What Everyone Ought to Know About Iced Coffee & Cold Brew

Battle between iced coffee and cold brew

Three years ago, we first published our article exploring the differences between brewing methods for iced coffee. It’s since become one of our most popular and most commented-on blog posts, with some great insights by folks chiming in with their own experiments and findings. This year, cold coffee - and cold brew especially - continues to enjoy a growing and vocal fandom in the US. As more and more enthusiasts continue to explore cold coffee, we decided to revisit our previous article to adjust some techniques, add some new insights, and include a couple fresh recipes for you to try as well. Enjoy!

Iced Coffee Vs. Cold Brew

twitter conversation about cold brew and iced coffee

When we first launched this article, the coffee world was caught up in a Twitter-based tug-of-war about cold coffee in its various forms — and all of this before summer hit. It’s a polarizing topic that has invaded social media and intrigued coffee lovers around the world, and the momentum hasn’t yet died down.

Many are torn between methods, having known magical moments from both ice and cold brew, and we can’t help but agree. To navigate the discussion, we’ve explored the two main categories of iced coffee-making and asked what their loyal fans have to say in their defense. We won’t be lifting the arm of a single champion, but we’ll dance around the ring and let readers decide who deserves the belt.

Iced Coffee: Keep The Heat, Then Chill

Affectionately referred to as the "Japanese iced method", ice brew is an intuitive option with a twist. It recruits classic devices like the Chemex, V60, or AeroPress and rearranges the recipes by adding ice early. When fresh coffee — brewed hot — lands on the ice drop by drop, it’s cooled instantly. The immediate result is chilled coffee that’s abundantly aromatic, agreeably acidic, and ready to drink.

This method answers some longstanding concerns about coffee served cold:

Iced coffee requires a ton of grounds, right? Not this coffee. Unlike other methods, the goal here isn’t to produce a concentrate that has to be cut with milk or water. While we recommend moderate updosing, there’s no need to use an exorbitant amount of beans. Cold, ready-to-drink coffee is a cinch without huge adjustments to ordinary ratios.

How can this coffee be anything but diluted? Again, it helps to use a little more grounds than usual. And by introducing hot coffee to ice drop by drop, the coffee cools faster and doesn’t melt as much ice. Contrast this with pouring an entire cup of hot coffee over ice at once: the ice melts quickly, along with the dreams of the poor sap who’s staring at a watery brew.

What about all that bitter, flavorless iced coffee that restaurant chains serve? This is the result of a devastating chemical phenomenon called oxidation, which takes place when coffee sits for a long time. And it elevates this conversation to the high realm of science. Lab coats on.

Unlike humans, coffee in both its roasted bean and brewed form dislikes oxygen — in fact, they’re sort of enemies. As it turns out, oxygen is a rather oppressive element and terrorizes the naturally occurring oils in coffee, making them taste unpleasant. The longer coffee is allowed to interact with this gaseous menace, the nastier it will become. Incidentally, oxidation is accelerated at higher temperatures, such as those at which coffee is brewed.

" It’s essential, then, that iced coffee, when brewed hot, is cooled as quickly as possible. Brewing directly over ice achieves this wonderfully. "

But this chemistry lesson isn’t over just yet. In his endorsement of this brewing method, Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee the SCAA Symposium, offers a few more helpful terms. The concepts of solubility and volatility will prove useful in this conversation.

Solubility describes the ability of a substance to dissolve in a solvent — or, in the world of brewing, coffee’s ability to dissolve in water. The changes we see (clear water becoming dark) are related to solubility. As was also true of oxidation, solubility is ramped up at higher temperatures, which is what leads to the generally accepted notion that coffee should be brewed with water between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. To brew at temperatures below this range, as Giuliano argues, is to leave desirable solids undissolved. (But more on that later.)

Another concept, volatility, describes the ability of a substance to vaporize — or, in the world of brewing, coffee’s ability to go airborne. The changes we smell (strong aromas filling the air) are related to volatility. Volatility also increases at high temperatures (see the pattern here?), so by brewing with hot water and cooling quickly the aromatics of coffee can be released and recaptured.

For obvious reasons, ice brew has caught some serious attention in the industry. It’s simple, familiar, and supported by both taste and theory, which is always a satisfying combination. George Howell has described it as “the only way to do it” (Strand, June 2011) and Jason Dominy praises it for retaining the taste of regularly brewed coffee, only cold. Trying it for the first time, Giuliano remarked, “the aromatics that I was used to smelling in hot coffee, I could taste in iced coffee” (Giuliano, May 2012).

Iced Coffee Recipe

a la Prima

Convinced? The recipe below is one of our favorites, but there are also great guides available from Peter Giuliano, Terroir Coffee's George Howell, The New York Times' Oliver Strand, Batdorf & Bronson's Jason Dominy, and CoffeeGeek's Mark Prince.

You’ll need your favorite pour-over device with a filter; 60 grams of coffee, ground medium; 500 grams of hot water; 200 grams of ice; a pouring kettle; and a cup or carafe.

  1. Assemble pour-over apparatus as per usual.
  2. Rinse Filter.
  3. Add ice to receiving vessel. Large cubes are preferable to small chunks.
  4. Pour water, heated to 195-205°F, into coffee using pouring patterns and practices appropriate to filter cone type. (Bonus points for spelling your name.)
  5. Five hundred grams and 3:00-3:30 later, serve coffee in a glass of ice.

For more information about methods like this, refer to our Beginners Guide to Pour Over Coffee Brewing.

mazzer mini coffee grinder
ice in chemex
ice weight in chemes
puring coffee grounds into chemex
pourover coffee cold brew
finished coffee cold brew

Crash-cooling: No Dilution, No Problem

The “Japanese” method works a dream with most coffees, but what if we could achieve the same effect without worrying about brewing at a higher strength to balance out the dilution? The answer is obvious and simple, but the execution is often rather kludgy.

To crash-cool, just brew your coffee as you normally would into a vessel with good heat conduction properties, like a stainless steel cocktail shaker or large steaming pitcher, and then stick it somewhere cold. The freezer will do the job if it must, but it will take about an hour to cool down your brew - not good if you’re in a hurry, and certainly not good if you’d prefer to avoid oxidation. Instead, we recommend placing your cocktail shaker (a tall, thinner vessel introduces more surface area for cooling) into a container full of pulverized ice, add just enough water to cover the ice, and gently stir your coffee. In just a minute or two, you’ll have delicious and refreshing crash-cooled coffee, ready to enjoy.

We do suggest brewing at a touch higher strength than normal, because as liquids get colder we tend to lose some of our sensitivity to their complex tastes. The volatility of cold liquids drops slightly as well, meaning the delightful aromas we appreciate in hot coffee aren’t quite as present when cold. Bumping up the strength just slightly helps to compensate for this, and makes for a tastier, sweeter beverage.

Another option soon to hit the market is a device called the Coil, which is made specifically to crash-cool your coffee without dilution. Utilizing a stainless steel coil surrounded by ice water, your brews shed their heat as they flow downward into the carafe below. Those of you who brew your own beer will recognize the design - it’s almost exactly a wort chiller, miniaturized and styled for by-the-cup use.

The release of the Coil makes for one of the first dedicated coffee crash-cooling products on the market, surely with more to follow. While crash-cooling isn’t very common just yet, it’s easy to see why it’s a desirable cooling method for coffee, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it making waves in the next few years as well.

Cold Brew: Cool From The Start, Worth The Wait

Famed for dropping jaws and teasing appetites, this is the legendary method that boasts a brew time between 2 and 24 hours — and sometimes longer. It’s theatrical and nearly ostentatious, but deceptively simple, and can be enjoyed with or without fancy equipment. Coffee is extracted with cool water, introduced either by full, immediate immersion or a slow, steady drip. Should one survive the wait, they’ll enjoy a sweet, syrupy cup that sidesteps coffee’s normal acidity and goes down smooth.

Cold brew has its own posse of proponents, who love that it’s solved some of their dilemmas:

Coffee with cream is a classic, but something seems off when the "Japanese iced method" meets milk. What’s going on here? It’s a matter of personal preference, but whoever asks this question is on to something. Strand suggests that "cold brew complements the rich sweetness of dairy", while ice brew is just meant to be enjoyed au naturel (Strand, June 2012).

Offering ice brew by-the-cup asks a lot of an already-busy cafe, but customers love their coffee cold. Is there anything more efficient out there? Yes — and it doesn’t involve using the rancid leftovers from the last bulk batch. Cold brew only requires a little human involvement at the start and finish, and in between replaces the busy barista with the gentle prowess of time. Strategically scheduled brews can allow a cafe to supply a steady stream of chilled coffee without demanding the constant attention of its staff.

Does brewing with cold water line up with that earlier chemistry lesson? Positioning science over the senses is a dangerous move when it comes to coffee — tastebuds, not textbooks, should make these decisions — but it does help to let research inform the discussion. Lab coats again, please.

Defending cold brew, Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee refers to an intriguing trend described in The Coffee Brewing Handbook by Ted Lingle: apparently the presence of generally unfavorable compounds (infamous for their long names) decreases at lower brewing temperatures. As Nick Cho (Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters) points out, these results were seen at temperatures around 158°F, which isn’t exactly “cold”, but there seems to be a pattern here (Cho, May 2012). Perkins suggests that cold brew’s unique sweetness has something to do with the fact that nasty compounds shy away from cold water.

" Positioning science over the senses is a dangerous move when it comes to coffee — tastebuds, not textbooks, should make these decisions... "

As sweet as cold brew can be, coffee does have some positive compounds that are rather particular about being extracted only by hot water. Perkins’ quick fix: start hot, finish cold. His method splits the total water volume 80/20, reserving the smaller share for hot water and then continuing with cold brew as normal. By his estimation, this should extract all desirable solubles — those both deep and delicate — and minimize the presence of those less welcomed.

However, oxygen is impartial in its treatment of coffee and quickly trashes ice brews and cold brews alike. What, then, can be done about a method that requires several hours to sit and steep? Minimizing the coffee’s exposure to oxygen is a must, and can be achieved simply by using a container that holds only the desired volume of coffee and water and no more. For extra security the entire apparatus can be stored in an anaerobic environment. Dwelltime in Cambridge, Massachusetts is among the first to keep cold-brewed batches in a nitrogen-fed kegerator, a technique that Perkins also recommends.

But Dwelltime isn’t alone on the cold brew side — not even close. It’s gone from obscurity to all-star status in a few short years, and it’s still climbing the charts. Jay Caragay employs cold brew towers at his Baltimore cafe, Spro Coffee, and loves that his customers enjoy the visual excitement. (Uniquely, Caragay matches coffees to brew methods, so there is no monopoly of method at Spro.) Orange County’s Portola Coffee Lab also makes use of both ice and cold brew methods, but enjoys their Kyoto-style dripper for its distinct sweetness and the complexity that comes with constantly moving water.

Cold Brew Recipe

a la Prima

Do It Yourself ice brew setup

Care to give it a try? The recipe below is one of our favorites, but there are also great guides available from Cuvee Coffee’s Lorenzo Perkins, Barismo's Jaime van Schyndel, and Square Mile’s James Hoffmann.

You’ll need an AeroPress with 2 filters (at least one should be paper); 45 grams of coffee, ground medium-fine; 300 grams of water; 200 grams of ice; a water bottle (Dasani works well); a sewing needle, a sharp blade, and a mason jar.

  1. Empty water bottle and cut off bottom with sharp blade.
  2. Remove bottle’s cap and puncture with sewing needle, creating the smallest hole possible.
  3. Replace cap and test flow by filling with water and watching drip rate, aiming for about 40 drops per minute. Alter hole size as necessary.
  4. Rinse filter and assemble AeroPress, filling with coffee.
  5. Moisten grounds with warm cool water and mix gently, subtracting water used from total water volume.
  6. Level coffee bed with finger.
  7. Trim paper filter to fit inside of AeroPress tube and place atop coffee bed, pressing softly to level.
  8. Place Aeropress on jar and mount bottle on top.
  9. Fill bottle with remaining water and ice.
  10. When bottle is empty, disassemble and enjoy.

For a setup that's both easy and elegant, check out the Cold Bruer cold drip brewer.

Cutting a Water bottle for a DIY ice brew tower
Sewing Pin through bottle cap
Pre Rinse paper filter
Pour Coffee into Aeropress - DIY ice brew
45 grams of coffee in an Aeropress
Wetting Grounds to prepare for Ice Brew
Stirring pre wet coffee grounds
Trip paper filter for Ice Brew Aeropress
Place Paper Filter evenly on grounds
Add Ice and Pour Water

Hot Bloom Cold Brew Recipe

a la Prima

Proponents of cold brew love its milder acidity and round sweetness, but sometimes that doesn’t quite do a particular coffee justice. A fresh crop Ethiopian or Kenyan can have a tantalizing acidity, which is heavily diminished when brewed cold. Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to get the best of both worlds - the sparkling zing of acidity with the sweet mellowness of cold extractions. All you have to do is introduce some hot water to the mix.

The “hot bloom” approach to cold brew allows more acidity to be extracted before a long cold steep, and it doesn’t require much modification to your normal cold brew recipe. Acids in coffee extract early and easily, but they are tempered greatly if the water is room temperature or colder. By starting hot, we can get just enough acidity to make those flavors pop, then we add cool water to slow the extraction down again to finish nice and slow

For this recipe, you’ll need a french press or a cold brewer like the Hario Mizudashi; 90 grams of coffee ground coarse; 200 grams of 200 F water; 500 grams of room temperature water; and 50 grams of ice.

  1. Grind coffee and add to your brewing device.
  2. Pour 200 grams of hot water over the grounds, saturating as evenly as possible. Stir the grounds to help saturate if necessary.
  3. Wait 60 seconds to allow the ground coffee to bloom.
  4. Add the remaining water and ice, and lightly stir the grounds to help them saturate. If using a Mizudashi brewer, pour the water slowly over the grounds in the filter basket.
  5. Place the brewer in your refrigerator, covered, and allow to steep for 12 hours.
  6. Strain and decant your cold brew into an airtight container, and cut with water to your desired strength. We like to add about 200 grams of water in most cases.
  7. Serve over ice, add a splash of cream, and enjoy!

Ready to give this recipe a shot? Try it out with the convenience of one of Hario’s Mizudashi cold brewers.

Grind for cold brewing
Prepping the french press for cold brew
Hot bloom cold brew
Add ice and water to cold brew
Cover the cold brew
Steep 12-18 hours
Decant the cold brew

Under Pressure: A Modernist Method

Cold brew is a dead simple and tasty way to brew coffee, but what if you could have similar results in a fraction of the time? Enter the whipping siphon, a tool which is no stranger to coffee shops, but isn’t often seen as a brewing device. The beauty of the whipping siphon is the ease of being able to pressurize liquids inside using inexpensive and inert nitrous oxide gas.

Nitrous oxide is essentially flavorless, it doesn’t readily dissolve into coffee, and it won’t react with your brew either. What it will do is pressurize the siphon chamber while your coffee steeps - but the trick is actually what comes later. When you depressurize the chamber, it causes cavitation in the coffee grounds. Gases inside the coffee swell and escape, allowing water to rush in and dissolve all the tasty goodness inside. Think of this as an extra bump in your extraction that rapidly brings your brew from weak to delicious in no time at all. To use an appropriate analogy, think of this as the same sort of boost you would get by adding a burst of nitrous oxide to your car’s engine. You may not win any drag races with your N2O, but you’ll still be sipping on some awesome coffee on the sidelines. You can even add other foods and spices to infuse into your coffee and take it to the next level, perfect for a specialty beverage or an addition to a coffee cocktail.

Pressurized Cold Brew Recipes

Want to give the whipping siphon a shot? Here are two recipes we enjoy; one created by the food geeks at ChefSteps, and one we designed in-house that’s even faster.

a la ChefSteps

You’ll need a whipping siphon (ours is a 1 US pint model made by iSi) with 2 nitrous oxide chargers (we also use iSi chargers); 60 grams of coffee at a medium grind; 300 grams of water. This is a very high ratio brew (1:5), so it’s meant to create a concentrate to be diluted with water when serving. You’ll also need a strainer or filter, and a Chemex or V60 will serve you well!

  1. Grind your coffee and add it to the siphon chamber.
  2. Add 300 grams of water, then screw on the siphon lid.
  3. Charge siphon with two chargers of N2O.
  4. Gently swirl the siphon to mix the coffee and water. Do not shake or turn the siphon over, as coffee grounds may become lodged in the valves.
  5. Place siphon in the refrigerator for two hours to brew.
  6. After two hours, remove the siphon and discharge the gas. Again, do not invert the siphon, discharge it while upright.
  7. Unscrew the siphon lid and pour the contents through a strainer or coffee filter.
  8. Dilute to taste and serve as desired. We like it plain, but a bit of cream is great too!
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 3-5 days.

a la Prima

Our recipe is tweaked to get an even faster brew, and combines some of the other methods above for an end product that is crisp, cool, refreshing, and sweet. We’ll be hot-blooming our coffee before crash-cooling in the fridge, under pressure, and our brew will be ready in just 45 minutes.

You’ll need a whipping siphon (ours is a 1 US pint model made by iSi) with 2 nitrous oxide chargers (we also use iSi chargers); 30 grams of coffee at a medium grind; 150 grams of hot water at 190-210 F, and 150 grams of room temperature water. You will also need a tall container for an ice bath. We prefer crushed ice, but normal cubes will be fine. The container needs to be tall and wide enough for you to place your siphon into it, pack ice around it, then add some water to create an ice slurry for crash-cooling the coffee. As above, you’ll also need a strainer or filter, so prep that V60 while you steep. Our ratio is higher than normal drip coffee at 1:10, but it’s meant to be enjoyed straight and without dilution.

Whipping siphon cold brew
Add water and coffee to the siphon
Pressurize the cold brew
Swirl the cold brew in the siphon
Crash cool the coffee in an ice bath
Chill the coffee in the siphon
Strain the coffee and serve
  1. Grind your coffee and add it to the siphon chamber. We also recommend sifting out your fines if possible, as they can lead to some overextraction in this method. A kitchen sieve should be more than enough, just sift your grinds for 30-60 seconds, and discard the fines. You may lose 5-10 grams of mass when sifting, so grind a bit more than you need.
  2. Add 150 grams of hot water, then swirl or stir to combine with the coffee grounds. Steep for 45 seconds.
  3. Add the remaining 150 grams of cool water, then screw on the siphon lid.
  4. Charge with 2 nitrous oxide chargers.
  5. Add the entire siphon, upright, to the tall container, then fill in the remaining space with ice.
  6. Add just enough water to the container to meet the fill line on the side of the siphon. Don’t overflow the container with water, you only need enough to create an icy slurry around most of the siphon chamber.
  7. Place entire container in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to steep.
  8. After 45 minutes, remove the siphon and discharge the gas. Again, always do this upright to prevent grounds from getting stuck in the valves.
  9. Unscrew the lid and strain the coffee.
  10. Serve straight or on ice. If you’re feeling really fancy, try garnishing with a carbonated orange slice!

Want to try your hand at a modernist method of coffee brewing? Take the first step with an isi Whipping Siphon.

Choose Your Brew

Fierce loyalties aside, all iced coffee fanatics approach their favorite recipes the same way: we tinker and taste, mull and measure until conjuring that one magical brew, for which all vitality has been exhausted. (Thankfully, that’s when the caffeine kicks in.) We’re known for our fascination with detail and our obsession with precise methods and predictable results. And, to us, preparing coffee is no less of a craft when it’s served cold.

With taste as a trusty guide and the technical stuff for tips along the way, we believe that your favorite cup of iced coffee isn’t far off. Just like your hot brew, it can be fresh and flavorful, bright and bursting with the exotic characteristics of its origin. If you try one of the recipes we’ve recommended, or discover something special of your own, share it on Twitter by mentioning @primacoffee and including the unique hashtag "#icecoldcoffee". You can also leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Here’s to keeping cool and caffeinated this summer.

Grab some tunes and weight for your ice brew to finish

Coming Soon: Nitro Cold Brew

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hi, im trying to build a cold brew tower with some chemistry equip , buchner funnel graham condenser and a separatory funnel and i was wondering , cause the opening of the separatory funnel is a bit small can u make cold brew coffee with the water being on room temperature? or its definitely needs to be cold ?, also how much grams of coffee ill need for 1L of cold brew ?( just to know what size of buchner funnel i should get)

How many days cold brew coffee can be store in the cooler if it's once prepared? The freshness of the cold brew coffee?

How much is cold brew coffee and nitro coffee consume per year around the globe and USA. How the cold brew is prepared in the commercial places?

The extraction time got me thinking. If in fact oxygen is the worst for coffee I can't see how allowing a drip to take 24 hrs in some cases be good for the flavor of the coffee. Wouldn't it be better to brew it then flash the coffee in ice(as shown with the stainless) or just poured over? With the French press I noticed a lot of residue once poured. Meaning if left to brew inside of the fridge the coffee grounds start to become mud and break down. Just seems counterintuitive to have brewed coffee sitting out in the open for 12-24 hours. Great article by the way. Thanks.

That method looks pretty good to us, but it's up to your taste buds to decide how you like it! As for leaving the bag in, we do find it's best to remove the grounds and discard them to stop the extraction process. Even with cold brew, coffee will overextract and become rather bitter with time.

hi. one of the grocery stores here in manila is selling sets of 3-liter mason jar pitchers (with spout) and immediately i got this idea for full-immersion hot bloom, cold brew. just wanted to get your opinion first before i go ahead and make the necessary purchases. here's what i had in mind: (using around 450g fine coffee grind, 500g hot water, and 1500g cold water): 1. pour fine coffee grind in a nut milk bag (refer to picture); 2. tie the bag tightly to prevent coffee granule leakage; 3. place the bag inside mason jar pitcher; 4. slowly pour 500g HOT water inside the pitcher to saturate coffee grind; 5. wait for 1 minute for coffee to bloom; 6. pour in 1500g COLD water; 7. attach lid of mason jar pitcher and seal tightly; 8. let steep for 12 hours; then 9. serve. also, assuming that the above method is okay, would there be any "bad" effects if the bag of coffee grind is left inside the pitcher even after the 12-hour steep time or would it be best to remove it? thanks!

Hey I saw you were planning on doing a bit on Nitro Cold Brew. I have a little experience and somewhat unique method with this. I'd be interested in helping share my experience and a bit about the equipment I use if you ever get around to doing it.

You certainly could try! Very likely, the extra agitation wouldn't be sufficient to get a full extraction in such a short period of time with cold water, even if the blender does pulverize the coffee grounds a bit more. But there aren't really any "wrong" approaches to cold brewing coffee, so a high agitation approach could work well over the course of an hour or so if you play with it a bit. Let us know if you have any success!

Hi there. If the goal is extraction at cold temperatures, why couldn't I just mix: - ground coffee - ice - cold water ...into a blender, turn it on for a few minutes, turn it off, let it sit for a few minutes, then strain and enjoy?

Very good point! We didn't run into any issues as designed, but we'll have to give it a go charging cold and see if we can't offset the steep time with the added pressure.

Great article - though I would suggest for the a la Prima "ultimate-combine-everything-into-one" method to charge the NO2 after you flash chill the coffee. From the ideal gas law, PV=nRT, or more relevant to this application, P1/T1 = P2/T2, when you charge the siphon before you flash chill, you're decreasing the amount of effective pressure in your chamber, lengthening your extraction time. If the NO2 is only used to cavitate the grounds, having a higher pressure is desirable. In other words, decreasing your temperature from 95ºC to 40ºC by the method suggested decreases your effective pressure by over half (let's say from ~4bar cooled to ~2bar).

It's possible, but it seems that 8 gram cartridges like the N2O cartridges we use are extremely hard to find, and very expensive.

Do you think you could pressurize with nitrogen instead of N2O?

Just keep in mind that using more water to "rinse" your coffee is in effect altering your brewing ratio. By using more water, you will increase extraction, possibly to the point of overextraction - where your coffee will begin to taste extremely bitter, ashy, and astringent.

Thank you Steve, since asking this question a made 2 more batches steeped for 24hrs each ending up with around 70% yields for both. I think you are to something when suggesting it may have been the way I was straining. Thanks for the advice. What are your thoughts on rinsing your strained grounds and using this water to cut your concentrate in order to produce more cold brew? the thought being you could use more of this water than 'clean' water before over diluting your concentrate.

Hi Patrick. What you're seeing seems to be in line with normal water loss during brewing. Typically, coffee will hold about twice its mass in water, which will be absent from the brew once you're done. In your case, your 12 oz of coffee grounds (about 340 grams), seem to have held onto about 680 mL of water (around 21 fl oz). Your second brew had less than 2x water retention, but it's not necessarily because of the longer steep time. It could simply be a difference in straining method or grind size, or for no discernible reason at all. Generally, you can plan on seeing between 1.5x and 2x retention, though there will always be the chance of an outlier here and there.

Hi Steve, i have a couple questions for the cold brew master! If I use 12oz of coarse ground beans and 7cups of cold water steeped for 32 hours in the fridge how much concentrate should I be yielding? I tried this and ended up with a 57% yield, I thought this was very low. I tried 11oz of coarse ground beans with 5.5 cups of water steeped for 24 hours with a 73% yield. Does the additional steeping time allow the beans to absorb more water therefore producing less concentrate?

Brilliant recipes, will be trying some of these :D

Sounds like a 6 should do the trick. The first drips will take a little time to emerge, as the coffee needs to fully saturate first. If you're finding it's still getting along too slowly, then try an 8 or a 10. Since the drip method only takes about 4-6 hours versus 12-24 for immersion cold brew, it's a bit easier to experiment with your brewing variables and dial in your perfect cup.

That's a pretty unique idea! We haven't got an ice cream maker on hand, but it certainly sounds like it could work. Give it a shot and let us know!

should i keep the grind size the same as i would a normal aeropress hot brew? im using a LIDO 3 grinder, for hot normal brew i grind at notch #10 (pourover like), for this cold brew #6(medium-fine). On the #6 setting after 45 seconds of the initial hot bloom , i then put the cold water and ice, i notice it takes about 5 minutes for the first drops to be extracted. is this too long of time, and possibly overextracting the coffee because the cold water is taking so much time to cool the hotter wet grinds? just for note, i have used setting #10 and that took about 1 minute to get the first drops.

Has anyone ever tried using the tub portion of a home made ice cream maker? It's super cold and I imagine you could make coffee the way you'd normally make hot coffee and then just pour it into the cold-bowl and walah'

great article .

Fantastic article! Thanks!

Good point, Ryan. The two are functionally equivalent: you're increasing the brew strength either way. Either you decide to use less water (which will have a lower yield), or you use more coffee. Either way, the result is a bit stronger brew that stands up to the melted ice as it cools!

What a wonderfully informative article it is! I will surely try to replicate this process at home...I hope it will work well...

Just wanted to add into the discussion of making Japanese-style iced coffees with some sort of pour-over system. Instead of upping the amount of grounds that are going into the pour over, cut the amount of water in half and replace one half of the amount of water with the same amount in ice. This will insure an undiluted coffee.

That's a tough one. There aren't very many ways to combine the two without them separating. You could try using an emulsifier like soy lecithin, but you may need to add a lot more oil to get the two to combine properly. Or you may need to whip in air to lower the overall density before they mix. In either case, the result may not be desirable for drinking. No harm in trying though!

There sure is, Davis. You can actually use our method from the guide, and for step 5 - "Moisten grounds with warm cool water and mix gently, subtracting water used from total water volume" - just use hot brewing temperature water instead. Aim to add about 1.5x the mass of the grounds of hot water. That is, if you've got 40 grams of coffee in there, add 60 grams of hot water to bloom. Leave it for 45-60 seconds, then start up your cold drip as you normally would.

trying to figure out a way to mix (or infuse?) a batch of coldbrew with MCT Oil, so I'll have pre-mixed cups ready to serve right away, from a larger dispenser (1L/1.5L)... anybody found a good way to do this? soda siphon?

is there a way to do "Hot Bloom Cold Brew" with an aeropress. i dont want to buy more items ,for i live in a tiny apartment. they cold brew aeropress method is great and have done it twice now. but the elements of the hot bloom intrigue me

מישהו מדבר כאן עברית?

No problem, Matthew! Our recipe calls for a finer grind mainly because of the small batch size. Many of the Japanese-style drip towers use at least twice as much coffee as we do. Since the drip rate is almost the same, our method needs a finer grind to extend the contact time for the water and coffee, which will lead to more sweetness and a richer body in the end product. Let us know what you think of a finer grind!

Anything from a drip grind to a coarser french press grind should work, Robert. Because it's such a long steep time, you do want to grind a bit on the coarser end of the spectrum, so make sure your grounds have a coarse, sandy texture to them instead of a fine powdery texture. As for how long to steep, there's a reason for having such a wide range of recommended steep times. Every coffee will come out tasting a little differently, and every recipe too. So, one person's cold brew might taste great at 12 hours, whereas another's won't taste its best until about 18 hours - you just have to taste and see. Try starting with 12 hours, and if it's too weak or not quite as flavorful as you'd like, steep longer for the next batch.

I have been using the Aeropress method and got some mixed results. I realized after moving the press to a different cup, that the cold brew was eventually extracting only weak but quite bitter coffee and adding it to what was an otherwise highly flavorful, sweet, and syrupy concentrate. After some tinkering, I got the best extraction and maximum "syrupy-ness" from 45g of coarser-side-of-drip ground coffee (was using a yirg) with 280g (60/40 water-ice) of water at a drip rate of 1ml every 1.5s-2s. If you take that concentrate and add 1.5-1.75 parts water for every 1 part coffee, it is delish! I have yet to experiment with the grind setting. Just realized that this recipe calls for something closer to V60, which I have not done yet because of other, more traditional recipes for Japanese cold drip calling for a very coarse grind. I will be trying something finer tomorrow and will probably update my comment accordingly. Anyway, this post was a life-saver! Thank you so much for the recipes!

I think you should try using a "filter roast" single origin bean as the cold drip will bring out the complex and fruity flavors. I had a Brew Bar and made mostly exclusively Cold drip using 2x 25 cup Yama towers and a Hario and had some of the most amazing coffee ever! Highlights were a Panama Geisha, Ethiopian Konga, Guatemala Geisha and pretty much all Kenyans, espresso roast doesn't really cut it with cold drip I found and defo not a dark roast. I've tried most cold brewed methods and I really like the crisp, clean taste of a Cold drip. I found immersion method to be quite "muddy" and lacking clarity. I used a 1-10 ratio of coffee to water also using ice during warm weather and I always used artesian water, coffee is 99 per cent water anyway. That's my 10 cents worth anyway! Enjoy!

I'm doing mine right now, very cool invention. I hope this works out well. Mine started to bloom, I forgot to prewet the coffee. I'll do that next time, my coffee was roasted yesterday

I've had luck making the hole in the cap larger than normal, then having the water slowly drip down into the water bottle, so the water level directly above the cap remains consistent. It looks like a reservoir of water suspended over the water bottle that slowly drips water into the water bottle, then the hole in the bottle cap slowly drips water into the coffee. By adjusting hole sizes and numbers, the two drip-rates are pretty similar, resulting in a very consistent saturation of the grounds.

Nicely done! We'll have to give that a shot some time, thanks for the inspiration.

Thank you for the response! With the next brew I found a method that works a little better: gradually unscrew the bottle lid as the brew progresses. The water wells up and drips out around the sides of the lid rather than through the hole. It's a bit of a blunt tool, but you can regulate the tempo of the drops enough for it to keep going as the water decreases.

Thank a lot, it's cool.

Duly noted, Amir! In the meantime, have you seen our video for the Cold Bruer? It's another great cold brew option for the home.

@chasmaci Looks like you've discovered why many cold drip towers have adjustable drip valves. Unfortunately, our little DIY rig isn't quite as robust as those setups, and the flow rate can slow or stop as more water drains. Like you, we've found that enlarging the hole will get things moving again, but you'll need to use a new cap for the next time you brew. You're correct that CO2 is part of the problem (air displacement is as well), and the other part is simply that you're losing water mass throughout the brew, so the flow rate will slow if it isn't corrected. Most towers will have instructions that recommend adjusting the valve every hour or so to make sure it's still at a good drip rate. If you can figure out a way to do that with the water bottle setup, you'd be a better engineer than us! (And we'd gladly add it to the post above)

I hope you make a video for it soon.

I've just made my first (cold) brew using the Aeropress system, but I ran into a problem that I'm not sure that's been mentioned. I made the hole in the plastic lid so it was exactly at 40 drops/m, however after a few hours of excellent dripping it stopped completely. I saved the water and made the hole bigger and after another 12 hours it dripped through. Could it be that the coffee is releasing C02, creating back pressure that stops the flow of water? Now if I try it again I'm worried that the new "enlarged" hole will let the first lot of water through too quickly. Any thoughts? By the way, the final brew tastes amazing (using a medium roast African blend)!

I think if you use a Swiss Gold, you have to find a way to support the melting ice and the Swiss Gold itself. I like the simplicity of Aeropress plus a water bottle instead.

Interesting, thanks for the input! We'll have to give it a shot ourselves. It's getting pretty hot here in Louisville, so a little cold drip would be quite welcome. ;)

I've tried the wetting with warm water on the bruer (bruer.co) and I found it gave a more 'complete' coffee taste, where on solely on ice I mis the darker side of coffee a bit.

I think "better" is a matter of opinion. I don't like cold-brewed coffee (at least not the types I've tried) and I feel like its flavor is missing something. I use the "strongish normal brew, put in mason jar in fridge" method and I like it that way. It's simple and it's tasty, at least to me. Some people enjoy a different flavor, and some people, I think, like to play with different methods and different toys. Nothing wrong with that, but I just want my dang coffee.

Hey, @disqus_5hTdDtWtBn:disqus. After a bit more research and thought, we've come to think that one has to be pretty careful about using warm/hot water in those systems. When the coffee bed is warm and exposed to air for a while, oxygen plays nasty tricks. That means either 1) just use cold water or 2) start with a little warm water but then quickly cool the bed with cold water. Does that make sense? Mr. Perkins, whose method we outlined in this article, simply described his water temperatures as "hot" and "ice". We assume that 20% of his water is around normal brewing temp (200º?) and the remaining 80% was chilled close to freezing.

With the cold brew systems, like the Bruer system I saw you guys testing out in February do you still try to use water around 158 degrees? And as far as your 80/20 ratio you talk about in this article, is that 80/20 shooting to balance at 158 degrees or is 80% at room temp and 20% at 158? Thanks for your help.

That's a good question, Luca – we've never tested your idea. As in all methods, though, different flavors and aromas are extracted from coffee solids at different times. Theoretically, the sip you take at the halfway point will taste remarkably different from the sip at the end. For a balanced beverage, and a lesson in patience, wait until the end. ;)

We're not out to shame that method, @jamesjago:disqus – we dig it, too, actually! However, we find that shorter brew times, like in the first recipe described here, yield a cup with more brightness, clarity, and acidity. Some people are into that. Additionally, it can become tiresome to create a concentrate (as is done in many cold steep methods), because you're always using more coffee than necessary – you know? There are clearly many ways to make fabulous iced coffee. Thanks for digging into the article!

Forgive my ignorance, but how is this better than brewing it normally and sticking it in the fridge for a couple of hours before pouring on the ice?

With a Cold Brew, say you are using a brew tower in a Coffee Shop that makes say 8 cups at a time, could you take out the recieving vessel at the bottom half way through, pour some, then replace it or do you have to wait for the whole thing to brew?

Are you waiting for all the ice to melt as well or just for the 300g of water to drip through?

And if you use a tablespoon of dutch processed good quality cocoa (mix with a small ammount of hot water to dissolve), I'm pretty sure that drink will be the best iced mocha ever.

That sounds super tasty!

I have a similar method for this but I use a autocompensated drip valve attached to the bottle, I also use a metal filter with my aeropress (using the paper one will absorb some of the oils of the coffee, less flavorful) and the results in a siropy concentrated drink which I use half coffee, half whole milk and a spoon of Half and Half, sweeten to taste and you get a smooth rich velvety cold coffee which you will never forget. The coffee I use is from México and is a very fruity one from Etrusca Coffee called finca "El Natural" which is actually recommended for Cold Drip Towers

Thanks again. You've really cleared things up and encouraged me to keep going. In fact, I'm sitting here with a tasty Kenyan I just brewed via pour over before I head to work.

That ratio is right on par for the 60g/L, so we would stick with that. We've seen some people recommend dosing a little heavier than ratio, but not many advocating lower. Since there are so many variables involved, and since dosage is one in which most people hover around that ratio, as a general principle we recommend locking that variable into that range and focusing on making changes to grind setting and agitation (pouring method on pour-overs and stirring an AeroPress or French Press). It's a lot easier to correct if you're dealing with one variable (grind size) rather than trying to change a few at once. So across the various methods, I would change my grind setting rather than my dose. Generally, immersion methods would have courser grinds with longer steep times, pour-overs would be in the medium-fine range with a little shorter brew time, and the AeroPress grind would depend on how long you're letting it steep and if you're stirring it (since it's such a versatile method).

Thanks for replying so quickly. This helps. You mentioned ratio. I grew up with the 10g to every 6oz but the more I get into coffee (and updating all my equipment) I've noticed no real set ratios with pour overs (and depending which model one is using), some more consistent for aeropress, and no change for presses. Any thoughts on this? I guess I get confused with some many of the variables I.e. water temp, metal vs paper filter (aeropress), immersion vs true pour over, etc.

Hey Stephen, over-extraction yields a bitter taste to the coffee. The best way to figure out what you need to do to hit the extraction you enjoy best is to to start measuring the coffee you use, keeping your dose and your water temperature consistent. If you're using a ratio of 60g of coffee per 1 liter of water, using water off the boil that has rested for a minute or two (200°-205° Range), and have a brew time of 2:30 - 3 (for one to two cups pour-over) or 4 minutes (for 3-4 cups pour-over or immersion), you should be in the proper extraction range. Now the darker the roasted the coffee, the easier the coffee will extract (it's less dense), so you may have to use a shorter brew time or slightly cooler water temperature (195°-200°) to get it optimal. At the end of the day, measure what you're doing, taste, and then adjust one of the parameters to see how it affects the taste next time. The grind setting is normally the one parameter that you want to change, leaving the dose and water temperature the same. Hopefully that helps some, check out our Beginner's Guides to Pour-Over & Immersion brewing for some more input on specific methods.

This is a slightly off topic question: I know when a coffee is under extracted but how does one tell when it's over extracted, especially when it's a more earthy, spicy coffee with greater body? I use a bodum bistro grinder for anything from aeropress, pourover and French press. When I attempt other barista recipes they tend to come out not as desirable and often where I go wrong or if that is really how it's supposed to taste. Thanks for any help. Love your site!

I had a hard time getting the drip rate right. I finally found that the holes I would make with a needle, which would result in a continuous stream of water, could be scraped with my fingernail to become partially blocked and slow to the correct rate. I also avoided bottles with the thin seal inside the top of the cap - these seemed to self heal after a short time.

Hi Evan – sorry for the late response! For full-immersion cold brew (like a refrigerated French press), moistening with hot water could yield a really interesting result and is totally worth trying. For cold-drip, though, we're suspicious that wetting with warm water may increase the rate of oxidation – that is, the coffee's less-than-tasty interaction with air. Cool water is probably best for this method. Does that make sense?

Hi there! I'm trying to replicate this process at home and just had a couple questions: how warm is the water to use to moisten the grounds? Do you use cold water for the remaining water? Thanks so much!

Hi! Most of us notice a significant difference between cold brewed coffee (fridge or room temp), Kyoto-style slow-drip, and ice brewed (via V60, Chemex, et al.), but not everyone does. The varying temperatures, time, grind size, and water movement should make for noticeably different results. Keep trying different methods with the same coffee and you'll probably begin to notice the subtle differences. PS. Portola is rad and we've heard great things about their Worka!

I'm experimenting with cold brew. I'm even bottling it for friends and family. I wonder if your experiences with cold brew or ice brew are different? For me I have tried Portolola's Worka Blend from their Kyoto. Then I replicated it with there Worka at home brewing it by steeping it in the fridge (same coffee/water ration as they do in store) then just doing it on kitchen counter. For me it tastes the same no matter if ice drip, fridge steep, or room temp counter steep. Curious as to your thoughts. For fun I'm going to build my own custom dripper

Hey Chris. Glad you enjoyed it! We've run across a few homemade cold brew drippers, but this is our favorite because of its simplicity and the wide availability of the required materials. Others have used IV bags (ew?), sink faucets, or random plumbing supplies from hardware stores. We're interested to see if anyone has luck with one of those "pop-top" water bottles, which may make for a more easily adjustable flow rate. Let us know if you try!

Hey, great post! I have an Aeropress, and I've been thinking that I'd like to try drip cold brew but didn't want to spend so much on one of those brew towers. I think I might try your improvised method. Have you seen any more permanent/elaborate DIY drip cold brew setups?

Thanks so much! I am excited to start using the Aeropress! And overall to be brewing better quality coffee at home. I wanted to spend less by making it at home. So I "ventured" into that by buying a Keurig brewer...very convenient...but just have not been happy with the taste. And I love iced coffee enough to ensure I am making it the best that I can! Thanks again!

Hello! Glad you're venturing into the awesome realm of the Aeropress. What a fun brewer. While there aren't any hard-and-fast rules about choosing coffees for either method, we've found that the citrusy acidity of African beans is really pleasant as chilled coffee. We enjoy great coffee all of the time by looking for a few simple things: 1) a single, identifiable origin; 2) a recent roast date (within 2 weeks); and 3) a light-to-medium roast color. Dark, oily beans don't quite do it for us. Again, these aren't rules, just our own preferences. As far as grind settings are concerned, try medium-fine (between raw sugar and granulated sugar) for the cold brew and something slightly coarser for the hot-on-ice. Hope this helps!

Hi! After reading this post I purchased the aeropress. I want to use to use it for the cold brew method shown here. And also to just use the hot brew method over ice. What type of variety is best with iced coffee in general (I have not liked the blends I have purchased haphazardly thus far)? And going further, is one variety better than the other depending on the two methods I listed above? Lastly, what type of grind do you suggest for each of the two methods above? Thanks in advance!

Can't quite picture how that would look... Can you elaborate?

It's actually very tasty as-is, but it wouldn't be surprisingly if some folks opted to dilute it. Glad you enjoyed the read!

This was a wonderfully informative article! For clarity purposes, does the Aeropress method create a concentrated or a diluted (ready-to-drink) product?

There sure is! The paper filter that rests atop the coffee grounds helps by 1) distributing the water more evenly and 2) "softening the blow" of the dripping water, thereby minimizing agitation.

Is there a reason for the 2nd filter inside of the aeropress?

Our two-hour brew was tasty.

 Thanks. What target brew time did you guys aim for with your 45g of coffee?

The volume used for wetting depends on your dose, but use just enough to moisten all of the grounds and no more. As far as temperature is concerned, try experimenting in the range of 155°F and up. It's a DIY project, so play around with it!

What temperature should the water be for the pre-wetting of cold brew? How many grams should this pre-wet be?

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