Cold brewed coffee served with vanilla ice cream

How to Sweeten Cold Brew Coffee? (14 Simple Ways)

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

It is no longer hidden that cold brew is less bitter than hot-brewed coffee. But if you still want to reduce its bitterness, there are some effective ways.

In this article, I will tell you how to sweeten cold brew coffee.

Throughout this article, we will be focusing on two major things. The first is the things that you need to consider while making cold brew and the second is what foods you can add to make it sweeter.

So let's head forward.

What is cold brew?

Cold brew is a coffee-based drink made by steeping coarsely ground coffee in cold water for around 12-24 hours.

The slow process aids in cutting down the bitterness and reduces the acidic nature of the cold brew.

It helps to add that sweet and refreshing touch to your coffee. If you are someone who enjoys milder coffee, then you must give these ways a try.

Can you sweeten cold brew?

Yes, you can.

There are effective ways like adding sweeteners and taking care of certain points while brewing it. In this article, we will discuss them in detail.

How to sweeten cold brewed coffee?

1) Things to take care of while preparing cold brew to make it less bitter

1) Adjust the coffee-to-water ratio (Use more water)

We very well know that the coffee-to-water ratio is critical in determining the strength and flavor of your cold brew.

A higher ratio of coffee to water will result in a stronger brew, which can enhance the sweetness of the brew.

Generally, the ratio for cold brew is around 1:4 or 1:5 (1 part coffee to 4 or 5 parts water), but you can adjust this based on your preference.

Using more water will extract more flavors from the coffee beans, including the naturally occurring sugars that contribute to sweetness.

However, you should be careful that you don't use too much coffee, as it can lead to a bitter brew.

2) Avoid using finer coffee grounds

A finer grind can lead to over-extraction and a more bitter taste. On the other hand, a medium to coarse grind is ideal for cold brew, as it promotes a slower extraction process and helps prevent over-extraction, which can result in bitterness.

3) Keep the brewing time longer

The brewing time for cold brew is between 12 to 18 hours, depending on the desired strength and flavor profile.

A shorter brewing time will result in a milder brew, while a longer brewing time will extract more flavors from the coffee beans, including bitterness.

To achieve a sweeter cold brew, it is important to find the right balance in brewing time.

Too short a time may not extract enough sweetness. But at the same time, too long a time can lead to excessive bitterness. 

So, you need to experiment with different brewing times to find the perfect balance for your taste.

4) Use filtered water

The quality of the water you use can significantly impact the flavor of your cold brew.

It is recommended to use filtered water as it helps remove impurities and chlorine that can affect the taste of the final brew.

Impurities in water can mask the natural sweetness of the coffee, so using filtered water can help enhance the sweetness of your cold brew.

Also, you need to keep in mind that using water at room temperature or slightly cooler can also help in extracting the flavors without extracting too much bitterness.

5) Use naturally sweet coffee beans

To make cold brew sweet, you should use coffee beans that have naturally sweet flavor profiles, such as those with fruity or chocolatey notes.

Also, when selecting beans for your cold brew, you need to look for those that are roasted to a medium or medium-dark level, as these roasts tend to retain the sweetness of the beans.

2) Things to add to make cold brew sweet

6) Use a simple syrup

You can begin by preparing a simple syrup.

To make it, take a saucepan and mix sugar and water equal in amount. After that, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and let it cool.

Once done, add some simple syrup to your cold brew and mix it well for consistent sweetness.

7) Try some flavored syrups

You can experiment with a variety of flavored syrups available in the market. Vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, or chocolate anything that you like.

These syrups will not only make your cold brew sweet but will also complement it with some delicious flavors, enhancing your overall coffee experience.

8) Add honey or agave nectar

Honey or agave nectar is one of the best natural things that you can add to make cold brew sweeter.

It will add a unique sweetness and subtle flavors to your coffee that makes it mouthwatering with different flavors.

9) Pour some condensed milk

For a creamy and rich twist, add some condensed milk to your cold brew.

The thick consistency and sweetness of condensed milk will uplift your brew and add a velvety mouthfeel that will make it hard to resist for any coffee lover.

10) Use coconut milk for sweetness

As a substitute for milk, you can also add some coconut milk. It works best by providing the right sweetness and creaminess to your cold brew.

The natural sweetness of coconut milk amazingly blends with the smoothness of cold brew, resulting in a refreshing and tropical flavor.

11) Add Sweet Cream

You can also try a mixture of heavy cream and a sweetener of your choice whipped together until slightly thickened.

This can create a rich, sweet cream. Add a dollop to your cold brew for a smooth and sweet finish.

12) Add Spiced Syrups

You can also give a try to syrups infused with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom.

It can introduce a unique twist to your cold brew which adds warmth and sweetness along with intriguing spice notes.

13) Use Mint Leaves

For a refreshing twist, muddle a few mint leaves and add them to your cold brew.

While not a sweetener in the traditional sense, mint can enhance the perceived sweetness of your drink by adding a refreshing edge.

14) Give Fruit Infusions a Try

Adding slices of citrus fruits like orange or lemon, or even berries, can infuse your cold brew with natural sweetness and fruity flavors which makes a refreshing and subtly sweet drink.

Wrapping up

Here, I have got you covered with the right and effective ways to sweeten your cold brew coffee.

Cold brew in comparison to hot brew has a smoother, less acidic taste.

However, finding the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness in your cold brew can help you enhance your coffee-drinking experience.

Remember achieving the perfect balance yields a truly satisfying cup, highlighting the bean's unique qualities.

Since here various methods are discussed, you can try different methods and decide what works best for you.


1) Are you supposed to put cream and sugar in a cold brew?

Yes, you can add cream or sugar to your cold brew. It's pretty common to enhance its flavor and sweetness to match your personal preferences.

2) Does cold brew go bad in the fridge?

Cold brew can stay fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge if stored well in a sealed container, but its taste might degrade over time.

3) Can you add honey to cold brew?

Yes, you can easily add honey to your cold brew for natural sweetness providing a unique taste and subtle flavor to your coffee.


Audrey Harrison

Team TAB
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I am a coffee aficionado based in Seattle. I have devoted my passion and expertise to perfecting the art of home coffee brewing. I became known for my exquisite pour-over and espresso creations. I source coffee beans from local roasters and explores ...