vanilla bean cold brew: iced coffee with beans on white counter

Homemade Vanilla Bean Cold Brew Recipe

vanilla bean cold brew: iced coffee with beans on white counter

A cup of coffee is a great way to kickstart your day but there’s nothing better than sipping a decadent cup of iced coffee to jumpstart a sluggish afternoon. Whether the sweltering heat is beating down and you need something refreshing or your taste buds simply demand an iced bevvie, a cold brew coffee is the way to go.

Cold brew coffee offers deep, nuanced flavors you won’t get in a regular hot cup of coffee. The longer brewing time crafts unique tasting notes and it’s easy to add flavorings to create your dream drink. One of our favorites to whip up is a vanilla bean cold brew. Here, we’ll go over what cold brew is and give you a recipe so you can make your own delicious flavored versions at home.

What is Vanilla Bean Cold Brew?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee beans in cold or room-temperature water

for several hours. The coffee grounds are usually coarse and brew time typically takes between eight and 24 hours. Since time — instead of temperature — is used for extraction, cold brew coffee has a different flavor than hot coffee. It frequently exhibits chocolate and fruity notes with low acidity.

Vanilla cold brew coffee is a type of flavored coffee. Some recipes infuse the cold brew concentrate with vanilla beans while others use additives like vanilla sugar to add the vanilla notes. Many recipes also call for creamy additions like almond milk, half and half, or heavy cream to make the beverage more decadent.

How To Make Vanilla Cold Brew

vanilla bean cold brew: vanilla and coffee beans on wooden table

Making cold brew coffee is easy, even if it’s not necessarily quick. If you want to make a flavored cold brew, there are two ways to add the tasting notes. First, you can infuse the cold brew with things like vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and cinnamon. Herbs and spices also make good additions including lavender and nutmeg. 

The other way to make a flavored cold brew is to add flavorings to a cold brew concentrate. You can use flavored almond milk or flavored syrups to create the tasting notes you’re looking for. This is easier than infusing the beans as cold brew coffee can be very strong. The coffee notes tend to overpower other flavors, especially more nuanced ones. If you want to infuse the beans with flavor, stick to stronger herbs and spices like cinnamon for the best results.

Vanilla has a strong flavor, but it can also be overpowered by cold-brew coffee beans. We’ve found the best way to make our own vanilla bean cold brew is to add a whole vanilla bean to the cold brew mix before steeping. If that doesn’t infuse enough flavor, we add a little vanilla sugar and vanilla extract to really draw out the sweet, marshmallow-like tasting notes of the vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

iced coffee with milk

Are you one of those people who drink iced coffee all year long? You’re going to love this homemade cold-brew coffee recipe. It’s a copycat of vanilla bean cold brew coffees you can order at your favorite local coffee shop or from coffee companies like Starbucks. Prep time takes about 10 minutes and the total time will be several hours while the coffee infuses — but you can make it ahead of time in large batches and store it for about a week. 

Here’s how to make vanilla bean cold brew coffee. The serving size of this recipe is about four cups so you can easily double or half it if you want a bigger or smaller batch.


  • 1 cup whole coffee beans (choose a light roast for strong tasting notes or opt for a dark roast if you prefer nuanced tasting profiles). Espresso beans also work well for this coffee drink
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla syrup
  • Ice cubes


  1. Grab your grinder and grind the coffee beans to a coarse grind. This typically takes 8 to 10 seconds, but go a second or two at a time to avoid grinding them too finely.
  2. Fill a large pitcher or bowl with cold water and add the coffee grinds. Clever the pitcher with a lid or plastic wrap and let it steep for 12 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the entire vanilla bean. In a bowl, combine the ground vanilla bean with the vanilla sugar and set aside.
  4. Once the coffee is done steeping, pour the concentrate through a coffee filter, mesh strainer, or cheesecloth into your pitcher. You can also make the concentrate in a French press, which makes it easy to filter out the sediment. 
  5. Add the vanilla bean and sugar mixture and the vanilla syrup if desired.
  6. Fill a glass or large mason jar with ice cubes, pour in the vanilla cold brew coffee, and enjoy!

If you want to make the recipe even more decadent, think about adding maple syrup, cold foam, or ice cream. These additives will increase sweetness and creaminess for an indulgent beverage.

Make the Perfect Cup of Java Every Time

With this homemade vanilla cold brew coffee guide, you’re sure to enjoy the sweet aromas and flavors of coffee and vanilla in one tasty drink. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s easy to tweak it and make it all your own. Make it an iced latte by adding milk or throw in some spices like cinnamon to make it the perfect fall beverage.

Remember, there are two main ways to get the taste of vanilla in your coffee. One is to infuse the beans with a vanilla bean. You can grind the two together and store them in one container to develop better vanilla aromas. Or you can add the ground vanilla pod with the coffee grounds during the infusing or steaming process. Alternatively, you can add vanilla flavorings to really draw out those sweet and aromatic notes.

Looking for other ways to sip on coffee? Check out our blog where you’ll find iced coffee recipes including Vietnamese cold brew and frappe coffee. Plus you’ll find tips and country breakdowns of the best types of coffee and beans so you can brew the best cup every time.

After chasing down everything there was to know about tea on the Cup & Leaf blog, I'm now exploring the world of coffee. From different types to countries with the best brews and everything in between, I'll be your guide on this coffee discovery.