Can You Use Regular Ground Coffee For Cold Brew?

Most coffee experts know that cold brew requires coarsely ground coffee.

But, can you use regular ground coffee for cold brew?

The short answer is yes, you can use regular ground coffee.

However, the long answer is a bit more complicated than that. 

I’ve done the research and put together a comprehensive answer to this question.

 Let’s take a look at what you need to know!

What Is A Cold Brew?

cold brew coffee on a table

Before we jump right into talking about grind sizes, let’s take a second to recap what a cold brew is.

Cold brew is a type of cold coffee that’s prepared by steeping coffee grounds in cold water instead of hot.

Because the coffee is made using cold water, you have to steep it for longer. Most baristas recommend steeping cold brew for between 16 and 18 hours. 

The longer extraction time results in a smooth, rich coffee. 

On top of that, the cold extraction method pulls more flavor and caffeine out of the beans compared to hot coffee. That makes for a perfect pick-me-up on a sleepy afternoon!

Cold brew has been around since the 1600s, but in recent years, it really become popular. Today, you’ll have no problem finding it in just about any coffee shop you walk into!

Using Regular Ground Coffee For Cold Brew

Traditionally, cold brew coffee concentrate is made using coarsely ground coffee.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use regular ground coffee to make it!

If you’re going to use regular coffee to make cold brew, you’ll need to use a tower brewer. 

Here are a few things you’ll need to know if you want to go this route.

Grinding

Regular ground coffee is slightly finer than coarsely ground coffee. 

Finely ground coffee can restrict the flow of water through the beans. This can lead to an overly bitter brew.

In contrast, a coarse grind allows for quicker absorption, better flavor extraction, and good filtration.

The good news is that regular ground coffee is only slightly finer than your typical, coarse cold brew grind. 

As a result, you can use it to make specific types of cold brew coffee. Namely, you can use it to make Kyoto-style cold brew. 

Since this type of brew uses a drip method, the water is slowly filtered through the grounds. That allows you to extract more flavor, despite the finer grind. 

Brewing

In terms of brewing cold brew with regular ground coffee, you’ll need to use a special cold brew coffee maker – a drip coffee brewer called drip tower. 

Drip towers are brewing systems divided into three parts: 

  • An upper chamber for water (and sometimes ice)
  • A middle chamber for the ground coffee
  • The lower chamber where the cold brew collects

To make cold brew with this method, you add the coffee to the middle chamber and the water to the upper chamber. 

Then, you adjust the drip to determine how many drops of water will fall on the ground coffee. These drops do not fall directly on the coffee but on a paper filter that distributes the water on the coffee. 

From there, it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game!

After 24 hours, your coffee should be ready to serve and you can remove it from the bottom chamber via a spout.

Steep Time

The cold drip technique, also known as  Kyoto-style cold brew, isn’t for those with little patience. 

That’s because this method of brewing coffee takes up to 24 hours!

That’s slightly longer than the standard 16 to 18 hours for cold brew using coarsely ground coffee. 

Now, even though you have to wait longer to drink your coffee, you get a lighter and more nuanced drink. 

For me, that makes it worth the wait. 

Expert Tips

If you want to take your cold brew-making skills to the next level, there are a couple of things you can do. 

That’s especially true if you’re going to be brewing cold brew with fine ground coffee. 

For one thing, when using the slow-drip method to brew cold brew using regular grounds, it’s best to refrigerate the final product. This helps preserve the delicate notes of the drink for longer.

Another pro tip is to use cold water instead of room temperature water to make the cold brew. You can also put ice cubes in the upper chamber of the brew system. 

Doing so helps balance the flavors in the final product. 

I also recommend paying attention to the type of coffee filter you use to make the coffee. 

In general, paper filters give you a cleaner cup of coffee. However, if you like full-bodied coffee, you’re better off using a metal filter. 

Keeping these tips in mind can help you whip up the best cold brew coffee!

FAQ

ground coffee soaked in cold water in a jar

Do you still have a couple of questions about using regular ground coffee for cold brew?

I get it. 

I’ve put together a quick FAQ to help you find the answers you’re looking for.

What is the difference between cold brew coffee grounds and regular coffee grounds?

Cold brew grounds are a bit coarser than regular ground coffee. The coarser grind helps you extract even more flavor from the coffee bean, especially since you’re using cold water to do so.

What coffee grounds does Starbucks use for cold brew?

Starbucks uses coarsely ground coffee that’s about the size of raw sugar to make cold brew concentrate. In terms of the coffee beans, they use one of the best coffee beans for cold brew – the arabica blend from Nariño, Colombia.

How many times can you use coffee grounds for cold brew?

You can only use ground coffee beans to make cold brewed coffee once. That’s because, after you’ve steeped the coffee, all the flavors and aromas have already been extracted from the beans. However, you can use the remaining grounds as a fertilizer for your garden if you don’t want to throw them away!

Final Thoughts

So, can you use regular ground coffee for cold brew? Yes. 

Although the best coffee to brew cold brew is coarse ground coffee, you can use regular pre ground coffee for specific cold brewing methods. 

If you want to use regular ground coffee (or that’s all you have on hand) you can use the drip method to make cold brew. 

Just be aware that this takes a little more work, time, and money!

Want to find a grinder so you can get the right cold brew grind and skip all that when making a homemade cold brew? Check out this guide on the best coffee grinder for cold brew!

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Jessica Ruth Lee Fleming
Jessica is a seasoned caffeine-addict who spent 3 years behind the bar. Her early coffee days took her from the commercial Starbucks scene in urban DC all the way to helping launch a craft coffee shop in California. Today she prefers sharing her years of coffee capers through media, although you’ll find she does it with a trusty cup of coffee by her side.