How to Make the Best Cold Brew & Iced Coffee

Huckleberry roasters

We eagerly await the arrival of warmer weather and the summer season, looking forward to the coffee rituals that follow. Among them, there is the custom of preparing refreshing ice-cold coffee. Whether basking in the sun or embarking on exciting adventures, the rising temperatures beckon us to savor the delights of a cooler, thirst-quenching brew.

Over the last decade, cold brew coffee has become one of the most popular beverages around the country – and for good reason. It’s easy to brew, can be stored for several days in the fridge, and it’s just plain refreshing! You can certainly reach for an iced latte or perhaps a sweet, creamy coffee milkshake to fill your cold coffee hankering, but we think that when done right, iced coffee and cold brew are perhaps even more enjoyable and a lot less expensive. In this guide, we will illustrate how to make cold brew coffee and iced coffee to perfection.

While cold brew and iced coffee are both delicious, the way they are brewed and the resulting flavor profiles are vastly different. Let’s dig into what makes them unique and then find out how easy it is for you to do at home with a few simple recipes. Then you can check out our Iced Coffee & Cold Brew Collection for our roaster’s best coffees for summer. 

Table of Contents:

Cold Brew and Iced Coffee: What’s the difference?
Making Cold Brew
Cold Brew Guide
Hot Bloom Cold Brew Guide
Making Iced Coffee
Flash Chilled Iced Coffee Guide


Cold Brew and Iced Coffee: What’s the difference?

The first thing you should know is that any coffee served over ice is iced coffee (Ice + Coffee = Iced Coffee). Beyond that, there are more or less 4 different ways to brew iced coffee; cold brew, hot bloom cold brew, flash chilled iced coffee, and traditional iced coffee. Technically all of these methods are a version of iced coffee, but all are different in how they are brewed and the resulting flavor profile.

All brewed coffee is basically water that has coffee flavor pulled out of coffee beans. When making your usual brew, we do this by using hot water to quickly get out as much of the good stuff as we can, and it is generally brewed within a handful of minutes. By using cold water to brew, it takes longer to extract the same amount of coffee flavor as you otherwise would since brewing is a function of temperature and time. So, by grinding the coffee relatively coarse and brewing at a cooler temperature, it takes 12 – 24 hours to extract a similar amount of coffee as you usually would in minutes. Organic acids in coffee can be really great to taste the nuance and elegance of different coffees, but these acids require heat to be extracted. Ultimately, this means that cold brew has only a fraction of the acids as hot coffee (great for people who have a hard time with acidic foods), and the end product is generally full-bodied with a chocolaty and caramelly flavor profile. Since you get all those tasty and rich notes of chocolate and caramel, we recommend using coffees from Central or South America for cold brew, as these coffees are the perfect profile for this brewing method. This makes cold-brewed coffee a thirst-quenching cold coffee drink and even quite good with a little sugar or cream added. There’s enough coffee flavor and mouthfeel to hold up to these ingredients, and in the end, they can work together well without one overpowering the other.

Iced coffee is the more classic version of cold coffee and one that all of our parents and grandparents likely drank during the hot summer months. Traditionally, iced coffee was made by brewing coffee hot, and after it got cold, you’d pour it over ice to chill it and make a cold coffee drink. Unfortunately, this method isn’t that great. As the coffee sits, it begins to oxidize, so by the time it’s poured over ice, the iced coffee is usually a bitter mess that screams for milk and sugar, but by the time you add them, you can’t taste any coffee flavor. By brewing the coffee directly over ice, we can capture and preserve those wonderful nuances found in hot brewed coffee but in a clean, sweet iced coffee, ideal for slow sipping. We find that brighter and more nuanced coffees work really well for this, so grab your favorite coffee from Guatemala, El Salvador, Ethiopia, or Kenya, and it’s sure to taste fantastic as a Flash Chilled Iced coffee, with vibrant acidity and a delicate mouthfeel.

Cold Brew is great on its own or with cream and sugar and is perfect for coffee drinkers who want delicious, easy-drinking iced coffee all summer long. Flash Chilled Iced Coffee is better suited for the pour-over purists who love tasting the vibrant nuances each coffee has to offer but wants a refreshing cold drink as well.

In summary:

Cold BrewIced Coffee
Recommended Brew MethodHot BloomFlash Chilled
Brew Time12-24 hours5 minutes or less
Grind SizeCoarseMedium fine
Taste ProfileRich chocolate and caramelBright, nuanced with vibrant acidity
Ideal Coffee OriginCentral & South AmericaEthiopia & Kenya
ExtrasHolds up well with a little cream and sugarGreat black
Ideal ForFull Immersion drinkers who like medium to darker roastsPour over purists who prefer lighter roasts
Recommended coffeesKaldi’s Haya Cold BrewKuma’s Sun Bear

Making Cold Brew

One of the best parts of Cold Brew is how easy it is to make. You can make Cold Brew in almost any device out there – and there are a TON of gadgets specifically for making Cold Brew, like the Bruer, the Toddy brewer or the Hario Cold Brew system.

Here are two methods we like to use to make cold brew: the super basic Cold Brew method and the Hot Bloom / Cold Brew method, which is our personal favorite. For both recipes, we like to do the full immersion method – kind of like a french press – put it in the fridge for 24 hours, let it work its magic, and, voila, tasty cold brew coffee.

Basic Cold Brew Guide

What you’ll need

  • Container to brew in, we like this 2 gallon water dispenser style jar
  • Some way to filter out the coffee grounds. We use a cotton cloth bag to hold the coffee for easy disposal of grounds, but you can add all the coffee to the pitcher and simply strain out later using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, or even brew in a french press and simply press down and strain as normal.
  • Fresh whole bean coffee, likely from your awesome MistoBox One subscription (pst, you can totally email your Curator and let them know you want a coffee that’s great as a cold brew and we’ll get you hooked up)
  • Clean, filtered water (never distilled)

grind_cold_brewHow to Brew

  • Use 1 part coffee for every 16 parts water. For a large recipe like this one, we would use 12 oz (340 g) of coffee to 192 oz / 1.5 gallons (5440 g) of fresh, filtered water.
  • Grind the coffee coarsely like you would for a French Press and add to your brewing container, bag, or directly in the pitcher. For Coffee Grinder ideas check out the Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder, Baratza Virtuoso or Baratza Vario Coffee Grinder.
  • Add all of your water, mixing the water and coffee to make sure all of the grounds are evenly saturated.
  • Let sit in the fridge for 12 hours at room temperature or 24 hours.
  • Once it’s done, remove or strain the coffee grounds from the cold brew.
  • Serve over ice. Maybe add a little cream, if that’s your thing. Enjoy!

Hot Bloom Cold Brew Guide

The Hot Bloom method is our favorite cold brew coffee recipe since it’s the best of both worlds of hot and cold brewing. You’re able to pull out some interesting flavors, aromas, nuance, and sweetness from the quick hot blooming, then the low and slow method of cold brewing for 24 hours.

What you’ll need

  • Container to brew in, again this dispenser style jar works great
  • Some way to filter out the coffee grounds, we use a cotton cloth bag
  • Fresh whole bean coffee and grinder
  • Clean, filtered water (never distilled)
  • A kettle to heat some of your brew water for the Hot Blooming stage

cold_brew_grindingHow to Brew

  • Use 1 part coffee for every 16 parts water. In this case, we used 12 oz (340 g) of Huckleberry Roasters’ Colombia Resguardo to 192 oz (5440 g) of fresh, filtered water. You’ll need to bring 2 parts (24 oz / 680 g) water to boil in a kettle and chill the remaining 14 parts (168 oz / 4762 g) water in the fridge so it’s cold.
  • Grind the coffee coarsely like you would for a French Press and add to your brewing container, bag or directly in the pitcher.
  • Start a timer, carefully and slowly pour 2 parts of water fresh off the boil onto the coffee grounds to quickly bloom and saturate all the coffee grounds. The coffee should release quite a bit of gas and create a light brown foam.
  • After 30 – 45 seconds, add the remaining 14 parts cold water, dropping the temperature quite quickly and cooling the whole slurry back to room temperature.
  • Let sit for 12 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the fridge.
  • Once it’s done, remove or strain the coffee grounds from the cold brew.
  • Serve over ice and thank me later!

pour_iced_coffeeMaking Iced Coffee

The method we prefer to make really tasty and nuanced iced coffee is called Flash Chilled Iced Coffee. This method brews the hot coffee directly over the ice to instantly chill the brewed coffee. This helps to capture and preserve the interesting flavors, aromas, and characteristics you might normally taste in drip coffee or a pour over. The end result is a balanced, clean, and sweet iced coffee with a light mouthfeel. We recommend drinking this without any additives for optimal enjoyment. This recipe makes enough for 2 cups of the best damn iced coffee you’ve ever had.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 1.15.10 PM

Flash Chilled Iced Coffee Guide

What you’ll need

  • Pourover brewer, like a V60 or Kalita Wave, and a carafe or Chemex (You can do this same method with an Automatic Drip Coffee Maker as well)
  • Filters
  • Fresh whole bean coffee and grinder
  • Clean, filtered water (never distilled)
  • Good quality ice *you can freeze your filtered water ahead of time, or buy some ice at the store. Ice from your freezer’s ice maker might create unwanted flavors
  • Scale
  • Kettle
  • The ratio here is 1 part coffee to 8 parts water just off boil to 8 parts ice. This is the same 1 : 16 ratio we use for Cold Brew, but we split half of the water as ice which will chill and dilute the final product.

How to Brew

  • Place filter into brewer and rinse with hot water to remove paper taste
  • This recipe is enough for two cups, so we used 31 grams ( 4 – 5 tablespoons) of medium fine ground coffee, with 250 g (8 oz) filtered water off boil, and 250 g good ice
  • Add ice to carafe or bottom of brewer
  • Add coffee to filter and set the brewer with the carafe on scale and tare to 0
  • Bloom coffee with 50 grams water and let sit for 30 seconds, stirring gently to saturate all grounds
  • Slowly add remaining 200 grams hot water, which should take another minute or two
  • After done pouring, give it a good final stir
  • Wait for it to finish draining, remove and discard grounds
  • Serve over ice and enjoy!

Whether you are a die hard Cold Brew lover or a Flash Chilled Iced Coffee fanatic, these recipes are sure to keep your thirst quenched all summer long. Try them out and let me know what your favorite kind of iced coffee is in the comments below!  

**Check out our excellent coffee cocktail article, browse our collection of coffees perfect for your iced coffee goals this summer, and shop cold brew tower. Or get your Mistobox coffee subscription today 🙂

We wrote an e-book! Check out the MistoBox Specialty Coffee Tasting Guide: A How-To Guide to Refine Your Coffee Tasting and Brewing Skills on Amazon.