Cold Brew Coffee:

The Definitive Guide

You may or may not have heard about cold brew coffee. Cold brewing coffee has picked up in popularity and has become a fixture in a lot of coffee drinkers regiment.

But what can cold brew do for you?
Cold brew is the perfect drink for hot days, those who like a smoother less acidic coffee drink, and for those who are looking for a healthier coffee drink.

Don't know how to Cold Brew?

Cold brew is still relatively new to the coffee community and learning to cold brew might seem overwhelming. There are a lot of ratios, timings, and equipment that will be new to the novice.

Don't worry we have you covered!
In our definitive guide to cold brew, we take you through all the steps, give you all reasons cold brew is a fantastic drink and put you over the top with recipes and drinks that will blow your mind!

Chapter 1- Cold Brew- How it Can Change the Way You Think About Coffee

Cold brew coffee started as a small movement or blip outside of the staunch coffee community in early 2015 (coffee lovers knew about it long before). In 2016-2017 cold brew coffee began to hit the main street coffee world and a small craze ensued. In 2018 cold brew looks to stay and will only pick up more momentum as more and more people enjoy the smoother healthier taste of cold brew coffee.

Typically when you think of coffee, you think of hot, aromatic, goodness in a coffee mug. Even iced lattes and iced coffee are brewed using hot technics and then later put on ice to chill the drink.

Cold brew is what the names insinuates you steep coffee beans at room temperature or chilled to make the coffee. The process takes longer, and planning is required but with more extended brew times comes many benefits (more on that later!) So why change it up why not just use traditional brewing methods? Glad you ask....

Chapter 2- Cold Brew vs. Hot Brew

Coffee beans contain soluble chemicals inside the roasted nugget. How we brew or extract those chemicals, flavors, and aromas dramatically changes what you are drinking. Understanding how the chemicals react to specific heats will give you an excellent understanding of the differences in the cups of coffee when comparing cold brew vs. hot brew.

Cold Brew Coffee

Hot Brew Coffee

Brewing Tempurature

Room Temperature or Refridgerated

Optimally between 180° and 190° Fahrenheit

Brewing Time

12-24 Hours

Averages 6-30 minutes


No real aroma

Produces a heaven like smell

How Long It Stays Fresh

In an air tight container can stay fresh up to three weeks

Only fresh for two hours for optimal flavor

Acidic Content

Up to 67% Less Acidity

Normal Acidity


Most of the solubles that you wish to obtain are optimally extracted at 180F to 190F. Using hot brewing technics at this temperature makes the brewing process quick, simple, and smell oh so stimulating to the nose (more on that in a moment).

The downside is at the high temperatures other solubles are extracted as well most notably acidic acids. Acidic acids are one of the bitter taste in coffee that has people using cream and sugar to fight through the taste. Acids also are what can break down the enamel from your teeth. Those with sensitive stomachs, acid reflux, and ulcers have issues digesting coffee's acidic contents and can cause flare-ups of acid reflux and pain in ulcers.

Another downside to hot brew coffee comes from the volatility of the chemicals when brewed and high temperatures. When the chemical compounds are heated, they are more vulnerable to oxidation/evaporation. Remember that fantastic smell of coffee you get with a nice cup of hot brew? That smell is the coffee compounds oxidizing, evaporating, and lifting up into your nose. Oxidation also makes coffee more bitter over time (think of rusting on metal) and when the chemicals are heated up that process is sped up as well. That is why hot coffee gets more and more bitter the longer it is out and has a very short shelf life it just does not stay fresh.

Cold Brew Coffee-

Cold brew, when compared to hot brew, is much more time consuming and longer process. When you cold brew you have to plan, you cannot have a craving for coffee and have a cold brew ready unless you have planned and have it in the refrigerator ready to go. Cold brew takes 12-24 hours to get the brew strong enough for most coffee drinkers, and that is a long time to wait for a cup of coffee.

Cold brews also lack that tantalizing coffee smell. Just the aroma of the coffee makes people happy, more energize and can even wake them up. Cold brew does not have that aromatic smell and missing out on engaging one of your five senses while drinking coffee can lessen the experience.

With all that said the investment of time is worth the taste that comes with a cold brew. Since the acid soluble in coffee breakdown at higher temperatures, there is about 30-67% less acid in a cup of cold brew coffee when compared to hot brew. With less acidic properties in the coffee, it makes it easier on your tummy and your teeth. More importantly, it makes for a smoother drink. If you use sugar and cream to cut the bitter taste out of hot coffee, you might not need as much if at all in cold brew, making the drink more nutritious for you.

Cold brew also stays fresh much longer than a hot brew. Using higher temperatures to brew coffee also makes the beans and coffee more volatile. Remember that smell of fantastic coffee? It is the process of oxidation and chemicals releasing from the coffee. Oxidation happens much faster at higher temps making hot coffee fresh for only 2-4 hours before it starts to lose or take on new unwanted flavors. Cold brew, when kept in the refrigerator, can last up to 14 days fresh tasting the same throughout that time. 

Chapter Summary- Cold Brew vs Hot Brew

Cold brew takes longer to brew but is easier on your stomach. With cold brew you get all the great benefits of coffee and it stays fresh longer you just don't get that coffee smell. 

Chapter 3- Cold Brews Benefits- Drinking Coffee Just Got Healthier For You

We have touched on the health benefits in the earlier chapters but want to take an in-depth look at all the benefits you gain from a cold brew.

You Get More Antioxidants

In roasted coffee beans, there are some powerful antioxidants like Chlorogenic Acid. However, a lot of these antioxidants get destroyed during a hot brew because the heat is too much. Chlorogenic Acid almost completely gets wiped out during a hot brew while a cold brew steeps the chlorogenic acid into the coffee. There have been multiple studies that show chlorogenic acid reducing blood sugar levels, increase glucose control, and having an impact on weight loss .

Study links-

Helps Stomach Distress and Acid Reflux

When a person has trouble with stomach aches after drinking coffee, most people assume it is because of the acidity of the coffee. While this thought process is correct what most people do not know is that coffee can contain N-methylpyridinium or NMP. NMP has some wonderful effects on the human body including the blocking of gastric acid secretion. A study done shows that when NMP are in high enough levels, it is far more comfortable on the body and blocks gastric distress.

The study link-

During the cold brew process, NMP is absorbed into the coffee at much higher levels than a hot brew and does not damage the chemical as much as hot brew does. Most research shows this is the main reason why cold brew is easier on the stomach is thanks to higher levels of NMP. NMP plays a prominent role in why cold brew is easy on the stomach.

There is Less Acid in Cold Brew

Cold brews can contain up to 67% less acidic properties than hot brews. There is a hot debate going on the role acid plays in a diet, but there is an undeniable benefit to less acid. With less acid in a cold brew, it is easier on the teeth. You may have already read our complete list of benefits to coffee but if you have not check it out. In the article, we talked about how coffee has impressive effects on your teeth. The only harmful side effect of coffee on your teeth is that the acidic properties eat away on the outside enamel wall. Well, cold brew solves that problem. With less acid, cold brew does not break down the enamel of your teeth, and you still get all the great benefits of coffee.

Cold Brew has Less Cholesterol than Hot Brew

This benefit has been universally adopted, but I have found no blind studies particular to cold brew coffee to back up the claim. Multiple studies show kahweol and cafestol are absorbed in much higher rates when the temperatures during hot brews are higher. The assumption is that kahweol and cafestol (Both effect cholesterol in the wrong way) are extracted at even lower rates in cold brew coffee than the hot brew. The logic is there just waiting for a scientific study to back up the assumption.

Chapter 4- How to Cold Brew- Beginners Guide to Making a Great Cold Brew Easily

After seeing all the benefits of cold brew, we will now walk you through the process of making a good quality cold brew.

Cold Brewing coffee as a concept is relatively easy. The method simplified down to its essential form is taking coarsely ground coffee grinds soaking them in room temperature water for an extended time, and the final step is to remove the grounds from your concentrate.

Simple enough right? Well, there are lots of details that we left out like ratios, equipment, and how to use the concentrate. So let's take a more in-depth look at each step in our walk-through below.

  • Grinding Your Coffee Beans
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    You will need to have coarse coffee grinds. Having a good grinder is important, or you might want to take your bag of beans up to a local coffee shop and have them grind the beans for you. Why are the grinds so important? Well if you don't have universally coarse grinds and there are smaller more fine grinds they will dissolve and cause a sludgy mixture in your concentrate. If they don't dissolve some filters, your french press or steeve might not filter out smaller grinds leaving them in your coffee..
  • Add Water and Coffee Grinds to a Container
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    While this step may sound relatively straightforward, there are two things you need to take into consideration.
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    The first is the ratio of grounds to water. We have scoured the internet and looked over many websites to find the best ratio and to be honest there is not the "perfect" ratio. Some coffee companies claim one pound of coffee grinds to one gallon of water for 24 hours while another claims one pound of grinds to half a gallon for 12 hours. To be fair, this is more of a feel for how you like your coffee and as long as you brew your cold coffee concentrate strong enough you can always adjust the amount of water you add to your liking. The measurements above would make an absorbent amount of coffee concentrate so you would need to adjust for the size of container you are using.
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    The ratio that we use that seems to work well enough is 1 cup of grounds to 4 cups of filtered water. With that ratio we use room temperature water and brew for 14-16 hours, you can brew it anywhere from 12-24 depending on how strong or light you prefer your concentrate.
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    The second idea you will need to consider is how you want to remove the coffee grinds from the concentrate. If you have a french press and what to you use that will need to pour the grinds and water into your french press. If you want to make a larger batch to store in the fridge then maybe a gallon container will work best for you. There are also cold brew systems that you can purchase to make the whole process easier. Whichever way you choose make sure you have a game plan before setting up a container to make life much easier.
  • Remove the Coffee Grinds
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    There are multiple ways of removing the grinds from the water, and it mostly depends on what container you started with. If you started in a french press push down on the handle forcing the filter screen to push the grinds down to the bottom. If you used a mason jar or gallon jug, then you will need to use a filter and pour the liquid out into an airtight container through the filter, and if you used a cold brew coffee system just follow the instructions on removing the grinds for that system.
  • Mix your Concentrate with Water, Milk, and Other Additives to Enjoy
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    After you have extracted the coffee grinds you will have what is called a coffee concentrate. This liquid is X2 strong the most drip coffees you are used to and will need to be diluted. The most common recommendation is one part concentrate to one part water. This is just a recommendation, and you can add as little or as much water to make your coffee stronger or weaker as you prefer.
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    We recommend not drinking the concentrate straight there is too much caffeine and will get your heart racing too much. After you have added the water to the coffee and top off with milk, cream, sugar, and other goodies to your preferred taste. We have a recipes section below for excellent tasting drink if you still need some direction.
Chapter Summary- How to Cold Brew

1.) Grind your Beans

2.) Pour in water and Mix in a Container

3.) Wait

4.) Remove Coffee Grinds

5.) Mix Concentrate with water, milk, and other goodies!

Chapter 5- How to Step Up Your Cold Brew Game- The Equipment for a Better Cold Brew

Cold brew systems are just containers that have been designed to hold and extract coffee grinds with ease. Some of the better systems are airtight for storage after the coffee extract has been made. We have only included smaller units in this list but you can also purchase gallon and industrial cold brew systems as well.

There is nothing as simple and easy to use as the Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Takeya's Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the perfect beginners cold coffee brewing system. The design is simple, has easy to follow instructions, and holds enough concentrate to make it worth the wait for brewing times. It makes four servings of concentrate, and the lid is airtight to keep the freshness for an extended time while in the fridge. I prefer the plastic container over glass because I have kids and am clumsy!

This lovely jar will bring out the hipster in you and get you in the mood to have an excellent cold brew coffee. Designed like a mason jar it just feels right using when you are cold brew. The glass jar and stainless steel filter allow for hot water brewing as well if you want to speed up the brew. You can also purchase other containers from Country Line.

There is nothing as simple and easy to use as the Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Takeya's Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the perfect beginners cold coffee brewing system. The design is simple, has easy to follow instructions, and holds enough concentrate to make it worth the wait for brewing times. It makes four servings of concentrate, and the lid is airtight to keep the freshness for an extended time while in the fridge. I prefer the plastic container over glass because I have kids and am clumsy!

Chapter 6- Cold Brew Recipes- How to Make Your Cold Brew Taste Even Better

Cinnamon Dolce Iced Coffee

Recipe from Kitchen Treaty

This recipe has you create you're own cinnamon dulce syrup and then it at to your iced coffee. If you like a sweet flavor to your coffee with hints of cinnamon, this is the recipe for you.

The Mocha Cold Brew

The Mocha Cold Brew-

This recipe is one of my favorites because most of the ingredients are already in the cupboard. My wife loves the taste of chocolate, and this might not be a healthy recipe, but it does not add a ton of extra calories by using syrup instead of sugar.

Vanilla Ice Frappe

Vanilla Ice Frappe

If you search almost any cold brew recipe list, the Vanilla Iced Coffee Frappe will be on it. I cheat when making mine, i.e., I don't use any homemade whip cream to top it I just make the coffee and blend it. By making it more simple the shortcut way that still delivers a tasty drink

4 Scoops of Ice Cream (Vanilla preferred)
1 Cup Iced Coffee Concentrate
1/2 Tabel Spoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup of Milk/Soy Milk (Your Preference)
3/4 Cups of Ice Cubes
Caramel Syrup

Directions are easy to take all ingredients (minus the Caramel) and blend them in a blender. Once most of the ice cubes have been chipped into small pieces you can stop mixing. Take your caramel syrup and the glass you are going to use and pour the syrup on the bottom and sides then pour in your coffee mixture, and you're finished! If you want to learn how to top it off with yummy homemade whip cream, you can check out

Chapter 7- Cold Brew Recipes- How to Make Your Cold Brew Even Better for You (Supplements and Organic Recipes)

Salted Caramel Mocha Protein Shake

Salted Caramel Mocha Protein Shake-

I feel in love with this shake, and if you don't top it with the whipped cream and caramel syrup, it gives plenty of protein without a ton of fat and carbs. I was very nervous about the cottage cheese, but you do not taste it at all. Take the same recipe from but instead of McCafe brew used the same amount of cold brew concentrate.

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Frappuccino-

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Frappuccino-

​It took us a while to find powdered peanut butter, but once we found it this recipe easily made our list! I have not fact checked, but according to this little drink only has 95 calories and comes close to tasting like Reeces. The recipe calls for double strength coffee all you need to do is substitute that for your cold brew concentrate and enjoy!

Vanilla Ice Frappe for Paleo Diet

Vanilla Ice Frappe for Paleo Diet

This one is for my paleo people! The recipe calls for 1 cup of warm, strong coffee. Instead of using warm, strong coffee you should use your cold brew concentrate. When you use cold brew, you don't even have to wait like the recipe calls for just add ice and drink up. This vanilla bean recipe taste just as good as the one above but fits into the paleo diet! For the full recipe check it out here

Well, that is the end of our Cold Brew Coffee: Definitive Guide. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask in the comments section. Think we are missing something or got something wrong comment below we appreciate your feedback. If you liked our guide, it would help us out a ton and support more in-depth articles like this if you would share it!

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