I searched around a bit and found a few recipes for coffee concentrates, but most of them read more like high test cold brew recipes.

Where I work we have a few "coffee" (note the quotation marks) machines that use the stuff. The "coffee" from these machines is really awful and I was wondering if there are alternative methods for making it.

My first thought was to take drip coffee and cook it down and reduce it into a concentrate, has anyone tried this?

Am I way off track? Is there a better way?

  • I may have misunderstood your question when I answered it. Are you asking for concentrate you can use in that machine? (My answer just gives you a method where you can make coffee for the week at home and bring it in to work - just add hot water.)
    – hairboat
    Jan 29, 2015 at 17:23
  • If you want to keep using the machine, but bring your own concentrate, we'll probably need more info about the machine and about the existing concentrate that goes in it.
    – hairboat
    Jan 29, 2015 at 17:23
  • @abbyhairboat I was more interested in the process than making something that would necessarily work in the particular machine, more of a general reference.
    – apaul
    Jan 30, 2015 at 3:57
  • Cool - then my answer stands :)
    – hairboat
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:11

5 Answers 5


Just make cold brew! It's called "cold brew", but you can still make good hot coffee out of it.

Cold brew is essentially hyperconcentrated, but slow-brewed, coffee. It's very popular in the United States in the summer, because it's very easy to make excellent iced coffee with a cold brew concentrate. (Just add water and ice.) But you can also make a cup of hot coffee out of cold brew concentrate: just add hot water instead of cold water and ice.

Here's a recipe, but I'll summarize it.

You need:

  • ~12 oz coarsely ground coffee
  • ~6 cups water

Pour water over coffee in a large bowl or pitcher and stir. Cover with a tea towel and let sit on the counter (or fridge) for 24 hours. You can vary the coffee:water ratio and brewing time depending on your preferences. Strain thoroughly. Reserve the delicious liquid and discard the grounds. The concentrate will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To make a cup of hot coffee, add about 2 parts hot water to 1 part cold brew (depending on your taste). Add the hot water slowly until it's tasty to you. Dilute with a similar amount of cold water for iced coffee - then add ice. Add milk, sugar, and other fixings as desired. (If you're drinking it iced, you'll want to use simple syrup to sweeten, since plain sugar won't dissolve well in cold liquid.)

Bon appetit!


It's more of a syrup than a concentrate if I recall correctly. While it's a whole lot of flavor in a little container that needs to be diluted in order to reconstitute, it's not like heavily concentrated coffee that's been cooked down, as you mention.

You could try strong coffee and any gum that you'd use in cooking to make a relatively thin non-sweet syrup, I'm pretty sure nothing in any common bean would prevent them from binding. What you'd have to look out for is the tincture possibly damaging the machine, which leaves very little room for trial and error (or margin for error at that). You'd also have to watch out for machines that need to 'validate' the capsule as 'authenticated' before agreeing to make coffee.

Note, I'm assuming you mean those "Nespresso" machines or similarly clever abominations. But anyway, even for other applications, a syrup made using a strong espresso would probably work the best.

  • The stuff in the machine is syrupy, I assumed that they were adding sugars, corn syrups or similar, to help mask the taste.
    – apaul
    Jan 29, 2015 at 16:44
  • The inner workings of the machine look really simple, just a peristaltic pump to move and measure the concoction. I'm pretty sure if it goes wrong I'll just have a sticky mess to clean up.
    – apaul
    Jan 29, 2015 at 16:55
  • You could try that then, just mix some relatively strong espresso with corn syrup or some kind of gum (it's a clear liquid), and perhaps non-dairy creamer of some kind. Seems like a lot of work when all you really need is (wait for it .. wait for it ..) a coffee machine :P
    – Tim Post
    Jan 29, 2015 at 17:00
  • I know, its a hateful terrible product, I've been trying to talk the management into getting rid of it. I was thinking that I could meet them half way by keeping the machines and just filling them with a better concentrate/syrup.
    – apaul
    Jan 29, 2015 at 17:04

I'm a big fan of the elegant simplicity of Cory Doctorow's coffee concentrate recipe. Not quite as much of a syrup as others here have described, but it's a great way to get quality out of medium quality beans.

My tweaks: I use a 5:1 water:coffee ratio (usually 1 liter of water & 200 grams of beans). Instead of a coarse grind, I use a medium grind. I steep for 12-15 hours. I tend to use medium-dark roast beans (Costco often has 2 pounds of Major Dickason's pretty cheap, and those work fine if you don't have anything else available).


You can make regular drip coffee with 4-5 times the usual amount of ground coffee. Dilute as desired. Any remaining can be refrigerated a good 48 hours if you store with minimal headspace of air.


First, open the box which contains the bag of the liquid concentrate. Then, you cut open the bag and pour it into a squeeze bottle or container and then leave it in the fridge. When you are ready to use it, take a table spoon of the liquid and mix it in a 8-10 oz. mug or cup of hot water. From there you mix and taste; you may have to adjust to the taste you like by adding more liquid concentrate, or if the table spoon is too much, restart the process with less liquid concentrate. The best ratio that most machines are set to is 32 parts water/1 part liquid

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