A delicious glass of nitro cold brew coffee on a warm summer day.

Tips and tools for delicious coffee

A delicious glass of nitro cold brew coffee on a warm summer day.

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There are countless articles online written about how to make cold brew coffee at home, but the approach is often a little too simplistic. Cold brew coffee doesn’t need to be complicated, but with a little technique and the right tools, making a batch of cold brew at home cannot simply be rewarding, but cost-effective, and most importantly, delicious.

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Making the perfect cup of coffee at home can be daunting, but cold brew is practically foolproof as long as you follow a few basic guidelines. After brewing up a batch, you can use it to make everything from simple iced coffees to Frapuccino-style shakes and even use it as an ingredient in baking. In this primer, we’re not just going to show you how to make cold brew at home, but how to make it truly special by utilizing some useful tools and techniques.

The science of how to make cold brew at home

Repeat after me: “Cold brew coffee isn’t just cold coffee.” You could certainly brew a pot of joe using your countertop coffee maker and pour it over ice. But this iced coffee will taste differently than cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is made typically by soaking ground coffee beans in cold or lukewarm water. This extracts different flavor compounds because of the change in temperature. These cold brews are decidedly less bitter, and depending on the roast, offer a fair bit of complexity when compared to a drip pot or a pour-over style coffee.

As many ways as there are to brew hot coffee, so to are there more ways than one to make cold brew coffee. We’ll touch on a couple of different methods below, but in general, cold brew coffee is made with water, coffee and time. Because of the lack of heat, the water needs time to extract the flavorful payload from the beans. This takes anywhere from 16 to 24 hours. Anything less will result in a weak brew. Anything more is overkill.

The upside is you can make a large batch of cold brew coffee at once, and store it in the fridge for up to a week. Many cold brew coffee recipes use a higher percentage of ground coffee and water to make “cold brew concentrates.” These concentrates are not only great for saving space in your fridge, but they allow you to adjust the strength of your cold brews at will.

Good cold brew starts with good coffee. We like the blends from , which delivers beans to your door with its handy subscription service or a la carte.

How to make cold brew at home: The best cold brew coffee makers

1. For the best cold brew coffee maker: Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

How to make cold brew at home: Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

If you’re looking for a cold brew maker that expertly blends form and function, look no further than this device by Takeya. It’s our favorite cold brew coffee maker because it ticks all the boxes: it’s easy to clean, easy to use and makes delicious coffee. It’s great for making cold brew teas, too.

$28 at Amazon

2. For a rustic approach: Country Line Kitchen Mason Jar cold brew maker

How to make cold brew at home: Country Line Kitchen Mason Jar cold brew maker

For those cultivating a “Green Acres” vibe, the Country Line cold brew maker works with any standard two-quart Mason jar with a wide spout. This one even comes with a spout, which solves one of the main issues of one of our favorite cold brew coffee makers.

$32 at Amazon

3. For Kyoto-style cold brew: Nispira Iced Coffee Cold Brew Drip Tower 

How to make cold brew at home: Nispira Iced Coffee Cold Brew Drip Tower

Kyoto-style cold brew uses ice instead of water to make one of the smoothest coffee you’ve ever tasted. The Nispira Cold Brew Drip Tower not only manages to look like an eye-catching antique, it makes sweet and mild brews with ease and little fuss.

$105 at Amazon

4. For enough cold brew for a crowd: KitchenAid KCM4212SX Cold Brew Coffee Maker

How to make cold brew at home: KitchenAid KCM4212SX Cold Brew Coffee Maker

If you’re throwing a shindig or have a lot of coffee drinkers in your home, the KitchenAid KCM4212SX Cold Brew Coffee Maker makes huge batches of coffee. Its inspired design is sturdy, brews excellent cold brew and even has a built-in dispenser. It’s one of our favorite cold brew coffee makers, and easily the sleekest.

$110 at Amazon

How to make cold brew at home: Awesome accessories

5. For perfect grinds: OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder

How to make cold brew at home: OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder

Save your cheap $20 “coffee grinder” for spices. True coffee heads know that nothing matches the grind consistency of a bean crusher like the OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder. It’s our pick for the best coffee grinder because of its even grinding and lack of static cling. Getting the grind just right is essential for perfect brews that lack muddiness or yucky sediment.

$100 at Amazon

6. For perfect portioning: Escali Prime digital food scale

How to make cold brew at home: Escali Prime digital food scale

Whether you’re making cold brew or pulling a shot of espresso, getting the precise amount of ground coffee in any recipe is what separates a good cup of joe from a great one. The Escali Prime digital food scale is our favorite kitchen scale because it’s both inexpensive and low profile enough that it can tuck away in just any drawer, and it’s perfect for measuring ground coffee down to the nearest gram.

$26 at Amazon

7. For the best ice: GE Profile Opal 2.0 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

How to make cold brew at home: GE Profile Opal 2.0 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

Anyone who’s ever been to a Costco or a Sonic’s Drive-In knows the difference between regular ice and good ice. Nugget ice is slow melting but soft enough to bite, and once you’ve had it it’s hard to go back to the yucky stuff your freezer spits out. The GE Profile Opal 2.0 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker makes big batches of the stuff quickly, which is one of the many reasons it’s our pick for the best ice maker on the market right now. This ice will elevate all drinks, including cold brew coffee, soda and even cocktails. I

$549 at Amazon

8. For recreating Starbucks drinks: Vitamix Aer Disc Container 

How to make cold brew at home: Vitamix Aer Disc Container

You can make Starbucks’ patented Cold Foam as long as you have the right equipment. All you need is a Vitamix and this inspired Aer carafe, which has the power to whip any kind of moo juice into foams so thick you can stand on them. It’s also great at muddling cocktails, whipping meringues and making hollandaise, among countless other uses.

$145 at Amazon

9. For giving drinks a tasty finish: Instant Milk Frother

How to make cold brew at home: Instant Milk Frother

If you’re looking to give your cold-brew coffee a tasty finish but you’re not ready to invest in a $600 blender, the Instant Milk Frother is an excellent way to make your dairy thick and silky. It’s our overall favorite milk frother because it works with milk and non-dairy alternatives, is easy to use and is well within most budgets.

$37 at Amazon

How to make cold brew at home: Nitro Coffee accessories

10. For making nitro coffee: iSi Cream Profi Whip

How to make cold brew at home: iSi Cream Profi Whip

Infusing cold brew coffee with nitrogen gas makes an even smoother brew with a natural sweetness and a velvety mouthfeel. The iSi Cream Profi Whip is great for making nitro coffee, but also has the capacity to make homemade seltzers, whipped cream, carbonated fruit and other kitchen miracles that make it worth the modest investment.

$74 at Amazon

11. For charging coffee with nitro: iSi Nitro Bronze Steel Coffee Charger

How to make cold brew at home: iSi Nitro Bronze Steel Coffee Charger

These bronze cartridges are the “nitro” element of nitro coffee. Each batch of nitro coffee needs one of these capsules which contains 2.4 grams of nitrogen, which is enough to make about a pint of smooth and velvety coffee. This pack comes with 16 chargers, which boils down to around $1.43 a pint.

$23 at Amazon

12. For making big batches of nitro brew: GrowlerWerks uKeg Nitro Cold Brew coffee maker

How to make cold brew at home: GrowlerWerks uKeg Nitro Cold Brew coffee maker

Not only does this keg make 50 ounces of nitro brew at a time, but it’s also gorgeous enough to display at your next brunch with family and friends. Its spout dispenses delicious coffee and it’s easy enough for anyone to use. Its spill-proof serving mat makes it great for parking in the fridge for weeks at a time.

$198 at Amazon

13. For serving Nitro brews: JoyJolt Grant beer pint glasses

How to make cold brew at home: JoyJolt Grant beer pint glasses

Like any great craft beer or homebrewed ginger ale, you want to serve your cold caffeine masterpiece in a glass worthy of its nitrogen-infused payload. These beer pint glasses help the brews get a good head of foam, whether you serve your cold brew on the rocks, with a splash of dairy or straight up. This set comes with four beer glasses.

$19 at Amazon

Tips for how to make cold brew at home

1. A simple recipe

If you’ve never made cold brew at home, there’s a simple way to make a batch. We recommend making a cold brew concentrate, which is much easier to store and is a little more versatile when it comes to adjusting the strength of drinks made with it. America’s Test Kitchen recommends seven ounces of ground coffee for every two and a half cups of water for a standard cold brew concentrate. Once made, you can make a cold brew coffee by mixing together equal parts of concentrate and water. You can also make your drink stronger by adding a little more concentrate if you wish, but like with all caffeinated beverages we recommend drinking responsibly.

2. The secret ingredient

If you’ve ever had a cold brew that was intensely refreshing and smooth, we’re willing to bet that it was finished with a tiny pinch of salt. Salt helps round out the harsh edges of any coffee, but it plays well with cold brew drinks. All you need is a dash sprinkled into your glass right before sipping. Additionally, some freshly grated nutmeg or lemon zest can also bring a new element that help highlight a coffee’s spicy and fruity notes. If you want to sweeten your cold brew, we recommend using a simple syrup, which dissolves much easier in cold liquids compared to sugar. To make a simple syrup, simply combine equal parts of sugar and water in pot and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, stir and remove from the heat. Store this syrup in the fridge and use it to sweeten coffee, tea or any beverage.

3. Sky’s the limit

The great thing about making cold brew coffee concentrate is how it unlocks a treasure trove of drink possibilities. You can treat it like espresso, and add it to everything including a bowl of brownie batter to a big pot of homemade barbecue sauce. Having strong coffee on hand unlocks plenty of great coffee drinks and treats from around the world. Here are a few we’d suggest trying.

  • 1. Affogato: The classic Italian dessert is nothing more than hot espresso poured over ice cream. You can make this with cold brew concentrate but pouring two ounces over a scoop of vanilla but any flavor works here. As the ice cream melts, you’ll be left with a drink with a kick that’s not too sweet.
  • 2. Red Eye: For the days when a standard cup of coffee isn’t enough we recommend making a Red Eye. Simply add two ounces of cold brew concentrate to a standard cup of coffee to give you a nice caffeinated boost. If this doesn’t wake you up, nothing will.
  • 3. Cafe Bombon: Condensed milk and coffee combine to make plenty of classic coffee drinks but this offering from Spain is the most simple. Simply mix two ounces of cold brew concentrate with two ounces of sweetened condensed milk. It’s even more refreshing when poured over ice.

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