Who loves iced coffee?!
I do I do I do-oooo.
(I’m saying this in the Keenan & Kel “Orange Soda” voice, to give you a visual.)
I made my first batch of cold brew of the YEAR yesterday––and let me tell you, waking up when you know there’s some cold brew in the fridge calling your name––it’s a pretty good way to start the day off on a high note.
Know what’s also a fantastic realization? That I already had a “how to make your own cold brew” blog post that I published in 2015 and completely forgot about. ????
When I posted a picture of my homemade cold brew on stories, many of you asked for the recipe! (I didn’t really use one, of course, being me. But then I remembered, “wait, Jess, you HAVE a recipe for one on the blog already! Just repurpose that, and re-post it!”) Duh. I will say, my old content is really coming in handy during this quarantine.
That being said, let’s jump into how to make your own cold brew, yeah!? (Plus, for extra credit, I’ll show you how to make a damn tasty creamer to go into it!)
How to Make Your Own Cold Brew
Let’s take a moment to analyze the humor in this next paragraph that I wrote in 2015 when this was first published:
Being the secretly (or perhaps not secretly?) lazy human that I am, there is nothing I love more than working from home all day in my pajamas with a constant flow of coffee. Good coffee. That part is essential. So I’ve made a habit of making cold brew every few days and keeping it on-hand.
If only 2015 Jess knew how MUCH she was going to get to work at home all day in pajamas in 2020. THE IRONY.
Anyway, while you’re at it making your own cold brew, you could also go the extra mile with all the time on your hands to make a really special creamer to go with it. (Unless you have kids that you’re now at home with 24/7, and then you have no extra time on your hands. You can totally just enjoy your cold brew with regular creamer, or black, and it will be delicious that way, too. Godspeed. YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!!!)
Anyway, let’s jump in with the cold brew first.
Start with the coffee
You’ll want to get ground coffee. The coarser the grind, the better (if it’s really fine, you’ll get sludge at the bottom, which honestly just happened to me this week because my options were a bit limited––you know, given the times. IT’S FINE #MAKEITWORK).
If you’re looking for good coffee reccos, we love Collectivo and it’s our favorite local brand (made in Milwaukee, but they have several shops here and you can find their coffee in most stores)! I also really love Starbucks Blonde roast (I don’t like a SUPER strong coffee). You can use whatever you’d like!
How to make the cold brew
I really like a French Press for making cold brew, just because it’s super easy and no mess!
If you don’t have a French Press, that’s okay! You can totally make this in any container and follow the straining instructions further down in this post. (The Pioneer Woman did a great post on this as well, if you’d like to check it out.)
The ratio for coffee to water seems to vary depending on who you ask.
If you know me, you know I’m one who likes to improvise in the kitchen. I like to experiment. So keep in mind, you should play around until you find a ratio that works for you!
So after some experimenting, the ratio I’ve found to work best in my 32 oz french press is about 1/3rd coffee grounds to 2/3rds water. I usually throw in a LITTLE more coffee than that, you know, just for good measure. But I think it’s a good ratio to stick with. This makes for easy eyeballing and can obviously be applied to any pitcher you’re using.
(Keep in mind, since it’s cold brew, you’ll be making a concentrated solution, which you’ll dilute with water later.)
Based on the above ratio, combine your coffee and water. Stir it up real nice with a wooden spoon, and pop it in the fridge overnight. If using a French press, DO NOT PRESS THE PLUNGER YET!
Quick fix iced coffee alternative:
Want iced coffee NOW? Don’t want to wait overnight for cold brew? Follow the steps above to make coffee in your French Press, and just let it steep for 20-30 minutes in the fridge. It won’t taste the same, it will just be strong coffee, but when you pour it over ice, it dilutes just enough! It won’t have the same robust flavor of cold brew, but it will still be delicious!!
(This also begs the question: Can’t you just brew strong coffee in a regular pot and pour it over ice? The answer is yes. ????)
Vanilla bean cream goodness
In the meantime, while you’re coffee is brewing, if you want to really treat yourself (and why shouldn’t you?) you can make your own vanilla coconut creamer! (Not healthy, but delicious!)
- 2 vanilla beans (like, the actual pods.) You can find these at the grocery store in the spice section. OR you can use Vanilla extract! (About 2 teaspoons). OR you can use cinnamon!
- One can sweetened condensed milk. (Typically in the baking section of the store).
- One can full-fat coconut milk.
You can also use whatever milk you like instead of the coconut milk!
No milk? No vanilla? You can also use just sweetened the condensed milk all on its own, and it will taste delicious! (That’s how you make Vietnamese iced coffee!) Try adding a dash of cinnamon instead.
No sweetened condensed milk? Add a little bit of maple syrup–one reader DMed me that it was her secret ingredient–GENIUS!! (Just add a tablespoon or so at a time, taste, and adjust until you get it sweet enough for your liking!)
Pour coconut milk into sauce pan.
Separately, cut open your vanilla bean pods and scrape out all the vanilla. (Who knew it looked like that, right?) A spoon or the back of a butter knife works great for this. If you’re using extract instead, add that now!
Pop it right into your coconut milk, and turn on the stove, bringing it to a simmer. Heat over medium-low heat and stir vanilla bean in thoroughly. Remove from the heat, and then pour in your sweetened condensed milk. Stir well until they’re completely mixed.
Remove from the heat, and let cool. Transfer into a container to store in the fridge. (Note: the cream will separate when it cools. Yes, it looks gross, but just give it a shake and you’re fine!) It should last about 10 days. You can make this the night you make your cold brew, so it’s waiting for you in the morning!
All together now!
When you’re coffee is done “cold brewing”–give it a stir and push down the plunger on your french press. Based on how fine your grind is, you’ll probably want to add one more filtering step. (AKA if you can’t find “coarse ground coffee” you’ll want to do this!)
Get out a fine mesh strainer if you have one. If not, you can use a bowl or big Pyrex measuring cup. Line it with paper towels, cheesecloth, or very thin dishcloth. Got an old pair of pantyhose? That works too! (You can also just use a regular coffee filter, just make sure it’s big enough!) Gently and slowly pour the cold brew through whatever “filter” you have and into a pitcher! (I’ve had this cork-top pitcher for years, which I just found on Amazon!) You can also store in a glass bottle!
Voila–here you have your finished cold brew concentrate.
Then, dilute the mixture with water. You can do this to the whole pitcher, or just keep the concentrate in the fridge and dilute it per each glass.
How much water? It really depends on how strong you like your coffee–experiment to see what you like best!
To make sure to get it to your liking, start out with a little less than equal parts coffee to water. Taste as you go. If it’s too strong, keep adding water little by little until you’re satisfied. Neal likes his coffee stronger than I do, so for the pitcher, I keep it on the stronger side, and I just add a little bit more water into my individual glass.