Cup with cold brew coffee

Unlike hot coffee, cold brew coffee requires hours, sometimes 24 hours, of brewing before being poured and served. Lantern Photo Illustration

Cold brew is not your average cup of joe — and when people are trying to go out in public less, it might make for your next quarantine craft. 

Cold brew has gained popularity among coffee lovers for its condensed flavor, smooth profile and high caffeine concentration combined with its simple brewing process. Now, Ohio State students are finding their own way to brew the cold way and are sharing their recipes. 

What makes a cup of cold brew different from a normal cup of coffee — or even iced coffee — is the lack of bitterness in the product that the process of brewing the cold brew creates, Emily Liebkemann, a third-year in international relations and Spanish, said. 

Liebkemann said she started making cold brew at home as a way to reduce harmful waste in the environment.

“I like cold brew, but I don’t like the plastic waste that comes with purchasing a big jug of cold brew at the grocery store, and it’s just a lot cheaper to make your own,” Liebkemann said. 

Liebkemann starts by adding ground coffee beans to water in any container — for her, a mason jar — and letting it sit in the fridge overnight for about eight-to-twelve hours before straining the ground beans from the drink. She said she recommends using one part coffee for every four parts water. 

At-home baristas can either buy pre-ground coffee beans from the store or grind them on their own as long as the beans are not ground too finely. Coarsely ground coffee is easier to strain, Liebkemann said. 

Before you can enjoy your tasty cup of cold brew, you have to find a way to filter the grounds from your coffee. For Alex Bajzer, a fourth-year in chemical engineering, this can be a challenge.

Like Liebkemann, Bajzer said he also uses mason jars when making cold brew, but he lets his coffee sit outside of his fridge for about 24 to 36 hours before filtering. Bajzer said he puts a coffee filter on top of an empty mason jar, puts the cap on top to hold the filter in place and pours his unfiltered coffee on top of the filter until he has a fresh cup of cold brew. 

“That’s kind of one of the only downsides, is that when you want a quick cup of coffee, you can’t just kind of pour it out into a cup. You have to let it filter for a little bit too,” Bajzer said. “There is a little more that goes into it, but I do think it’s worth that work.”

Liebkemann said she suggests using a regular or reusable coffee filter, a cheesecloth or even a French press to strain the cold brew.

Both students offered helpful tips that can help maximize taste when preparing cold brew.

“One kind of drink I guess I’ve been making with it is using cold brew and then some caramel syrup and then chocolate milk,” Bajzer said. 

Liebkemann said leftover coffee from the cold brew can be frozen in an ice tray so that when the ice melts in the coffee, it won’t taste watered down. To add sweetness to a drink, Liebkemann said she cooks a cup of sugar combined with a cup of water until the sugar dissolves, making a simple syrup. She said regular sugar doesn’t dissolve well in a cup of cold brew. 

“You can add cinnamon and nutmeg to the cold brew to add a little, tiny bit of pumpkin spice flavor, because it’s pumpkin spice season,” Liebkemann said. 


How to make cold brew (about 4 servings): 

  1. Measure one cup of coarsely ground coffee beans and add to a mason jar.
  2. Add four cups of cold water to the jar with the grounds.
  3. Stir to distribute the grounds in the water. 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours for weaker brew or up to 36 hours for a strong brew. 
  5. When ready to consume, attach a coffee filter or cheesecloth to another mason jar to filter the grounds out of the brew, or use a French press to strain the mixture.
  6. Serve over ice with your favorite additions. Add water to taste to dilute the brew if needed.