additional factor of personal preference in terms of how one likes their coffee. Coffee can be a very exact science if you're after a very pure brew on its own. But if you're making a concentrate that is getting diluted with water or milk, it's okay to be using a looser ratio.
A good rule of thumb is to use a 1:4 coffee to water ratio when making cold brew coffee concentrate
For the OXO cold brew coffee maker for example, it specifies 284g of coffee grounds to 1200ml of water (about 1:4), which is sort of the halfway point from other ratios I've seen online. It is definitely worth doing some experimentation if you become a habitual cold brew coffee brewer!
Do I need a specific cold brew coffee maker?
This is a tricky question because while you can make cold brew coffee without a specific cold brew coffee maker, it won't be as easy to make it, or as tasty of a coffee.
I don't like unnecessary kitchen equipment (my kitchen is packed with all sorts of knick knacks, I barely have room to stand!) but if you are serious about making cold brew, a dedicated cold brew coffee maker will give you much better coffee.
It's like brushing your teeth with a free hotel toothbrush, instead of a Sonicare. But the good news is that a dedicated cold brew coffee maker cost less than a Sonicare! And in all seriousness, you'll quickly be saving money on coffee after just a few brews with a cold brew coffee maker.
Here are my top five best cold brew coffee makers.
Why does a dedicated cold brew coffee maker make a better batch of cold brew coffee?
A cold brew coffee maker is necessary for two simple reasons. It helps you properly:
- 1) disperse the water into the grounds, and
- 2) filter out the coffee grounds.
The cold brew coffee maker we use at home is this OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker, and it makes an incredibly clean and strong batch of cold brew coffee.
A cold brew concentrate maker will help you disperse the water over the coffee in a more even manner
I'll explain how to make cold brew coffee without a cold brew coffee maker later, but I'll touch on a couple of key points now.
First, you want to disperse the water over your coffee grounds so that they get wet in an even manner to help with the "bloom" (releasing the gases from the coffee grinds). The OXO cold brew coffee concentrate maker, for example, has a "rain cap" that helps you pour water evenly over the coffee grounds.
You can better drain/filter your cold brew coffee concentrate from the used coffee grounds with a dedicated cold brew coffee concentrate maker
Second, when you are draining your cold brew coffee concentrate through a filter, you want to avoid agitating the coffee grounds by moving around too much. Doing so will release bitter compounds into the coffee concentrate.
Thus, most cold brew coffee makers account for this by allowing you to transfer the concentrate with minimal movement. (This is why I don't recommend using a French press - see below.)
With the OXO cold brew coffee maker, you literally put the coffee container on top of the stand and flip a switch. The cold brew coffee concentrate drains right into the serving/storage pot.
The cold brew coffee concentrate is also cleaner when made with a proper cold brew coffee concentrate maker
The OXO cold brew coffee maker comes with a built in filter, which makes a very clean coffee concentrate. The filter is much finer than the mesh you would get in a French press, so your cold brew coffee concentrate won't be as dirty (gritty).
But if you want to filter out even more coffee grounds, you can use an additional paper filter. You just pop it over the mesh filter it comes with. I haven't tried it with the paper filter myself, as I haven't found it to be necessary.
With a dedicated concentrate maker, you can quickly and cleanly make coffee concentrate
But the driving reason to get a cold brew coffee maker is it's purpose-built for it, making your life much easier. All the while, giving you better tasting coffee.
The OXO maker is designed so that the coffee concentrate is filtered out by dripping through the bottom of the maker at the flip of a switch. In other words, you don't have to touch the concentrate or wet coffee grounds during the brewing process. And you can step away and let the coffee brewer do it's thing.
How to make cold brew coffee without a cold brew coffee maker
If you don't have a dedicated cold brew coffee concentrate maker, you can mix everything in a big container to allow the coffee to brew. You'll then need to pour the cold brew coffee concentrate through a filter when it's ready.
For example, you can set it up using a v60 coffee brewer if you have one. Alternatively, many recipes will suggest using a French press coffee brewer.
I don't recommend either of these methods because as mentioned earlier, when you pour out the coffee concentrate because you agitate the coffee grounds and risk releasing bitter compounds into your coffee.
Additionally, with the French press, the filter typically does not catch all the coffee grounds, so you end up with cold brew coffee that doesn't taste as clean (i.e., there are actual bits of grinds in your coffee).
So, it is definitely worth investing in a proper cold brew coffee maker!
Here are my top five best cold brew coffee makers.
You'll be able to make fresh cold brew coffee at home easily and you'll save money by not needing to buy store-bought cold brew again - either in concentrate form from the grocery store, or from a coffee shop.
How do you serve coffee concentrate?
We're finally here. Now that we have our cold brew coffee concentrate made, what do you do with it?
You can enjoy the coffee so many different ways. You can:
- turn cold brew concentrate into a mug of hot coffee
- dilute cold brew concentrate with ice and water
- dilute the concentrate with milk to make it into a homemade iced latte
- use it as a shot of espresso in any of these coffee recipes (maple pecan latte, Cadbury creme egg frappuccino, cotton candy coffee, sea salt caramel coffee float)
- use a simple milk frother to make it into a latte.
With a batch of cold brew coffee concentrate in your fridge, it doesn't matter whether it's a hot summer day, a rushed morning, or a slow weekend - you will be ready for it all!
Whew, you made it! Consider yourself a pro at making this type of coffee. Well done!
Get the cold brew coffee concentrate recipe below
Cold Brew Coffee ConcentratePrint Recipe Save Recipe
- 10 ounces coarsely ground coffee ((see post for how to tell if your coffee is the right grind size)
- 40 ounces filtered water (use the best quality water you can get)
- Set up your coffee brewer. If you have the OXO cold brew maker, set the filter in the base of the brewing container, then screw on the filter cap. Turn the container around and add in your ground coffee.
- Slowly pour water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion, distributing the water as evenly as possible. With the OXO cold brew maker, there is a "rainmaker" cap that helps you with this process.
- Once the coffee has finished blooming, give it a quick and gentle stir. Blooming is when the coffee expands and bubbles, releasing carbon dioxide. It can take up to 10 minutes if you use the full recipe.
- Set the coffee aside and let it brew for 16-24 hours. We always aim for 18 hours and leave it to brew in the refrigerator.
- Once brewing is finished, drain the water and filter out the coffee. (This is the part that is tricky if you don't have a cold brew coffee maker.)With the OXO cold brew coffee maker, you simply set it on the stand and flip the switch. It should take approximately 15-20 minutes with the correct grind size.
If you use a French press, use the plunger and carefully pour out the water. Try your best not to agitate the coffee grounds. You may also want to filter it through a paper filter. To do so, pour the coffee out of the French press. Then, set up a pour over coffee maker and pour the cold brew concentrate through the paper. Don't do it in one step because if you have to keep tipping and uprighting the French press as the concentrate filters through the paper filter, you will agitate the coffee grounds too much.
- Store the concentrate in the refrigerator.
- To serve the coffee, dilute 2 ounces (60 milliliters) (¼ cup) of coffee concentrate to 4-6 ounces (120-180 milliliters) (½ - ¾ cup) water or milk. You can use serve it either hot or cold. Enjoy!