We explain how to achieve a cold brew coffee to water ratio that gives you a great tasting, refreshing coffee drink.
Find out what constitutes a good coffee to water ratio for cold brew coffee.
When you are new to the world of cold brewing it can seem a little daunting. In fact, it is one of the easiest brew methods to master.
The two most important points about this type of brew are:
Cold brew coffee is simply coffee brewed using cold water or water at room temperature.
Some of the same techniques used to brew coffee using hot water are used to create a cold brew. The only difference is the temperature of the water and the brewing time.
The two main methods used to create a cold brew coffee are:
In both of these cases brewing is a slow process taking several hours.
While hot water helps to accelerate the extraction of flavors from ground coffee it can also have the effect of altering some of the compounds extracted from coffee beans. These alterations can affect the flavor and accentuate the acidity and bitterness of coffee.
Cold or room temperature water has a different effect on the chemistry of coffee extraction. The biggest differences between cold brewed and hot brewed coffee are:
A hot brewed coffee has a rich aroma, a subtle sweetness, distinct acidity, and bitterness.
Cold brewed coffee has a distinct sweetness, subtle hints of acidity, bitterness, and fruity flavors.
Cold brew is much more versatile than hot brewed coffee. Think of it as more of a concentrate.
You will find that it pairs well with so many more ingredients other than hot brewed coffee.
The list is almost endless. Cold brewed coffee encourages creativity in drink making.
The one area that it does not differ much from hot brewed coffee is caffeine levels.
Cold brewed coffee tends to have a smoother flavor with a rich sweetness and a gentle hint of acidity with almost no bitterness.
It all comes down to how water temperature affects the chemistry of coffee extraction during the brewing process.
Without elaborating on the complexities, some of the compounds extracted from the coffee during hot brewing don’t happen or happens very slowly with colder water.
In addition, some of the more volatile or delicate compounds remain intact during cold brewing.
This all adds up to a distinct flavor difference.
The majority of people think of an iced coffee as hot coffee poured over ice.
While this cold brewed drink can be mixed with ice and it is even called by the same name, a cold brewed ice coffee and a hot brewed iced coffee are two very different coffee drinks.
They are very different preparation-wise and flavor-wise.
There are two main methods for making cold brew coffee and both can be done in the comfort of your home.
The two methods are:
Immersion being the more user-friendly method.
Additionally, these two methods produce a cold brew with noticeable differences in flavor and body.
Nothing more than:
A fresh coffee product is a must.
Whether your coffee is whole beans or ground coffee, over time it will release carbon dioxide and absorb oxygen. This causes oxygenation.
Oxygenation breaks down the delicious compounds in coffee leaving you with coffee that tastes dull, stale, and bitter.
Ground coffee oxygenates much more quickly than whole beans. The ideal scenario is to buy freshly roasted beans, store them properly at home.
Only grind what you will consume immediately before the brewing process.
A medium to coarse grind works best.
Immersion brewing is the easiest and most user-friendly method for home brewing.
If you enjoy hot brewed coffee you probably already own a French Press. Simply mix cold or room temperature water with freshly ground coffee in your French Press for 12 or more hours.
Once brewed pour the mixture out of your French Press through either a good quality paper filter or for best results a stainless steel cone filter.
Slow Drip Brewing
For slow drip brewing, you will need a stainless steel cone filter and an Aeropress.
Place ice into the cone filter placed over the open end of the Aeropress which contains the ground coffee.
Both the Aeropress and the cone filter are standing over either a carafe or other suitable container. The melting ice slowly drips through the cone filter into the Aeropress and ground coffee and finally into the receiving container.
TIP: These methods generally require 6 or more hours to complete.
For both methods, it is a good idea to also have a good quality coffee grinder and either an electrical or mechanical scale.
For hot brewed coffee the widely accepted golden ratio of coffee to water is between 1:15 to 1:17.
A cold brew coffee requires twice the amount of coffee grounds as the typical drip brew method.
For a cold brew concentrate a good coffee to water ratio to begin with, is 1:4 (1g of coffee for every 4g of water).
Once your coffee concentrate has been created you can dilute it.
The best method is to use an equal cold brew concentrate to water ratio. Adding an equal amount of cold water brings the ratio to 1:8.
Cold brewing accentuates the sweetness, cocoa, and spicy flavors from coffee beans while muting the acidity and bitterness.
Coffee beans with citrus flavors will have those flavors lost or subdued if used during cold brewing.
Generally speaking, coffee beans that have been lightly roasted will need longer brewing times than those which have been darkly roasted.
Medium-dark and medium-light roasts are typically accepted as the best for cold brewing. There is still an ongoing debate over which is best, single-origin beans or blended beans.
Single-origin beans are sourced from a single plantation or the same geographical area or country. Blended beans are a mixture from multiple locations.
If you are new to this technique – single-origin coffee beans are the best starting point.
This depends on the method you will be using to create your brewed coffee. As mentioned above, there is immersion and slow drip.
With immersion brewing the cold brew ground coffee and water have a more complete connection, so a coarser grind is best. If you use a finer grind for immersion brewing you will need to shorten your brewing time by a couple of hours.
With slow drip brewing, the water and coffee grounds have less contact. Therefore, a medium to medium-fine grind is best for a successful brewing process.
Go too coarse and the water will pass through the coffee grounds without extracting much. This leaves you with coffee that is weak and sour.
Start by gathering the equipment you will need. Most homes will have a French Press available so we will use this to explain an easy home cold brew method.
1. Weigh out 100g of coffee beans and coarsely grind them with your coffee grinder. Place the grounds in your French Press.
2. Slowly pour out 700g (700ml) of water into your French Press making sure that all the coffee grounds are evenly soaked. This is a good cold brew recipe ratio of 1:7.
If you want a stronger brew use 400g of water to 100g of grounds at a ratio of 1:4.
3. After about 5 minutes use a spoon or paddle to submerge any coffee grounds that float to form a crust on top of the water.
4. Place your French Press in a location away from any direct sunlight or other heat sources. Allow to brew for 12 hours.
If sunlight or heat cannot be avoided, place your French Press in the refrigerator to brew for about 15 hours.
5. Once brewing has completed slowly push the plunger of your French Press down to separate the grounds from the coffee concentrate.
Pour this concentrate through your stainless steel or paper filter into a suitable container that can be sealed with a lid.
6. You can store this coffee concentrate in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When you are ready to drink – mix equal amounts of concentrate with cold water, add ice, and enjoy.
Most cold brewing coffee recipes that use extra flavor ingredients call for the adding of these ingredients to the coffee after brewing has been completed.
You can infuse your coffee beans with extra flavors before brewing though. Store your beans with such ingredients as fresh vanilla pods or cinnamon sticks.
However, it is not a good idea to infuse your coffee beans with multiple flavors unless you are sure they will all complement one another.
Some recipes call for ingredients to be added to your coffee grounds during the brewing process, namely:
Or, as a single serving, replacing your water with Campari liqueur (using a 1:1 ratio of 28g of coffee to about 30ml of liqueur).
Once your concentrate has been brewed – dilute it. Bring it back to the preferred 1:14 or 1:15 coffee to water ratio.
You are now free to add other ingredients such as milk, cream, or ice-cream.
Cold brewed coffee works very well with a multitude of other delicious ingredients.
Use your favorite additive and enjoy!
Only if you wish to produce a large batch of coffee that you plan to store in the fridge for a week or two.
If you want to prepare servings of cold brew coffee for one or two people just remember to adjust your coffee to water ratio back towards the recommended 1:15 or 1:17 before brewing.
Since the brewing times are very long it is more convenient to produce a batch of concentrate than to brew individual servings.
This is one of the advantages that cold brewed coffee has over hot brewed coffee. The fact that you can create a concentrated form.
If you were to try and produce a concentrated form of hot brewed coffee you would end up with a batch of under-extracted sour coffee.
There may be distinct flavor differences between cold brewed and hot brewed coffee, but one is not “stronger” than the other.
In fact, cold brew is growing in popularity. It has a fuller, sweeter flavor than hot brewed coffee with less acidity and bitterness.
Since cold brewed coffee requires extended brewing periods it is understandable to think that the caffeine levels would be higher than those in a regular hot brewed coffee.
However, caffeine levels are actually very similar. In fact, the caffeine levels can be lower than those in a regular hot brewed coffee.
If you are referring to the concentrate that most people produce when cold brewing then, yes, it does contain higher levels of caffeine.
You do need to remember that the cold brewed concentrate is diluted before being drunk. The process of dilution, whether by more cold water, milk, etc., in effect lowers the levels of caffeine.
The differences in the brewing process between cold brewed and hot brewed coffee has little impact on the recognized health benefits of coffee in general.
In other words, cold brewing your coffee doesn’t make it healthier.
Both types of coffee still contain similar amounts of antioxidants, caffeine, and other micronutrients.
These properties help:
Drinking at least four cups of coffee per day may lower your risk of depression by up to 20%
Studies have linked coffee consumption with a lower risk of death.
Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a 30–35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Increased caffeine intake could be linked to a lower risk of dementia, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Caffeine consumption has been shown to increase metabolism and bump up fat burning to enhance weight loss.
The most important part of the brew is to get the coffee to water ratio right.
If you are cold brewing coffee for small individual servings then it is recommended that you stick to the preferred ratio of 1:15 or 1:17.
If you want to produce a concentrate for storing in the fridge for a week or two, then you want to double or even triple the coffee to water ratio. A good place to start is 1:7 or 1:8.
Why is cold brew so great? There are several benefits to cold brew that out-do hot brewed coffee. Because the grounds are not exposed to hot temperatures it tastes sweeter and smoother, is less bitter is has more flavor. Cold brew is also less acidic - aprroximately 66% less acidic than coffee brewed with hot water.
It is not a good idea to stir cold brew coffee grounds during the steeping process. Stirring will disturb the grounds and cause them sink prematurely before they are fully extracted. This will result in a weak brew with less flavor. It is advisable to give the grounds a good stir right at the beginning of the steeping process and leave it alone to brew on its own. This will consistently give you a good brew.
Yes you can overdo the steeping process of cold brew. The ideal time frame is 8 - 12 hours for brewing at room temperature. If you leave it brewing for longer than 24 hours the result will be bitter and taste like bark or wood. This is not ideal.
Steeping cold brew in a fridge is a slow process. Soaking coffee grounds for about 18 hours produces a brew that is wonderfully smooth and tasty. If you do it for less than that, even 12 hours, the brew will be weak and somewhat lacking. Prepare your steeping method with cold water and put it in the fridge for, ideally, 18 to 24 hours before you strain it.
You can reuse cold brew grounds for a second brew if you wish. Bear in mind the second brew will be different from the first batch. You may not get the depth of flavor and strength but if you dont like a strong cold brew and like to dilute the concentrate with milk or other flavors anyway - you should have a perfectly suitable second batch.