How To Strain Cold Brew Coffee (9 Hacks)

You do not need a special coffee maker to brew epic cold brew coffee. You can simply steep ground coffee in a mason jar or any container that has a lid and 12-24 hours later voila, your cold brew is ready. But how do you strain the cold brew?

Let’s go through nine ways to strain cold brew coffee.

1. Straining Cold Brew Coffee With Paper Towels

  • Place three or four leaves of clean paper towels or tissue paper over a cup and use a rubber band to hold them in place. Be sure to form a bit of a receptacle shape with the towels so that coffee does not overflow when straining.
  • Run fresh water through the paper towel to rinse out the paper flavor and delicately pour the water from the cup. Pour the cold brew coffee through the filter by adding a little at a time to prevent overflowing. You do not want to disturb the coffee sediments as dropping them too fast in the wet paper towels may cause the towels to tear.
  • Discard the spent paper towels when you have strained enough cold brew.

2. Strain Cold Brew Coffee With a Cheesecloth

Food-grade cheesecloth is an excellent choice when straining cold brew coffee. They are reusable so once you have strained the cold brew, wash the cloth or bag and use it to prepare other drinks or food items.

Depending on the grade (open to a super fine weave) of your cheesecloth, you may want to use a double layer for a cleaner cup of coffee.

  • Rinse the cheesecloth in freshwater remove the fabric flavor and odors.
  • Fit the cheesecloth over a mug or carafe and use some 2-4 pegs/clothespins to hold the cloth in place.
  • Pour the cold brew over the cheesecloth
  • Remove the cheesecloth and discard the spent grinds
  • Soak the cheesecloth in water and clean it later

3. Use Muslin/Nut Milk Bag to Filter Cold Brew Coffee

Muslin and nut milk bags are reusable food-grade bags. These bags usually come in large sizes so you may want to use a large receptacle such as a carafe, jug, or bowl.

  • Rinse the bag in freshwater
  • Insert the bag in a large container such as a jug or bowl
  • Open the bag and add cold brew coffee.
  • Lift the bag a few inches from the bottom of the receptacle as the coffee filters through
  • Dump the spent ground coffee
  • Rinse the bag and wash immediately or soak it to be cleaned later

4. Tea Strainer

A tea strainer will hold the coarse grinds of cold brew coffee so that only the coffee ends up in your cup. You can also pair a regular mesh strainer with a paper towel so that the towel sits on the strainer to reduce the risk of tearing while also mitigating fine sediments going through a regular strainer.

5. Handkerchief or a Piece of Cloth

If you can not find a suitable tool to filter the coffee, use a clean handkerchief or piece of cloth. Simply spread the handkerchief loosely over a cup and use a rubber band or your hand to hold it in place when straining the cold coffee.

Dump the grounds and clean the cloth to remove the coffee stains if you intend to use the cloth again.

6. Strain With a Tea Infuser Basket

Did you know that you can make cold brew coffee using a tea infuser? If you already brewed the cold coffee, hold a tea infuser basket over a cup and pour the cold brew over the basket. Some infuser baskets have ears that sit on the mouth of the cup so that the basket hangs in the mug.

7. Metallic Filter

You can strain cold brew coffee using a metallic coffee filter that you use for pour-over coffee or auto drip coffee maker. For example, if you have a Keurig that has a mesh filter, use this filter for the cold brew by holding it over a cup or carafe.

If you have a Hario V60 or a Chemex, use a cone mesh filter for the cold brew over the pour-over coffee maker.

8. Paper Filter

Before filtering cold brew coffee with a paper filter, be sure to rinse the paper otherwise the cold brew will taste like paper. Paper filters come in two shapes: flat-bottom and cone.

Usually, paper filters are pre-folded but you are likely to find some that are not pre-folded.

A paper filter may be cumbersome to use when you do not have a rigid cone, funnel, or a pour-over coffee maker to hold it. You may want to use clothespins to stick the edges of the paper filter on a cup to prevent it from collapsing inside the cup during pouring.

9. French Press

The versatility of a French press is mind-boggling from foaming milk, making full-bodied coffee, to straining your cold brew. Most people actually use a French press to make cold brew. There are similarities to be drawn as both the French press and cold brew coffee work best with coarse grind size.

To strain cold brew coffee using a French press

  • Remove the plunger and pour the cold brew into the beaker
  • Replace the plunger without pressing it and wait for five minutes for the sediments to settle
  • Gently plunge to nearly the level of the grounds
  • Pour all the cold brew into a separate receptacle or cup
  • Discard the grounds


Cold coffee is easy to make at home and you can use a coffee filter or other readily available materials such as paper towels, cheesecloth, and a tea infuser basket to strain it.

Be sure to rinse a paper or cloth before using it to strain your cold brew coffee otherwise you will end with off-flavors in the coffee.

FAQs About Cold Brew

Can You Over-steep Cold Brew Coffee?

Yes, you do not want to steep cold brew coffee much longer than 12-24 hours as it can cause over-extraction and bitterness. Steeping a few hours past the 24-hour mark may not affect the flavors especially for a cold brew that is in the fridge.

Therefore, you may want to transfer a cold brew that is steeping on the counter to the fridge if you are likely to be out when the steeping period is exhausted to prevent over-extraction.


Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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