How to Cold Brew Coffee with Milk Instead of Water

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Last week we had a question from a customer on Amazon – Caroline asked us:

Can you brew the coffee with milk instead of water?

My first thought was, “surely not, milk’s too thick, will it even get through the filter?”.  Googling didn’t really help either; there was a single Reddit thread on the topic, which seemed to suggest that it was possible, but that was it.  If we were going to get to the bottom of this, it was time for Team twohundredº to start experimenting.  And experiment we did!

The Basics

What you’ll need:

When it came to brewing, I switched the order up when compared to The Original Cold Brew Method.  Particularly if you’re using whole milk, put most of the milk into the pitcher first, otherwise you’ll have a hard time pouring it through the coffee grounds and filter.  Then lower the filter, with coffee grounds, into the milk.  Pour the rest of the milk in over the top of the ground to ensure they are all wet.  Gently stir the grounds with a chopstick, or equivalent, to make sure there are no air pockets.

The Theory

There are two parts of the coffee that get extracted during the brewing process. The hydrophilic parts, like the caffeine and high notes are extracted quickly in the brewing process.   In cold water, the hydrophobic parts, the oils and bitter notes, take far longer to break down, hence brewing times of up to 24 hours.

Milk works differently to water in this brewing process because it contains fat.  Fat breaks down the hydrophobic elements of the coffee far quicker, so if you were to leave our milk-brewed coffee to steep for the full 24 hours, you’d end up with something unbearably bitter.

We’re going to brew this for around 8-10 hours.

The Results

We left the milk cold brewing in the fridge all day, for about 8 hours.  By this point it had turned into an appealing caramel color and smelled incredible.  I think we actually could’ve brewed it for a little longer, as the flavor wasn’t quite as intense as water brewed.  It was, however, rich and creamy, the taste more subtle and nutty, and it lingers for longer in your mouth.  It is slightly more bitter but that gets balanced out by the milk so it’s not unpleasant.  Personally, I will stick to the traditional method of cold brewing, because I like the extra intensity you get with it, but for those who like a milkier take on their coffee, I’d recommend you try this.

It would also be a fantastic base for ice cream or a mocha, which we have recipes for below.

Cold Brew Coffee Mocha

Use the Cold brewed milk to make this delicious mocha


Cold Brew Mocha Ice Cream

Hand made ice cream with coffee and chocolate flavors


4 responses to “How to Cold Brew Coffee with Milk Instead of Water”

  1. Allen says:

    I’ve done coarse grind, but I find a medium grind is best with milk. Furthermore, I let it brew for at least 24 hours like you suspected, however, to get that coffee taste like a true black coffee fanatic, you’ll need to use almost twice the amount of coffee for the full flavor.

  2. Andrew Foster says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions Allen.

    I must admit, I didn’t go back to it after this first try. I much prefer the traditional brewing method, and just a dash of milk!

  3. Russell Volz says:

    For a guy that makes cold brew every day, what an interesting idea, especially since I add a lot of milk, about a 1/3 of the drink is milk. I might give this a try.

    A thought to consider is white coffee. I mix 1/4 cup medium ground medium roast with 1/4 cup medium ground white roast. The result has a hint of peanut butter. Very pleasant. The hard part if finding white coffee. I’ve found it easiest to just search the internet for “Whole Bean White Coffee”. There are several good options there.

  4. CoffeeLover says:

    Wow thank you so much for sharing your test! I wanted to test this but thought it’s a good idea to search any post about cold brewing with milk on google before I actually do it. I’m glad that I did!
    Now that I know fat in milk makes coffee bitter, what if I use skim milk to cold brew then I mix the result with half and half??

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