Learn how to make espresso cold brew at home with only two ingredients. You'll learn the secret to cold espresso including the type of coffee beans to use and how long to brew the coffee in the refrigerator.
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There's so much to know and learn about the world of coffee. One tiny peek into this world is through homemade cold brew coffee.
Think of this recipe as your starter's guide to cold brewed coffee. Even if you're new to drinking coffee or making it at home, this recipe will teach you all the basics you'll need to know.
The expensive cold brew you drink from Starbucks isn't as much of a mystery as you may think. With minimal ingredients and tools, you'll be sipping on some delicious iced coffee that you can transform into an endless amount of coffee drinks.
If you're a coffee expert, you may be wondering why this recipe is labeled as espresso. Technically, espresso is a coffee extraction process where hot water runs through finely ground coffee. However, many people associate espresso with a richly flavored dark roasted bean, which is why I've labeled this recipe as espresso cold brew.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
You'll learn a lot of tips and tricks, as well as some science, including:
- All of the factors that contribute to the taste of your espresso cold brew. Plus, how you can experiment to create a cold coffee you'll love.
- The reason so many people love cold brewed coffee (hint: it tastes very different than hot coffee).
- The best type of coffee beans to use for cold espresso.
Ingredients You Need
All you'll need for this recipe is:
- Coarsely ground dark roasted coffee beans: You'll want a dark roasted coffee bean. For the best tasting cold brew, make sure the beans are freshly ground to a coarse texture.
- Cold water: Feel free to use whatever water you have on hand. Some experts say filtered water is best. However, I have had great success with tap water. Feel free to experiment and see what you like best!
How To Make This Recipe
You may be shocked at how easy it is to make a strong cold brew concentrate at home. This recipe is even better than the store-bought brands like Stok and Cameleon.
Start out by adding 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans to a 32 ounce (1 liter) glass jar along with 3 cups of cool water. Make sure all of the grounds are completely covered by the water.
Then, screw on the lid and allow the coffee to brew in the fridge for 12 - 18 hours. Once your brew reaches 12 hours, you can test the taste every hour or so until you've reached your preferred flavor notes.
I personally leave my coffee to brew for the full 18 hours.
After the coffee has finished brewing, it's time to strain out the coffee grinds. I love this method because there is no machine or fancy equipment required.
Pour the brewed coffee into the coffee filter and allow it to slowly strain in a bowl. You can then discard the coffee grounds in the trash can (not down the garbage disposal).
Finally, transfer the coffee to a reusable glass bottle and store it in the refrigerator for up to 7 - 10 days. You can mix the cold brew with ice, water, milk, cream, half and half, or simple syrup to dilute the concentrate.
Factors That Effect The Taste
There's definitely a reason so many people love cold brew. The smooth and somewhat sweet taste is unmatched compared to a cup of hot coffee. Cold brewing gives the coffee a less bitter and acidic taste compared to a traditionally brewed hot cup.
If you love cold brew and are interested in crafting your perfect brew, here are 4 factors that will affect the final taste:
Type of Roast
One huge factor in the taste of your cold brew is how the coffee bean was roasted. There are light, medium, and dark roasts.
Some people prefer light roasts, while others (especially espresso lovers) like dark roasts. However, you can experiment to see which type of roast you most prefer.
If you're an espresso lover, you probably prefer a dark roasted bean, like we use in this recipe. Remember, technically espresso isn't a type of roast. It's a coffee extraction process where hot water runs through finely ground coffee.
You can also use a flavored coffee bean, like in this salted caramel recipe.
A coarsely ground coffee vs. a finely ground coffee will result in a very different taste in your cold brew.
With a fine grind, the coffee is more likely to experience over-extraction (when too many soluble flavors are removed from the coffee resulting in undesirable tastes). Plus, it can be difficult to strain the fine ground coffee without getting graininess in the final concentrate.
A coarse grind is almost always recommended!
Temperature of Water
There are two common methods for brewing cold brew - on the counter at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Obviously, each of these methods uses different temperatures of water.
The main thing you need to keep in mind is that cold water extracts the grounds slower than room temperature water. Generally, you'll expect a refrigerated brew to need a few additional hours to brew compared to room temperature ones.
After watching many videos on this topic, I believe the temperature of the water is a very personal preference. Try both and see which one you'd prefer!
Length of Brew
The goal of any brewing process is to extract the most flavor without worrying about over-extraction. I've found that the ideal length of brew is about 12 - 18 hours in the refrigerator. Remember, don't allow the coffee to brew too long or it will have a bitter taste.
Recipe Frequently Asked Questions
There are an endless amount of delicious drinks you can make with cold brew coffee. Try out my sweet cream cold foam recipe or add in a splash of vanilla coffee syrup. If you're feeling spicy, you could even try making an espresso martini!
It's best to buy freshly ground coffee beans. Even if you don't have a coffee grinder at home, many grocery stores will have a grinder in the coffee section. Fresher beans are going to give you a more vibrant cold brew.
Most coffee beans are Arabica or Robusta, including espresso beans. Espresso is traditionally roasted longer and darker than other types of coffee beans. Although technically espresso isn't a type of roast (it's a coffee extraction method) many grocery stores will label dark roasted beans as espresso.
Traditionally, yes, espresso beans are finely ground when you're brewing with hot water. However, cold espresso tastes best with coarsely ground beans because it takes on a less bitter flavor. Plus, it's easier to filter out the coarse grounds.
In a pinch, fine grounds will still work. However, the cold brew will taste more bitter if you use finely ground espresso beans.
To avoid a bitter taste, check the taste of the cold brew every few hours to ensure over-extraction (when too many soluble flavors are removed from the coffee resulting in undesirable tastes) doesn't occur.
A cold brew concentrate is simply a stronger brewed cold coffee that should be diluted down with ice, water, milk, or cream.
The ratio of coffee beans to water will determine how strong your cold brew is. Typically, a concentrate (like this recipe) will result in a stronger cold brew. This recipe uses a ratio of 1 cup of coffee beans to 3 cups of water.
Other (less strong) recipes may use more water, resulting in a more diluted final flavor.
More Coffee Recipes
Cold Brew Espresso Concentrate
- 1 cup coarsely ground dark roasted coffee beans
- 3 cups cool water
- Add ground coffee beans and water to a 32 ounce (1 liter) glass jar. Stir or shake to combine until all the grounds are fully covered with water. Screw on the glass jar lid.
- Set glass jar in the refrigerator to steep for 12 - 18 hours.
- Place a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter over a medium-sized bowl. Pour the brewed coffee into the coffee filter and allow to slowly strain. This may take up to 15 minutes. Discard the coffee grounds in the trash can (not down a garbage disposal).
- Transfer cold brew coffee concentrate to a small bottle or jar with a resealable lid. Store in the refrigerator for 7 - 10 days.
- Serve the cold brew with ice, water, simple syrup, milk, or cream to dilute the concentrate.
Other Helpful Resources
If you're interested in learning more about cold brew coffee, check out these resources: