How Long Does Cold Brew Coffee Take to Make: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cold brew coffee has gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to its smooth and less acidic flavor. If you’re a coffee lover like me, you might be wondering how long it takes to make this delicious beverage. Well, fret not! In this step-by-step guide, I will walk you through the process of making cold brew coffee and discuss the factors that can influence the brewing time.

The Basics of Cold Brew Coffee

Before diving into the duration, let’s understand the basics of cold brew coffee. Unlike traditional hot brewing methods, which use hot water to extract flavors quickly, cold brew involves steeping coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for an extended period. This slow extraction process allows for a mellower flavor with reduced acidity.

Gathering the Ingredients

To get started, you’ll need a few key ingredients:
– Coarsely ground coffee beans (preferably a medium to dark roast)
– Cold or room temperature water
– A container for brewing (a mason jar or a French press works well)
– A fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter for straining
– Optional: flavorings like cinnamon, vanilla, or cocoa powder

The Steeping Process

1. Measure out the desired amount of coarsely ground coffee. A general rule of thumb is to use a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio. For instance, if you want to make 1 cup (8 ounces) of cold brew, you will need 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of coffee grounds.
2. If you prefer flavored cold brew, add a sprinkle of cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla extract, or a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the coffee grounds. This step is entirely optional but can enhance the taste.
3. Transfer the coffee grounds to your brewing container and pour in the cold or room temperature water. Give it a gentle stir to ensure all the grounds are saturated.
4. Once mixed, cover the container with a lid, plastic wrap, or any other airtight cover. This step helps to maintain the coffee’s freshness and prevents any external flavors from seeping in.
5. Place the container in your refrigerator or at room temperature. The steeping period varies based on your preference and the strength of flavor you desire. Let’s explore the different time options available.

The Brewing Time: Factors That Influence

Various factors can affect the brewing time for cold brew coffee. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Desired Strength

The brewing time primarily depends on the coffee’s strength you desire. The longer the steeping time, the stronger the flavor. For a lighter brew, you can steep the coffee for around 12 to 16 hours. On the other hand, if you prefer a bolder and more robust flavor, extend the steeping time to 18 to 24 hours. Experiment and find the perfect balance that suits your taste buds.

2. Coffee Ground Size

The coarseness of your coffee grounds impacts the brewing time as well. Finer grounds extract flavors quickly, requiring a shorter steeping period. However, with cold brew, it’s ideal to use coarsely ground coffee to prevent over-extraction. Coarse grounds necessitate a more extended steeping time to achieve optimal flavor. So, make sure to adjust your brewing time accordingly.

3. Water Temperature

As the name suggests, cold brew coffee involves using cold or room temperature water. Unlike hot brewing methods, cold water requires more time to extract flavors from the coffee grounds gently. Therefore, if you accidentally use hot water, you won’t achieve the same desired result. Stick to cold or room temperature water for the perfect cold brew experience.

4. Ambient Temperature

The ambient temperature also plays a role in determining the brewing time. If you’re making cold brew during summers or in a warmer climate, the process may be slightly faster due to the higher ambient temperature. Conversely, during colder months, you might need to let it steep for a bit longer. Always consider the temperature of your surroundings for optimal results.

Straining and Serving

After patiently waiting for the steeping process to complete, it’s time to strain and savor your homemade cold brew coffee. Follow these steps:

1. Place a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter over a clean container or pitcher.
2. Slowly pour the steeped coffee through the sieve/filter, allowing it to strain. This step removes any sediment and coffee grounds, resulting in a smooth and pleasing texture.
3. If you notice a little sediment at the bottom of your container after straining, it’s entirely normal. Simply avoid pouring the last bit to prevent any grittiness.
4. Transfer the strained cold brew coffee into a storage bottle or carafe. Store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and chilled.
5. When serving, dilute the concentrate with water or milk according to your preference. Typically, a 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate to water or milk is a good starting point. Adjust the ratio to achieve your desired taste and strength. Feel free to add ice cubes, sweeteners, or creamers for an extra flavor twist.


In conclusion, the brewing time for cold brew coffee can vary depending on factors such as desired strength, coffee ground size, water temperature, and ambient temperature. While a typical range is around 12 to 24 hours, it’s essential to experiment and find your own perfect timing. Remember to use coarsely ground coffee, cold or room temperature water, and a suitable brewing container.

So, now that you know how long cold brew coffee takes to make, it’s time to gather your ingredients, get brewing, and enjoy the aromatic and satisfying flavors of this delightful beverage. Cheers to your homemade cold brew coffee experience!

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