Cold-brewed coffee is so smooth and subtle that it’s become a coffeehouse hit. But those prices…! See how easy it is to save money (to the tune of 75 percent off) by making it at home.
Cold-brewed coffee sales have shot up 339 percent in the last few years, and 115 percent in the last year alone. Yet it’s as basic as its name implies: coffee brewed without heat. But that cool factor creates something…well, special. No boiling makes coffee less acidic, mellower, and slightly sweet, which means you’re less likely to spoon in sugar. That sweetness also makes it ideal for smoothies, milk shakes, cake and muffin batters, and even cocktails.
A little goes a long way, too: Cold-brewing concentrates the flavor, so it’s typically diluted 50/50 with water, milk, ice cubes, or other liquids. And unlike hot-brewed coffee, which tastes drastically different after it cools, cold-brewed’s flavor doesn’t change, which means you can keep a stash in the fridge for up to two weeks. You don’t need any special equipment, either—just ground coffee and cool water.
So why do coffeehouses charge about $4 for a cup of cold-brewed coffee when it has the same ingredients as hot? The same reason theaters charge $8 for a tub of popcorn that costs 90 cents to make. So brewing your own, which costs less than $1 a cup, is like getting a $3-off coupon—every day!
It’s so easy to make your own cold-brewed coffee! Just put freshly ground beans into any kind of container. Use your favorite roast, but make sure it’s ground very coarsely so it won’t cloud the water. Then gently pour in cold, filtered water at a ratio of 4-to-1 (for example, 4 cups water for 1 cup grounds). Stir gently to make sure all grounds are wet, cover container with plastic wrap, then let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Taste it occasionally and discard the grounds when the coffee hits your sweet spot.
A few variations:
If using a French press, once your coffee is done, gently press the mesh down on the grounds to filter them out.
With other kinds of containers, put a filter or cheesecloth in a sieve on the mouth of another container. Gradually pour coffee through the filter.
Or, before you brew, use a rubber band to bundle grounds in a coffee filter (you can fit about 1⁄4 cup into a standard filter) or a piece of cheesecloth. Put in the packets and cover the container with plastic wrap. Just pitch the packets when you’re done.
10 ways to use cold-brewed coffee
1. Mix it with chai tea for a spicy but smooth beverage.
2. Add a shot to hot chocolate, milkshakes, or anything involving chocolate or vanilla. Instant mocha!
3. Blend it into your morning smoothie.
4. Cold-brewed coffee + sparkling water + a few drops of vanilla extract = a great coffee soda. For a mocha soda, stir in a splash of chocolate extract.
5. Make mocktails. Cold-brewed coffee is more flavorful than Kahlúa. Add it to vanilla, chocolate extract, and cream, then shake it with ice cubes to make the ultimate Mudslide.
6. Add boiling water to get a steaming cup that’s less acidic than if you started with heat.
7. Swap in cold-brewed coffee for water or milk when making batters for cakes, muffins, pancakes, or crêpes.
8. Soak ladyfingers in it to make tiramisu. Layer with shaved chocolate, drizzles of maple syrup, and a 50/50 blend of ricotta and mascarpone cheese, then dust with espresso powder.
9. When making custard or ice cream, substitute half the milk with cold-brewed coffee.
10. Use it for poaching, deglazing, or making marinades.
Watch this video that shows just how easy it is to DIY cold brew coffee: