What Is the Best Way to Filter Cold Brew Coffee? 5 Options and Tools

Coffee is a popular drink that comes in many different forms. One such form is Cold Brew. This is, basically, coffee that is brewed at room temperature instead of with hot water.

Some methods of brewing cold brew extract may be worse than others. The best method, though largely subjective, generally involves steeping the coffee for as long as 18 hours and then pouring it over a sieve of some sort into a pitcher.

Cold Brew Coffee with ice

The details that vary in the process are pretty much limited to the type of sieve and what it is made of as well as the size of the grounds used. Let’s dig in a little more and explore some of the intricacies of filtering cold brew extract.

What Is the Most Effective Way to Filter Cold Brew Coffee?

As we said, the most effective way to filter cold brew coffee requires the use of some kind of filter to separate the used grounds from the fluid they have been steeping in.

The particulars vary regarding what type of filter is used, or how many layers of filters are used, or how many times the coffee is filtered. There isn’t a correct answer here. As we said, some people may find greater success with one type of filter used only once, while someone else might filter twice with a separate type of filter.

Whichever method is used, many people find the resultant cold brew coffee quite delightful.

What Are the Advantages of Cold Brew?

Again, this may be an entirely subjective area, but many people prefer cold brew over other types of coffee. The reasons they cite for this include:

  • The ease with which cold brew is made.
  • Since it can be stored in the fridge, it can be ready at a moment’s notice.
  • It can be warmed, if desired.
  • It costs less than any coffee you might get at a coffee shop.
  • Many people find it to be smoother and more flavorful than other types of coffee.

For someone who has never tried cold brew, perhaps one of those (or two or three) reasons may pique their curiosity and get them to try it.

How Do You Make Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature water for anywhere from 12 to 18 hours. Longer, if necessary. It’s best to maintain a ratio of about 1 ounce (by weight) of coffee grounds per 1 cup of water.

Ideally, one should use coarsely ground coffee beans—although medium ground will also work (perhaps a little less effectively). The ratio can be varied by taste. One can use a little more coffee grounds, if one wants a more potent brew, or less, if one wants a weaker one.

Once the coffee has steeped for long enough, it is time to separate the grounds from the coffee. This involves pouring the mixture through a strainer of some sort that will catch the grounds and let the coffee pass through.

The resultant coffee is highly concentrated, and most people dilute it by adding water. We would recommend starting by doubling the quantity of fluid. If there are 2 ½ cups of concentrated coffee, add 2 ½ cups of water right after it is strained.

Once that is accomplished, the cold brew coffee can be stored in the refrigerator and consumed at a later time.

What Are Some Different Types of Filters for Cold Brew Coffee?

As we said, one of the details that varies among the different methods of cold brewing coffee is the type of filter used. Here are some of the more common such types of filters:

Let’s discuss each one of these in turn.

Cloth Filters

A number of different products can be used to create a cloth filter such as cotton, nylon, or mesh products. There are, basically, two different ways to use them. The grounds can be wrapped in the cloth and the resultant pouch or small bag is then immersed in the water. The water permeates the bag to absorb the coffee oils and such to become cold brew coffee.

Alternatively, the grounds can be placed directly in the water then poured out through a cloth filter to remove the grounds from the brew.

However, some cotton filters, like those made from Cheesecloth, can absorb some of the coffee oils over time. Because of that, they shouldn’t be used for the bag immersion process

In addition to Cheesecloth, another type of cloth or cloth-like filter is the nylon filter. This includes things like nut milk bags. They are also popular.

Paper Filters

Paper filters have a reputation for being the most effective. Although they remove most of the sediment, they are known to clog up more easily. This results in a longer filtration time. For some people, that time may be unbearably long.

Another issue with paper filters is that they can absorb some of the coffee oils. This may have adverse effects on the flavor of the coffee. Some people rinse the paper filters prior to use to remove whatever paper flavors might be present.

To combat the inordinate length of time involved, some people use some other less-fine filter to remove the larger pieces of sediment from the coffee and then filter a second time through the paper.

Metal mesh

Another type of coffee filter is a metal mesh. However, some coffee aficionados and experts claim that metal can alter the flavor of the coffee if exposed to it too long. As a result, they recommend against using any type of filter immersion technique when the filter is made of metal.

Metal mesh filters are usually on par with nylon mesh bags and leave a small amount of fine sediment.

French Press

A French press filter is a specially-designed coffee system that makes a good choice for cold brew. They operate by using a plunger that serves as the filter.

After the brew has steeped for the requisite 18 hours or so, the plunger “presses” into the brew to trap the sediment on the bottom of the container. The clean coffee can then be poured out into another container or through a secondary (paper) filter.


In our research, we stumbled across a number of unorthodox filters. For example, some people used a cloth made simply from unbleached linen in conjunction with a colander. Others start by pouring slowly and discarding the last couple ounces or so with the bulk of the used grounds contained therein.

There were a few other options, but we won’t list anymore here.

What Is a French Press?

It is a coffee making system that uses a mesh like plunger that is thrust into the coffee mixture to strain the fluid and keep all the grounds and sludge in the pot when the coffee itself is poured out.


We hope this brief article on filtering cold brew extract is helpful. It should answer a few questions for those exploring the intricacies of cold brew coffee. Bottoms up!


Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, while sharing it with the public. More than 10 baristas were interviewed; over 21 farms were visited across 5 countries. Almost 100 Coffee Shops. Bean of choice: Pacamara. Preferred coffee country: Panama. Preferred Brewing Method: Aeropress. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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