How to Start Making Your Own Cold Brew – A Step by Step Guide

When people think about cold brew they assume it is complicated and expensive to do at home because cold brew is extremely expensive when you buy it in a coffee shop. In fact, it is incredibly easy and cheap. It is so simple to make some things you already have in the house into a cold brew coffee maker.

Today I am going to be talking about a few pain free, DIY methods of making your own batch of cold brew at home.

Cold Brew Coffee preparation station – cold drip

Why Is Cold Brew Better than Hot Brew Coffee

Here are the ins and outs of cold brew coffee, if you didn’t know them.

If you are reading this article and are a regular on the website, you likely already know what cold brew is and the many benefits associated with it. For those of you that are new, here is a quick summary.

  • cold brew is coffee brewed with room temperature or cold water for a period of 12 hours up to 72 hours. Steeping time needs to be long when we don’t use heat to aid with extraction.
  • Cold brew is much more stable than coffee brewed hot – it can be stored for up to a week without losing any freshness.
  • Normal coffee is extracted at temperatures between 195 °F and 205 °F. Cold brew is prepared with water temperature between 41 °F and 86 °F.
  • Cold brew is not to be confused with iced coffee, which is coffee (normally espresso but can also be filter coffee) brewed hot then poured over ice.
  • Brewing coffee cold allows us to extract compounds from the coffee beans that we don’t get in hot coffee. Cold brew has a different chemical construction to hot coffee. This is because some coffee compounds are unstable and heat destroys them.
  • On the other hand, without heat we are unable to extract other compounds and properties that we do get in hot coffee. Oil, for example, needs heat to be extracted so we won’t get any oily notes or tastes in our cold brew.
  • The lack of oil in cold brew means that it is easier on a sensitive stomach and some people prefer it because of this.
  • Cold Brew typically has more caffeine content than hot coffee.
  • Because of the long brewing time, cold brew is normally brewed as a coffee concentrate that we then dilute and serve.

Different types of Cold Brew

The two main types of cold brew these days are immersion cold brew or drip cold brew. Cold drip is also known as Dutch cold brew.

Immersion cold brewing is by far the more common of the two, and I will be focusing on immersion brewing today.

Ok, there are more cold brew coffee preparation methods, and the industry is catching up in an effort to cut the long brewing times associated with the immersion cold brew.

Different Types of Immersion Brewing

Iced Coffee Prepared with cold brew in mason jar

The main types of immersion cold brew are:

  • The paper filter method.
  • The coffee sock/cloth bag method.
  • The French press method.
  • Using a cold brew coffee maker (such as the Toddy Cold).

As the name suggests, brewing cold brew with a cold brew coffee maker involves buying a new device to prepare your cold brew.

While some of these machines are great, today is about brewing DIY cold brew with things we already have at home. For this reason, we won’t be talking about cold brew coffee makers here today.

If you are interested in cold brew coffee makers however, take at look at our articles where we talk about the best ones, and we show you how to pick one for your needs.

Recipes and Methods for DIY, Immersion Cold Brewing

The principle of immersion cold brewing remains the same regardless of your method. Coarsely ground coffee is submerged in cold water and left to steep in a large container for at least 12 hours. The container would ideally be made of glass but you can use some large plastic tupperware if you have nothing else.

The best container we can recommend would be a large mason jar. A glass carafe or jug also works well. I use mason jars for my recipes. If you are not using a mason jar or something with an airtight lid, you will need to cover the container with plastic wrap.

The paper filter method

The paper filter method is very popular, especially among drip coffee drinkers, as they already have paper filters in the house. 

The advantage of paper filter cold brewing is that it is cheap. The disadvantage is that it is quite awkward to do without the filter misbehaving.

What you need

Coffee To Water Ratio

4.5 parts water to 0.5 parts coffee. We are using 4 and a half cups of water and half a cup of coffee.


  • Fill up your mason jar with the water. If you can filter your water, even better.
  • Add your fresh, coarsely ground coffee to your water.
  • Stir your coffee with a wooden spoon or equivalent until your coffee is completely submerged and saturated. There should be no coffee left floating at the top.
  • Close the lid of your jar or cover your container.
  • Let it steep for 12-24 hours. Like I said – the brewing process isn’t complicated for cold brew!
  • Rinse your paper filter then line a funnel or strainer with your filter. If you are looking for a particularly clean cup, we can recommend a steel filter here, instead of the funnel.
  • Place over a large bowl, glass carafe or coffee pot and decant. Make sure you poor slowly! This is so that you don’t disturb the grinds. It will also help you to keep more control over your paper filter.
  • Wash out your mason jar then transfer your coffee back into it.
  • Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours before serving for that perfect serving temperature!
  • Store in the fridge.

Remember that you are brewing a coffee concentrate. Use a small amount of the concentrate then dilute with water, depending on your preference. We recommend 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water. Replace your water with your favorite milk, be it cow’s milk or a plant based milk such as almond milk, for a delicious milky beverage.

You have the option of letting your coffee brew at room temperature or of refrigerating it. This is down to personal preference. You will get different tasting notes from each method. Play around and see what you prefer.

Coffee extracts quicker at higher temperatures, so if you are refrigerating your coffee, the brew time will be longer. Aim for around the 12 hour mark at room temperature and 24 hours if refrigerated.

The French Press method

This method is extremely handy. 99% of coffee drinkers will have a French press in the house. A standard, 8 cup French press works best.

It is also completely hassle free and very difficult to get wrong.

What you need

Your French press acts as the container and the filter here so literally all you need is your French press, coffee and water!

For this recipe we are using a course to medium course grind. This is slightly finer than the paper filter method. A French press filter can accommodate finer ground coffee whereas a paper filter cannot.

Coffee To Water Ratio

4:1. We are using 4 cups of water with 1 cup of ground coffee. Again, play around with your recipe and see what you prefer.


  • Pour your water into your French press.
  • Add your coffee and stir.
  • Rest the plunger on top but do not plunge!
  • Let it steep for a minimum of 14 hours. We recommend brewing the French press cold brew in the fridge.
  • Remove from the fridge and plunge.
  • Decant the coffee into another container.
  • Store in the fridge.

Coffee sock/cloth bag method

A coffee sock is a bag normally made from hemp or cotton. Like with clothing, these materials are best but you can get cheaper socks made from nylon.

I have left this method till last because it technically doesn’t fit the criteria of DIY cold brewing with no expense. However, a coffee sock is very inexpensive and doesn’t cost so much more than a box of coffee filters.

Depending on your material, the coffee will stain the bag after continued use. If this doesn’t bother you, great. If it does, like I say, the bags are cheap and easy to replace.

This is my favorite method. It is a little bit more difficult than the French press method, but the brew you get at the end is amazing. You also don’t get any paper residue taste in your cup, which is a potential issue with the paper filter method!

Cold brew coffee preparation with a cotton bag in a mason jar.
Cold brewing with a cotton coffee bag.

Coffee To Water Ratio

To give you more variety, we have varied up the coffee recipe here as well. Here we are using a 3.5:1.5 ratio so 3 and a half cups of water to 1 and a half cups of coffee or 375 grams. We feel this ratio works best is best for the coffee sock method. If you think differently, let us know in the comments!

The grind here will need to be course, for the same reason as the filter method. The filter holes are too small to accommodate a finer grind.


  • Fill your mason jar with the water.
  • Place your ground coffee into the coffee cloth or sock.
  • Immerse into the water.
  • Do your best to stir coffee within sock, making sure all the coffee grounds are saturated.
  • Here try to shoot for a steeping time similar to the paper filter method – 12 hours at room temperature or 24 hours refrigerated.
  • Take out the sock, gently press to drain the water. Compost your coffee and rinse your coffee sock.
  • Your brew is ready! No decanting required with this brewing method.
  • Refrigerate before serving for two hours if you were brewing at room temperature.
  • If you have the equipment, infuse some nitrogen in it, to make it into a Nitro Cold Brew.

So there you have it folks. Hopefully we proved to you today that the cold brew brewing process is incredibly cheap and easy. Cold brew is so delicious, it would be a sin not to give one of these home brewing methods a go!