How Long Should You Steep Cold Brew For?

How Long Should You Steep Cold Brew For?

Everyone loves a nice cold brew coffee, but many people end up wondering, “How long should you steep cold brew for?”The amount of time for steeping depends on the temperature of your water, brewing environment, and coffee grounds. There are other variables that can influence the quality of your brew that will be discussed further in the article.

So if you’re an at-home barista, coffee enthusiast, or simply interested in the process, here are some guidelines and simple do’s and don’ts to make your cold brewing process a breeze!

The Basics For Steeping Cold Brew

The basics for how long you should steep your cold brew

Individual cup with coffee, cold jar, and ice on a wooden board.

How long should you steep cold brew for? Well, if you are brewing at room temperature, it is recommended that the coffee seeps for a minimum of 12 hours to 18 hours. Using a warmer water temperature allows for the coffee steeping process to move quickly since the molecules move faster in hot water. Since the extraction process is faster, it will be easy to over-extract the coffee grounds. To avoid this, use a larger ground size so that it will take longer for the water to penetrate the grounds. Also, keep in mind that with a quicker brew it will take less time to develop the coffee’s depth of flavors.

When brewing in the fridge the extraction process will take longer. You should steep your cold brew for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator and using more coarse coffee grounds so that there will be less of a chance of over-extraction. Since this requires more time, there will be a greater depth of flavor in this brew.

This is just a quick breakdown, but we will go more in-depth about other factors that can affect your brewing quality later on.

So…How Long Should You Steep Cold Brew For?

Brewing at room temperature will take between 12-18 hours, and in the fridge, it can take 18-24 hours. These are the recommended times, but once you gain some experience, you can change the duration to fit your preferences.

That being said, since you must prepare this coffee in advance, we suggest making a large batch over the weekend and storing it (cold brew and room temperature brew) in the fridge. That way, you can have coffee at your convenience! You can store your cold brew for up to 2 weeks but the quality of the brew will degrade as more time passes.

What Happens if You Steep Cold Brew For Too Long? 

Cold brewing your coffee for too long can lead to a bitter taste. To avoid this, follow our suggestions for both brews and be sure to consider other factors like ground size and coffee quality. Brewing your coffee past the time suggested will result in an over-extraction of the acidity and bitterness in your grounds.

To prevent this, be sure to choose the right ground size for brewing- medium to large for room temperature brewing and larger grounds for cold brewing. Also, consider the quality of the coffee you choose. Simply put, if you use higher quality coffee, the taste of brew will still taste better than a lower quality coffee, even if you mess up the process at some point by mistake.

What Other Factors Can Result in a Bitter Brew?

What other factors can prevent a bitter brew?

iced coffee with coffee beans on the side

Besides the ground size and quality of the coffee, the type of the water (filtered, tap, bottled) and the temperature (room temperature or cold) can influence the taste. Using higher quality coffee can aid in developing a fuller flavor of the coffee extracted.

Cold Brewing Beginner Tips

Here are some tips to make your cold brewing a success!


Brewing at room temperature takes 12-18 hours. It is quicker but more difficult to obtain strong flavors. Cold-brewing in the fridge takes 18-24 hours, but you may be able to achieve a better flavor. For both, store in the fridge after the brewing is done. 

Ground size

Avoid using small grounds because these make it easier for the water to over-extract the flavors. With both methods, it is best to grind your coffee to a coarser size.


All you need is a glass container with an air-tight lid. Glass is the best option since there are no minerals that can be drawn from the material to affect the taste of the cold brew. 

How Do You Filter Cold Brew?

how do you filter cold brew?

coffee grounds in a filter

You can get pretty creative with this step. Generally, people use paper or metal filters or even a coffee sock. If you want to avoid a mess and already have a french press on hand, you’ll want to use that instead. 


Cold-brew in the fridge takes a longer time (18-24 hours) but tastes better, whereas brewing at room temperature takes less time (12-18 hours) but doesn’t extract all the flavors. Both methods should be executed at the beginning of the week and made in bulk to save time throughout the week. Lastly, avoid using small grounds for both methods, and make sure to consider the water and coffee quality to optimize the flavor of your cold brew.  

Steeping Cold Brew: Summary

Cold brewing is a great way to enjoy all the complex flavors your coffee holds. You’ll also enjoy the additional benefits of a higher concentration of caffeine, and a lower chance of acid reflux! To start your cold brewing adventure, you can just use the basic equipment and steps until you gain more experience, then you can get more experimental with the equipment and steeping time. This process comes with a lot of freedom in your preferences since your coffee is ultimately based on your taste. 

Happy Brewing!

Written by Tina Wu

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