How to make the summer’s coolest iced coffee alternative: cold-brewed cacao

If you’re an avid summertime coffee-drinker (or have ever made sun-tea) you’re probably already familiar with cold-brewing, which involves letting grounds steep in water at room temperature overnight to make iced coffee. It’s a method that substitutes time for temperature—a literally chilled-out process, which is reflected in its smooth, low-acid results.

Try cold-brewing cacao beans and you’ll get nothing short of magic. Like a cold-brewed coffee, it’s sunny, bright, and fruit-forward—but breathe in and it boasts an aroma that dances between browned butter, toasted nuts, and chocolate-coated espresso beans. This elixir has all the magic of chocolate, clarified for summer.

Cacao has far less caffeine than coffee, but contains a different stimulant: theobromine. Like caffeine, theobromine affects the heart rate, but unlike caffeine along with other components in cacao, it has been shown to dilate blood vessels, allowing more blood flow. Studies show that theobromine does not affect one’s mood or focus the way caffeine does, but I’ve consistently experienced a steady, crash-free buzz from consuming cold-brew cacao. (Similarly, science says chocolate isn’t the aphrodisiac it’s cracked up to be, but centuries of chocolate-lovers would strongly disagree.)

cacao cold



Cold-brew cacao

6 ounces (170 grams, or about 1 1/2 cups) of roasted cacao nibs

½ gallon of cold water
1.Grind your nibs using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to a texture that’s fine but not powdery. (Don’t put cacao beans in your expensive burr coffee grinder; the fat will gum it up.)
2.Line the pitcher with a nut-milk bag and dump the cacao grounds inside.
3.Fill the bag-lined pitcher with cold water, and stir to make sure to get all the grounds wet.
4.Cinch the bag, cover the pitcher, and leave it at room temperature for about 16 hours. If your home is very hot, put it in the refrigerator, but add a few hours to your brew time. (It will grow increasingly cloudy and robust in flavor as it brews.)
5.Remove the nut-milk bag and squeeze all the liquid into your pitcher. (Use the grounds for mulch if you have a garden!)
6.Stir before serving, as cacao particles will settle toward the bottom.
7.Enjoy over ice, straight or with your favorite kind of milk.

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