Prep: 5-10 Minutes
Brew Time: 12-24 Hours
It’s summer again and that can only mean one thing - making a pitcher of cold brew for a quick and refreshing start to your morning! Getting started is easy, requires as little as one accessory, and is just as good as the big coffee chains at a fraction of the cost.
For our purposes, we’re using an inexpensive Primula cold brew pitcher on Amazon. The models vary, but here’s one for under $15 at the time of publishing: Amazon.com: Primula Burke Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, Comfort Grip Handle, Durable Glass Carafe, Removable Mesh Filter, Perfect 6 Cup Size, Dishwasher Safe, 1.6 qt, Black *. The basic principle is that you pour ground coffee into a filter that’s suspended in the pitcher, pour cold water through the filter, and allow the coffee to ‘brew’ as it transfers from the filter into the surrounding water. As the coffee is not heated, the resulting flavor is a smoother and sweeter alternative to traditional hot preparations. On top of that, there’s the decidedly awesome experience of pouring a ready-to-drink coffee into a glass as soon as you wake up. No fumbling with a machine, filling up a water tank, or pulling out a grinder. Add your favorite flavors and go.
Here’s how we made ours (basic method):
- We started with a bag of Brew Factory pre-ground coffee, but the whole bean works great too. More on that later.
- We selected the Nicaragua single-origin blend for this pitcher. We gently pour the ground coffee into the filter. Stop at the tippy-top of the mesh.
- Tap the filter gently to compress it somewhat. You’re not looking to pack it in tight, but a few taps may give you a few more grounds of delicious cold brew. Top off with more coffee if needed.
- Using cold and filtered water, start pouring through the filter. This tends to be quick for the first half of the filter and slow to a crawl as you’re fighting gravity with the pitcher already half full.
- Don’t worry about the color of the coffee at this point. It may be lighter than you expect depending on how the water moved through the filter. The water can’t escape the exposure to the coffee seeping into it, though, so it will darken up over time.
- Once the water is full to the top of the mesh filter, secure the top cap and pop it in the fridge.
Cold brew purists may debate the brew time, but our view is that you should target a brew time of 12 hours for the best flavor. This means you can make the pitcher at dinner time and have an expectation of a great cup of cold brew for tomorrow’s breakfast ready to go. One pitcher yields over 50oz of cold brew, and at just over $1/glass when excluding the cost of the pitcher, is a 75% daily savings** against what you’d find in a large chain. In fact, you’ll break even against what you’d spend buying a large cold brew in the big stores by the end of your first pitcher!
If you want to really up your cold brew game, using a manual hand grinder with whole bean varieties will further reduce the heat transferred to the beans prior to brewing. Remember, for the ideal flavor profile for cold brew, we want to minimize any new exposure to heat as it impacts the perceived roast and bitterness of the bean. Using an automatic grinder, while very convenient, will generate heat and ever-so-slightly impact the flavor of the bean. Time to roll up our sleeves and do this ourselves with a hand grinder! This should provide minimal heat transfer when compared to an electric grind.
For the grinder, we like a simple model like this one that’s under $17 at the time of publishing:
Manual Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs, Hand Coffee Mill with Two Glass Jars(11oz each), Brush and Tablespoon Scoop *. If you’re shopping for whole beans on Brew Factory, be sure to select it from the pull down menu on the product page.
Here’s our pitcher after checking in on it after 1 hour in the fridge. Looking great! The next day, we splashed a little of our favorite creamer in and topped with whipped cream for that coffee-house taste we love.
Experiment with different Brew Factory flavors for your ultimate cup of cold brew! Cheers!
*Brew factory receives a small commission when you use this affiliate link. You can purchase without using the affiliate link.
** We’re considering a large, 16oz cold brew at a commercial chain to be $4.50. The value of home-brewing against buying in a chain may vary greatly depending on market factors. Generally speaking, brewing at home should produce a consistent savings but perform your own research if you wish to validate specifics in your area.