How to Make Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate

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These step-by-step instructions show just how easy it is to make delicious iced coffee at home.


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By Karen Raye

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Ahh. Iced coffee. Deep, rich, cool, and creamy. Even chocolaty. There’s nothing like it. And it’s so easy (and inexpensive!) to make at home. I even created a handy-dandy little infographic to show just HOW easy and inexpensive!

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See?!

I’ve been making my own iced coffee for years now, and through lots of trial and error, I think I’ve pretty much got it down.

After trying it several different ways, I settled upon the cold brew method. It’s basically a magical way to brew coffee into pure deep-roast goodness without any of that shiver-inducing, bitter acidity. Pure mild-tasting – but potent – goodness.

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“Cold brew” really means room temperature, by the way. The first time I tried it, I put my jar of grounds and water into the fridge. (I do silly things, and then I share them here so that you don’t have to.)

This tutorial, by the way, is the new and improved version of an old post entitled, oh-so creatively, “Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee.” I had so much I wanted to add to that one that I decided to pretty much start over with step-by-step instructions, new photos, answers to questions I’ve received, and other little tidbits I’ve learned since I shared the first time.

Cold-brewing iced coffee results in a delicious, potent elixir which, if you’re not careful, could give you a seriously surprising caffeine jolt. Start slowly! I’m serious – the extreme jitters are no fun, and trust me – I’ve been there. This concentrate is meant to be mixed with an equal amount of water and poured over a glass packed with ice.

Ready? Let’s do this!

How to make cold-brewed iced coffee concentrate

Step 1: Pick great beans

You want good beans for your cold-brewed iced coffee! No weak blondes here. Go for a robust, medium to dark roast. My very favorite beans for iced coffee come from a local chain, Cafe Ladro. Their Ladro Blend is big and bold, but still uber-smooth and chocolaty. It makes the perfect cold-brewed iced coffee.

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Step 2: Now grind ’em

Take one cup of beans and grind them. Go for a medium-to-large grind – not too fine. Preferably, you can grind your beans at home for the freshest, most flavorful result – but if you need to have them ground at the store or coffee shop, you’ll still be in good shape.

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Step 3: Just add water and stir

Place the grounds in a 40-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid, and add 4 cups cool water. I like to use one of my big 2-quart mason jars (affiliate link). Preferably filtered, but if you don’t have it, no biggie. And then stir! The grounds and water need to be good and stirred together to get the everything flowing.

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Step 4: Let it steep!

Put the lid on the jar or pitcher and sit it somewhere on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. And let it sit overnight (at least 6 hours), or up to 12 hours.

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Step 5: Strain

I’ve strained my iced coffee a gazillion ways, and I suppose every single one qualifies as a hack. Here are a few ways you can do it: coffee:

  • Pour it into a French press and gently push down the plunger. Pour out the iced coffee concentrate.
  • Place a coffee filter into a funnel and set the funnel over a bottle. Pour the concentrate into the funnel to strain out the grounds.
  • Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth or, in a pinch, paper towels. Set it in a bowl and pour the concentrate over the sieve.
  • Or, my current favorite method: use a nut milk bag (affiliate link). I’ve been using the same fine-mesh bag I use for making almond milk, and it’s the easiest method I’ve found, by a mile. Note: a reader mentioned that pantyhose works as a great stand-in for nut-milk bags. I can see how they would work perfectly, but … well, hey, it’s an option, right?!

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Step 6: Drink!

The best part! Pour 1/2 cup iced coffee concentrate and 1/2 cup water over a glass of ice or coffee ice cubes. Add cream and a little sweetener, if desired. Stir, plop in a straw, and enjoy the good (caffeinated) life.

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I also really enjoy this concentrate straight-up, without water – it tastes incredible and has quite the jolt of caffeine, so I do have to take it easy.

Your cold-brew should keep in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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