Cold Brew Coffee – Six Ultimate Recipes

Cold brew coffee – a beautiful and blatantly inherent contradiction. How can you brew a cold coffee? Doesn’t brewing, after all, mean to pour near-boiling water over something?

Cold brew coffee – a beautiful and blatantly inherent contradiction. How can you brew a cold coffee? Doesn’t brewing, after all, mean to pour near-boiling water over something?

In this case, however, it means to infuse the coffee in cold water, letting the flavor and caffeine extraction take place without heat. The whole process usually takes place over a long period of time.

In this article, I will unravel the mysteries of this process. There are many different versions, each varying considerably in complexity. The great thing to know upfront is that you don’t need any additional equipment.

For many people, cold brew is just a summer coffee drink, but cold brew is just as delightful in the winter.

I’ve even made a few YouTube videos about cold brew coffee for Coffeeness (currently available only in German).

The Difference Between Cold Brew and Cold Drip

The Taste of Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee has a unique taste. Of course, the taste also depends on what kind of coffee beans you use and is always better when you grind the beans yourself. For every coffee preparation method, I generally recommend grinding your coffee fresh, but in this case it is especially important. You will need an extra-coarse grind of coffee – it should be a bit coarser than that used for a French press.

Cold Brew Hand

I find African coffees, especially those from Ethiopia, to be especially pleasing as cold brews. You can greatly influence the character of the coffee just by varying the steeping time. The coffee releases its aromas through direct contact with water. So the longer the cold coffee steeps, the more strength it builds. However, one thing to note is that, after some time, the coffee’s fruity and floral aromas will weaken.

After 8 to 12 hours of steeping, you get beautiful citrus bursts in your coffee. If you wait even longer, these aromas are slowly overwhelmed by a powerful fullness – the body. This can be exciting, too, and sometimes a syrupy cold brew is also fun. If you steep the coffee for more than 24 hours, you will find a more heavy duty flavor that usually tastes bitter.

As always, experimenting pays off, and everything is permitted as long as it tastes good. That said, I would still keep the coffee grounds as coarse as possible.


For all the recipes I will introduce below, you need the cold brew base recipe first. If you like, you can experiment with the quantity of coffee grounds and the steeping time. I have already tested steeping times between 8 to 24 hours and have had interesting results. For most coffees, I tend to prefer the flavor at around 12 hours, so I’ve established this as my default recommendation.

You will need:

  • Fresh, clear and – if possible – filtered water
  • 12 hours of time
  • Ice cubes for serving

Cold Brew Recipes

Here’s the recipe for the black liquid gold that is cold brew coffee. The nice thing is that the preparation is really easy and little can go wrong. The most common mistake is using coffee that is too finely ground.

This recipe is intended for 1 liter (34 ounces) of water, but the actual amount of concentrate will be a little less. I normally add water at the end so it comes back up to the original amount. The coffee grounds tend to absorb part of the water.

The ratio is 100 grams (10 tablespoons) of coffee grounds per 1 liter (34 ounces) of water.

  • 1. Freshly grind the coffee beans to a coarse degree.
  • 2. Place the grounds in the filter inside the glass or Hario pot.
  • 3. Add the water – it should be filtered and COLD.
  • 4. If necessary, stir to distribute the grinds, then cover with a lid.

  • 5. Leave it to stand for 12 hours at room temperature.
  • 6. Remove the filter or strain the liquid out.
  • 7. Add water back into the solution, bringing it back up to 1 liter (34 ounces).

You are now the proud owner of one liter (34 ounces) of delicious cold brew coffee and can start having fun with the other recipes below. Cold brew can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

For Purists

You will need:

  • A heavy glass and a comfortable armchair
  • Three or four ice cubes
  • 300 milliliters (10 ounces) of cold brew coffee.

You can dilute the purist version of cold brew with extra water, should it be too punchy. The intensity and complexity of the aromas are reminiscent of a good whiskey.

With Fresh Lemon Juice

You will need:

  • Three or four ice cubes
  • 300 milliliters (10 ounces) of cold brew coffee
  • 20 milliliters (4 teaspoons) of lemon juice

To get the lemon juice, I use a juicer and organic lemons with the peel on. The result is intense, natural and delicious. It pays to first test if the coffee and lemon combination is good with a small amount of juice.

I find lemon juice to be awesome in some coffees and not good at all in others. It is certainly worth trying things out!

Cold Coffee with Lemon

With Tonic Water

You will need:

  • Three to five ice cubes
  • 80 milliliters (5 tablespoons) of cold brew coffee
  • 220 milliliters (7.5 ounces) of tonic water

This is a refreshing summer drink. Cold brew tonic is simply excellent on hot days. It’s an interesting combination that most people can’t really imagine before trying it for the first time.

Cold Brew Tonic

Tip: If you add the ice cubes and tonic first, and then very slowly pour in the cold brew, individual layers will appear in the glass – an impressive look!

You should note that as most tonic waters contain about 10 percent sugar. This recipe will make a mini-calorie bomb not suitable for everyday consumption.

For Coffee Junkies

You can always use less tonic if you like. I find a 50-50 ratio to be very good, but you can also try it with a 2 parts tonic water to 3 parts cold brew. It’s really a matter of personal taste.

You will need:

  • Three to five ice cubes
  • 150 milliliters (5 ounces) of cold brew coffee
  • 150 milliliters (5 ounces) of tonic water

With Almond Milk

Cold Brew Milk

Cold brew tastes good in combination with all types of milk. In the picture you can see how I’m energetically pouring almond milk into a jar of cold brew. This is Tchibo Privat Kaffee African Blue coffee, which is of surprisingly high quality for supermarket coffee. African Blue coffee builds to a very strong body that goes great with almond or nut milk.

Almond milk can unfortunately become slightly curdled in cold brew, which doesn’t affect the taste but can make for an “interesting” effect.

Homemade Almond Milk Blender

Homemade Almond Milk Nut Milk Pouch

Homemade Almond Milk Barista

Bulletproof Coffee

A more detailed article about the hot version of this can be found here: Bulletproof Coffee.

Bulletproof coffee is made with butter and coconut oil. A lot of good things are said about this drink – but for more on that you should read through the corresponding Coffeeness article. Only the recipe is provided here. You will need a blender for this recipe.

You will need:

  • Three to five ice cubes
  • 300 milliliters (10 ounces) of cold brew coffee
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of butter
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of coconut oil

Begin by putting the cold brew coffee into the blender with the butter and coconut oil. The best way to do this is by melting the butter and coconut oil before adding them into the blender. This is because it’s harder for fats to dissolve in cold coffee compared to hot coffee. After blending, pour the finished drink over your ice cubes.

Bulletproof coffee and cold brew are a great combination that I personally like better than the hot version.

Cold Brew Bulletproof Coffee

Cold Brew Bulletproof Coffee

Cold Brew Equipment

You don’t actually need much equipment to make cold brew. A mason jar and a pour-over dripper are sufficient. You could even use a cotton cloth to filter the coffee. After doing this a couple of times, though, I found it all too much work and bought myself the Hario cold brew coffee pot.

The Dripster cold brew dripper is also something really new worth checking out. (This video is only available in German.)

The Hario cold brew coffee pot is another option for cold brew coffee. It has a built-in filter that saves time. Additionally, it fits into the fridge well. I’m very happy with it and have used it almost weekly for more than a year.

It’s also possible to use other items from the coffee cupboard. Here, I have already introduced a user’s guide that explains how you can make cold brew with an AeroPress. The AeroPress is well suited to produce small amounts of cold coffee.

An AeroPress will also automatically filter the coffee during the plunging process, making this option not as laborious as others.

Cold Brew AeroPress

For those who don‘t yet know this type of plunger, click here to read my AeroPress article.

Even a French press can be used for “brewing.” Once the cold brew has steeped, you can push down the plunger. However, after doing so, many particles will remain suspended in the solution. This is because the long contact time with the water dissolves the coffee almost entirely. That’s why you should always filter the cold coffee again with a pour-over coffee maker before serving.

Cold Brew Coffee Parameters

I have to admit, the method of cold “brewing” coffee passed me by for quite a long time. In good cafés, I often admired elaborate concoctions where ice cubes melted, slowly releasing water into the drink. Fascinated, but also a bit overwhelmed, I still only drank hot coffee back then.

I have since acquired quite the taste for cold brewed coffee and prepare it almost every day.

It would be pretty boring if we only had one way to brew cold coffee. You have the usual parameters to play with:

  • Contact time of water and coffee
  • Quantity ratio of coffee to water
  • Coarseness of the grounds
  • Type of coffee used
  • Type of water used

Screw-Top Jar + Pour-Over Filter

The beauty of this method of making cold brew is that you don’t need much: coarsely ground coffee; cold tap water; a pour-over dripper, woodneck or fine sieve; and a screw-top jar.

I have also seen many recipes that use a foil lid.

Cold Brewed Coffee Jar

The amount of coffee added is pretty high, which leads to a very full-bodied coffee with a lot of aroma, but little acidity. The concentrate will be diluted when you add ice cubes.

Cold Brewed Coffee in a French Press

How practical that a French press is a glass vessel with a lid, which can also filter coarse coffee grounds.

That’s how I had imagined it, anyway, before actually trying it out. What I didn’t expect is that, when the coffee grounds are in contact with water for more than 12 hours, they begin to almost completely dissolve. Especially with strongly roasted varieties, the coffee grounds start to atomize and are rather reminiscent of fine, wet potting soil. This leads to pouring some of the leftover grounds into the cold coffee itself.

It’s a matter of personal taste, but most people prefer clear coffee. So, while a French press is still well suited for steeping – and I’d definitely use the plunger initially – I’d also subsequently send the coffee through a pour-over filter as the final step. This removes the fine coffee grounds that sneak through the French press’ mesh filter.

Cold Brew Drip Coffee – The Laborious Alternative

The cold brew dripper the thing that makes the hearts of equipment freaks instantly beat faster. Most of us has certainly already seen one: a glass creation of many parts. A tower of beauty. A cross between laboratory equipment and art. I don’t know how it affects you, but it causes me to have extreme “I want” reflexes.

If you want, you can buy a Hario Water Dripper Clear for a cool $200.

Cold Brewed Drip Coffee

Make Your Own Cold Brewed Drip Coffee Device

You will need a glass bottle with a tap, an AeroPress, a glass jar, a funnel, and two AeroPress filters.

I used the AeroPress brewing chamber to hold the coffee grounds. Below this I placed a standard filter in the filter cap. On top of the coffee grounds I put a small cut-down filter. The purpose of this filter is to make sure that the dripping water is evenly distributed. Otherwise, there’s a risk of it only passing through the grounds in one place.

Cold Brewed AeroPress

A glass bottle serves as a water container and drip station.

Measuring the flow, I’m at about 40 drops per minute.

The remainder of the structure is made up of random support parts (the funnel, for example, was necessary to provide a better angle).

I ended up with no extra expenses. If you don’t have an AeroPress, you can also make something out of a PET bottle and use normal filters. The “oil bottle” cost me about 15 euros ($17).


So how much caffeine does a cold brewed coffee contain?

That’s a good question that I’ve recently spent quite some time looking into. I have read forums and blogs and interviewed experts. To me, the answer seems obvious: Nobody really knows.

In my subjective perception, cold brewed coffee contains more caffeine than conventional pour-over filtered coffee.

There is additional anecdotal evidence that this kind of coffee is particularly strong, with many reports of unrestrained vitality and sleepless nights.

A Few Things to Consider

With a refractometer or TDS (total dissolved solids) meter, it’s possible to take comparative measurements of the water and the resulting coffee. Using this method, however, you can only test the amount of coffee that has actually dissolved – the correlation to the amount of caffeine can’t be accurately tested in this way.

My thoughts were that, in the case of both pour-over filtration and espresso making, about a quarter of the coffee bean’s inherent caffeine content is actually released.

In water, however, much more caffeine is soluble. The hotter the water, the more soluble it is. Even water at room temperature dissolves about 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of caffeine per liter. In other words, much more than would ever be found in any other kind of coffee.

Caffeine is water-soluble – but doesn’t that just mean that very long contact time with water equals a very high caffeine release? Or, can hot water release more caffeine just as quickly?

So the question is really how exactly the parameters of TIME and TEMPERATURE behave in terms of their ability to release caffeine from the beans into the coffee.

If we assume that 1.3 percent of caffeine is contained in the coffee beans and 100 percent is released, that means 0.1 liter (3 ounces) of water = 130 milligrams of caffeine as a maximum. In a pour-over coffee, it’s about 0.1 liter (3 ounces) = 57 milligrams. That’s using the same 10-gram (2-teaspoon) quantity of coffee grounds for both preparation methods. So the amount of caffeine released must be somewhere between 0 and 130 milligrams. I suspect cold brewing releases more caffeine than a traditional pour-over coffee.

Are there any chemists out there who can provide more information on this?

Is there a feasible way to test this theory?

Prevalence and Outlook

Cold brew is becoming increasingly popular. It’s available for purchase at Starbucks and more recently is in Tchibo stores. Melitta has also developed a filter especially designed for making cold brew.

The “Third Wave of Coffee” movement has lost its monopoly over this drink, so to speak, and the “Second Wave” happily plays along. Cold tea variants are also becoming increasingly popular. All of a sudden, several different startups have appeared in Berlin, all dedicating themselves to the art of cold brew. The shelf life of high-quality and ready-made cold coffee is a unique advantage.

I still prefer to make my own cold brew fresh with wonderful Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans. In Germany, there is still a strong lobby for the classic iced coffee with ice cream. Unfortunately, you can only make me duck for cover offering me that!

Cold Brew Glass

Whether you make it in Bodum’s coffee press or using Hario’s Mizudashi model, cold brewing basically always proves a success. The one thing yet to be proven is the exact caffeine content it contains.

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