Cold-Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate

Cold-Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate

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Last summer, I finally returned to iced coffee as my afternoon/lunch break treat. And for that, I love this Cold-Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate. It’s just so easy to make ahead, and then I can have coffee whenever I want!

Some days I just need something extra to get me through. Sometimes I’ve resorted to ice cream, but occasionally I don’t want sugar to perk me up. (Particularly when my 3-year-old is in front of me and I’d have to share.) And I’m not talking about a jolt of caffeine – I make my iced coffee decaf. Sometimes I just want need coffee’s bold flavor to pick me up.

I’ve made iced coffee and featured it here before, but that was eight (eep!) years ago. I’ve been making it differently for the last four or five, when my friend Kate shared a way to make an iced coffee concentrate with me. Since it’s cold brewed (steeped at room temperature or in the fridge overnight), it’s not bitter. The coffee concentrate is made double-strength, perfect to dilute with ice cubes and water or milk. Although it’s perfect for iced coffee, I have added hot water to it in the past to make my morning cup of hot coffee, too.

The flavor of the coffee is smooth enough that I could drink it black even back when I sweetened my coffee. Usually, though, I add milk and ice. If I’m feeling decadent, I mix in chocolate syrup or chocolate milk to make it an iced mocha.

cold-brew iced coffee concentrate, mixed with milk and ice, in a glass with a straw, outside

How to make Cold-Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate

Choose the best whole coffee beans (not ground coffee) you can for this. I’m not quite a coffee snob, but one time I bought a very cheap can of beans for this at the grocery store, and the coffee concentrate ended up spoiling after weeks and weeks in the fridge because I didn’t like it enough to drink it.

Particularly if you’re going to drink your iced coffee black, get good coffee. I know there are some cold brew coffee recipes online that use inexpensive, pre-ground coffee, and that’s fine if you’re going to dilute it with enough sugar and cream! If all you want to taste is coffee, get decent stuff. (That said, if you enjoy the inexpensive stuff, certainly try it!!)

I find it difficult to find whole coffee beans at grocery stores, even for regular (caffeinated) coffee. Plus, I almost always use decaffeinated coffee for iced coffee since I drink it in the afternoon, and quality decaf coffee is hard to find, even ground. So I’ve started going to buy my whole bean coffee at local coffee shops.

If you don’t know what kind of coffee to get, try going to a local coffee shop. Try their cold-brew coffee, and ask what kind of beans they use for it. Or just ask the barista what they’d recommend, like I did, if they’re not busy and they seem like they know what they’re talking about. I’ve been getting decaf Ocean City Blend from the Ocean City Coffee Company near me here in New Jersey. I like that the beans are freshly roasted, and I love that I can get decaf so I can have iced coffee in the afternoon.

For what it’s worth, I generally drink light roast because that’s what I prefer. Use what you like!

If you have a coffee grinder, grind the beans yourself. You’ll want them medium-coarse to coarsely ground. You don’t want them too fine, or else a) your coffee will be gritty and b) your coffee will be overextracted/bitter.

ground coffee for cold-brew iced coffee concentrate, in a french press before adding water

Combine the coffee grounds and water. Stir for 30 seconds to a minute, long enough for the top of the water to get foamy and the grounds to be soaked. Then cover it and leave it alone for about 12 hours. I’ve done much longer before and still found it to be fine, but if you’re really picky you should stick with 12 hours. You can soak it on the counter or in the refrigerator.

I make mine in a French press because it’s easy to strain. You could also strain the coffee through a sturdy cheesecloth lining a strainer. You may need to strain it a few times if you don’t want any sediment in your coffee concentrate. (I don’t bother, because for me any extra grounds settle to the bottom over time and stay there as long as I don’t shake the bottle.) Don’t squish the grounds to try to get more liquid from them; it’ll make the coffee bitter.

How to Make Coffee from the Coffee Concentrate

For iced coffee, simply combine one part coffee concentrate with one part water or milk. I usually weigh mine out because I like things perfectly even.

For hot coffee, start with one part coffee concentrate to two parts boiling water. Your coffee won’t be piping hot, particularly if you add milk. If you add milk, milk should replace some of the boiling water; I suggest briefly microwaving your milk in your mug, then adding the coffee concentrate, then adding hot water.

Coffee concentrate also makes great coffee ice cubes. Freeze in ice cube trays, then store in a freezer bag to prevent evaporation through exposure to dry freezer air.

The coffee concentrate is perfect to use in any recipes calling for double-strength coffee. I’ve also definitely added this cold brew coffee to cold punches (say, ones with coffee and chocolate ice cream.)

cold-brew iced coffee concentrate, mixed with milk and ice, in a glass with a straw, outside

Like this recipe? Rate it and leave a comment below!

In the past:

Four Years Ago: Chocolate Buckwheat Biscotti

Five Years Ago: Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

Six Years Ago: Sweet Lavender Scones, Poblano-Jalapeno Chili

Seven Years Ago: Strawberry Summer Cake

Eight Years Ago: Fudgy Brownies, Spicy Chicken Shawarma, Chile-Rubbed Steak

Cold-Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate
Prep Time
10 mins
Soaking Time
12 hrs
Total Time
10 mins

This cold-brew iced coffee concentrate makes afternoon iced coffee easy! Assemble your coffee in just a few minutes, let soak overnight, strain, and then you have coffee enough to last you through the week!

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 28 ounces of coffee concentrate
Calories: 5 kcal
Author: Leona Konkel
  • 1 cup coffee beans (3 ounces) (medium-coarse grind) (works best if you can grind them at home; otherwise the grounds will lose freshness)
  • 4-4.5 cups water (32 ounces) (room temperature)
  1. Stir together ground coffee and water in a pitcher; I prefer using my French press. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 12 hours, in the fridge or on the counter. It's ok if it rests longer.

  2. Stir coffee and grounds briefly. Push down the plunger of the French press, then strain. (You can also strain coffee using a sieve lined with cheesecloth.) You may need to strain a few times (through a lined sieve) if you want to remove more sediment. Don't squish or press on the coffee grounds.

  3. Refrigerate coffee concentrate until ready to use. Lasts a few weeks, if you don't drink it all first. 

Making Iced Coffee
  1. To make iced coffee, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water or milk. I count ice cubes as part of my water so that I don't dilute the coffee too much, but I'm not a huge fan of ice.

Making Hot Coffee
  1. Combine 1 part coffee concentrate with 2 parts boiling water in a heat-proof mug. Your coffee may not be incredibly hot. You may gently warm up the coffee concentrate before adding the boiling water, but not too much or the coffee flavor will be off.

  2. If using milk in your coffee, milk should replace some of the boiling water. Heat the milk in your mug first, then add coffee concentrate, then add boiling water. 

Recipe Notes

Use freshly ground coffee beans; preground coffee loses freshness and will not be as flavorful.
Use good coffee beans. You get more flavor from iced coffee, so bad coffee beans will yield bad iced coffee.
Coffee concentrate makes excellent coffee ice cubes. Freeze in an ice cube tray, then store in a freezer bag to prevent evaporation through exposure to dry freezer air.
Although you add 32 ounces (4 cups) of water, you only get 28 ounces (3 1/2 cups) of coffee concentrate since some remains behind in the coffee grounds. This makes me about seven 8-ounce iced coffees. 
Adapted from Oh She Glows

Cold Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate, on a cloth napkin outside


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