Why Does Cold Brew Coffee Take So Long?

Cold brew coffee is a recent trend that has become very popular. You’ve probably seen it at your favorite coffee shop. But why does cold brewing take so long?

Cold-brew coffee takes about 18-24 hours to complete. This is so the water can extract oils and caffeine from the beans. Because there’s no heat, the water needs to take a long time to get the flavor profile from the beans.

So what does the cold brew process look like? Is there a way to speed up the process? Read on to find out!

The Cold Brew Process

Cold brewing has similar principles to hot brewing, but cold brewing has special instructions to achieve a good brew.

Let’s compare hot brewing and cold brewing.

Hot brewing, the method you are probably most familiar with, requires boiling water to extract the oils and caffeine from the coffee grounds.

Because of the heat, the brewing time is very short. According to the National Coffee Association, if you use a French press, your brewing time could be 2-4 minutes.

In stark contrast, cold brewing takes a significantly longer amount of time.

When hot brewing, the catalyst for the process is heat. Since there is no heat, the catalyst for the process is the time when cold brewing. It takes approximately 18-24 hours to complete the cold brew process.

Once the brew is complete, all you have to do is strain the grounds from the coffee using a cheesecloth.

But what if you don’t have time to make a cold brew? Is there a way to speed up the process?

Blending Your Coffee Can Accelerate the Process

Technically, you can speed up the process by blending your water and grounds in a blender. However, you should do this with caution. If done incorrectly, you can end up with a very gritty drink.

When completing your cold brew, you will strain your coffee 2-3 times to ensure no grounds are left. However, the blending process could make the grounds so fine that they slip through the cheesecloth.

That would make for some pretty icky coffee! Nobody likes to have grounds in their morning cup. So this method isn’t recommended.

Can You Use Room Temperature Water?

While most people do, you don’t actually have to brew your coffee overnight in the fridge. It’s totally acceptable to brew it on the countertop overnight.

As long as the water isn’t hot, like in hot brewing, the temperature doesn’t really matter. What matters is how long you keep the grounds in the water. The longer they steep, the stronger the coffee flavor you get.

However, once the brew is complete, you should put it in the fridge until you finish drinking it. Otherwise, you run the risk of contaminating it with bacteria. Yuck!

Why Choose Cold Brew?

So, cold brewing your coffee takes forever. Then why would you choose it? Well, there are some benefits to the process.

The first is that you get a very concentrated coffee that you can use several times. If you like cold coffee but don’t like when it gets watered down with ice, then adding this to your iced coffee would be best (or replacing your iced coffee).

The second benefit is that cold brewing produces a much more mellow flavor than hot brewing. It’s more floral and mild, not bitter and acidic. This is great if you love the coffee flavor but don’t like the bitterness.

The third benefit is that it can actually save you time. While the brewing time is long, the preparation time is very minimal.

For example, you prepare your brew once, let it steep all day, then strain it the next day.

Depending on how much coffee you drink, you could have coffee for several days. So after you initially strain it, all you have to do is add ice (you don’t have to) and go!


While cold brewing does take a long time, it can be an excellent option for people on the go. If you prefer iced coffee, it actually tastes better over ice than hot coffee. And, it’s easy to make it yourself!

Whatever method you choose, choose the one that creates the flavors you like to taste best. Good luck!