Cold brew coffee is a delicious base for many drinks, but there’s probably a limit to how much caffeine you can consume before you get jitters. So you may wonder, “Can cold brew be decaf?”
Yes, making cold brew coffee decaf is possible, so you don’t have to spend a fortune buying it. In fact, it is super easy to make tasty decaf cold brew coffee at home!
Best coffee for decaf cold brew
Finding freshly roasted decaf beans might be challenging, as most people prefer regular coffee. However, research forecasts the popularity of decaf coffee to grow in the years to come.
The specialty coffee industry is starting to catch on to the desire for decaf and producing well-roasted decaf coffee beans. While decaf coffee was controversial due to concerns about the solvents used to decaffeinate coffee beans, growers are now coming up with better options.
Some decaf coffee drinkers may be open to varieties of coffee that are naturally low in caffeine instead of entirely free of caffeine, depending on their reason for avoiding caffeine. However, the best decaf coffee for cold brew is typically made with the Swiss Water Process, which decaffeinates beans without solvents.
If you are a Starbucks fan, they sell decaf whole-bean coffee, which you can easily convert into Starbucks decaf cold brew at home. However, your local specialty coffee roasters may have freshly roasted decaf options. Also, you can shop for decaf coffee online if you can’t find decaf beans near you.
Equipment for making decaf cold brew coffee
You can get a dedicated cold brew pitcher with an included filter that takes care of the whole brewing process for you. When you mix water and coffee grounds in a pitcher, let it sit for at least 12 hours, and then filter out the coffee grounds. You may then dilute the cold brew with additional cold water when serving if desired.
The French press has a filter and a large brewing chamber, so it can double as a cold brew pitcher. Otherwise, you can improvise with any clean container or jar large enough to hold the amount of cold brew you want. Additionally, you will need a strainer and a paper coffee filter.
If you get into cold brew coffee, you may want to try a slow-drip Japanese coffee maker. Those use a slightly different process than described here — ice in the top chamber melts and trickles onto ground coffee in the middle section, causing brewed coffee to drip into the bottom chamber. However, the result is similar to that of other cold brew coffee makers.
Coffee to water ratio
You may have noticed while shopping that some products are marketed as cold brew coffee while others are labeled as decaf cold brew concentrate.
The basic process for making cold brew coffee at home is the same as for making a concentrate. The difference is in the coffee-to-water ratio used when brewing.
A cold brew concentrate is quite strong, so it has to be diluted with water at a ratio of two parts water to one part concentrate when you drink it. To get that strength when you brew, use a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio. So, for example, use 8.8 ounces (250 g) of coffee for one quart (950 ml) of water.
You can go as low as one part coffee to two parts water for an extremely strong, rich concentrate, although you may need a special cold brew pitcher rather than a regular jar or French press for best results at this level.
A product marketed as cold brew coffee might not need to be diluted when you drink it. To get that strength when you brew, use a 1:8 coffee-to-water ratio. This would be 4.4 ounces (125 g) of ground coffee to one quart (950 ml) of water. You can go as high as ten parts water for a more diluted coffee.
As you learn how to make a decaf cold brew, you can choose a ratio anywhere between coffee and concentrate on getting the best cold brew for your taste.
Weigh the coffee and water on a scale to ensure you get these ratios exact. Coffee grounds and coffee beans have the same weight, so that’s typically more reliable than using a measuring cup, as a cup of coffee grounds does not weigh the same as a cup of beans.
How to make decaf cold brew at home
Preparing cold brew takes more time than most coffee brewing methods, so make sure to plan ahead. The mixture will need to steep for at least 12 hours. However, setting it up is super easy, and you’ll likely find it worth the wait! (To make the wait go faster, you might start your brewing process in the evening so it will be ready in the morning.)
Here is an easy decaf cold brew coffee recipe you can try at home.
- 4.4 oz (125 g) coarsely ground decaf coffee
- 1 quart (950 ml) room temperature water
- Add ground coffee to a cold brew pitcher or a large jar.
- Slowly pour in water.
- Stir the coffee grounds with a spoon to ensure they are soaked.
- Cover the vessel, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. You can leave it for up to 24 hours to make the coffee stronger.
- Discard the grounds. If you use a cold brew pitcher, remove the mesh filter. If you use a French press, depress the plunger as you normally would when brewing hot coffee and pour the cold brew into another vessel. If you use a jar or a container, strain the coffee using a fine mesh strainer or a cheesecloth.
- If some fine sediment remains in your cold brew, you may want to strain it again using a paper coffee filter.
- Your decaf cold brew is now ready to drink. Add ice, or dilute it with milk or water to taste.
Store the decaf cold brew in a closed jar or a container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Diluting decaf cold brew
Cold brew has high caffeine content, especially if it’s brewed to be a coffee concentrate. This is the main difference between cold brew coffee and iced drip coffee. Iced coffee is just regular coffee cooled down and poured over ice, and it often becomes watery as the ice melts.
The downside of regular cold brew is that, while most people might have no trouble drinking a 12-ounce mug of regular coffee, they’d likely experience the caffeine jitters with a 12-ounce glass of cold brew!
If you make decaf cold brew, you don’t have to worry about getting the caffeine jitters from drinking decaf concentrate without dilution.
That said, you may still find the taste of decaf cold brew too strong or bitter, even if you know it won’t make you jittery or interrupt your sleep. In that case, you might want to dilute your cold brew with water or milk.
How much you’ll want to dilute your decaf cold brew coffee depends on how strong you brewed it. You would typically dilute a strong concentrate at a ratio of two parts water to one part cold brew. However, if you are unsure how strong your decaf cold brew is, start with a 1:1 ratio and then adjust it to taste.
You can add milk or even heavy cream to your cold brew coffee, although you’ll have to weigh that against concerns about saturated fat. Other options include plant-based dairy substitutes like almond milk or soy milk. If you plan to drink coffee this way, factor it in when preparing the cold brew, as you may want to brew it stronger.
Cold brew coffee naturally has some sweetness, so you may not need any sugar, even if you usually drink your coffee sweetened.
How long does decaf cold brew last?
Decaf cold brew coffee lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator. To maintain freshness, keep it covered while storing it. You might also stir or swirl it occasionally, if only as a reminder to have some.
Knowing this, if you are going to the trouble to whip up a batch of decaf cold brew coffee, you might as well make more than you plan to drink in one sitting.
With easy access to refrigerated coffee, you can get creative and combine cold brew decaf concentrate with other ingredients to make cold coffee lemonade, iced caramel latte, or even iced boba coffee. You can also use coffee concentrate in various cooking and baking recipes.
If you made a big batch of cold brew but feel like a hot drink, you can dilute it with steamed milk or hot water or heat cold brew decaf coffee in a microwave.
A homemade decaf cold brew can satisfy your craving for the perfect cup of coffee in the comfort of your home. Knowing how to make your favorite drinks yourself is an empowering solution!