A single cold brew coffee from your local shop will set you back at least $3. Multiply that by the length of summer — for those of you counting, that’s 92 days from June through August — and warm-weather caffeination borders on excess. For cost-saving purposes alone, making cold brew coffee at home is wise. It’s also almost entirely hands-off.

Portland, Oregon–based roaster Stumptown is a champion of cold coffee. In addition to bottling its signature cold brew, Stumptown offers nitrogenated cans ($5), milk-topped cartons and sparkling coffees. Brent Wolczynski holds the title of cold brew production manager at Stumptown and is responsible for quality control just as much as product development. In other words, he knows cold brewing techniques better than just about anyone.

While, in theory, cold brew can be made by soaking coffee grounds in a bowl with water and straining the liquid through a coffee filter or cheesecloth, Wolczynski recommends the Filtron system ($38). “The wool filter does a great job of making a clean cup with little sediment,” he says. “But if you don’t have one at home, you can also steep coffee in a French press and pour what you’ve pressed through a paper filter to polish it off.”

“If you don’t have a [cold brewing system] at home, you can also steep coffee in a French press.”

A coarse grind, on par with what would be used in a French press, is best for cold brewing — in part because it prevents over-extraction when steeping, but also because it makes for easier, grit-free filtering. “It’s also fun to experiment with a finer grind, which requires a shorter steep time because the surface area of the coffee exposed to the water is greater,” he says. While bean origin and roast style are ultimately a matter of personal preference, Wolczynski recommends brewing with African coffees “because their fruit-forward acidity plays well in cold brew.”

After overnight soaking, what remains is a cold brew concentrate, which has roughly twice as much dissolved coffee solids than the cold brew you’d get out of one of Stumptown’s notorious stubby bottles. And while the concentrate is drinkable straight up, it packs a very strong high. As such, Wolczynski recommends you dilute it. Begin with a 1:1 ratio, and dial it in according to personal preference (or daily caffeine needs), adding more concentrate, water or milk accordingly.

The Gear

Just Add Water
Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewing System by Filtron $38
Holler Mountain by Stumptown $16
Virtuoso Conical Burr Grinder by Baratza $229

Steep It

Save Money, Stay Caffeinated

1: Coarsely grind 16 ounces of high-quality coffee.

2: Pour 64 ounces of fresh (preferably filtered) cold water over it, and gently stir to make sure there are no pockets of dry coffee. Steep for 12–16 hours. Filter out the grounds.

3: What you’re left with is a cold brew concentrate. Cut one part cold brew with one part cold water and/or milk and serve over ice.

4: Keep refrigerated. The cold brew concentrate will stay fresh for 10 days.

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