Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate for Homemade Iced Coffee
How to Make Cold Brew Concentrate at Home!
Cold brew coffee concentrate is where the very best iced coffee begins! Simple, slow-brewed, extra strong and flavorful—the perfect brew to keep on-hand in your fridge. I’ll show you how to make cold brew concentrate in 3 easy steps.
It starts with your favorite coffee beans, ground coarsely, and then mixed with water. Then, all that you have to do is steep overnight, strain, and dilute to serve! Simple as that, you’ve got homemade cold brew coffee concentrate that you can enjoy in your favorite homemade iced coffee drinks.
What’s most important in this process is the cold brew concentrate ratio, or the amount of coffee grounds relative to the amount of water. Coffee concentrate is meant to be stronger, more concentrated, than a classic cold brew. That’s why it’s best served diluted with water, and why the cold brew coffee to water ratio will be a bit different for concentrate.
Whether you’re wanting to make DIY cold brew concentrate or just a classic cold brew, I’ll share the ratios for both so you can decide. Whatever you choose, homemade cold brew will always be far cheaper than store-bought or heading to Starbucks, and so easy to make with your favorite beans.
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate Ingredients
- 3 cups (24oz) water
- 1½ cups (4.5oz) coarsely ground coffee
You can make cold brew coffee concentrate with any coffee that you like, beans or grounds. That’s the beauty of homemade—you can customize!
If you’re using whole beans, I recommend a coarse grind for best results. If you’re using store-bought coffee grounds and can find a coarse grind, great! But if not, don’t worry about it—any coffee grounds will do.
Now, the precise amount of coffee grounds relative to water will depend on what you prefer to make: a true cold brew coffee concentrate vs a classic cold brew. What’s the difference anyway?
Cold Brew vs Cold Brew Concentrate
In reality, cold brew and cold brew concentrate are pretty similar, one is just a more potent brew than the other. Both are made through the process of cold brewing: steeping coffee grounds in water for many hours, then straining to get the resulting brew.
It’s a much slower process than hot brewing, but it results in a stronger, more flavorful coffee. Cold brew is made with a higher coffee-to-water ratio, and hot brewing removes some of the flavor and some of the caffeine from your coffee. So even a classic cold brew will be more potent than your hot brewed coffee from the coffee pot!
But, for the most potent possible brew, cold brew coffee concentrate is your best bet. As the name implies, cold brew concentrate is more highly concentrated than a standard cold brew, meaning it’s more flavorful and higher in caffeine content. (And, that’s is why it’s best served diluted with water!)
How to achieve that stronger, more highly concentrated brew with the same cold brewing process? Again, the key difference is the cold brew concentrate ratio: a greater amount of coffee relative to the amount of water.
Cold Brew Coffee to Water Ratio
A standard cold brew to water ratio (using Starbucks cold brew as my standard) is 8oz water to 1oz coffee grounds. This equates to 1 cup of water to ~⅓ cup coarsely ground coffee.*
For perspective, a typical hot brewing ratio is 8oz water to ½ oz coffee grounds.
*Conversions are based on standard measurements for ground coffee as ~10g per 2 Tbsp, or 1.5oz per ½ cup.
Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio
With that cold brew ratio in mind, you can make cold brew coffee concentrate simply by increasing the amount of coffee relative to water. Both of the ratios below will result in a strong, potent brew that is best served diluted with water at a 1:1 ratio. Use whichever ratio you prefer, based on how strong you like your homemade iced coffee drinks!
For a potent, mid-level brew, combine 8oz water with 1.5oz coffee grounds. In cups, that would be 1 cup water and ½ cup coffee grounds. If you’re new to the coffee concentrate game, try this ratio first! Personally, this is my preferred ratio.
Or, for those who already know they want the strongest possible brew, give this cold brew coffee concentrate ratio a try: 8oz water to 2oz ground coffee, or 1 cup water to ⅔ cup ground coffee.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
Once you’ve got your ideal ratio in mind, the process of how to make cold brew concentrate is so easy! To start, add your desired amount of water to a large bowl, followed by your coffee grounds, stirring well to combine. Again, these can be store-bought grounds, or you can coarsely grind your favorite beans.
Next, simply cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight, for 12-24 hours. Similar to the cold brew coffee concentrate ratio, the steeping time is up to you. The longer it steeps, the stronger and more bitter your brew will be! For perspective, Starbucks steeps their cold brew 20 hours, and I find that 14-18 hours works well for my cold brew coffee concentrate.
After steeping, strain your mixture through a lined fine mesh sieve. I like to line my sieve with a double layer of coffee filters, but you could also use a clean handkerchief, T-shirt, or nut milk bag. Pour in batches as needed, stirring gently to help the liquid strain.
Finally, once all of the liquid has separated from the grounds, your DIY cold brew coffee concentrate is ready to enjoy or store! I pour mine into mason jars to keep in the fridge and use throughout the week.
How to Make Iced Coffee with Cold Brew Concentrate (& More!)
Now that you’ve got some cold brew concentrate made, what to do with it? Many people don’t realize just how many things you can do – including heat it up!
First things first, if you’ve made a true cold brew coffee concentrate and not just a classic cold brew, it’s best to dilute it with equal parts water before serving. That means combine ½ cup concentrate with ½ cup water, before making any iced coffee drinks or heating it up. Of course, if you prefer to drink your ultra-potent cold brew coffee concentrate straight, go for it!
Generally, the most popular use for cold brew concentrate is making homemade iced coffee drinks. It’s already cold, extra flavorful, and ultra-potent so it won’t get overly diluted served over ice. (Or, serve with my homemade coffee ice cubes for maximum flavor!) From a classic iced coffee like the recipe below, to fancy flavored lattes, there are so many fun options.
But, don’t let the name deceive you. “Cold” simply describes the slow, not-hot brewing process—it doesn’t mean you have to enjoy your brew cold. If you’d like, after diluting with water, heat it up over the stove or in the microwave for a warm cup o’ joe! A simple, versatile brew, with the flavor and caffeine content of a true coffee lover’s dreams.