Perfect Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Perfect cold-brewed iced coffee is easier than you think. And at *least* as important. With this easy overnight method, you'll brew a smooth, satisfying coffee concentrate in a French press, and it will be waiting for you to press and pour in the morning.


When you cold brew coffee, the cool water doesn't extract as many of the bitter elements from the coffee beans, making the final result smoother and sweeter.

Before there was cold brew...

Eight years old, nine, ten. Sunday morning eggs and bacon. The bewitching sputter-gurgle-pop of Mom and Dad’s coffee brewing on the counter. On a bold day, you might ask for a little bit of coffee milk. You’d tip the cup to your mouth with a pinkie aloft, because who was to say you wouldn’t turn out to be that kind of woman. You could be any kind of woman.

Seventeen, eighteen. Perched on a metal stool at the off-campus coffee house pretending to study. Wishing you’d worn a different skirt, but aware that being in the right place at the right age is most of the battle. Pretending it’s haphazard that your head is cocked just so. Eyeing The Boy.

Next term. Same stool. Different boy.

Clad in Starbucks

Minutes later. Those first few years working in New York City. Stopping at Starbucks every morning for a Venti instead of breakfast. As the elevator doors open onto your floor, wearing that plastic cup of coffee with the tall green straw like a pair of Jimmy Choos. Feeling unstoppable with it, naked without it.

Another job, another industry, another Starbucks.

Without a safety net

The morning after the first night that the baby woke up to feed every hour. And the morning after that, when it happened again. Wondering whether you’d made the biggest, most irreparable mistake of your life. Furious that nobody warned you. Realizing the safety net between you and your own choices had vanished, never to return.

Having amnesia. Doing it all again.

Cold brew flowing like a river

And here you are. Kids in school. Trying to write at the local coffee place. Wishing the collective buzz would seep into your pages. Knowing you may pack up and walk away with only the strong smell of burr-ground beans that lingers in your sweater, in your hair, inside your purse.

A whole life could flash by like this. Jobs, crushes, ambitions — they come and go. For better or worse, the coffee remains, flowing like a river through it all.

Perfect Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

I make this recipe extra-easy by brewing before I go to bed at night in my 4-cup french press* and just pressing first thing in the morning. I'll just go ahead and admit that I buy my coffee pre-ground and it works great. A standard grind is fine, but look for one -- or grind yourself -- a little on the coarse side of standard. Use a coffee you like, and you may be surprised how much more you like it when you brew this way. I like a strong, small cup, and that's what this brew yields when served with a generous splash of milk. You can treat it like a concentrate and dilute it with cold filtered water to taste without any loss of quality.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 5 minutes
Serves Makes about 3 1/2 cups


  • 80 grams (scant 1 cup) ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups cold filtered water
  • Ice cubes
  • Milk of choice or additional cold filtered water, to taste


  1. Into a 4-cup french press, liquid measure or jar, pour the ground coffee, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour in half the water and stir well. Add remaining water and stir again.
  2. Let sit at room temperature or in the fridge overnight, then press or strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag into a clean container.
  3. To serve, fill glass with ice and pour in coffee and milk to taste. Dilute with cold filtered water if desired.


  • I say 4-cup, the manufacturer says 8-cup because they call 4 ounces a cup. What??

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 10