Cold Brewing at Home

Cold brewing coffee is the complete opposite of regular brewing with hot water. I know – I’m a genius. But really, in addition to the differences in water temps, almost every rule is backwards when it comes to cold brewing. You’ll want to grind your coffee as coarse as possible. You’ll want to brew for 12-24 hours instead of in a few minutes. You’ll be able to store your brew for up to 2 weeks instead of having to drink it quickly after brewing so it doesn’t get stale. You can also microwave the cold brew concentrate. It’s like the bizarro world for coffee. Why do coffee fans like cold brewing so much? One reason is the lower acidity from this brew method. Cold brewing delivers coffee that is on average 67% less acidic than coffee brewed with hot water. Approximately 54 million Americans suffer from heartburn and some have had to cut out drinking coffee from their daily routine. Many have since turned to cold brewing due to the lower acidity.


The best method of cold brewing coffee at home is using the Toddy. In 1964, a Cornell University chemical engineering graduate developed and patented the Toddy Cold Brew System. The system involves a brewing container with a small filter and a stopper at the bottom along with a glass decanter. The idea is to fill up the brewing container with 1 cup of water, 6 oz of ground coffee, 3 more cups of water and 6 additional oz of ground coffee. Wait 5 minutes and add 3 more cups of water. (I’m just giving you the high level, you can find a complete PDF instruction sheet on the ToddyCafe.com Website). You then brew your coffee overnight for 12 hours, remove the stopper and the brewed coffee drips into the glass decanter.


It’s a great system. But there is a way that you can cold brew at home, too. DIY-style.


The hack


You’ll need a large, 34 oz French press and a pour over dripper that uses a #4 filter to make cold brew coffee at home. Grind enough beans to fill 1 cup (grind it on the largest setting possible). It’s important to grind large because, as we’ve discussed, the longer the brew time the larger the grind needs to be. Empty the cup of coarsely ground coffee into the French press beaker and fill it to the top with cold water. Do not use hot water, the goal is to brew slowly. If you use a Bodum French press, it will have a silver band near the top of the beaker. Don’t fill it with water past that line. Cover the top of the beaker with saran wrap and leave it on your counter for 12-24 hours. When time’s up, remove the saran wrap and take the French press plunger and begin plunging very slowly until it’s pushed all the way down. This will remove 90% of the sediment. You’ll still need to remove the other 10%. Make sure you have a pour over dripper set up with a filter and place it over a large carafe or any kind of glass container. Don’t forget to rinse your filter to remove the paper taste using hot water. Dump the papery-tasting water and pour the contents of the French press into the pour over dripper with the filter slowly to remove that additional 10% of sediment.


Do not skip the pour over dripper part. You may think it’s easier to just stick the French press in the refrigerator. There’s no good way to stop the brewing and doing this will allow the ground coffee at the bottom of the beaker to continue to extract, albeit slowly, resulting in an over extracted brew.


Store the cold brew concentrate in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can serve it over ice with a dash of cream on hot days. If you want to use the concentrate for making regular coffee, make sure you preheat your mug first and mix 50% concentrate with 50% boiling water. Yes, boiling. You can’t burn coffee at this point as it’s already been brewed. You may find the mixture to be too diluted and if so, just use more than a cup of ground coffee the next time you cold brew. Experiment with the amount of coffee you use and the brew time, between 12 and 24 hours, until you find the strength and taste that you like.


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