Unlike most other coffee drinks, cold brew coffee can’t just be whipped up in a couple of minutes. That’s why coffee fanatics are willing to get to the cafe early enough to ensure the cafe won’t run out of cold brew, and why they’ll happily pay a premium for the good stuff. If you want to make it at home, though, it can be hard to remember to make it a full day in advance when you’ve probably got plenty of other things to think about. That’s why cold brew concentrate is a great option for the busy and budget-conscious coffee lover.
Cold brew concentrate is simply cold brew that’s brewed at double or triple strength (or sometimes more). You’re then supposed to dilute it with water or mix it with your favorite creamer, such as almond milk, oat milk, or good old-fashioned milk milk. Some java junkies will knock back the concentrate straight, too, though that’s likely to be too strong for the average coffee drinker.
The advantage of cold brew concentrate is that it won’t take up as much space in your fridge as a bottle of ready-to-drink cold brew. It’s also better for your wallet and the environment, as you’re paying for less water to be shipped to you — that translates to less packaging, less wasted energy in shipping and more coffee. You might get sticker shock looking at the cost of the average bottle of cold brew concentrate, but it’s important to remember that you’re getting at least twice what’s in the bottle.
There are tons of options out there, and these are some of our favorites.
1. Stumptown Coffee Concentrate Cold Brew
Portland-based Stumptown Coffee is one of the early leaders of the “third wave” coffee movement, which is coffee-nerd speak for the specialty cafes that followed major chains like Starbucks and Peet’s (now Stumptown is actually owned by Peet’s). Their cold brew concentrate is bold and strong, with a unique but not at all unpleasant aftertaste. This concentrate comes in a 25 oz bottle and is designed to be diluted 1:1 with water for easy mixing.
2. Chameleon Cold Brew Black Coffee
Chameleon sells whole bean coffee, canned coffee drinks like lattes, and a variety of other products. But they’re best known for their cold brew concentrate, for the simple reason that it’s just plain good. It’s also easy to get at a wide variety of stores, making it easy to stock up. Their cold brew is actually less concentrated than others — they recommend a two-to-one ratio of concentrate to water (that means two parts coffee, one part water). This cold brew concentrate is certified organic.
3. Lucky Jack Organic Concentrate Brew Coffee
Why Lucky Jack has a pirate thing going on with their branding and packaging isn’t immediately clear, but what is clear is how good their coffee is. They specialize in cold brew and nitro cold brew, and they also offer this concentrate. Their coffee is smooth, rich and not too expensive. This cold brew concentrate comes in a 32 oz bottle, and it’s easy to mix in a 1:1 ratio. It’s also USDA organic.
4. La Colombe Cold Brew Concentrate
La Colombe is the kind of little-big roaster that maintains a high quality of coffee but is also easy to get at major stores. This cold brew concentrate is made from single-origin Brazilian coffee beans, giving it a more distinct taste than you get with house blends. Each bottle is 32 oz, and it’s extra concentrated — they recommend a 3:1 ratio.
5. Jot Ultra Coffee
Cold brew concentrate typically comes in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio, but Jot brews their coffee extra strong, so you just need, well, a jot of it. Specifically, they recommend just one tablespoon per 8 ounces. It’s not just for iced coffee, either. You can add hot water, too. Technically, Jot is less specifically cold brew concentrate and more of a category unto itself, but it’s a great place to start for making iced coffee.
6. Javy Coffee Microdose 30X Liquid Coffee Concentrate
Javy’s coffee is a whopping 30X concentrate, meaning a little goes a long, long way. They recommend one to two teaspoons for your coffee. Like Jot, Javy can be made for hot or cold coffee drinks, but it’s a great option for making as a cold brew.
7. Starbucks Cold Brew Concentrate Black
Starbucks isn’t for everyone, but there’s a reason it’s as popular as it is — it’s affordable, dependable, and all-in-all, pretty good. This cold brew concentrate comes in a 32 oz bottle, and it’s designed to be mixed in a 1:1 ratio for a smooth taste.
More from SPY