Swift and Smooth Cold Brew Coffee: How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Fast

Cold brew coffee is a trend that has taken over in recent years. It is more than just iced coffee; the brewing process is different than a traditional cup of joe. Fans of the beverage insist that brewing coffee cold water produces a better, more rounded flavor over conventional methods over a long time. 

Brewing a beverage over a twelve to twenty-four hour period takes time that many of us simply do not have. For those looking to enjoy the mellow taste profile of a cold brew on a time crunch, rest assured that it is possible to cold brew in as little as five minutes. So how to make cold brew coffee fast? The key is to use stirring – as in a blender – to speed up the process. 

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Iced coffee can mean merely pouring hot coffee over ice to cool it down. But most often, it refers to a different brewing process entirely. The cooling process causes a chemical reaction to occur, which affects the taste of the coffee, so pouring a hot brew over ice will taste fundamentally different than a cold brew that was never hot to begin with.

How Do You Make Cold Brew Coffee?

The process of making cold coffee brewing is essentially steeping your coffee of choice in cold water. Without heat or some other way to accelerate the process, it takes several hours to prepare a cold coffee brew.

cold drip coffee brewer held up by a wooden cage, how to make cold brew coffee fast

Cold brew coffee doesn’t require any special equipment beyond what you probably already have in the kitchen. However, you can spend your money on a special cold brew coffee maker if you want to. You can adapt nearly any traditional means of brewing coffee to a cold brew process, including mason jars or a french press.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Fast

Cold-brew coffee traditionally takes much longer than regular coffee because it is missing heat as the catalyst to speed up the process. I am sure there are purists out there who are happy to wait it out – but for the rest of us, we have some tips to get things moving.

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The process of making coffee uses water to extract flavor and oils from ground coffee beans to make a caffeinated beverage with distinct pleasing aromas and flavors. The flavors, whether crisp and light or bold and full-bodied, depend on the roast and origin of the coffee bean. The same is true for cold or regular brew coffee.

Choose a Coffee for Cold Brew

As we have mentioned before, the cold brew process is different from brewing regular coffee. Unless you already use a french press or pour-over, the taste may be very different from what you typically get from the same bean. As a general rule, lighter roasts may lose some flavor complexity in the cold brew process, while darker roasts will become even more mellow and less acidic.

4 different roasted coffee beans from green beans on the left to dark roast on the right, how to make cold brew coffee fast

Prepare Your Grounds

We think a coarse espresso grind works the best for this quick and convenient cold brew hack. If you grind your coffee beans too fine, your drink will be very silty. Plus, a finer grind can reduce the flow of the water. You can also use pre-ground coffee for your cold brew.

Use a Blender or Agitation to “Brew” the Coffee

Combine coffee grounds with lukewarm or cold water in a blender. Process the mixture in a blender for several minutes. Transfer the blended mixture to a french press and extract the coffee into a glass. Discard remaining grounds and silt from the french press.

Prepare Beverage and Serve

Add additional cold water or ice to your coffee and prepare as desired with milk, cream, sugars, and sweeteners. And enjoy your beverage in under five minutes.

How Long Does it Take to Make Cold Brew Coffee?

There is a lot of variation in the time that it takes to make cold brew coffee. Traditionally, the answer to this question is 12 – 24 hours. However, a coffee connoisseur’s looking for ways to purify the process of brewing cold coffee and sit squarely at one end of the spectrum. Modern, coffee-loving enthusiasts with a penchant for staying busy are looking for ways to streamline the process on the other end.

Cold-brew coffee takes anywhere from five minutes up to twenty-four hours, depending on the process. Coffee shops know it takes a lot longer than a regular cup of coffee and they often charge a higher price for these beverages. Luckily we have the tips for how to make cold brew coffee fast.

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Is Cold Brew Stronger than Regular Coffee?

The cold brew process is different because it lacks heat, which often causes a chemical change in the coffee during brewing. Without heat, the chemical reaction does not occur, and the flavor profile is noticeably different than if it had. So, is a cold brew cup of coffee stronger? That depends on what you mean by stronger.

The cold brew process results in a mellow, lower acidic cup of coffee. Anyone who suffers acid reflux after drinking the dark stuff will be happy to hear that they can go back to enjoying lighter roasts with cold brew coffee. So in a measure of acidity, no, brewed cold coffee is not stronger than regular coffee.

Caffeine content is another way that the strength of a coffee is measured. While the cold brew process doesn’t extract as much caffeine as traditional methods, it does produce a more concentrated beverage. If you don’t dilute the finished product as much, the result would be a stronger, more caffeinated cup of coffee.

The flavor is yet another way that we measure the strength of coffee. This is sometimes also referred to as mouthfeel. The cold brew process is not as efficient at extracting caffeine or flavor from the coffee, and as a result, the taste – while still pleasant – is not as strong as a regular brew.

Frequent Questions

Now that we have piqued your interest in giving brew cold coffee a try, let’s touch on a few more things that might come up.

Does Cold Brew Coffee Go Bad?

Yes, totally. Cold brew coffee is brewed in a concentrated form and then diluted with water or ice before serving. However, you can make a batch of cold brew and keep it refrigerated for about 7-10 days, depending on your fridge temps and container choice. Always wait to add milk, cream, or sugar as those items may shorten shelf life.

What is Slow-Drip Brewing?

The easy answer is that it is probably one of the more complicated ways to achieve a cold brew, but if achieving the highest quality cup of cold brew coffee is important, it may be the only way to do it. Most cold brew coffee methods involve immersion brewing where the coffee is in the water for several hours. 

Some people feel that this detracts from the quality of the beverage. Slow-drip brewing is where a water reservoir drips water over a coffee grounds bed, which then drains into another vessel to produce a cold brew coffee.

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Is it Safe to Make Cold Brew on the Counter?

Yes, brewing at room temperature is safe. However, it is vital to transfer the brew to the refrigerator to store safely. Some people prefer to brew right in the fridge for simplicity, and honestly, either way, it is okay. 

The difference is in the time it will take the process to complete. The water is much colder inside the refrigerator, which will slow down the process. It typically takes around twelve hours to cold brew at room temperature and up to twenty-four in the fridge.

What is the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is a regular brew that was prepared hot then cooled down over ice. The cooling process causes a chemical reaction that alters the taste of the coffee. Many people prefer iced coffee, and many coffee shops sell it, so it doesn’t necessarily ruin it, but it does change it. By contrast, cold brew is made by immersion or slow-drip processes with cold water and coarsely ground coffee. The beverage is never heated and never has to cool down. Therefore the taste is not altered by chemical reaction.

The Takeaway on Quick Cold Brew Coffee

Although the process moves at a snail’s pace, it can be much faster using an accelerant. The best way to speed things up is to use a blender to vigorously stir coarsely ground coffee in lukewarm or cold water. 

It takes only several minutes to blend the same flavor as several hours of traditional cold brew methods do. While you can easily set up a cold brew to steep overnight and make a batch ahead of time for the whole week, there is something to be said for the modern convenience of doing it quickly. It is not hard to learn how to make cold brew coffee fast.

It is okay to use whatever roast of coffee you prefer, but be aware that the cold brew process may slightly alter the taste from what you get with a regular brew. Once you find a coffee you like in a cold brew, sit back and enjoy it. Remember that you can make iced coffee with a cold brew, but iced coffee isn’t always a cold brew.

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