What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Last Updated

Cold brew coffee has gained popularity in recent years as a refreshing alternative to traditional hot coffee, providing coffee enthusiasts with a smooth, bold, and low-acidic beverage that can be enjoyed over ice or in various creative recipes.

In this Coffee Expert guide, we will explore the world of cold brew coffee, covering its origins, brewing techniques, flavour characteristics, and serving suggestions, giving you everything you need to know about this unique coffee experience!

The Origins of Cold Brew Coffee

A Brief History

While the exact origins of cold brew coffee remain uncertain, the practice of brewing coffee using cold water can be traced back to 17th-century Japan, where the beverage was known as “Kyoto-style coffee.” This method of coffee brewing was later adopted and refined by various cultures across the globe, leading to the modern cold brew coffee we know and love today.

The Rise in Popularity

Cold brew coffee has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, with major coffee chains and independent cafes alike incorporating the beverage into their menus. This growth can be attributed to the unique flavour profile and versatility of cold brew coffee, which has appealed to a broad range of coffee enthusiasts.

Characteristics of Cold Brew Coffee

Flavour Profile

Cold brew coffee is known for its smooth, rich, and bold flavour profile, with a natural sweetness and low acidity compared to traditional hot-brewed coffee.

The cold brewing process extracts the coffee’s natural flavours while reducing bitterness, resulting in a balanced and refreshing beverage.

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content in cold brew coffee can vary depending on the coffee-to-water ratio and brewing time used during the process.

Generally, cold brew coffee contains slightly more caffeine than hot-brewed coffee due to its higher coffee-to-water ratio and longer extraction time.

How to Brew Cold Brew Coffee

The Coffee

To make cold brew coffee, start by selecting high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans. A coarser grind size is recommended for cold brewing, as it prevents over-extraction and ensures a smooth, balanced flavour.

The Ratio

The coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew coffee is typically higher than that used for hot brewing.

A common starting point is a 1:4 or 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, which can be adjusted based on personal preferences.

The Process

Combine the ground coffee and cold, filtered water in a large jar or pitcher, ensuring that the coffee grounds are fully saturated.

Stir the mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, allowing the coffee to steep and extract its flavours slowly.

Straining and Filtering

After the steeping process is complete, strain the coffee through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove the coffee grounds.

For a cleaner and smoother cold brew, pass the coffee through a paper coffee filter to remove any remaining sediment.

Serving Cold Brew Coffee

Straight Up

Cold brew coffee can be enjoyed straight from the fridge, poured over ice for a refreshing and invigorating beverage.


Cold brew coffee is often brewed as a concentrate, which means it can be diluted with water, milk, or a milk alternative to achieve the desired strength and flavour.

Flavour Enhancements

Cold brew coffee’s smooth, bold flavour profile makes it a perfect canvas for experimenting with various flavour enhancements, such as sweeteners, syrups, spices, or even a splash of alcohol.

Creative Recipes

The versatility of cold brew coffee lends itself to an array of creative recipes, from smoothies and milkshakes to baked goods and cocktails. The possibilities are endless, allowing you to explore new and exciting ways to enjoy this refreshing coffee beverage.

Storing Cold Brew Coffee


Cold brew coffee should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and flavour. Keep it in a covered jar or pitcher to prevent the absorption of other aromas from the fridge.

Shelf Life

When properly stored, cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. However, it is recommended to consume it within the first week to enjoy the optimal flavour and freshness.

Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee

It’s important to note the difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee, as they are often confused. While both are served cold, they differ in their brewing process and flavour profiles:

Brewing Process

Iced coffee is brewed using hot water and then quickly chilled by pouring it over ice. On the other hand, cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period.

Flavour Profile

Iced coffee tends to have a more acidic and brighter flavour profile compared to cold brew coffee, which is smoother, richer, and less acidic due to its unique brewing process.

Our Conclusion on Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee offers a refreshing and versatile alternative to traditional hot coffee, with its smooth, bold flavour and low acidity making it an ideal beverage for warm weather or creative recipes.

By understanding the origins, characteristics, and brewing techniques of cold brew coffee, you can embark on your own cold brew journey and discover the unique and refreshing qualities that this coffee style has to offer.

So, grab your favourite coffee beans, and start brewing up some cold brew magic today!