Cold Brew Coffee Ratio Formula
We explain how to achieve a cold brew coffee 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 brewing methods to master.
The two most important points about this type of brew are:
- The correct quantity of fresh coffee grounds for the cool water volume
- The extended brewing time this method involves
How Do Cold Brew Coffee Ratios Work?
At first glance, coffee ratios for regular cups of hot coffee seem to be a somewhat complex matter. Let’s simplify them.
Aim for a coffee ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 15–18 milliliters of water in general. This equates to 1:15 to 1:18 to make it easier to read.
As a helpful hint, 1 milliliter of water equals 1 gram of water; therefore, we will just use “grams”.
In order to produce a cold brew coffee concentrate, you must use between 15 and 18 grams of hot water for every gram of coffee. This is the generally accepted range at which your coffee tastes balanced and smooth.
- 1:15 tastes smooth and concentrated
- 1:16 tastes bright and smooth
- 1:17 has a round and pleasant flavor
- 1:18 tastes rounded and lighter
Although these are generalizations, most experts concur that the sweet spot for balancing concentration and extraction is between 1:15 and 1:18. There is even research to support this!
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
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 differences are the temperature of the water, the brewing time, and the correct cold brew coffee ratio.
The two main methods used to create cold brew coffee are:
- steeping or immersion brewing
- slowly dripping water through the ground coffee
In both of these cases, brewing is a slow process that takes several hours.
How Is Cold Brew Different From Hot Brewed Coffee?
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:
- There is much less acidity and bitterness in cold-brewed coffee. In fact, tests indicate that there can be a 66% reduction in levels of acidity and bitterness compared to hot-brewed coffee.
- The flavor is different. A cold-brewed and a hot-brewed coffee from the same batch of coffee beans will taste different.
A hot-brewed coffee has a rich aroma, a subtle sweetness, distinct acidity, and bitterness.
Cold-brewed coffee has a distinct sweetness with 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 other ingredients other than hot brewed coffee.
- cold water
- cold milk
- hot water
- soda water
The list is almost endless. Cold-brewed coffee encourages creativity in drink-making.
The one area in which it does not differ much from hot-brewed coffee is caffeine levels.
What Does Cold Brew Taste Like?
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 happen 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.
Is Cold Brew The Same As Iced Coffee?
The majority of people think of iced coffee as hot coffee poured over ice.
While this cold-brewed drink can be mixed with ice and is even called by the same name, a cold-brewed iced coffee and a hot-brewed iced coffee are two very different coffee drinks.
They are very different preparation-wise and flavor-wise.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home
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:
- Slow drip
Immersion is the more user-friendly method.
Additionally, these two methods produce a cold brew with noticeable differences in flavor and body.
You just need to be aware of the cold brew coffee ratio required to get the best flavor profile.
What Ingredients Do I Need?
Nothing more than:
- fresh coffee beans or ground coffee
- good quality cold or room temperature water
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 and store them properly at home.
Only grind what you will consume immediately before the brewing process.
A medium to coarse grind works best with the right cold brew coffee ratio.
What Equipment Do I Need?
Immersion brewing is the easiest and most user-friendly method for homebrewing.
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, then finally into the receiving container.
TIP: These methods generally require six or more hours to complete.
For both methods, it is a good idea to use the same golden cold brew coffee ratio, have a good quality coffee grinder and either an electrical or mechanical scale.
What Is The Ideal Cold Brew Coffee Ratio?
The widely accepted golden ratio of coffee to water is between 1:15 and 1:17.
A cold brew coffee requires twice the amount of coffee grounds as the typical drip brew method.
Once your coffee concentrate has been created, you can dilute it.
A good cold brew coffee ratio to begin with is between 1:4 (1 gram of coffee for every 4 grams of water) and 1:8.
Some cold brew enthusiasts say 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.
Which Coffee Should I Use For Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brewing accentuates the sweetness, cocoa, and spicy flavors of coffee beans while muting the acidity and bitterness. This is why using the correct cold brew coffee ratio is so important.
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 that 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 of beans from multiple locations.
If you are new to this technique, single-origin coffee beans are the best starting point.
What Is The Recommended Size Ground For Cold Brew?
This depends on the method you will be using to create your brewed coffee. As mentioned above, there is immersion and a slow drip.
With immersion brewing, the 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.
How To Create A Great Tasting Cold Brew Coffee
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.
Essential Brewing Equipment
- Freshly roasted coffee beans
- French Press
- Stainless steel cone filter or cone paper filter
- Good-quality cold water or water at room temperature
- Electrical or manual coffee grinder
- Electrical or mechanical kitchen scale
Easy Brewing Instructions Using The Golden Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
1. Weigh out 100 grams of coffee beans and coarsely grind them with your coffee grinder. Place the grounds in your French Press.
2. Slowly pour out 700g (700 ml) of water into your French press, making sure that all the coffee grounds are evenly soaked. This is a good cold brew coffee 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 it 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 been 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. Bottling cold brew coffee into a suitable container that can be sealed with a lid is the final step.
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.
Can You Add Flavors While Brewing?
Most cold-brewing coffee recipes that use extra flavor ingredients call for the addition 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:
- lightly roasted, fresh coconut
- ground chicory
Or, as a single serving, replace your water with Campari liqueur (using a 1:1 ratio of 28g of coffee to about 30ml of liqueur).
Do You Have To Drink Cold Brew Black?
Once your concentrate has been brewed, dilute it. Bring it back to the preferred 1:14 or 1:15 cold brew coffee 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!
Is Cold Brew Always Made As A Concentrate?
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.
Is Cold Brew Stronger Than Regular 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. This is easily achieved by using the cold brew coffee ratio.
Is There More Caffeine In Cold Brew Coffee Than Regular Coffee?
Since cold-brewed coffee requires extended brewing periods, it is understandable to think that the caffeine levels would be higher than those in regular hot-brewed coffee.
However, caffeine levels are actually very similar. In fact, the caffeine levels can be lower than those in 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.
Is Cold Brew Coffee Good For You?
The differences in the brewing process between cold-brewed and hot-brewed coffee have 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.
Reduce Diabetes Risk
Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a 30–35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Protect Against Dementia
Increased caffeine intake could be linked to a lower risk of dementia, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Aid In Weight Loss
Caffeine consumption has been shown to increase metabolism and boost fat burning, enhancing weight loss.
Conclusion: What Is The Suggested Ratio For Cold Brew Coffee?
The most important part of the brew is getting the coffee ratio right.
If you are cold brewing coffee for small individual servings, then it is recommended that you stick to the preferred cold brew coffee 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s so good about cold brew coffee?
Why is cold brew so great? Because the grounds are not exposed to hot temperatures, they taste sweeter and smoother, are less bitter, and have more flavor. Cold brew is also less acidic—approximately 66% less acidic than coffee brewed with hot water.
Should you stir cold brew coffee?
It is not a good idea to stir cold brew coffee grounds during the steeping process. Stirring will disturb the grounds and cause them to sink prematurely before they are fully extracted. This will result in a weak brew with less flavor. Give the grounds a good stir right at the beginning of the steeping process and leave it alone to brew on its own.
Can you steep cold brew too long?
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.
How long should cold brew steep in the fridge?
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. Prepare your steeping method with cold water and put it in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours before you strain it.
Can you reuse cold brew grounds?
You can reuse cold brew grounds for a second brew if you wish. Bear in mind that the second brew will be different from the first batch. You may not get the depth of flavor and strength, but if you don’t like a strong cold brew and like to dilute the concentrate with milk or other flavors, you should have a perfectly suitable second batch.