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Cold Brew Coffee is the Best Iced Coffee

They say that drinking hot beverages on a hot day actually helps lower your body temperature—has anyone ever tested that theory?

All I know is that the 90-degree temperatures in the forecast mean it’s going to be a brutal week for those of us who live and die by our oven and stovetop burners.

It’s weeks like these that the world’s coffee addicts turn to the cold brew version, and as someone who’s back on the coffee wagon, I’ll most definitely be joining them.

cold brew coffee
Photo: Casey Barber

But you absolutely know I’m not fooling around with that watered-down Dunkin’ Donuts stuff when I can be guzzling a far superior iced coffee from the comforts of my backyard.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

When I first heard of cold brew coffee back in 2010, the method seemed so unnecessary—why go to the trouble when you can just store brewed coffee in your fridge?

But cold brew coffee gives you a deeper, more pure flavor without any of the bitterness that comes from drinking hot-brewed coffee that’s been cooled down.

Here’s how to make enough cold brew coffee to last for a month.

To make 1 gallon of cold brew coffee, I use the ratio of 5 quarts (20 cups) water to 1 pound (16 ounces) coffee grounds.

Pour the coffee grounds into a large container—I like to use a restaurant-style 6-quart plastic container as shown in the video, but you can also use a nonreactive stockpot.

Stir the water into the coffee slowly, then let it sit overnight. You can do a minimum of 8 hours, but I like to go a full 12 hours to really let the flavors bloom.

To strain, place a conical strainer (my preference) or a metal mesh strainer over a separate large container.

how to make cold brew coffee
Photo: Casey Barber

Use a ladle to scoop the coffee sludge into the strainer, letting the liquid drip out while the coffee grounds stay behind.

You won’t be able to strain all the coffee in one go, so have a large bowl on hand to shake the coffee grounds into for composting later.

Once the first straining session is done, place a small strainer into a funnel set over a large jar.

I like to store my cold brew coffee in 2 8-cup mason jars, but if 4 quart-sized jars fit better in your fridge, do what works for you.

cold brew coffee in jars
Photo: Casey Barber

Use the ladle to transfer the cold brew coffee into the jars. There will still be a tiny, tiny bit of sludge at the bottom of each jar once everything has settled, but you’ll get most of it with this method.

See the recipe below for my favorite ratio for summer cold brew, which happens to taste great with homemade almond milk.

cold brew coffee with coffee ice cubes
Photo: Casey Barber

More Tips for Better Iced Coffee

Make cold brew coffee ice cubes.

Take the cold brew coffee you just made and pour some into ice cube trays.

Allow to freeze, then store the coffee ice cubes in a sealed container in the freezer.

Use these cubes instead of regular ice cubes to keep your coffee chilled. As they melt, they’ll just turn back into coffee, so your drink won’t be watered down.

cold brew coffee with coffee ice cubes
Photo: Casey Barber

Add more cold milk if you want an extra helping of iced coffee.

Make flavored simple syrup.

If you’d like to add an extra hit of sweetness, don’t just reach for the sugar bowl.

The granulated stuff doesn’t dissolve well in cold drinks—think of how long it takes to stir a sugar packet into iced tea when you’re out at a restaurant!

But the same simple syrup used when mixing cocktails works perfectly in iced coffee and iced tea too.

how to make cold brew coffee

Make a large batch, using 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar to 1 cup water, and bring it to a bare simmer, stirring to dissolve the grains.

Take it off the heat and add a vanilla bean husk or a few drops of almond extract while the syrup cools down to flavor it.

Both the cold brew coffee and the simple syrup will keep for a month in the refrigerator, so you’ll be golden.

cold brew coffee

Cold Brew Coffee

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 30 minutes

It's easy to make cold brew coffee for the best iced coffee ever! Just mix, rest, and strain. It's ready for milk, sugar, or whatever you like.


Cold Brew Coffee

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) ground coffee — ask your coffee shop to grind for cold brew
  • 20 cups (5 quarts) water

For Your Morning Cup

  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) oat milk or other milk of choice


    Pour the coffee grounds into a large container or nonreactive stockpot at least 6 quarts in volume.

    Add the water to the coffee slowly, adding the first 3 quarts without stirring.

    For the remaining 2 quarts of water, pour the water around the sides of the container to make sure the grounds are evenly wet.

    Stir gently to create a sludgy, fully hydrated mixture and make sure all the grounds are submerged.

    Let the mixture sit overnight, for at least 8 and up to 15 hours.

    Place a conical strainer or a metal mesh strainer over a separate 6-quart container. Have a large bowl at hand to discard the coffee grounds.

    Ladle as much coffee sludge into the strainer as it can hold, and let the coffee drain into the container.

    When the liquid has strained, shake the coffee grounds into the large bowl and repeat until all the coffee has been strained.

    To strain the coffee for storing and serving, place a small metal mesh strainer into a funnel set over a large jar. Have enough jars at the ready to hold 1 gallon (4 quarts) total cold brew coffee.

    Ladle the coffee through the strainer into the jars.

    To make a single serving of cold brew coffee:

    Fill a 12-ounce glass with ice cubes.

    Add 1/2 cup cold brew coffee, 1/4 cup milk of your choice, and 1/4 cup water.


Store the cold brew coffee in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 5Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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  1. I’m so trying this next weekend – this weekend my plate is full with ketchup, pickels and pickeled beets. Hmmm, perhaps I will need that iced coffee today?

  2. Thank you!!! I have been trying to remember this recipe for ages! Thank you, this looks amazing…!

  3. I like this type of coffee.Its a very nice.Iced coffee is a cold variant of the beverage coffee.Brew a pot of coffee.Add sugar, milk,flavorings of choice.Pour over ice. Put the left overs in the fridge.

  4. I’ve completely switched over to cold brewing–a bit of extra work but SO worth it! My favorite lately is cinnamon iced coffee, inspired by a local Mexican cafe: just add cinnamon to the cold brew (prob 3 tsp for 1 pd of coffee–I usually brew smaller batches).

  5. Yes, that photo sure looks scary – and unappetizing – but i’ll take your word on it. There is nothing like a good, hearty iced coffee – and I know this is the right way to make it. I’ll bet it’s delish!

  6. If you want to make brewing coffee concentrate much easier, there is a tool for that.
    I am not affiliated with the company in any way. I just love having the concentrate around for beverages, baking, and cooking. I have been using it for years, and I just found out that it is much cheaper to buy online direct from the company than in our local gourmet cooking stores.

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