How to Make Starbucks Cold Brew at Home: Easy Guide & Tips

Joshua Allerton
February 21, 2024

If you're anything like me, you've probably found yourself craving that smooth, rich Starbucks cold brew more times than you can count. The good news? You don't need to step out of your home or break the bank to enjoy your favourite chilled coffee. I've mastered the art of making Starbucks-style cold brew right in my kitchen, and I'm here to share that secret with you.

Making your own cold brew at home isn't just about saving money; it's about taking control of your coffee experience. With a few simple steps and a bit of patience, you'll be sipping on a cup of cold brew that rivals any you'd queue up for at Starbucks. Let's dive into how you can bring this coffee shop favourite into your own home.

Selecting the Right Coffee Beans

When I embarked on my journey to perfect the Starbucks-style cold brew at home, I quickly realised the crucial step of selecting the right coffee beans. It's not just about grabbing any coffee off the shelf; it's about understanding what beans will give you that smooth, rich flavour Starbucks cold brews are famous for.

Starbucks uses a blend of African and Latin American beans for their cold brew, aiming for a balance of floral, citrus, and chocolate notes. While we can’t always get our hands on the exact blend, opting for a medium-dark roast with similar tasting notes can get us close to the goal. I've tried various beans, and here’s what I’ve found works best:

  • Medium-dark roast: Provides the perfect balance of flavour and acidity.
  • Single-origin beans from Colombia or Ethiopia: They offer the floral and citrus notes reminiscent of the Starbucks blend.

Let's dive into how you can choose your beans:

  1. Look for freshness: The fresher the beans, the better your cold brew will taste. Check the roasting date, and aim for beans roasted within the past month.
  2. Opt for whole beans: Buying whole beans and grinding them yourself just before brewing ensures your coffee will have maximum flavour.
  3. Consider the roast: Medium-dark roast beans are ideal as they offer a smoother, less acidic flavour perfect for cold brew.

Remember, the bean you choose will significantly influence the taste of your cold brew, so don't be afraid to experiment with different types until you find your perfect match.

Grinding the Coffee Beans

After picking out the perfect beans to achieve that Starbucks-like flavour, the next crucial step is grinding them. It's not just about tossing them into any grinder and hoping for the best. Grinding coffee beans to the ideal consistency plays a pivotal role in the cold brew process. Let me guide you through it.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that cold brew requires a coarse grind. A grind that’s too fine can lead to over-extraction, giving your cold brew a bitter taste, which we definitely want to avoid. Think of coarse sea salt when you're aiming for the right texture.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Measure the beans. For a cold brew, I typically go for a 1:8 coffee to water ratio. This means if I'm using 1 cup of beans, I'll need 8 cups of water.
  2. Pour the measured beans into a burr grinder. I can’t stress enough how much of a difference a burr grinder makes. Unlike blade grinders, burr grinders crush the beans uniformly.
  3. Select the coarse grind setting on the grinder. If your grinder has options, choose the one for French press.
  4. Grind the beans until they reach the desired consistency.

After grinding, give them a quick check. The pieces should be uniform and large enough that they won’t slip through your cold brew coffee maker’s filter.

If you're using quality beans and grinding them correctly, you're halfway to making an amazing batch of cold brew that might just rival your favourite Starbucks version. Remember, patience is key with cold brew, but starting with the right grind sets the foundation for success.

Brewing the Cold Brew Concentrate

After grinding your beans to the perfect consistency, it's time to move on to the exciting part – brewing the cold brew concentrate. I've found this process not only simple but incredibly rewarding when done right. So, let's dive into how you can achieve that Starbucks-quality cold brew concentrate in the comfort of your own home.

Firstly, it's essential to understand the ratio of coffee to water. For a robust and rich concentrate, I recommend a 1:4 coffee to water ratio. This means for every one part of coffee, you'll need four parts of water. It’s this balance that gives your cold brew the bold flavour without being too overwhelming.

Here's a stepwise guide to make it even easier to follow:

  1. Measure Out Your Coffee and Water – Based on the 1:4 ratio, measure your coarse-ground coffee and cold or room temperature water.
  2. Mix in a Large Jar or Pitcher – Combine the coffee grounds and water in a large jar or pitcher. Stir gently to ensure every ground is soaked.
  3. Cover and Let Steep – Cover the jar or pitcher with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it steep at room temperature or in your fridge for about 12 to 24 hours. The longer you steep, the stronger the concentrate.
  4. Strain the Mixture – After steeping, strain the mixture using a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter to remove the coffee grounds. You might need to strain it a couple of times to get rid of all the fine particles.

Remember, the key to a successful cold brew concentrate lies in patience. Don't rush the steeping process. Although it might be tempting to check if it's ready, it's best to wait at least 12 hours. This slow extraction process is what contributes to the smooth, rich flavour of your cold brew.

Once you've strained your concentrate, it's ready to be stored in the fridge or served immediately. Mix it with water or milk to your desired strength. Adding ice cubes enhances the refreshing experience, making it a perfect drink for those warm summer days or as a refreshing pick-me-up anytime.

Diluting and Serving Your Cold Brew

Once you've got your cold brew concentrate ready, it's time to turn it into a delightful drink. The beauty of cold brew is its versatility. You control the strength and flavour by how much you dilute it.

Here's how I do it:

  1. Start with a Clean Slate: Make sure you have a clean glass or cup to start with. This might seem basic, but it ensures that the only taste you're getting is from your meticulously brewed coffee.
  2. Ice, Ice, Baby: Fill your glass about halfway with ice. I prefer large cubes as they melt slower, avoiding a watered-down taste.
  3. Dilution Solution: Here's where personal preference comes in. I usually start with a 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate to water for a balanced cup. However, if you prefer a stronger brew, feel free to adjust. Some folks like a 1:2 ratio of concentrate to milk (dairy or non-dairy) for a creamier beverage.
  4. Mix It Up: After adding your diluter of choice, give it a thorough mix. I sometimes add a dash of vanilla extract or a sprinkle of cinnamon for a bit of spice.
  5. Sweeten the Deal (Optional): If you like your coffee sweet, now's the time to add your preferred sweetener. Sugar, syrup, or even a bit of condensed milk can add an interesting twist.
  6. Taste Test: Take a sip. Now's your chance to tweak it to perfection. Add more water, milk, or ice until it's just right for you.

The flexible nature of cold brew means you can really make it your own. Whether you like it strong and bold or smooth and creamy, the choice is yours. Experimenting with different dilutions and additives can turn this simple pleasure into a hobby.

Storing and Enjoying Your Homemade Starbucks Cold Brew

Now that I've walked through the steps of making a killer batch of cold brew that rivals Starbucks, let's talk about how I keep it tasting fresh and how I enjoy it to the max. Trust me, storing and serving your homemade cold brew correctly can make a world of difference in flavour and freshness.

Storing Your Cold Brew

First thing's first, storage. I've found that glass containers are the best option for storing cold brew. Why? They don't retain odours or flavours from previous contents, which means my cold brew always tastes just as I expect it to.

Here's how I do it:

  1. Transfer the cold brew into a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Mason jars or glass bottles work wonders.
  2. Keep it refrigerated. Cold brew should be stored in the fridge immediately after straining. It keeps it fresh and slows down the oxidation process.
  3. Consume within 7 to 10 days. Honestly, it rarely lasts that long in my house, but it's good to know it stays fresh for up to 10 days.

Enjoying Your Homemade Cold Brew

When it comes to enjoying my homemade Starbucks-like cold brew, I love getting creative. Here are a few of my favourite ways to serve it:

  • Straight Up: Sometimes, I enjoy it just as it is, poured over ice for a refreshing kick.
  • Diluted: Depending on my mood, I might dilute it with water or milk. I stick to a 1:1 ratio for a balanced flavour but sometimes venture to a creamier 1:2 with milk.
  • Sweetened: If I'm in the mood for something sweeter, I'll add a bit of simple syrup or vanilla extract.

I always encourage experimentation with different mix-ins and ratios. Whether it's vanilla syrup, a dash of cinnamon, or a dollop of whipped cream, the beauty of cold brew is in its versatility. The key is to start with the base of a strong, flavourful cold brew and then tweak it until it's exactly to your liking.

Conclusion

Mastering the art of making Starbucks-like cold brew at home is a rewarding journey. I've shared the essentials on how to store your brew properly and the myriad ways you can enjoy it. Remember, using glass containers and keeping your cold brew refrigerated ensures it stays fresh and flavourful. Don't shy away from experimenting with different dilutions and sweeteners to tailor the drink to your taste. The beauty of homemade cold brew lies in its versatility and the personal touch you can add to each glass. So go ahead, be your own barista and revel in the satisfaction of crafting the perfect cold brew right in your kitchen.

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