Cold brew is one of those refreshing summer drinks that simply never gets old. It is incredibly versatile and can be drank black, mixed with cream, added to a cocktail, made as a concentrate or brewed ready-to-drink; it can be made in big batches or single-serve portions. I recently published an article about how to make cold brew that highlighted the batch method using the Honour Cold Brew Maker. In this article I’ll focus on how to make cold brew in an individual serving size using only a mason jar. It is incredibly easy and requires almost no equipment at all.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cold Brew
Any coffee can be used for cold brew coffee, but there are some that lend themselves to it more than others. Because of the long, slow brew that takes place during cold brewing, many of the aspects of a coffee get mellowed out and become more approachable. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to use a wild or exotic coffee for cold brew because many of those characteristics will get lost. I love bright, fruity coffees, but I would never use one for cold brew because so much of what I love in those coffees would come through in the cold brew. Instead I like to use a more balanced and approachable coffee that is rich and full-bodied. Coffees with notes of chocolate, strong sweetness and a lush mouthfeel are my favorite. I like using Central and South American single-origins, but also blends. Many roasters will create cold brew blends, which they create with cold brewing specifically in mind. In this recipe I use a cold brew blend from Oak & Bond that has the rich chocolate flavor notes, caramel sweetness and creamy body that I love in a good cold brew.
The roast level of the coffee you use for your cold brew is completely up to your personal preferences. While I almost exclusively brew with light roasted coffees when making pour over, they are not my favorite for cold brewing (because they often times lose the light, bright aspects that I love so much in the pour over when made as cold brew). I find a medium roast works best for my preferences because it tends to hit a lot of the aspects I mentioned above that I like (more balanced and approachable, rich and full-bodied).
While you can use a cold brew maker to make your cold brew, you don’t need any special equipment. The main benefit a cold brew maker gives you is an easy way to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee after brewing. With a cheese cloth or a strainer though, the process can be very easy to do without any special equipment. For this recipe all you will need is: a 16 oz mason jar, a strainer (mesh metal strainer or cheesecloth), coffee and water.
Cold brew has a lot of flexibility when it comes to its strength. You can make it as a concentrate with a water to coffee ratio as strong as 4:1 or more as a ready-to-drink coffee at a more usual 12:1 to 16:1 water to coffee ratio. This recipe is an 8:1 ratio, which is more concentrated. This allows you to add ice or milk without the coffee becoming too weak or diluted.
Cold Brew Drink Recipes
Want to explore other ways to use your cold brew? I love mixing mine with other flavors or use it as an ingredient in some coffee-inspired cocktails. Here are some of my favorite!
How to Make Cold Brew in a Mason Jar
- Mason jar, 16 oz or larger
- Strainer, cheese cloth or coffee filter
- 40 grams coffee coarsely ground
- 320 grams water around 11oz
- Coarsely grind coffee. I use a "10" setting on my Fellow Ode or "35" on Baratza Virtuoso. Because of the long brew time, you want to keep your coffee ground coarse to avoid over extraction.
- Add 40 grams of ground coffee to the bottom of the mason jar.
- Add 320 grams of water (ideally filtered) to the mason jar.
- Gently stir coffee and water to make sure all of the coffee is saturated with water. You do not want any coffee grounds sitting on top of the water.
- Twist a lid lightly onto the jar and set on the counter to brew. Brew time can be anywhere from 12-24 hours, though I have found 18 hours to be a perfect amount of time.
- After brewing, strain the brewed coffee from the mason jar into a glass or second jar. You can use a strainer, cheese cloth or even a coffee filter to strain the coffee.
- Add ice, milk or water to taste. The final cold brew in this recipe is a bit stronger, so you have the flexibility to dilute as necessary. Enjoy the cold brew right away or store in the fridge for up to a week.
- You always want to add your coffee to the mason jar first and pour the water on top to make sure the coffee gets fully saturated. Adding the water first and pouring the coffee on top makes it hard to mix the two.
- You can easily scale this recipe up or down. I like this amount because it fits perfectly in a 16 oz mason jar.
- You can leave your mason jar on a counter or in the fridge during brewing. If you leave it in the fridge, I’d recommend brewing for the full 24 hours.