Can you Make Cold Brew in a Keurig?

why you cant make cold brew in a keurig

I view my Keurig as that magical machine that brings joy to my mornings with a quick and convenient cup of coffee. But as the warmer months roll around, many of us start craving the smooth, mellow flavors of cold brew coffee. It might be tempting to use our trusty Keurig to whip up this summer favorite, but can it really be done? Let's dive into why a Keurig might not be the best tool for the cold brew job.

No, you can't make a genuine cold brew with a Keurig. Cold brew requires steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, while Keurig machines are designed for quick, hot brewing. A Keurig can be used to make iced coffee, which is similar to cold brew. 

Now, it's not that we're knocking the Keurig. It's fantastic at what it does: delivering hot coffee swiftly and with minimal fuss. The process for making cold brew, however, is a slow steeping one that unfolds over hours, not minutes. This method extracts flavors differently, yielding that signature smoothness and low acidity we love in cold brew. So, while your Keurig is a superstar in many ways, for genuine cold brew, it's best to stick with traditional methods.

Related: How to Get Coffee Grounds Out of your Keurig Coffee

Why You Can't Make Cold Brew With a Keurig

You make cold brew coffee by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period of time, typically 12 to 24 hours. This process slowly extracts flavors from the beans, resulting in a smooth, mellow, and low-acidity coffee drink. I used to do it myself at home and it's a pretty easy process. If you like really dark, strong coffee you should try it.

But, here's why you can't make genuine cold brew with a Keurig:

  • Different Brewing Dynamics – The rapid water flow in a Keurig machine helps it quickly saturate the coffee grounds and extract flavors under pressure. Cold brew requires a full immersion of the grounds in water, allowing for a passive, even extraction. 
  • Temperature MattersKeurig machines come designed to quickly brew coffee using hot water. The heat speeds up the extraction process, bringing out the robust and sometimes acidic flavors of coffee. Cold brew, on the other hand, relies on the slow extraction that only cold water can offer, resulting in its signature smooth taste. 
  • Time Is Essential – Making cold brew is a test of patience. The beans need to be in contact with the water for a long duration to achieve the desired extraction. A Keurig brews coffee in just a few minutes, which isn't enough time to extract the deep, layered flavors that characterize cold brew.

So, while a Keurig is a fantastic tool for giving you a fast caffeine fix with quick hot coffee, its design and brewing mechanics simply don’t align with the requirements for making a genuine cold brew. If you're a cold brew aficionado, it's best to stick with traditional methods or invest in specialized cold brew equipment.

Related: How to Make Espresso with a Keurig

What is Cold Brew?

Cold brew is a distinctive method of preparing coffee where coarsely ground coffee beans steep in cold or room temperature water over an extended period, usually between 12 to 24 hours. This slow extraction contrasts with traditional hot brewing techniques that use hot water to quickly extract flavors. The outcome? A coffee concentrate that's often perceived as smoother, less acidic, and sometimes sweeter, even without added sugars or sweeteners. 

This concentrate is typically stronger than your average cup, so most people like to dilute it to taste with water, milk, or other alternatives before they drink it. Also, while it's a favorite chilled drink, especially during warmer months, cold brew's versatility means you can also heat it for a warm one or add it into a range of recipes from desserts to cocktails. I personally love cold brew during hot weather, but I also like to bake, and nothing brings out that deep chocolatey flavor for cakes or desserts better than coffee. Espresso works too.

Notably, due to variables like bean type, grind size, and brew duration, the caffeine content in cold brew can sometimes exceed that of standard brewed coffee, although this will vary based on how strong it's made.

Related: Why Cold Brew Can Upset your Stomach. 

What is Iced Coffee?

iced coffee with milk in plastic cup

CC: Photo by Caglar Araz on Unsplash

Iced coffee is a popular and refreshing drink that, at its core, is hot coffee brewed traditionally and then cooled down and served over ice. The process starts with brewing a strong pot of hot coffee. Given that pouring over ice or adding cold milk can dilute the coffee, it's usually brewed at a stronger concentration to retain its strong flavor even after dilution.

Once brewed, there are a couple of methods to prepare iced coffee. Some prefer to let the coffee reach room temperature or refrigerate it before pouring it over ice, ensuring the drink remains cool and doesn't get watered down immediately. Others might pour the hot coffee directly over ice, although this can lead to faster dilution unless the coffee is brewed exceptionally strong. One trick I like to use is to freeze it into ice cube trays and use this in my iced coffee. This way, it gets and stays cold, and it won’t dilute as the ice cubes melt. In fact, it may even get stronger with the flavor profile. 

Regardless of the method, the result is a drink that retains many of the characteristics of traditional hot coffee but with a refreshing, cold twist. It's ideal for warm weather or for those who simply prefer their caffeine served cold.

How to Make Iced Coffee With Keurig

Making iced coffee using a Keurig is a breeze, especially when you're looking for a quick, chilled caffeine fix. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting that perfect cup of iced coffee:

  • Prepare Your Cup – Grab a large glass and fill it to the top with ice cubes. This will not only chill your coffee but also help in the cooling process as the hot coffee pours over. 
  • Choose the Right K-Cup – While you can use any coffee flavor you prefer, medium or dark roast K-Cups are often favored for iced coffee due to their robust flavors that stand out even after dilution from the ice. Use these Amazon Dark Roast K-cups for your iced coffee 
  • Adjust Brew Settings – If your Keurig has strength settings, you might consider choosing a stronger brew since the ice will dilute the coffee a bit. Also, choose the smallest cup setting on your Keurig (usually 4 or 6 oz) to get a more concentrated coffee. 
  • Brew Your Coffee – Place your ice-filled glass under the Keurig dispenser. Insert your chosen K-Cup and start the brewing process, letting the coffee pour directly over the ice. 
  • Stir and Customize – Give your coffee a quick stir to help it cool down and meld with the melting ice. At this point, you can customize to your liking – add sugar, flavored syrups, cream, milk, or any other favorite additions. 
  • Serve and Enjoy – With your coffee cooled and customized, all that's left is to sip and enjoy

TIP!: Check out our in-depth guide to making Keurig iced coffee here!

This article was written by Sara. Learn more about Sara on our About the Team page.

Stay caffeinated!

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