Cold Brew Steep Time – For Perfect Coffee!

Published Categorized as Journal

Whipping up a batch of cold brew is ridiculously easy, however, it takes time and patience to get it right. In this post, we’ll be exploring cold brew steep time and how it correlates with the strength and flavor of this popular drink. We’ll also briefly review how to make cold brew, and uncover the mistakes people run into when steeping it. Sound interesting? Let’s get into it.

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Table of Contents

Cold Brew Steep Time

Effect of Steep Time Cold Brew

When it comes to making an irresistibly smooth cold brew, time is of the essence. The amount of time it takes to craft a cold brew correctly is considerable considering that most people are used to whipping up a cup of coffee in under 5 minutes. 

So, why is a longer steep time so important when making a cold brew? The difference is in the process. Cold brew is crafted by soaking coarse coffee grounds in water. There are–usually–no machines or appliances involved in the process. Simply add half a cup of coffee grounds to 8 oz. of water and wait it out. Once the time is up, strain the coffee grounds from the water and drink up.

Yes, it’s that simple; but there’s even more to it than just that!

Achieving the right taste is crucial when assembling a cold brew. The longer you steep the coffee grounds in water, the stronger the brew becomes. However, the less time that you spend soaking the grounds, the more watery, weak, and flat your cold brew will be.

Get the picture? Good. Let’s go a little deeper and find out just how long you should let your cold brew steep.

How Long Do You Let Cold Brew Steep?

At this point, you may be wondering how long to steep cold brew to get that signature coffee shop flavor. The answer is that you should steep your cold brew for no less than 18 hours in the fridge

What?!

Yes, we know. It can seem daunting to wait that long to enjoy cold brew when you could drive to your local coffee shop and enjoy it now. But there’s something rewarding about making your own cold brew batch. Especially when you can make a vat of it to enjoy as often as you’d like without ever having to spend a dime!

cold brew at home

How Long to Brew Cold Brew?

Now that we’ve hit you with our most honest answer concerning how long you should steep your cold brew, it’s time to let you in on a little secret.

Though we do recommend that you steep your coffee grounds for cold brew in the fridge for 18 hours, there’s a catch. You can actually get away with a little less time if you steep your cold brew at room temperature. 

Steeping a cold brew at room temperature can shave as many as 4 hours off of the brewing process. This means your cold brew could be ready in as little as 14 hours, but even this has some disadvantages. 

How Long to Cold Brew Coffee?

Later on in this post, we’ll get into the pros and cons of steeping your cold brew at room temperature versus in the fridge.

But for now, just know that which of those two you choose will drastically change your cold brew steeping time. Ultimately, depending on what method you choose, your cold brew could take anywhere from 14-24 hours maximum

cold brew strain

How Long Does Cold Brew Last?

Once you’ve got your cold brew made up, it will usually last about 2 weeks in the fridge. However, to enjoy it at best quality, we’d actually recommend you stick with 7-10 days to avoid altering the taste.

The longer your cold brew sits after being brewed, the more stale and bitter it becomes. Much after this, it will become undrinkable.

Thus, it is important that you store your cold brew correctly and watch carefully for signs of cold brew spoilage.

Should I Steep Cold Brew in the Fridge?

Whether or not you should steep cold brew in the fridge or room temperature is up to you. However, you will need to keep a few things in mind about each method before deciding which is best for you. 

  • Time: The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to craft your cold brew at room temperature or in the fridge is how much time you have. Cold brew steep time room temperature is shorter than steep time in the refrigerator. This is because refrigeration tends to slow the steeping process. However, the benefit of steeping cold brew in the fridge is that it is already cold after steep time is up. Cold brew made at room temperature, though done faster, still needs to be chilled. Otherwise, it’s no longer a true “cold” brew–is it? 
  • Method: Although not necessary, some people like to use appliances to make cold brew. Whether you choose a cold brew coffee maker or something else, be sure to refrigerate the brew immediately to prevent degradation of the coffee. There are several ways to make a cold brew; pick the one that works best for you!
  • Freshness: And that brings us to our next point. If you choose to steep cold brew at room temperature, you must be diligent to transfer the coffee to the fridge once done. Believe it or not, cold brew can go bad rather quickly at room temperature. Therefore, it is imperative that you allow your cold brew to chill, even if you decide to take your initial sip of the drink at room temperature or over ice. Remember that the time it takes to chill the drink will add to the amount of time you have to wait until it is technically “cold”. Therefore, even when steeping at room temperature, the total amount of steeping time still ends up being 18-24 hours. 
  • Strength: Last but not least, the debate concerning cold brew in fridge or room temp is taken a step further when considering the strength of flavor you wish to achieve with the drink. The strength of your cold brew will be determined by how much coffee you use, what steeping method you choose, and how long you allow the brew to sit. Steeping cold brew at room temperature for a longer amount of time will undoubtedly produce a stronger-tasting drink. But it will also mean your cold brew could be going rancid as it sits on the counter. On the flip side, you can steep cold brew in the fridge for up to 24 hours before needing to remove the soaking coffee grounds. This also will produce a bolder-tasting brew.

Note: If you really want bold flavor, we recommend you steep your cold brew at a 1:2 ratio. This means you’ll use 1 part coffee to 2 parts water instead of the standard half cup to 8 oz. of water. This will produce a stronger cold brew in the same amount of time. The flavor will also be smoother than if you allowed your cold brew to steep longer.

Can You Steep Cold Brew Coffee Too Long?

As we just mentioned, it is totally possible to steep a cold brew for too long. Doing so will yield a bitter and unpleasant taste.

Some people describe the taste as “dusty” or “woody”. This is a far cry from the smooth and slightly sweet taste most of us come to expect from a cold brew.

So, to stay true to the crave-worthy cold brew taste, we recommend that you stick to the script in terms of steeping times.

Minimum Time to Steep Cold Brew Coffee

Still have questions? We have answers!

The following are the results you can expect to get if you steep cold brew coffee for less than the standard number of steep time hours. 

Is 3 Hours Enough For Cold Brew?

Even if you steep your coffee grounds at a 1:2 coffee to water ratio, three hours will not suffice to make a proper cold brew coffee. 

Can You Steep Cold Brew 6 Hours?

If you only have 6 hours to dedicate to a cold brew, you’re better off grabbing one from your local coffee shop. 6 hours is not nearly enough time to craft an authentic cold brew at home. 

Can Cold Brew Steep For 8 Hours?

Looking to steep your cold brew at home while you’re at work? Sorry, folks. 8 hours won’t cut it either.

The results of a cold brew steeped for eight hours are likely to be very weak and watery. It won’t give you the jolt of energy you’re looking for either. 

brewed coffee from a pitcher

Is 12 Hours Enough For Cold Brew?

Not really. Though a far cry from three, six, or eight hours, 12 hours still isn’t enough to craft a noteworthy cold brew. This is true even if you were to brew it at room temperature. It simply isn’t enough time!

Is 13 Hours Enough For Cold Brew?

For those who are okay with a slightly weaker-tasting cold brew, 13 hours may be enough. If you only have 13 hours to give to your cold brew, be sure to brew it at room temperature. Also, consider using the 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio. Whatever you do, don’t steep your cold brew for 13 hours in the fridge. Again, this isn’t enough time to compose a strong enough refrigerated cold brew. 

Cold Brew Steep Time? Stick to the Script!

When it comes to cold brew steep time, it’s best to stick to the script. 18 hours is the gold standard when making a refrigerated cold brew.

Still, a brew made at room temperature may yield decent flavor in only 14 hour’s time. No matter which cold brew steep method you choose, be sure to keep your drink refrigerated.

Always store your brew in the fridge once fully steeped, and try to consume it within 7-10 days. 

FAQs

Whats the longest time to steep cold brew?

You should stop steeping a refrigerated cold brew after 24 hours. If steeped at room temperature, try to cut it short at 18 hours before transferring it to the fridge. Remember that you can choose to reuse your coffee granules to make another batch of cold brew. So, if you find that you just can’t get enough, go for it! Just make sure you steep it for even longer (about 24-26 hours refrigerated) to get the optimal flavor out of the next batch.

Can you cold brew coffee for 48 hours?

We wouldn’t recommend consuming a cold brew that has been steeping for 48 hours. Though it is true that longer steep times tend to be better, there are limits. A cold brew that steeps for 48 hours is likely to have a strong bitter taste that won’t be pleasant. And if the brew was steeped at room temperature, the drink may not be safe to consume, anyway! 

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Categorized as Journal

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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