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Cold Brew Coffee - Anyone Tried This?

So I found this cold brew coffee system online...


Supposedly makes the smoothest, best tasting coffee ever. You basically make an extract over 12 hours and then use it to make coffee - hot or cold. Because it's cold-brewed, it never gets stale, so you can use the 'extract' for up to 2 weeks.

Sounds freakin' amazing. But, has anyone actually tried this?

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  1. I cold brew my coffee for iced coffee, per a recipe in the NYT a few years back. Like the article mentions, it does indeed take on chocolate-y overtones and lack the bitterness of traditionally brewed coffee. Good stuff!


    6 Replies
    1. re: operagirl

      We used to use a Toddy - don't remember why we stopped - and made delicious coffee with it. First learned about it when some friends brought their Toddy - made coffee concentrate on a camping trip. I checked and it's still available on Amazon and at the Toddy website for about half the price of the hourglass model.

      1. re: janeh

        janeh - "don't remember why we stopped". I know we stopped because you have to know that you will be at home in exactly 12 hours. I can only make that committment about once a month.

        The Toddy brewer does make the whole process easier and since Toddy has stopped selling their concentrate, I'll just have to start brewing my own again.

        1. re: SeaHorse

          I haven't found exact timing to be important. I usually start between 5 and 10 and night and take out whenever I wake up. Never had any problems, I think the range of time the grounds have soaked is 10 to 18 hours and it has always been good.

          1. re: SeaHorse

            Shoot, I let mine sit for 2-3 days. Gets a more powerful flavor, no bitterness. And I'm kind of a pain in the butt about my coffee.

            1. re: EWSflash

              Wow, I never thought of doing that. 'Course, we're so bad that we generally run completely out before we're motivated to make more. But I'll try to remember this. And that's a money saver as you'll get more bang for the buck.

        2. re: operagirl

          I do the same thing (thanks to the same article), and the resulting coffee is surpringly great. What's more amazing is that my don't-feel-like-splurging-for-super-great-beans coffee still tastes very good with this method (the great beans produce great coffee no matter what).

          soypower - the equipment is totally not needed. You can grind your own beans and just use a thermos or water bottle or whatever. I then use a cheap $1 cloth filter to separate out the grounds.

        3. It sounds interesting but is it better than a French press?? I'm just curious how this would liberate all the tasty oils in the beans.

          Do you grind the beans or leave them whole??


          1 Reply
          1. re: Davwud

            Yes, it is better than a French press...less bitter and it can be stored in the fridge. The coffee does not get bitter with cold brew becasue the grounds have not been heated in the brewing process. It is a simple process but it takes 10-12 hours to sit, steep, and as you say "liberate all the tasty oils" prior to the coffee being ready.

            Cold brew uses ground beans. We use the Toddy package and order the pre-ground beans at the Toddy website. We have found that even the most course grind at the store is not course enough, but I know others who have found the course grind at the store is adequate. Try it, we have used this for 7-8 years.

          2. I make cold brew all the time. I don't have special equipment so here is what I do.
            1. I grind 1 slightly small bag of my fave beans a bit coarser than normal. (I do this at the store since I use it right away)
            2. I line a strainer with a couple of layers of cheese cloth. This all goes into a large bowl (or pot).
            3. Put all the coffee in the cheese cloth. I add 3 quarts of cold water and let the whole thing sit over night.
            4. In morning put strainer with coffee in it over another bowl to drip, and pour the contents of the pot into jars, and into the fridge.

            I do this all the time in the summer. It makes very strong coffee that I usually just drink iced. No change in quality as it is stored (never lasts more than a week around here), and I think I can taste some different things that I miss in my usual hot coffee drinking.

            Here is a link for more discussion on this topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/305224

            6 Replies
            1. re: corneygirl

              What the heck is a "slighty small bag..."???

              1. re: scuzzo

                Corneygirl, are you sure you meant to recommend that coffee bean/water ratio? I use 1lb coffee to 10c water, based on this recipe:


                Three quarts of water would require an awful lot of coffee beans.

                1. re: small h

                  Isn't cold brewing more than a little inefficient if it only yields 10 cups from an entire pound of beans? That kind of turns me off the whole thing before even trying it :)

                  1. re: afoodyear

                    It yields 10 cups of coffee concentrate, which makes about 40 cups of coffee. You mix the concentrate with water and/or milk and/or ice. I think it saves energy (you never need to heat water) and labor (you make all that concentrate at once).

                    1. re: small h

                      AH! Thanks for that :) That makes a lot more sense now.

                2. re: scuzzo

                  Scuzzo: I take the normal coffee bean bag and fill it about 2/3 full. I assume completely full this would would be about 1 lb., although many pre filled bags are 12 oz. I have never taken the time to measure it.

                  small h: I know it sounds like a lot, but a quart is 4 cups so it really isn't that much more I only dilute with ice and this makes very strong coffee. It might depend on the roast of the bean as well I lean towards french roasts.

              2. i agree, no equipment is needed. i do this with a big pasta pot, several layers of cheesecloth and a can of Cafe du Monde or other chicory coffee. makes great iced coffee...no need to add sugar.

                1. I got a filtron cold brewing system as a gift and really like it since I drink iced coffee year round. It is about $40 online.


                  1. I do cold brew all the time and use it half and half with skim milk for a nice iced coffee. I am a fan of 3 cups cold water in a pyrex, mix in 2/3 cup (heaping) of coarse ground bold ground coffee. Cover with saran. Let it sit overnight. Strain through a filter and mesh strainer into another pyrex and chill. Id say that lasts me 3 days worth of iced coffee.

                    1. I had a Toddy system for many years. It made pretty good coffee too, very mellow - no bitterness. I had a couple of things I didn't like about it though, and I found myself using it less and less.

                      1. when used as directed I really seemed to go through a LOT of coffee...(and I use 2 tablespoons per cup when hot brewing) I think I was using extra coffee to try to get some of the flavors that weren't being extracted in cold water. 2. Probably as a result of using even more coffee and the long brew time, the stuff gave me the jitters with just 2 cups. 3. it just tasted weird after a day or two in the fridge...I called it Frankencoffee.

                      So, I bought a Moccamaster and never looked back.

                      1. I put a pound of coarsely ground coffee and 10 cups of water in a gallon jug overnight, then filter it through a Melitta cone. It works beautifully, but steer clear of the glossier coffee beans - the concentrate will be very weak.

                        1. Thanks so much for bringing this up! I used corneygirls' method and have delicious, smooth coffee in the fridge - and a cup of it iced and ready to go to work with me.

                          1. Another method is the Toddy Maker

                            It works very well and cold brew coffee takes a lot more time but is worth it. I have a carafe of it in my refridgerator and I like it boht hot and cold as black coffee and with skim milk.

                            1. has anyone heard of this method reducing the caffeine in the coffee? i have a friend that uses this method almost exclusively for coffee, and swears it's considerably lower in caffeine, but I am not sure if that's based on any scientific knowledge...

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: tartella

                                I think it has more caffeine, however it is concentrated but I find myself drinking the same amount as I do with brewed coffee. I'm not sure what the ounce by ounce is.

                                1. re: tartella

                                  Doesn't caffeine becomes more soluble in water and break up more easily when the heat goes up? So wouldn't you have less caffeine in a higher temp extraction? And isn't that the same theory by which a light city roast might have more caffeine than a French roast? I'm not really sure, just pure speculation on my part. However, I will say that I've never noticed the difference (probably because a cup of coffee or 3 never had much impact on me).

                                  1. re: Ali

                                    Ali and tartella, as a former Barrista [who learned from Peter the best coffee roaster man in the world] I was taught the simple rule: "the faster the brewing the lower the caffeine" thus espresso is, contrary to what most people think, very low in caffiene - just strongly flavored. However that rule is for hot espresso. As far as allowing the cold brew to soak for such an extended time? Hmmmmmmmmmm? I'm sure heat plays an important part. Any scientists out there? If we don't get an answer, I will check with Peter on Monday.

                                  2. re: tartella

                                    The Toddy website claims it reduces the caffeine and the "bitter oils". http://www.toddycafe.com

                                  3. Don't spend money on a "system." Cold brew is soaking grounds in cold water and then straining them out. Have two pitchers or bowls and a coffee filter or strainer? You're good.

                                    It can be extremely economical, as I find I use less grounds for cold brew than for hot. I like to use a fairly coarse grind (what you might do for the French press), and I always soak for at least 20 hours. I make three days worth at a time. Simple!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Mandymac

                                      Try using a mason jar. Every Saturday morning, I make my coffee in the jar (albeit, hot) and the wife uses one of the stovetop espresso things. She still thinks hers is better. Stubborn woman. Instead of cheesecloth to strain, I use a very fine-gauge Japanese strainer. It is only about 3 inches in diameter, but most of the grounds stay in the bottom of the jar.

                                      To get those grounds into the trash, you can run a few tablespoons of water into the jar, swish it around to get everything moving, then quickly dump it into the trash.

                                      Got the strainer in the tea shop at Takashimaya here in NYC, but you can probably find it cheaper elsewhere. No more soggy cheesecloth dripping its way over to the garbage pail.

                                      1. re: py00

                                        I took the scenic route tonight and found this site. I cannot even remember where I began this tour at this point. But, I have become intrigued by the idea of cold coffee making and will begin my new journey tonight after I close out.
                                        What I wanted to share was this. If you live in an abode where you have a yard and flowers or trees .. you might begin throwing the grounds and tea bags behind the plants where they cannot be seen. Take the paper tag off of the tea bag. But, you can leave the bag as is. It will bio-degrade quickly enough. These two things are a great form of nitrogen and your plants will soon be super green and growing like crazy, They love coffee and tea as much as you and I do, I have been doing this for years and it is super easy. If you don't want to go outside each time just get a quart mason jar and put it in there until it is convenient to take a trip around the roses. Thank you for the info above and below. I hope you find this and can make use of it.

                                    2. History Lesson: There was a very popular cold brew coffee method back in the '60s, but it resulted in a concentrate. You kept it in the fridge and used about a tablespoon per cup of hot water for standard strength morning coffee. Very good. Very smooth. I don't recall the coffee to water ratio any more, and I'm not certain, but I think you left it on the counter overnight before straining and storing in the fridge. It eventually went the way of fondue pots and omelette pans. Maybe someone else of ancient vintage remembers the specific ratio of coffee to water for the overnight steep?

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Curious, did you read the rest of the thread? The method you describe is what is under discussion here: soak ground beans in cold water for 8-12 hours ("overnight"), strain, store coffee concentrate in fridge and dilute with hot or cold water for hot or iced coffee. That's a summary of what's covered in this thread. In my experience, you need much more than a tablespoon of concetrate, more like a quarter cup.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            One ounce is two tablespoons. I suppose it also depends on the size of your cup/glass, how strong you like your coffee, and whether you will be diluting it with ice. I generally am drinking at least a 12 oz glass or cup, I like strong coffee, and I often dilute entirely with milk (more nutrition that way). I feel like maybe having it cold requires more concentrate than hot to taste appropriately strong. (BTW I have a Toddy, too, so am presumably using the same coffee/water proportions you are)

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              Neither my husband nor I like super strong coffee so that is probably it. I love iced coffee but rarely make it as coffee later in the day effects my sleep. I DO put whipped cream (out of a can) on the top --- but the cat gets to lap SOME of it.

                                              Hmm, so are you saying you make it with milk? Now that sounds really good.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Yup, one of my favorite things about Toddy coffee is being able to make it with milk. Just dilute the concentrate with milk, either straight from the fridge or heated, no water at all. That's why I said it has more nutrition - a cup or so of milk, plus the concentrate, instead of water and a couple tablespoons of milk.

                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  I'm definitely going to fix this. And with the milk instead of coffee I think one would definitely want more coffee. Thanks, Caitlin.

                                          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Curious, did you read the rest of the thread? ... ... ... Caitlin McGrath

                                            Yes. I read the rest of the thread. Did you? Many are talking about equipment you buy to make the coffee essence. In the 60's, it was done in Mason jars or juice carafs. But then, you might say the 60s was a less "entrepreneurial" era.

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Of course I read it, and while a few people said they use special equipment, most posters said that they soak their coffee grounds in water in jars or pitchers and then pour it through a coffee filter. The equipment (e.g., Toddy, which has been sold for decades, so it's not a new thing) is just a filter system with a carafe, and as the majority in this thread have noted, you don't need one and they don't use one. In other words, they're doing it that old-fangled '60s way.

                                          3. re: Caroline1

                                            The difference between the "extractor" my parents had in the 60's and the NYT method is in the strength. Their extractor dribbled out a very strong concentrate -- they mixed one jigger of extract with a cup of hot water (or milk in my case). the NYT method is much more diluted. Also in 1963 in Huehuetenango, Guat. I was served a cup of hot milk and instructed to put a few drops of the coffee extract that was on the table -- looked like Worchestershire sauce. But wonderful mellow local coffee.

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Re: the device from the '60s: I don't remember the ratio exactly, but I do remember that there was a large plastic hopper with a neck at the bottom, in which there was a ceramic filter. This fit down into a jar, then a whole pound of coffee was poured into the hopper and then the required amount of water. This slowly trickled through the filter - overnight, I think - and left you with enough concentrate for quite a few cups of coffee. When I was working at a bookstore in Anchorage in the mid-'60s there was a gift-shop owner down the street who was a raving evangelist for this device, and kept coming around trying to get other shops in the area to display one of these things and hand out free coffee to their customers. My boss had a hard enough time with people smudging up the books with greasy fingers, and she wasn't going to give them a cup of coffee too! But I also remember that the coffee was very good.

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Will, I believe you're thinking of the original Toddy system, which came out in the '60s. It's still made, but in an updated design that sells for a lower price. This is the device c oliver and I discussed in the posts above.

                                                The big deal about the method, other than convenience, is that it eliminates a lot of the acid in hot-brewed methods, for people who don't like the bite it gives or are sensitive to it.


                                            2. Like others here, we've been using the Toddy system for about 25 years. One thing I really love about it is when we travel, we pour however much into a camping bottle (tight lid) and take it with us. It's nice to have "our" coffee when on the road. I've never heard of a narrow window for the timing. We generally do 8-12 hours. Also if we're going away and don't need to take it all with us, we freeze it and it stays great. We own a coffeemaker but only pull it out of storage if we have a housesitter or exchangee staying here.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I cold-brew using my French press. Easiest method EVER, no special equipment, cheesecloths, strainers, etc necessary. I grind beans coarsely, dump in French press, fill with cold water, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10 hours. In the morning simply plunge the press and you have iced coffee.

                                                Excellent beans and filtered water are both important.

                                                1. re: JennS

                                                  This is what I was thinking of doing. It kind of surprised me that no one mentioned it up to now. How much coffee do you use? The same ratio as if you were making it hot?

                                                  1. re: sekelmaan

                                                    In my experience, stirring or squishing the beans (as a French press would do), gives the concentrate a bitter taste.

                                                    1. re: small h

                                                      You mean plunging after it soaks for 12 hours will make it bitter?

                                                      1. re: sekelmaan

                                                        I've not used a French press myself, but the first couple times I made cold brew, I stirred the grounds quite a bit because I thought that would extract more flavor from them. I was not at all happy with the results - the concentrate was bitter and sour. So I tried not stirring and got a much better-tasting concentrate. You may not have the same experience, but if you use the French press once and think "yuck!", that might be why.

                                                        1. re: small h

                                                          Interesting. I haven't experienced any bitterness with using a French press at all. The quality of the beans and water are both very important though -- I find that the coffee has a weird taste if I just use tap water (which is quite tasty in NYC) instead of purified or bottled water.

                                                          As for ratio, I do mine by sight now, so can't tell you the exact ratio. This NYTimes recipe recommends 1/3 of a cup of grounds for each 1.5 cups of water which sounds about right -- possibly not strong enough. They also dilute this "concentrate" with water, but I found that made for REALLY weak coffee. I'd start with the 1/3 cup grounds to 1.5 cups water and adjust from there.


                                                          1. re: JennS

                                                            After much trial & error:

                                                            Beans are Columbian Supremo from Porto Rico; water is NYC tap, 'cause that's what I've got. 1 lb coffee to 10 cups water. For a glass of ice coffee: 1/3 cup concentrate + 2/3 cup milk + 5 ice cubes. Ta da! But that's to my taste - everyone is different.

                                                            1. re: small h

                                                              Thanks Jenn and Small. Gonna give this a go.

                                                  2. re: JennS

                                                    I was just thinking about this, wondering if I could do that. And you have answered my question. Thank you! I am totally going to do this. =)

                                                2. Hi again! After readingt the WHOLE thread, getting lots of feedback, purchasing some coarsly ground house blend espresso & visiting Peter the "coffee roasterexpert extrordinaire", I am armed and dangerous! But to report back on the caffiene issue......this concoction will be much stronger! Peter relayed that when making decaf, water is the vehicle used to leach/extract the caffiene from the beans, thus by our drinking that "leached" liquid, we are getting all the caffiene.....simple? Also, he said that using Arabica beans will render a less bitter, more smoother taste as opposed to coffee using Robusto beans.
                                                  Now, gotta go mix!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jackie2830

                                                    Interestingly the National Coffee association says that brewing coffee using the cold brew method creates a coffee with a fraction of the caffeine....


                                                  2. what about cold brewing in milk rather than water? or cream for that matter? would this work? would it require more time? has anyone done this? is the extraction just so painfully slow it's not worth it?

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                      CREAM???????? Girlfriend, you must have some awesome arteries! Hmmmmmmmm, my general belief is that the simpler the better. Take my advise & use Chelleyd01's directions, & add the half & half or cream later. Make it easy on yourself. I followed her recipe but doubled it & am currently in iced coffee heaven! Soooooo simple - I put 1-1/3 cups of coarse ground espresso in a big & spouted Pyrex bowel with 6 cups tap water, stirred, put lid on [or Saran Wrap], & put in fridge @ bedtime. Next AM, I placed a handeled fine metal strainer over my old 3 qt glass [Fridgoviere] pitcher & poured the whole thing in. The whole process takes like minutes to do! I then followed her recipe as well for the latte ratio of half coffee/half skim milk. So, in my case, I did 10 oz coffee extraction, 10 oz skim milk, a few ice cubes, & 4 tsp. splenda -------- like my iced brew like my men......strong & sweet! Soooooooooo delicious! I have to report that the taste is smooth, chocolaty, almost similar to an iced mocha minus the slush. I will now be saving big $$$$$$$ @ DD, Starbucks, etc. And I can have it whenever I want @ home. Thanks again Chelleyd01!

                                                      1. re: jackie2830

                                                        ha ha... i have some excellent coffee that i would like to use for a gelato or really rich ice cream and i've been debating the best way to extract the flavour. i am not hoping to drink coffee flavoured cream ;)

                                                        i'm starting to think that low temp milk/cream might be the best extraction method... just not high heat for a long period of time to prevent bitterness!

                                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                          You know "P", I just couldn't figure out why on earth this girl would want to extract with milk or cream..........your 7/29 didn't mention the ice cream/gelato...........so on that quest, I would say you should probably just pulverize those coffee beans into the finest grind you can to incorporate the flavor [or in your case Canadian girl? - flavour] into your cream/milk. And, just put it into your chilled medium........why wait longer by letting it blend @ a warm temp? I would not try to extract the coffee essence in water.........then you'd be watering down all that good cream :) Actually, when I bake with chocolate, I'm in agreement with Ina Garten on adding instant espresso to punch up/add mocha flavor. So to me, adding your pulverized DRY coffee grind would probably do the trick instead of doing the extracting thing all together! Good luck.........sounds like it will be delicious!

                                                          1. re: jackie2830

                                                            i don't often leave details about my final plan if i'm trying to assess a method so it can be a bit misleading.

                                                            my concern about the fine grind is just texture... i really like a good smooth gelato and i'm not sure how fine of a grind i can get. i might make some small batches with varying methods to see what works best. thanks though!

                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                              Keep us posted...............coffee ice cream is in my top 3 flavors!

                                                              1. re: jackie2830

                                                                just thought i'd do an update.

                                                                i did try a cold extraction with crunched up coffee beans in cream (decided against the fine grain texture since i wanted smooth smooth smooth) and while it worked for a short period of time, it slowed to a crawl. so i did a low heat extraction and that really pulled out the flavour. it was nothing short of superb, though it was quite high fat, and i don't think i can have coffee ice cream outside of the home ever again. if you're at all curious, i used 2 cups half and half, 2 cups heavy cream, 7 yolks and extracted to taste about 1/2 cup of old city coffee beans (from philadelphia and truly excellent if you enjoy a rich chocolately cup) and also sugared to taste the batch but i suspect it was probably 3/4c or less in the end.

                                                      2. My very first post, but I have to say I love iced coffee and this sounds like a perfect way to get a perfect blend. I can't wait to try it! Thanks!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: tinkerszs

                                                          tinkerszs...........it's heavenly, makes me swoon, & welcome! Try it, you will love it!

                                                          1. re: tinkerszs

                                                            A friend introduced the Toddy system to me a few years ago. I was having terrible indigestion from drinking hot brewed coffee and after trying the Toddy cold brewed system, I was hooked. It makes a low acid coffee that doesn't give me indigestion! The concentrate will last up to 14 days in the fridge and it does make great iced as well as hot coffee.

                                                            1. re: lisamos

                                                              My husband and I are also both having stomach problems and we believe coffee is the root. We are both having problems on the weekend when we tend to drink more coffee loafing around the house. I tried the cold brew method last night. We both find the flavor a little bland. Has anyone tried mixing cold brewed and hot brewed? Any opinions on if that will give us enough reduction in acid to help us? I have one of those coffee makers that has the delay brew when the carafe is pulled off. I was thinking of setting up the coffee maker with six cups of water, as if I was making a six cup pot, adding enough coffee for an eight cup pot, and filling the grounds hopper with cold water over night. In the morning we would put the carafe in place for the concentrate to come through and then turn on the maker to "re-brew" the grounds. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks.

                                                          2. My husband and I are also both having stomach problems and we believe coffee is the root. We are both having problems on the weekend when we tend to drink more coffee loafing around the house. I tried the cold brew method last night. We both find the flavor a little bland. Has anyone tried mixing cold brewed and hot brewed? Any opinions on if that will give us enough reduction in acid to help us? I have one of those coffee makers that has the delay brew when the carafe is pulled off. I was thinking of setting up the coffee maker with six cups of water, as if I was making a six cup pot, adding enough coffee for an eight cup pot, and filling the grounds hopper with cold water over night. In the morning we would put the carafe in place for the concentrate to come through and then turn on the maker to "re-brew" the grounds. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cmcg

                                                              I wouldn't rebrew the grounds, I used to do this when I was super broke and the taste of the coffee is subpar. I've never had my cold brew be bland at all, usually it's closer in strength to espresso than drip coffee. I would try using more grounds or steeping the grounds for longer (I usually go for about 12 hours). I don't know about the amount of acid reduction.

                                                            2. If it was already mentioned in the thread I missed it, but I'm not one for a uni-tasker when another device will do :) So I use my french press to strain the cold-brew coffee, which has been steeping in the fridge overnight. When I need hot coffee, I just use the same french press. I bloody LOVE that thing :D

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Popkin

                                                                Oh, Popkin -- that's brilliant! Really, really brilliant! I tried this last summer and made the hugest mess in my kitchen, trying to figure out what container I should brew the stuff in and what I should strain in into -- I was using a pound of coffee and 14 cups of water. Somehow I slopped it all over, which messed up the proportions in addition to having coffee all over the kitchen. What a mess! I'm still finding coffe grounds in my kitchen drawers. Would you please share proportions with me for the french press?