How to Make New Orleans Cold Brew: A Step-by-Step Guide

Joshua Allerton
February 21, 2024

I've always been a fan of experimenting with coffee recipes, and New Orleans Cold Brew has been a game-changer for me. It's a unique blend that combines the rich, bold flavours of coffee with a hint of chicory, offering a smooth, yet vibrant taste that's perfect for those warm, lazy afternoons.

Making this delightful brew at home is easier than you might think, and it's a fantastic way to bring a piece of the vibrant New Orleans coffee culture into your kitchen. Forget about queuing at the coffee shop; I'll show you how to whip up this refreshing drink in no time, ensuring you get that perfect sip every time.

Selecting the Right Ingredients

When I embarked on my journey to craft the perfect New Orleans Cold Brew at home, I quickly realised the pivotal role that selecting the right ingredients plays in the process. Let's dive into what you'll need to recreate this aromatic delight with a twist.

Coffee Beans: The foundation of any cold brew, but particularly vital for the New Orleans style, is selecting high-quality, dark roast coffee beans. The robust flavours of a dark roast are essential to mimic the intensity typically found in New Orleans’ coffee culture.

Chicory: The game-changer for the New Orleans Cold Brew is undoubtedly chicory. This ground root adds a woodsy, nutty flavour, creating that distinctive taste we’re after. You can find chicory at specialty food stores or online. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

Filtered Water: Good quality water is crucial, as it makes up the majority of your brew. Filtered water is my go-to, ensuring that there are no unwanted flavours masking the rich coffee and chicory notes.

Sweetener: Though optional, a bit of sweetness can complement the complex flavours of this brew. Traditional cane sugar is my preference, embracing the New Orleans vibe even further, but feel free to adjust according to your taste.

  1. Grind Your Coffee and Chicory: Combine 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee with ¼ cup of ground chicory. The coarse grind is perfect for cold brewing, allowing for a smooth extraction without overdoing the bitterness.
  2. Mix with Water: Place the coffee-chicory mix in a large jar or pitcher and add 4 cups of cold, filtered water. Stir gently to ensure all grounds are wet.
  3. Steep Overnight: Cover and let it steep in the fridge for about 12 to 24 hours. The longer it steeps, the richer the flavour.
  4. Strain Your Brew: Use a fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth to filter out the grounds. For an extra smooth taste, you might want to strain it twice.
  5. Serve and Enjoy: Serve your New Orleans Cold Brew over ice. For an authentic touch, add milk or a dollop of whipped cream, and don't forget a sweetener if you like your coffee on the sweeter side.

Grinding the Coffee Beans

When it comes to making New Orleans Cold Brew, grinding the coffee beans is a step you don't want to skimp on. The right grind size can make or break your cold brew, so it's essential to get this part right. I'll break down the process, making it simple and easy to follow.

First off, you're going to need about 85 grams (or roughly 1 cup) of dark roast coffee beans. The dark roast is crucial as it complements the bold, rich flavours that the chicory brings to the brew. Now, let’s talk about grind size. For cold brew, especially one with chicory like the New Orleans style, a coarse grind is what you're after. It’s similar to coarse sea salt, which is perfect for this brewing method, allowing for a smoother and more flavourful extraction.

Here's how you do it:

  1. Measure out your coffee beans.
  2. Pour the beans into your grinder.
  3. Select the coarse grind setting on your grinder.
  4. Grind the beans until they reach the desired consistency.
  5. Immediately proceed to the next step in your brewing process to ensure maximum freshness.

A few tips to remember:

  • Freshness matters: Always grind your beans right before you intend to brew. This keeps the flavours and aromas locked in.
  • Consistency is key: Ensure all the beans are ground to a similar size to promote an even extraction.

By taking the time to grind your coffee beans correctly, you’re setting yourself up for success in creating a delicious New Orleans Cold Brew that’s full of character and depth. Remember, the goal here is to extract all the rich flavours from the beans without any bitterness, and a coarse grind will help you achieve just that.

Mixing Coffee and Water

After getting the grind of the coffee just right, the next critical step in crafting the perfect New Orleans Cold Brew is the actual mixing of coffee and water. It's here where the magic starts to happen, blending these two elements to create something truly delicious. I've found that this stage is as much about patience as it is about proportions.

Key Ratios

First things first, let's talk ratios. For a New Orleans Cold Brew, I stick to a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio. That means for every gram of coffee, you'll need eight grams of water. This balance ensures that the coffee isn't too overpowering but still retains its bold flavors.

  1. Measure Your Coffee and Water: Using a kitchen scale, measure out the correct amounts based on the 1:8 ratio. For a single serving, 50g of coffee to 400g of water does the trick.
  2. Combine in a Large Jar: Pour the ground coffee into a large mason jar or any similar container. Slowly add the water, making sure to wet all the grounds evenly.
  3. Stir Gently: With a long spoon, stir the mixture gently. You want to ensure that all the coffee grounds are saturated with water without agitating them too much.
  4. Cover and Let Steep: Seal the container or cover it with a lid and let the coffee steep. I usually steep mine for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge. The longer you let it steep, the stronger and more developed the flavor.

For those eager to experiment, adding chicory to the mix is a classic New Orleans twist. Just mix it in with the coffee grounds before adding water. This adds a slight bitterness and depth of flavor that's distinctive to New Orleans Cold Brew.

By following these steps and being a bit patient, you're on your way to creating a sensational cold brew. Remember, the beauty of this method is in its simplicity and the rich, smooth coffee it produces. Once you've mastered the basics, feel free to tweak the ratios and steeping times to match your taste preference.

Adding Chicory for Authenticity

Incorporating chicory into your New Orleans Cold Brew not only pays homage to the tradition but also adds a unique depth of flavour that's unmistakably characteristic of the city's coffee culture. If you're aiming for an authentic experience, let me guide you through the simple steps of adding chicory to your cold brew mixture.

Firstly, it's important to understand what chicory is. Chicory root is a fibrous plant that, when roasted and ground, complements coffee with its rich, slightly bitter flavour. Adding chicory to your cold brew will give it that authentic New Orleans touch, enhancing both the complexity and the bitterness of your drink in a wonderfully harmonious way.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Find Quality Chicory: You'll want to start with high-quality chicory. You can usually find ground chicory in specialty stores, or purchase it online.
  2. Measure Your Mix: The typical ratio I recommend is 1 part chicory to 2 parts coffee. This blend provides a well-balanced flavour without overpowering the coffee.
  3. Combine with Coffee Grounds: Before adding water, mix your ground coffee and chicory thoroughly to ensure an even flavour profile throughout your brew.
  4. Steep As Usual: Once you've mixed your coffee and chicory, proceed with the brewing process as you normally would. Remember, patience is key; steep your mixture for 12 to 24 hours to allow the flavours to fully develop.

For those looking to experiment, feel free to adjust the coffee-to-chicory ratio to suit your personal taste. Some might prefer a stronger chicory presence, while others might lean towards a more subtle hint.

Incorporating chicory into your New Orleans Cold Brew not only elevates the complexity of the flavour but also connects you to a centuries-old local tradition. As you savor each sip, you're not just enjoying a refreshing drink; you're indulging in a piece of New Orleans' rich cultural tapestry.

Steeping and Finishing Touches

After mixing your coffee grounds with the chicory, the real magic starts during the steeping process. This is where patience pays off, transforming your mixture into an authentic New Orleans Cold Brew. Here’s how I tackle it:

  1. Transfer the mix to a large jar or pitcher, something with a lid to avoid any accidental spills or contaminants.
  2. Add cold, filtered water. The ratio I swear by is 1:4, coffee mix to water. So, for every cup of your coffee-chicory blend, add four cups of water.
  3. Stir gently to make sure the blend is fully immersed and evenly distributed throughout the water. This ensures every sip is as flavourful as the last.
  4. Cover and let it sit at room temperature. You’re looking at a steep time of about 12 to 24 hours, depending on how strong you like your brew. I find that 18 hours is my sweet spot.
  5. Strain it. Use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to filter out the grounds and chicory. If you’re after a really smooth texture, strain it twice.

For the finishing touches:

  • Ice: A must for any cold brew. Fill your glass to the brim.
  • Milk or Sweeteners: This is entirely up to you. Traditionalists might prefer it black to appreciate the depth of flavour, but a splash of milk or a drizzle of simple syrup can make it more palatable for those with a sweeter tooth.
  • Garnish: Some folks like to add a twist of orange peel or a cinnamon stick, not traditional but certainly delicious.

And there you have it, my simple yet impactful method for making an authentic New Orleans Cold Brew. Remember, the beauty of this brew lies in its flexibility. Don't be afraid to experiment with the steeping time and ratios to find what tickles your taste buds just right. Whether you’re sipping it on a sweltering summer morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up, it’s a refreshing nod to New Orleans' rich coffee culture.


Mastering the art of New Orleans Cold Brew is an adventure in patience and personalisation. I've shared the key steps, from the ideal coffee-chicory blend ratio to the crucial steeping time that brings out the brew's unique flavour. Remember, the straining process is your friend for achieving that silky smooth texture we all crave. Don't be afraid to experiment with different steeping times, ratios, or additions like milk and sweeteners to make the drink truly yours. Embracing the vibrant coffee culture of New Orleans in your own kitchen is not just about following a recipe—it's about crafting an experience. So go ahead, tweak, taste, and toast to a cold brew that's as unique as the city it hails from.

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