How to Cold-Brew Perfect Iced Coffee

Cold brewing coffee yields a strong yet smooth brew perfect over ice.

For most of the year, I start each day with a piping hot cup o’ joe. There are those who argue that hot coffee will help you cool down on summer days, but science be darned. When the weather heats up, I’ll take my coffee ice cold, thank you very much. Once the domain of caffeinated hipsters, iced coffee has hit the mainstream over the last few years and is available at coffee shops, fast food chains and the occasional gas station. So why is it so disappointing when you make it at home?

It may seem straightforward to pour freshly brewed coffee over ice, but doing so all but guarantees you’ll end up with a cold drink that is depressingly weak, bitter or both. For those looking for that perfect glass of iced java this summer, there is a better way: Cold-brewed coffee.

Cold-brewed coffee might more accurately be called coffee concentrate. Using a much higher grounds-to-water ratio yields a brew that is nearly three times stronger than coffee brewed in a drip coffee maker, but with roughly one third the acidity. The result is a full-bodied brew that is remarkably smooth. Strong yet never bitter, it is meant to be diluted with ice, milk or water. This is iced coffee as it was meant to be.

This can’t-miss coffee concentrate will hold its flavor for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Serve over a full glass of ice and add as much milk as you like. Deceptively mellow, this stuff is super strong and will stand up diluted at a ratio of three to one or even more.

We brew ours in gallon containers, but the recipe can be scaled as desired. Follow the simple steps below to caffeinate your summer as it was meant to be done.


Step 1

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Make smooth and strong cold-brewed coffee using your favorite blend.

Cold-brewed coffee might better be described as coffee concentrate. Steeped in cold water, cold-brewed coffee has roughly a third the acidity of drip coffee, yet is much stronger and intended to be diluted before serving, making it the perfect choice for iced coffee lovers often disappointed by a bitter brew watered down when poured over ice.

Step 2

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Place one pound of your ground coffee in a one gallon container. If grinding your own, use a coarse grind to minimize cloudiness. Some recommend a mild roast, others dark roast. Use your favorite and you can’t go too far wrong.

Step 3

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Fill the gallon container to the top with cold water. If measuring amounts, you’re shooting for around 10 cups of water to a pound of coffee, but there is plenty of wiggle room.

Step 4

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Stir gently, making sure grounds are fully moistened.

Step 5

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Place a lid on the container or cover with plastic wrap and walk away. Allow to steep at least 12 hours at room temperature.

Step 6

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Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a second gallon container. I use a clip to attach the strainer to the lip of the vessel to reduce the risk of spillage. Slowly pour the steeped coffee through the strainer to separate grounds.

Step 7

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Straining may take a while. Allow coffee to filter at its own pace. Once fully strained, discard grounds and transfer cold-brewed coffee into a lidded container to be stored in the refrigerator. Expect a yield of approximately 8-9 cups of concentrated coffee.

Step 8

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Cold-brewed coffee will keep its flavor for two to three weeks under refrigeration. The flavor is so smooth, it’s easy to forget it is meant to be diluted at a ratio of 1:3 or more. Add water or milk to taste and enjoy a rich, flavorful coffee that will stand up beautifully, even in a glass full of ice.


  • 1 lb. ground coffee of your choice
  • 10 cups cold water



  • 1 gallon container
  • Stirrer, such as a wooden spoon
  • Mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth


About Mick Telkamp 


A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

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7 Responses

  1. This paragraph presents clear idea for the new people of blogging, that actually how to do running a blog.

  2. Hannah says:

    I've been a barista for almost a decade but finally just tried my hand at making cold brew at home and *gasp* without a toddy system. I. Love. It. Thank you so much for this! I'm sipping the first cup from my batch and it is absolutely delightful :D

  3. najeebaansar says:

    Thanks for sharing the post.

    Visit my blogs too!

  4. Ginny says:

    I'd love to share this but when I tried, it posted a photo of a repurposed dresser, not the coffee. Tried both your "share" button and copy and pasting the link. I love iced coffee but had no idea it was anything other than regular coffee over ice. Thanks!

  5. Geneviève says:

    I tried this recipe last week-end. The taste is very similar to the one from the coffee shop. But at home, I know exactly what goes in it. This was mine: in a tall glass, a third of coffee concentrate, two third of water, a table spoon of milk, a tea spoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of sugar.

  6. Wanda says:

    I do my iced coffee this way and I use sweetened condensed milk to it, its really yummy!

  7. gremol says:

    Must try, love my iced coffee !! Any tips on adding vanilla, sweetener, cream, or other flavorings ??

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