7 Common Cold Brew Coffee Questions Answered

Written by: Garrett Oden

cold brew coffee questions

Cold brew coffee may be one of the simplest forms of coffee to make, but there’s still a fair amount of technique and science needed to master the brewing type.

Whether you’re itching to master your cold brew coffee routine or just looking to get started, I’ve got answers to your cold brew coffee questions. My goal is to educate and empower you so that you can brew the best cold brew possible.

Let’s journey through these common cold brew questions together.

1. Should I Cold Brew On The Counter Or In The Refrigerator?

Either way is safe and works, but they require slightly different things from you.

Cold water extracts things from the grounds more slowly than hot water (duh). If you brew using refrigerated water, it’s even colder, requiring more time. So, while it may take 12 hours to brew on the counter, it could take 17 hours, for example, to reach the same extraction in-fridge.

Read: The Ultimate Guide To Cold Brew Coffee

I brew on the counter exclusively for simplicity, but if you know you won’t be home in 12 hours, but you will be in 15, going the refrigerator route will work better with your schedule.

2. Do Dark Or Light Roast Coffees Make Better Cold Brew?

This one’s really up to your preferences, but I have strong personal feelings about this.

I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to visit a great coffee shop only to be served thin, unsatisfying cold brew coffee. While light roasts are my favorite for hot brewing, they tend to produce cold brew that’s not so well rounded.

I’m also not a big fan of dark roasts as cold brew coffee. They tend to be too 1-dimensional towards the lower notes and not very complex.

Read: The Difference Between Light, Medium, And Dark Roast Coffee

I am, however, a huge fan of medium roast cold brews. They have the brighter notes of light roasts, as well as the deeper notes of dark roasts. They just seem more full and well-rounded.

Try making cold brew with a variety of coffees to see what you like, but I’m guessing you’ll land on medium roasts as your cold brew preference as well.

3. How Much Caffeine Does Cold Brew Coffee Have?

This question is a really difficult one to answer. See, everyone cold brews differently, so it’s hard to make large, general statements. Not to mention, beans from different farms in the same valley can have wildly different caffeine.

If you brew a cold brew concentrate (like most people), one ounce of liquid will definitely have more caffeine than one ounce of normal hot coffee. However, this is concentrate we’re talking about, so that’s not so surprising.

cold brew coffee caffeine

Read: 3 Reasons Buying Cheap Coffee Is Bad For The World

To make things more confusing, most people dilute their concentrates with water to bring it to a strength that’s more calm and pleasant.

So I can’t really make any big statements about cold brew coffee, except that it tends to vary wildly from person to person, recipe to recipe. To display this, I’ll show you some data, courtesy of Caffeine Informer.

Chameleon Cold Brew RTD Coffee

10 fluid ounces

270 mg caffeine

Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee

16 fluid ounces

200 mg caffeine

Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee

10.5 fluid ounces

279 mg caffeine

Stumptown Cold Brew + Milk

16 fluid ounces

319 mg caffeine

Califia Farms Cold Brew

16 fluid ounces

160 mg caffeine

Regular Hot Coffee

16 fluid ounces

326 mg caffeine

Here’s how I normally approach cold brew coffee.

I assume the caffeine levels of a diluted cold brew drink are as high as regular hot coffee. This allows me to be okay if a caffeine rush finds me. However, if the levels are only 70% as high, for example, I’m fine with that as well.

Without high-dollar technology to measure the caffeine in each drink, you’re better off not worrying much. Just stick to drinking cold brew when you can stand a decent amount of caffeine.

If you don’t want caffeine, just skip the cold brew.

4. What Grind Size Should I Use?

The best grind size to use when you cold brew is a coarse setting. Each individual ground should be distinct from the next and resemble kosher salt or pearl sugar in size.

Read: How To Pair Your Coffee Brewer With Its Perfect Grind Size

If you go finer, you risk over extraction. You also risk it taking ages for the concentrate to drain through a filter since there will be so many tiny grounds in the way, delaying the draining.

Some people with manual grinders have good results with a medium-coarse setting since manual grinders tend to be less consistent the coarser the setting. To balance out the slightly finer grind, they brew for a 1-2 less hours.

5. What Can I Make With Cold Brew Concentrate?

Oh man - there’s SO MUCH you can do with your concentrate.

This is really the fun part.

  • Iced Coffee - dilute your concentrate with cold water and ice
  • Iced Cold Brew Latte - dilute your concentrate with milk and ice
  • Hot Cold Brew Coffee - dilute your concentration with hot water
  • Cold Brew Soda - mix with a flavor syrup, ice, and soda water

This is just the beginning. I suggest you check out the ten cold brew cocktails and mocktails as well.

cold brew coffee cocktail

6. How Much Coffee Should I Use?

Since, ideally, you want to make a cold brew concentrate, you should use twice as much coffee as you would to make hot coffee. Or, you could just use half the water.

So, if you normally use 20g of coffee and 300g of water (a 1:15 ratio) to brew hot coffee, instead use 40g of coffee and 300g of water (a 1:7.5 ratio). Then, when the brewing is complete, you can dilute the concentrate to a strength of your choice.

7. How Long Does The Concentrate Last?

The concentrate should be stored in the fridge once the brewing is complete. From then you have 8-14 days before the flavors begin to decay rapidly.

In the food world, food products should never be stored for longer than 2 weeks, otherwise you risk dangerous bacteria growth. Yuck.

Assume this to be true for coffee as well. Unless you mix in a preservative like citric acid or salt into your coffee, just toss it if you haven’t finished it in two weeks.


And there you have it! If we didn’t get to your question today, send us an email so we can put it in the next round. We love hearing your thoughts and questions and are glad to help any way we can.

As always, your cold brew coffee will turn out its best when you use freshly roasted, specialty-grade coffee beans. Don’t settle for old, stale beans from the supermarket.

Get beans that’ll take your tastebuds for a wild ride with the JavaPresse Coffee Club. We source our beans from the best coffee farms in the world and couldn’t be prouder of our farm partners. They’re eco-friendly, ethically minded, and love great coffee as much as we do.

Check it out!