Cold Brew: Recipes, Tips and Fresh Ideas

Ever since cold brew began its triumphant march, all puns about "cold coffee" have completely disappeared. What was once an analogy for stale and tasteless crap is now truly a hype drink.

Ever since cold brew began its triumphant march, all puns about “cold coffee” have completely disappeared. What was once an analogy for stale and tasteless crap is now truly a hype drink.

The art of extracting coffee with cold water has shown many people that coffee doesn’t always have to come from a coffee machine. Cold brew also proves the mile-wide difference between good and bad coffee beans:

  • Brewing bad beans hot, then letting the coffee go cold, tastes disgusting.
  • Brewing good coffee beans hot, tastes almost even better when cold.

By saving yourself the trouble of brewing good beans using heat, you’ll discover completely different aromas.

Magic? No, just a matter of craftsmanship! I’ve refreshed my Cold Brew Guide a little and expanded on my tips and recipes, because next summer is on the way. Or the next blizzard – after all, cold brew is good anytime.

What Equipment Is Needed For Cold Brew?

Good coffee beans, cold water and a container of your choice – you basically don’t need anything else for making cold brew.

To be a little more exact, you can’t really do without a coffee grinder for cold brew either. The reason being that pre-ground beans don’t usually work because of the degree of grind.

coffee grinders overview with Arne

The coffee for quintessential cold brew must be ground coarser than the grind used with a pour-over coffee dripper, more like that used in a French press. The coarser grind has less to do with the required contact surface area and more to do with a typical cold brew phenomenon.

During the hours of steeping, the coffee granules increasingly “dissolve”, becoming ever finer. That’s why you often end up with coffee grounds in your cold brew jar reminiscent of very wet sand. If you were to grind your coffee more finely still, this dissolution would be even more thorough.

You’d then end up with a solution where almost everything with no place in cold brew flavoring was swimming around. It would basically be a full-bodied espresso on a veeeeery long (and unpressurized) tour. Wrong somehow.

Yet cold brew is exceptionally democratic. Feel free to try the finer grind. If you like it, stick with it. I don’t find it works however.

That’s why my advice is: Please use a coarser grind! The good news is that even super inexpensive entry-level grinders can cope very well with coarse grind settings. Your cold brew equipment needn’t therefore be expensive.

Tchibo electric coffee grinder

A sexy Mason jar can serve as a brewing vessel or you can use a preserving jar or any large carafe which can be covered. Covering the jar ensures greater hygiene.

Specialty products aren’t therefore necessary but do solve the question of how to retrieve the coffee sludge from the finished cold brew. Many people use a pour-over coffee dripper with the appropriate filter paper for this task.

However, this method can use up a lot of filters. Long-soaked coffee sludge likes to clog the pores of the paper and you regularly have to use new ones.

My tip: Fabric filters like the Hario Woodneck can be easily washed out between uses and are made of a flexible cloth. This means they can be placed into all sorts of different apertures and containers.

Two things, however, are really crucial for good cold brew: the time factor and the right kind of water.

Depending on the extraction strength you desire, cold brew should be steeped for between 8 and 24 hours. Whether you make it 12 or 16 hours is up to you. Professionals usually work to the rule: the finer the coffee grounds, the more extended the extraction time.

Whilst regarding water filters I usually always follow the motto “take it or leave it”, the water for cold brew must be particularly free of lime – i.e. soft water.

Because unlike when brewing coffee in the traditional sense, you don’t have an extraction booster in the form of heat. If your water is saturated with limescale components, it can’t really absorb the coffee aromas or “break down” the beans properly.

If you don’t want to use a filter, non-carbonated mineral water is a good idea – although I argue strongly against bottled water usually.

What Defines Cold Brew?

I’ve always suspected it to be the case, but now I have it in writing: cold brew is a genuine caffeine bomb.

Project Caffeine Kick close-up finished samples

In my big caffeine test 2020, undertaken with scientific support, the 24-hour cold brew with 112 milligrams of caffeine per 3.4 ounces water came in at sixth place, the 8-hour cold brew with 95 milligrams at eighth.

Converted to typical cold brew recipes and thus the required coffee amount per serving, things look different again: with a portion size of 250 milligrams of caffeine, the 24-hour cold brew takes first place, while the 8-hour cold brew come in third.

If you’d like to learn more about the caffeine content of a total of 15 tested coffee drinks, take a look at my “How much caffeine does coffee contain?” video:

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German

In addition, cold extracted coffee gives precedence to aromas that would otherwise stand no chance using conventional preparation methods: floral-citrus elements, floral notes, background sweetness, etc.

On the tongue, cold brew tastes less like coffee, as this typical taste impression usually only first develops in the finish. That’s what makes it so light and refreshing – even if we have to put “light” in quotation marks with regard to the caffeine content.

Many of you report that your stomachs tolerate cold brew much better than any other method of coffee preparation too.

Sage the Precision Brewer coffee maker Arne with ready-made coffee

I guess this has something to do with the fact that the heating step is omitted – meaning that any irritating substances don’t dissolved as much. This is merely a guess but seems to be confirmed by your experience.

How Do I Prepare Cold Brew?

The following tips and ideas come directly from my everyday life, as I prepare cold brew very often. After some experimentation I have established a basic recipe which you are welcome to (slightly) change the parameters of.

The degree of grind, ratio of coffee to water and infusion time are all open to be experimented with. You should also change the coffee beans from time to time.

Solis Coffee Grinder comparison of different degrees of grind

The water quality and temperature, however, are not up for debate. Neither is the requirement to only use quality coffee beans and freshly grind them! Logically.

If you’re in the mood for watching something, I can recommend my “Cold Brew Coffee Tips | Preferably Pure or With Tonic Water?” video:

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German.

The Basic Recipe

No matter which of the recipes presented here you choose, the basic preparation always remains the same:

  • Grind: rather coarse
  • Coffee quantity: 3.5 ounces (approx. 15 tablespoons)
  • Water quantity: 34 fluid ounces (really COLD and SOFT)
  • Brewing time: 12 hours (my established standard)

You’ll also need a pour-over coffee dripper or other equipment for filtering as well as ice cubes for serving (if you like). The procedure is very simple:

  1. Freshly grind the coffee beans coarsely.
  2. Place grinds in the container and fill with cold water.
  3. If necessary, stir to distribute the grinds, then close or cover the container.
  4. Now leave the coffee to steep at room temperature. Leaving it in the refrigerator works too, but then let it steep longer.
  5. Pour coffee through a filter or take out the filter holder for cold brew vessels.
  6. Add water back into the solution, bringing it back up to 34 ounces.

In my opinion, the last step ensures that the flavor is optimized, but some people also like their cold coffee as the concentrated version. Using this basic recipe, you’ll now be able to try out a wide variety of cold brew drinks.

Cold brew coffee preparation

For Purists

You‘ll need:

  • A sexy glass and a comfortable armchair (pipe and attitude optional)
  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • 10 ounces cold brew coffee

It goes without saying: if your purist version of cold brew doesn’t taste any good, it’s almost always down to the coffee beans or the aromatic style not quite matching the process. In the case of a brew that’s simply too punchy, a little water to dilute it helps.

If everything is right, you’ll be able to taste the best of what cold brew offers. The intensity and complexity of the aromas are reminiscent of a good whiskey – the glass and the armchair enhance that effect even further.But be careful, this is not a relaxing end-of-the-day drink. According to our big caffeine study, the purist cold brew contains up to 336 milligrams of caffeine (with am infusion time of 24 hours). You can forget about all sleep after that!

With Fresh Lemon Juice

You‘ll need:

  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • 10 ounces cold brew coffee
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed, please)

What could make more sense than giving a tangy cold brew the additional boost of real lemon flavors? I use a juicer and that way get a bit of the rind aromas from the organic lemons into my drink too. Smashing.

Cold brew coffee preparation with lemon

You’ll probably have to make several attempts here at finding the best ratio. Because after sour you don’t get funny, but yuck.

Once again, this tangy cold brew is no nightcap. Even with a brew time of only eight hours, you’ll still supply your body with around 285 milligrams of caffeine.

With Tonic Water

You‘ll need:

  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • 3 ounces cold brew coffee
  • 5 ounces tonic water

The hype started with this caffeinated long drink for summer afternoons. And it just keeps going and going and going. Cold brew tonic trumps almost every other “soft drink” because it’s not so sickly-sweet – at least not if you make use of quality tonic.

Depending on the style of the brew, I find neutral or somewhat bitter kinds of tonic best. The neutral tonics have a clear citrus note, which work great. Thomas Henry produces my current favorite cold brew filler.

You can, OF COURSE, also pimp your cold brew tonic with gin. All I’ll say is that alcohol, caffeine and sugar are extremely powerful together in one drink.

You’ll be completely plastered, wide awake and cranky. With an eight-hour infusion time, this cold brew packs 76 milligrams of caffeine.

Another professional tip: If you first add the ice cubes and tonic and then slowly pour over the cold brew, layers will appear in the glass – an impressive look.

With Tonic Water for Coffee Junkies

You‘ll need:

  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • 5 ounces cold brew coffee
  • 5 ounces tonic water

The tonic water serves to bring out the style of the coffee more strongly. It’s therefore worth trying to reduce the ratio of tonic until you reach the perfect level for your palate.

Just one thing to note: with this variant you’re looking at 142.50 milligrams of caffeine (8h).

With Almond Milk

I’ve already cheekily remarked elsewhere that people only drink their coffee with milk because they don’t really like coffee. For this crowd (and all others too) I recommend cold brew with almond milk.

You could also pour liquid cream or sour cream into the glass for all I care: the velvety sweetness of the milk product combined with the tangy freshness of the coffee is what we’re after.

Cold brew coffee with almond milk

For me personally, (homemade) almond milk is the best, because it gives precedence to the coffee and balances out the flavors very well. Besides, I’m increasingly turning away from the udder.

Using almond milk, you achieve something pretty close to Bailey’s taste-wise – just not as sweet and not alcoholic. You can change that, but don’t have to.

Cold Brew Bulletproof Coffee

You‘ll need:

  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • 10 ounces cold brew coffee
  • 1 tablespoon pasture butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Bulletproof coffee not only works well hot, but cold too. As a reminder: this entails coffee being mixed with pasture butter and coconut oil, before being served. The hype is certainly now over, but I find bulletproof coffee in its cold form more delicious anyway.

Cold brew bulletproof coffee

Put the ingredients (minus the ice cubes) into a blender and give them a good blitz. Since butter and coconut fat are quite firm, it may pay to warm them up a bit first.

For Curious Minds

All my tips and recipes boil down to one thing: if you like it, add it to your cold brew! What goes into a hot Triple Moccachino Pumpkin Mint Latte theoretically works in cold brew as well.

In other words, cold brew tastes simply fantastic with:

  • All sour types of fruit juice (apple, pineapple, orange)
  • All types of nut liqueurs and syrups (including almond, amaretto etc.)
  • Cleverly combined spice (ginger, chili)
  • Any kind of milk (with and without cow)

  • Bitter-sweet spirits
  • CHOCOLATE (of course!)
  • Natural sweeteners (honey, agave, birch sugar etc.)
  • Salty elements (or simply *salt*)
  • Sparkling mineral water (for a salty-sour flavor)

More and more often, I’m coming across signature drinks that combine cold brew with tomato juice. You can count me out on that one – but you see, that works too!

What Is Nitro Cold Brew?

Speaking of hype: nitro cold brew is mentioned time and again as an ingredient in the signature drinks of famous coffee bars, which sounds like a lot of effort and a bit of bragging.

Signature drink nitro cold brew served

It is just that. Nitro Cold Brew is cold-brewed coffee which after preparation is mixed with nitrogen in pressure-resistant containers. This results in it having a foaming capability strongly reminiscent of Guinness – it does make use of the same basic principle. That’s why nitro is often served on tap.

This preparation method not only justifies the price of this coffee drink, it also makes sense. Due to the beaten foam, nitro tastes quite sweet without having to add any sugar to the coffee. This makes the drinks lighter and much more balanced.

Signature drink nitro cold brew served 2

Should you entertain the idea of making nitro cold brew at home, you’ll need a cream siphon and nitrogen capsules.

These siphons are very popular in gastronomy because they can be used to conjure up all kinds of froths, culinary foams etc.. However, a decent syphon that generates enough pressure costs upwards of 100 U.S. dollars.

What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew and Cold Drip?

“Cold brew is like beer, cold drip is like wine”, a cold drip supplier once spun off at the Berlin Coffee Festival. He isn’t wrong, but I wouldn’t exaggerate things quite so much.

Cold brew, as a full-immersion method, is like (cold) coffee from a French press in slow motion. The ground coffee powder is in complete contact with water during the entire brewing process. Only at the very end is the coffee filtered so that there isn’t any sludge left in the glass.

Cold drip, on the over hand, is the slow-motion version of drip coffee – even if filter paper isn’t absolutely necessary. An adjustable valve drips mini amounts of water onto the coffee grinds, which slowly “eats” through them and then drips into a collecting vessel as finished coffee.

Beem Cold Drip finished construction

This type of preparation requires somewhat more complicated equipment. It’s for this reason that the Beem Cold Drip, for example, looks as if it has escaped from a chemical laboratory. The Dripster² isn’t quite as fussy – and is suitable for use as both a cold brew and drip device (sorry, video only available in German).

Similar to the comparison of filter and French press coffee, a dripper actually does extract finer aromas than the full immersion method.

That’s why many connoisseurs prefer even lighter and more floral roasts for their drippers than for cold brew – they come into their own still better with the drip method. But both variants are fresh, tangy and above all multi-faceted – if the coffee beans are right.

Which Coffee Beans Are Best for Cold Brew?

You already know the Coffeeness creed: use only quality coffee beans and freshly grind them. Why should it be any different when making cold brew?

I personally prefer African coffees, especially those from Ethiopia. Twelve hours brewing time is ideal for them, because after that I’ve noticed that the fruity and floral aromas are lost and crushed by the presumptuous “body” of the coffee.

Woodgrouse coffee beans overview

It’s important that you always go for pure Arabicas without any Robusta. The canephora bean is much too unrefined and superficial and would kill off all other nuances when extracted cold.

This means that dark Espressos fall flat as cold brew. I say so – others disagree. As mentioned previously: cold brew is a living coffee democracy.

You should discover for yourself which coffee preparation is most suitable for your cold brew. Most connoisseurs tend to prefer dry-processed coffees (naturals), because they promise more sweetness. But I wouldn’t ever make a blanket statement about that either.

What About the Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pot?

At the beginning of my cold brew mania I used a screw-top jar and a pour-over coffee dripper, but at some point I no longer felt like filtering the cold brew forever and a day at the end of the brewing period. That’s when I bought a Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot.

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot Arne

This baby now has numerous brothers and cousins, but they all do essentially the same thing: your ground coffee isn’t left to float freely in the water, but is instead contained in an easily removable filter. This saves you from performing the last step in the cold brew process.

This is neither revolutionary nor particularly important. I still love the Hario pot though because it fits perfectly in the fridge and also has a lid. Since I prepare cold brew on virtually a weekly basis, it has paid for itself several times over.

How Do I Make Cold Brew With the Dripster²?

I recommend the two-in-one Dripster² again and again because I very much like the makers and their product is quite clever.

The device is not exactly slim, but all you have to do is turn the attachment upside down to make a cold dripper with the appropriate drip valve out of the cold brew container with removable filter.

Project Caffeine Kick Dripster overview Arne

Both function perfectly, although the aesthetically minded among you will surely miss the sleek and sexy glass look of the Dripster predecessor. That device had a few problems with drip dosing and durability however – issues which have definitely been solved with the second Dripster model.

Before I wear my fingers down writing, I’d rather refer you to my video where you can watch all the equipment in action for yourself:

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German

Do I Need to Get the Dripster BrewJar?

Nope. As much as I like the Dripster boys, their BrewJar doesn’t much matter. It’s a screw-top Mason-style jar containing a filter. Nothing more, nothing less.

BrewJar cold brew preparation

The thing costs around 30 dollars, but you can build much more economic alternatives from a cheap preserving glass and a permanent filter. The quality and the idea aren’t bad though.

What’s So Special About Cold Brew From an AeroPress?

Cold brew from an AeroPress is above all a recommendation for small households. This version enables you to prepare very concentrated mini quantities and to automatically filter the coffee as it is pressed.

I don’t know if my invention called the “AeroPress Cold Brew Plunger Thing” is unique in the world. But I like this construction because you can use it to make a sort of cold brew espresso. You can read more about it in the guide!

What Must I Watch Out for With Cold Brew From a French Press?

A French press is a practical recommendation for a container because using the plunger saves you the trouble of filtering by other means. At least in theory. It’s the certain nature of things that cold brew from a French press allows more suspended matter into the glass – you have to like that.

French press plunger down Arne

The wet “coffee sand” readily likes to slip through the sieves of the French press’ plunger, which is why it’s best to combine it with a pour-over coffee dripper as well. This almost eliminates the advantage of the plunger pot, however, “pre-plunged” coffee is more easily filtered again.

What About Cold Brew in Bottles and Cans?

Where there’s hype, industry is usually not far away. That’s why there’s now ready-made cold brew in cans and bottles – usually with added flavor and all kinds of other stuff.

No surprise: Tchibo and Starbucks have jumped on the bandwagon too. In Berlin, for example, Goodspirits deliver ready-made cold brew. I readily admit that some ready-mixes taste surprisingly good. For example, the Etno Cafe mix with orange, which is only available in Poland.

Karacho cold brew from cans

Yet unless you’re unprepared for a hike and are desperate for cold brew, there is little reason to buy it ready-made. You can see from this article just how easy it is to make yourself. DIY brew costs much less, is much less processed and is also highly individualized.

If your fingers itch, you can even jazz your cold brew up to become a classic iced coffee with milk, cream and vanilla ice cream. You shouldn’t, but that’s just my take on things.

And please, P-L-E-A-S-E keep your fingers away from instant coffee and the hype about Dalgona Coffee that is currently rampant everywhere. This mixture of instant coffee, which can be whipped hot to make coffee cream and then drunk hot or cold, is a plague.

You can find out why in my video:

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German

Whichever way you look at it, cold brew is finally a trend with purpose. That’s because it offers so much and asks for nothing in return. Because it tastes good. And because it solves the problem of how to enjoy coffee in unbearable heat.

You’ve already commented most fervently on this topic and I readily welcome each and every new cold brew question and idea!

I look forward to your comment

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