How much would you be willing spend to be able to brew rich and balanced cold brew coffee with ease at home? Thankfully, it won’t take a big investment.
The process is simple and you only need a couple items. Budget cold brew coffee is not a fantasy - it’s within reach for anyone.
If you’re exciting about sipping cold brew at home this Summer, but don’t want to break the bank, I’ve got just the setup for you. It’s how I’ve made cold brew for years. Grab a bag of freshly roasted coffee and let’s get started.
The Right Coffee Beans
It all begins with the coffee beans. Buy cheap beans and your cold brew will taste like cheap beans. If you want cold brew coffee that’s delicious and balanced, you’re going to want to find and buy high quality, freshly roasted coffee beans.
Coffee beans are only at their peak flavor and freshness for two weeks after they’re roasted, so it’s important that you know when that happened. Look for “roasted on” dates published on the coffee bag instead of “best by”. Roasters who value transparency and quality will let you know the exact date that the beans were roasted.
Don’t make the simple mistake of going and buying a bag of pre-ground coffee from the grocery store. That coffee will become stale almost as soon as you open the bag and your coffee’s flavor will suffer. Pre-ground coffee grounds aren’t even the right size for cold brewing.
Practically, look to spend $13-17 per 12oz bag of high end, uber-flavorful coffee.
You want freshly roasted beans that you can grind to a coarse setting immediately before brewing. That’s the only way to do it if you want to brew the best coffee you can, so a home coffee grinder is essential.
A Manual Burr Grinder
While an effective electric grinder will run you $100 or more, you can get a manual grinder that performs just as well for a quarter of the price. Manual grinders take a bit of elbow grease, but they’re the clear choice for a budget purchase.
Whatever you do, do not buy a cheap blade coffee grinder. These grinders don’t grind coffee with precision or consistency, which will kill your coffee’s flavor quality quicker than anything else. They’re inexpensive and temping, but they’re not what you want. You want a burr grinder.
The JavaPresse Manual Burr Coffee Grinder is small, light, and can grind coffee for french press, espresso, and everything in between. It’s travel-friendly, but is no less suited for home use. The device costs less than $25; a small price to pay for such a quality-elevating tool.
Grinder Cost: $25
A Cold Brew Coffee Maker
You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to your cold brewing vessel.
I’ve seen people use mason jars, tea pots, and big mugs. As long as it's spacious enough to fit all the ingredients, can be topped with a lid, and won’t depart odd flavors or chemicals into your coffee, it’ll work. Chances are, you already have something laying around the kitchen that will do just fine.
My personal favorite - and probably the most commonly used vessel - is a $30 french press. The glass carafe is durable and visually appealing and it comes with a lid and a built-in filter. It’s the perfect size for brewing and storing cold brew coffee. Plus, it makes hot french press coffee a possibility as well.
Vessel Cost: $0-30
A Coffee Filter
When the brewing is complete and you’re ready to separate the grounds from the cold brew, you’re going to need a filter of some sort. Any old regular coffee filter or cheesecloth will do. Once, I was desperate and used a clean shirt. Like I said, there’s some flexibility here.
The french press is convenient because it comes with the filter built-in, but sometimes I want a cleaner cup (tiny grounds sometimes get through the french press filter). To filter the smaller particles out I typically pour the liquid through a pour over cone filter for that extra clean body.
Regular coffee filters won’t cost you more than a few dollars at the nearest supermarket, but it sure is nice having that pour over cone (plus, it allows me to make pour over coffee).
Filter Cost: $0-25
The Budget Cold Brew Coffee Setup
With a simple setup consisting of a grinder, mason jar, and coffee filters, you’re looking at a mere $25 to get going. If you’d like to take it up a notch and spring for the french press, the setup will run you $50, but you’ll also have everything you need to make hot french press coffee as well. Check out the JavaPresse French Press.
There’s a lot to be gained by the ability to make cold brew coffee. It’s refreshing, smooth, and quite different from hot brewed coffee. It can be stored in the fridge for two weeks and can be cut with cold water, hot water, milk, or anything else.
Cold brew coffee in the fridge means hot or iced coffee whenever you’d like. It means you can have a lazy day and still get the caffeine you need. It means you can enjoy a pick-me-up when the Summer heat is beating down without having to down a hot mug.
For a $25-50 investment, the rewards are pretty compelling.
Happy cold brewing!