Cold-Brewed Coffee for Iced Coffee

How to survive a steamy summer: Brew coffee in the refrigerator, creating a smooth and low-acidity coffee concentrate for making iced coffee and coffee smoothies.

Cold-Brewed Coffee
Easy Summer Recipes
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes.
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How can we get up in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do, put one foot after the other, open the window, make coffee, watch the steam curl up and disappear.
- Excerpt from poet Barbara Crooker
via Writer's Almanac

It happens every summer, some years during an unseasonably hot June, some years in always-steamy July.

Predictably, even if the timing is inexact, one morning hot coffee suddenly offers no pleasure. On that morning’s dime, I switch from hot java to iced coffee.

For years, I brewed hot coffee, then chilled it in the fridge. Last year, praise be and thanks to Dinner with Julie, I discovered cold-brewed coffee. What a revelation.

How easy is this? Simply mix ground coffee with cold water and let it rest for a few hours.

But cold-brewed coffee is more than 'easy'. The coffee is smoother and less acidic. It’s easy to make just enough for one or two. It's oh-so-sippable, a cool treat to accompany the soundtrack of a steamy summer.

I love the rhythm of cold coffee. Day One, I mix the first batch of concentrate in a glass jar. Day Two, I strain the coffee through the coffee maker’s filter into a second glass jar, freeing up the first jar to make a fresh batch for tomorrow. While tomorrow’s coffee brews, I sip on today’s iced coffee all day long.

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, all summer long.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. How do you stay cool in the hot summer? Share a quick idea via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 8 – 24 hours
Makes 1-1/2 cups coffee concentrate (easily multiplied for more)
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 cup ground coffee (that’s 5 tablespoons or 4 of those little funnel-shaped coffee scoopers)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • Pinch of cinnamon, optional
  • Water or milk
  • Palm sugar or sweetened condensed milk
  • Cream
  • Sugar

COFFEE CONCENTRATE Stir the water and ground coffee in a glass jar, making sure to wet all the grounds. If you like, stir in sugar and a little cinnamon, especially if you are a fan of flavored coffee. Cover and let steep in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain through a coffee filter. If drinking later, refrigerate.

ICED COFFEE Combine equal parts coffee concentrate and water or milk. Pour over ice and sweeten as desired.

COFFEE SMOOTHIE Combine ¼ cup coffee concentrate, 1/4 cup cream, 2 – 3 tablespoons of sugar and five ice cubes in a blender. Yum!

ALANNA’s TIPS Brew the Coffee Concentrate with fresh-ground coffee beans if you like. But I stick with my everyday coffee, the wonderful Folgers 100% Colombian. Yes, I know: Folgers and ground coffee, cancel my foodie credentials. But this stuff is good – and affordable, $7 or $8 on sale for a huge tub. A little coffee grit will accumulate in the bottom of the jar and even the cup. But it’s no more than, say, what you’ll find at Starbucks. Via SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle has published still more ideas on variations of cold-brewed coffee.

Ways to Strain the Coffee Grounds

Straining Coffee Grounds Through a Paper Filter

There are different ways to strain the coffee grounds to make the Coffee Concentrate.
As pictured, use a paper coffee filter tucked into a strainer. Just be sure to pour the liquid in slowly, otherwise, it'll spill all over.
My coffee maker has a metal filter that works great for straining the cold-brewed coffee.
Jennie from In Jennie’s Kitchen uses a French press for brewing and straining, brilliant! I loved this idea so much that I bought a French press and so far, use it exclusively for cold-brewed coffee.

Summer Savers:
More Cold Drinks for Hot Summers

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mad for Mangoes (Mango Smoothie Recipes) My Perfect Sangria Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade
~ more drink recipes ~

© Copyright 2010 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I do love making coffee this way. The acid from hot coffee tends to bother me, but this way it's so smooth I don't need even need sugar, just a little milk.

  2. I love cold brewed coffee. Been making it for years using a Toddy coffee maker. I keep the syrup in the fridge and use it to make a hot cup when I want it.

  3. I'm intrigued by this, and it's definitely iced coffee weather here. I'm going to try it!

  4. I make ice coffee, but I'm a little lazy. I make hot coffee, then just pour it over a cup of ice. The ice cools it down immediately and I then add sugar and milk. Works for me so far this summer. And it sure is cheaper than buying it out!

  5. I love iced is especially nice since living in the Texas sun. I've never tried it lie this though! I usually just brew coffee and stick it in the fridge! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. I’ve been using a “Toddy” cold brew coffee system for years. The acidity is much lower in the coffee and the flavor is great. I started after reading a review of a variety of coffee makers and the cold brew won over the more traditional coffee makers.

    It is a system with a filter basket that you put the coffee grounds in with water and let sit overnight. There is a filter and cork in the bottom. In the morning you pull the cork and it fills the storage carafe below with a condensed coffee syrup. To make hot coffee, you use about 1/3 coffee syrup and 2/3 water and then I zap it. It keeps about 2 weeks. It comes from Toddy Cafe and I have gotten replacement filters from Amazon.

    The only drawback is you don’t smell the brewing coffee!

  7. Anonymous12/20/2011

    I haven't tried this yet because it's December and I've just found it, but I'm already thrilled with it. I've always wondered how some coffee shops get the taste just right in iced coffee and this sounds like the answer! Such a nice Christmas present. Thank you, Alanna!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna