The only thing I don’t like about cold brew coffee is how much I have to pay to enjoy it. After a few weeks of experimenting, I settled on the best recipe for cold brew coffee that works out to less than $0.30 a cup.
The active process takes less than 5 minutes of work and the end result is smoother than coffee brewed with heat. I recommend that you brew a double (or even triple) batch because this is a recipe you will want every single morning.
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Benefits and Drawbacks of Cold Brew
I love cold brew. I live in New Brunswick, a province in Atlantic Canada that gets incredibly cold. In the winter we often have -40 Celsius days with wind chill. I still drink Iced Coffee as I find drinks brewed with the cold brew method are much more smooth, less acidic and are just all around better tasting.
Another bonus with cold brew is that you can drink it with a straw. Drinking hot coffee has the tendency to stain teeth and becomes very difficult to reverse once your teeth are stained. Drinking coffee with a straw, preferably a metal straw is in my opinion the best way to enjoy it. My favourite ones can be found here (Canada) (US).
The only downside of cold brew is how expensive it can be to buy outside your house. The solution, evidently, is to make it at home. The amount you can save by making homemade cold brew is astonishing. I’ve done the math and posted about possible savings below.
The Cost of Cold Brew Each Year
At Starbucks a large iced coffee is $4.89. If you get 3 coffees a day (the American average according to E-Import), you’re looking at $5397.25 a year. If you can kick the habit altogether, the savings could be even higher than the initial cost per cup savings if you normally get breakfast or lunch with your caffeine boost.
The Homemade vs Store-Bought Price Comparison
In contrast, brewing cold brew at home is cheap. How cheap you can get it depends on a lot of things, but mostly the price of grinds you buy. Personally, I’ve been using Folgers because it’s inexpensive, can be bought on Amazon (Canada) (US) and honestly tastes amazing through the cold brew method.
The regular price of this tub is $10.99 per 2lb (or 32.5oz) container. I got mine on sale for $6.94. It goes on sale often. Each 5 cup batch of cold brew requires 3oz of coffee, so you can get 11 batches per container. Each batch yields 5 cups of coffee. So per container, you get 55 cups.
Even at it’s most expensive non-sale price, home-brew sits at $0.19 per cup. That’s an astonishing $4.70 cheaper, per cup, than Starbucks. If you drink the American average of 3 coffees a day, or 1132 a year, you’re looking at savings of up to $5320.40 yearly.
Let’s not forget this price can be lowered with sale prices. Considering the sale price of $6.94 per container that I paid, you’re looking at $0.12 per cup. This brings your savings all the way up to $5399.64 a year.
Comparison of “Cheaper” Cold Brew from Restaurants
I know that not everyone drinks expensive Starbucks coffee, so let’s compare to another caffeine giant. A McDonald’s Iced Coffee (my favourite option, personally), is still a whopping $3.67 per large drink. You’re still looking at a cost of $4154.44 a year, $4018.60 yearly more than homemade.
When you factor in cream and sugar, the numbers still are much less. I buy Torani Syrup from Amazon (Canada) (US). Sometimes they spike in price, but I’ve always bought them at 11.98/bottle. Each bottle has 25 fl oz, and a serving of sweetener is usually an ounce. This adds an additional $0.47 per cup.
18% cream from Northumberland is $4.49 per litre, or $0.07 per serving. Even with the most premium coffee syrup and adding cream, your coffee is still only $0.66 per cup.
Homemade vs Store Bought Sweetners
Keep in mind, you can easily make the same amount of simple syrup using water and $0.49 worth of white sugar. For reference, here is a recipe for homemade simple syrup that makes 16 servings instead of 25. With this price, your simple syrup comes to $0.02 per serving.
Let’s say you’re resourceful and use everything homemade. With your home-brew coffee, homemade simple syrup and Northumberland 18% cream, you’re looking at $0.21 per cup of iced coffee. This is still a savings of $4.68 per cup, totalling at $5297.76 a year if you have 3 cups a day.
Now that the boring math is done, let’s talk recipe.
Cold Brew Coffee Method
To make cold brew coffee, what you need is:
- 3oz coffee, coarsely ground
- 3 cups water
- A container, 1 quart per batch
- A sieve or fine mesh strainer
- A filter – coffee filters or cheesecloth
The cold brew batch takes 12-18 hours to be ready to drink, so start steeping in the afternoon the day before you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Perfect Cold Brew Coffee
- Fine Mesh Sieve or Coffee Filters
- 1 Quart Cntainer
- 3 oz coffee coarsely ground
- 3 cups water
- sugar syrup optional
- coffee cream optional
- Weigh out 3 ounces of ground coffee and combine the measured grounds with 3 cups of water in a jar (with a lid) of at least 1 quart capacity.
- Stir until combined and let sit on the counter for 5 minutes. Re-stir the grounds one last time before setting in the fridge overnight or for 12-24 hours. The coffee is ready after the 12 hour mark but can be left until 24. If left beyond 18 hours, it may develop a slightly bitter taste but will be more strong. I find 12-18 hours is the sweet spot, but you may experiment and find what works best for your personal taste.
- After soaking the grinds overnight, you’re going to strain them to remove the grinds. I like to do it twice, once through a fine mesh strainer and a second time through either a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with a coffee filter. This ensures that there’s absolutely no particles in the coffee.
- Add ice cubes to a cup with 1/2 cup of coffee concentrate and 1/2 cup of water.
- Add 1 pump of sugar syrup and 1-2 tablespoons of coffee cream (optional).
- If you want, you can measure the final amount of coffee concentrate and mix in an equal amount of water before you place it in the fridge for the week. This prepares your coffee for the week instead of mixing it each day. The recipe should produce about 2 1/2 cups of coffee concentrate.
- You can add less or more water to the concentrate depending on your preference for the strength of coffee.
- This recipe makes 5 cups of coffee. Double or triple this recipe based on your weekly coffee intake.
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