How Long Should I Let My Cold Brew Steep For?

Cold brewing coffee at home is an easy process, and the result is tasty. In today’s article, we’ll discuss the art of cold brewing. We’ll answer questions such as how long should you let your cold brew steep and what happens if you do it for longer or shorter timeframes. Also, we’ll see how these changes based on the method used.

Cold brew steep time depends on many factors. But the general rule of thumb here is that you should steep it between 12 and 24 hours. The important thing to remember now is that there’s no right or wrong way. Instead, how long you will steep a cold brew entirely depends on your preference. 

What happens if you steep cold brew too long? 

If you have steeped your cold brew for too long, then you have most likely over-extracted from the coffee beans. This means your cold brew will be bitter.

How long is too long to steep cold brew coffee?

There’s no need to steep your cold brew longer than 24 hours. Therefore it’s commonly accepted 24 hours to be the limit. But depending on your method, you can over-extract coffee even faster!

As mentioned above, cold brew is an art, and creating art is exciting and surprising. But there isn’t one single strict process to follow, instead, there’s a direction cold brewing at home follows a process. This basically means: get coffee and water and cold brew it with one of the methods. But everything else is left to testing and that’s a new and unexpected experience. So if you want to learn how to make a great cold brew coffee and avoid creating bitter and acidic cold brew you need to get outside of your comfort zone.

Why is my cold brew bitter? 

This happens due to over-extraction. This means you have extracted the tasty substances from the coffee and the one producing acid and bitterness. 

So you prepared carefully (or not) your cold brew coffee and it tasted uncanny. You didn’t expect the bitter taste to ruin your relaxing time. Well since you’re here let’s see how to avoid this from happening again.

How do I make my cold brew less bitter?

There are numerous factors to take into consideration when cold brewing. But the main one to consider is cold brew steep time. Scientifically known as the duration of extraction. Below I’m listing the other major factors:

  • Coffee type and quality
  • Water quality (tap water VS bottled water)
  • Temperature (lower and higher)
  • Surface of extraction

Let’s see what you need to do to ensure you can consistently cold brew awesome coffee. 

Explore your taste

You need to understand what type of coffee you like. Usually, this starts with realizing what type of coffee you don’t like. This is a trial and error process and don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone.  

To help you with different aromas and tastes check out the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel. It will allow you to navigate through the wide array of tastes and aromas clearly. This will enable you to learn what each type of coffee tastes (theoretically) before tasting it. 

Get quality products

Whatever coffee you like, if you find the best quality, it will directly influence your cold brew coffee quality. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to purchase the most expensive coffee there is. Instead, this means you might need to go online and order it instead of checking only your local store.

More than 90% of your cold brew is actually water. That makes it very influential, and this is why I’d advise you to use bottled water. When we get to the different cold brewing methods, I’ll also share a secret on how to maximize coffee extraction without compromising the taste (hint: Kyoto).

Test (room temperature vs. low)

Try preparing your cold brew both at room temperature and in low temperatures (fridge). Due to the temperature difference, these two methods extract flavor at a different pace, but more about it below.

Grind size

The commonly accepted norm is that coffee for cold brewing should be a coarse grind. If you are wondering why: this allows for better and more even extraction. If you use too fine grind sized coffee you’ll over enhance the extraction and your coffee will not be tasteful. 

If you want more details you should definitely check our article with the Top 10 Cold Brew Coffee Tips for Beginners.

How do you make cold brew coffee: all methods

There are two main methods to prepare a cold brew coffee:

  • doing it at room temperature and
  • doing it in low temperatures (putting in the fridge)

The difference in the temperature changes the process, but the result is very similar. Let’s go through the common questions when it comes to steeping cold brew in both scenarios.

Cold brew steeping at room temperature

This method literally requires you two have only three items: 

  • water
  • coffee and
  • an object to contain your cold brew (we recommend glass containers)

If you don’t usually plan ahead and can’t wait for 24 hours for your cold brew, this method is perfect. The brewing process here usually takes up to 12 hours. This is due to the higher temperature (compared to the fridge). In fact, higher temperature enables better extraction. This is why regular coffee takes minutes to prepare (or even less). But forced extraction through very high temperatures creates more acidic coffee. 

Kyoto Tower brewing method: the cold drip coffee

As commonly known in the coffee industry, the Kyoto tower has been used to cold brew ever since the 1600s. This unusual, yet interesting item can help your cold brew at home with ease. Since it’s not an everyday sight, everybody will want to taste the cold brew coffee it produces.

Kyoto tower consists of three separate glass containers. Each has a different function in the brewing process and as a whole, they work flawlessly. 

The upper container is filled with ice. You can also add water to speed up the cold brewing process.

The middle container is where the coffee goes. It’s important to add a filter in this container so your concentrate is clear. The bottom and last container is where cold brew concentrate is going to be. 

BONUS TIP: put a bit of water in the middle container enough to make the coffee wet. If you do this you will allow for a more even extraction. Instead of the water dripping from the upper container just going through part of the coffee, it will stay for a bit, extract the juicy stuff, and become awesome concentrate. This is called capillary action in chemistry.  

How long does cold drip coffee take? 

Cold brewing with a Kyoto Tower takes roughly 8 hours. The middle container allows the user to control the water flow (usually). It can take even less (or more) time depending on how you adjust it and the coffee to water/ice ratio you’re using.

Obviously to cold brew in this manner you have to purchase a Kyoto Tower. There are many different looking ones and for all sorts of budgets. I’d recommend you to go with this one. But make no mistake, Kyoto tower while it’s very trendy, it can also be high maintenance.

Standard cold brewing at room temperature

After the fancy cold brewing method, let’s get to the commonly used one. Instead of a Kyoto tower, you will mix the coffee and water in a glass container. The only real requirement is that the container has a good lid since you don’t want air messing up the process. 


How long should cold brew steep?

This method takes somewhere between 8 and 12 hours. The type of coffee, its size, and water to coffee ratios are important factors to consider.

How do you Filter Cold Brew?

If you’re brewing in a regular container then you need to use a filter. There are two types of filters: paper and metal. But there are a couple of shapes with the most popular being cone, basket and bag filter and I covered it all in this article

You need to use a filter that is often called a coffee sock.

Should I Steep cold brew in the fridge?

The alternative method to cold brewing at room temperature is fridge brewing. This is how I brewed my first cold brew coffee. This is also the most frequent option used by many coffee aficionados because it requires the least attention. 

The key in this method is to prepare it carefully and leave the cold brew to steep in your fridge. Again it’s highly recommendable to store it in a glass container with a lid.

How long should cold brew steep in the fridge?

Cold brewing in the fridge takes up to 24 hours. But what is considered an ideal cold brew steep time is 16 to 18 hours. This will provide enough time for the extraction to happen, but it will prevent it from over extracting.

Are 10 hours enough for cold brew?

The short answer is YES, if you’re cold brewing at room temperature. But if you’re cold brewing coffee in the fridge, we’re looking at 16 to 18 hours (but no more than 24 hours). 

Can you make a cold brew in 8 hours?

You can prepare a cold brew in 8 hours. However, I’d recommend using a Kyoto tower since you can adjust the speed at which the water will flow. This will directly result in either short or longer cold brewing time but still remain in control over the produced cold brew coffee quality.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last

Regardless of the method used, your cold brew can last up to two months in your refrigerator. But that is if your concentrate wasn’t diluted. If you mix your cold brew concentrate with another substance, shelf life is decreased to 2-3 days. 


Cold brew is simple, yet complex. You need just two ingredients, but the possibilities are endless. This enticing reality is what makes it difficult to provide you a simple and clear formula to follow. On top of that, there are personal preferences when it comes to taste. I’ve been taught that you don’t argue with people about tastes: they are the way they are. So just be happy when you figure out what you like!

What method you’ll pick is adding on the complexity. But who loves simple stuff? If you did, you’d be drinking some random coffee. Don’t worry if you’re still unsure what type of coffee you like and know the exact ratio and duration of steeping as per your preference. Instead, look at it from this perspective: you’re headed on an excitin