How to Make the Best Cold Brew at Home, According to an NYC Barista
Coffee is important. Very important. While we’re cooking and working out at home more than ever, we’re also trying to take our daily coffee to the next level. So how do you make the perfect café-quality drink in your kitchen? We asked expert barista and director of education Allie Dancy of Devoción in New York City how to make cold brew at home that’s so perfect you could put a tip jar out for yourself.
And, to truly get a cup that mirrors your favorite café’s—if you’re too far from the delivery or takeout zone—we’ve rounded up a guide to buying the beans used at several of NYC’s top shops, so you can order them online and have them delivered to your door.
Start with the proper tools
“All you need is a French press, grinder and scale to make a good latte or cold brew,” says Dancy. Why each? A French press is surprisingly versatile—the metal filter makes it easy to strain and store homemade cold brew, and you can use it to froth milk for a latte, using the plunger portion.
A hand grinder or spice grinder, like the Encore Baratza grinder (Dancy’s preferred model), is critical for producing coffee with more complex flavors, like a cup you’d get from a coffee shop. (But ordering your coffee pre-ground is totally fine, as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.)
“For making any coffee using any brewing method, having a scale that measures grams is one way to stay consistent,” says Dancy.
Choose the right coffee
The best coffee for cold brew has a chocolate, nutty and/or stone fruit profile. Because these flavor profiles have lower perceived acidity, there’s less of a chance of tasting sour notes. (Dancy suggests the Toro blend at Devoción.)
How to Make Cold Brew in a French Press
Since cold brew takes 12 to 15 hours to brew, prep a batch the night before. Grind the coffee at the coarsest setting to make sure those bitter flavors don’t end up in your cup, suggests Dancy.
“Typically, cold brew is made as a concentrate and then diluted after it’s done,” she says. If you like stronger-tasting coffee, Dancy suggests starting with a 1:10 or 1:12 ratio like they do at Devoción. That’s one part coffee to ten (or 12) parts water.
Here’s exactly what you’ll need to do:
- Weigh the coffee on a scale, aiming for 24 to 30 grams per ten ounces of water, based on how strong you like your brew. Scoop it into a French press decanter (the glass portion of the press). A mason jar or any large container works, too.
- Add room-temperature or cool water. Stir slowly and thoroughly so all the grounds are in contact with the water. You can use filtered water, but it’s not necessary.
- Let it steep for 12 to 15 hours in the fridge or in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight or humid conditions.
- Strain the coffee in the French press by plunging the grinds all the way to the bottom and pouring out all the liquid to stop the brew. If using a mason jar or other container, be sure all the grinds are strained or removed to stop extraction and keep the coffee from tasting bitter. Strain using a colander, sieve, tea strainer or coffee filter tied with a band after brewing.
- Keep the cold brew refrigerated for two to three days. Dilute if necessary. Using filtered water will extend the shelf life of the cold brew by a day or two.
“Recipes are guidelines,” says Dancy. “If you find something is too strong or weak, adjust according to your preference.”
And, for cold brew that’s as close as it can be to your favorite coffee shop’s, use the same beans they do. We’ve got a guide to that, too.
Where to buy local NYC coffee online:
- Birch Coffee
- Blue Bottle Coffee
- Bluestone Lane
- Brooklyn Roasting Company
- Cafe Grumpy
- City of Saints
- Irving Farms
- La Colombe
- Nguyen Coffee Supply
- Oslo Coffee
- Partners Coffee
- RISE Brewing Company
- Sey Coffee
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters
- Think Coffee
- Variety Coffee Roasters