What Is Cold Brew Coffee Ratio?
And how do you measure it?
If you want to make cold brew coffee at home, you need to make a couple of choices, and one question people often have is, “what coffee-to-water ratio should I use for my cold brew?”. In other words, how much coffee and water should you use?
This ratio can be measured in different sorts of ways, for example, volume, weight, and scoops. Weight is the most accurate one since the other ones are affected by the coffee grind size and how packed the coffee is. However, the weight is pretty much consistent. That said, when it comes to ratios, you don’t have to be as exact for cold brew coffee as for many hot brewing methods. You often brew it to a cold brew concentrate and then add water before serving, which leaves room for last minute adjustments.
Cold brew brewing time
Cold brew also needs a long brew time, and this affects the taste of the coffee as well. 12-24hrs is a span most people use, and you are often not that exact about the timing. If you are not that exact about timing, you might not need to be that accurate when it comes to the coffee-to-water ratio, either? Since
It all depends on precision and if you like it to be “perfect”. If you do, use weight measurements. If not, volume works just fine!
If you, by mistake, brew it a bit too strong, just add a bit more water before serving. If you brew it too weak, just add a bit less water before serving.
What Ratio Should You Use?
And what parameters matter?
The cold brew coffee ratio does depend on a lot of different parameters. The most important one is, of course, your personal preference. After all, it doesn’t matter what I write here if you, in the end, don’t like the result. So, make sure to test out things for yourself.
As said, you often brew cold brew to concentrate or extract, which you then add water to before serving. But you can also brew drink ready cold brew instead of a concentrate. If you want to brew a concentrate, I would recommend somewhere between 1:6 and 1:9 coffee to water ratio. For serving, add equal parts cold brew concentrate and water.
If you want to brew ready to drink cold brew coffee, I would recommend using a ratio between 1:12 to 1:18 (coffee to water).
That said, here are some other parameters that will affect the taste and, therefore, also might change what ratio you want to use.
- Brewing time
- Coffee beans
- Additional ingredients (e.g. dairy or sweetener)
- Grind Size
- Brewing Method
I will go through each of these parameters and explain how they may affect the ratio and taste. It is essential to understand that these parameters won’t just affect how strong the coffee will be brewed, it will also affect the taste in other ways.
Brewing Time for Cold Brew
The longer you brew, the stronger the coffee. Meaning, if you want to brew your cold brew for a short time, you might want to increase the coffee to water ratio. Or just add less extra water before serving. The brewing time will affect the taste in other ways as well. If you brew it for a long time, the coffee will start to taste both bitter and sour, which isn’t what most people want for their cold brew.
Standard brewing time is between 12 and 24hrs. If you are new to cold brew and want to try it out, I would recommend you aim for somewhere between 16 and 18hrs and then adjust.
The coffee beans have a HUGE impact on the taste and, therefore, also the ratio. There are many things about coffee beans that can affect the ratio, but maybe that the roast level is most important. A darker roast will give a stronger taste than a light roast. Therefore you might not need as high coffee ratio for dark roasted beans as for light roast. That said, when you make cold brew coffee, you often use medium or dark roasted beans. That’s the standard.
Another important aspect is the freshness and quality of the beans. Freshly roasted and coffee beans handled with care will taste more, and therefore you might need slightly less of these than if you would use lower quality coffee. Or maybe, you would just want to use just as much and get a more favorable coffee. I can highly recommend you to try DripBeans roasted to order coffee beans (or ground coffee) or to make a visit to your local coffee roaster.
Other aspects of the coffee beans might also affect the optimal ratio, but you’ll have to try it out and adjust. It is good to have in mind when trying out new beans that you might want to change the ratio.
If you want to add extra ingredients, for example, salted caramel cold foam, you might want to adjust the ratio. With additional elements, there is a risk that the coffee taste won’t come through. Heavy cream is one of those ingredients that may have the most significant impact. Too much of that and you won’t even taste the coffee. And anything more than a splash will probably be too much.
So think about this when brewing and adding your additional ingredients. I also recommend you using a darker roast when adding a lot of dairies since the coffee taste in dark roasted coffee is a bit stronger.
The cold brew coffee ratio can be affected by the grind size you are using. A fine grind size will release much more taste, and therefore, it might not need as high coffee ratio. A coarse grind (which I recommend for cold brew) will need a bit higher ratio. This is good to have in mind when grinding your beans (or buying ground coffee). However, even though it might sound smart to use a fine grind size since you won’t need as much coffee, it will also produce another taste. Coarse grind coffee is the way to go if you can choose.
There are a couple of different brewing methods when it comes to your cold brew coffee, and these will affect the taste and strength of the coffee.
There are mainly three different methods:
- The immersion method (most common)
- The hot bloom method
- The slow drip method
These will all produce great coffee, and if you want to see how to use these methods, check out our cold brew video guide
Hot bloom – In short, the immersion method and the hot bloom method are pretty similar. The hot bloom method (which is a cold brew method despite the name) utilizes hot water at the beginning of the brewing process. This will release more taste, and you might not need as high coffee ratio as for the other methods.
The immersion method – This is the “normal” method, and most of the recommended ratios you hear or read about are for this exact method.
Slow drip – The slow drip method is very different, and it is hard to compare the ratio of this method with the other methods. The standard ratio for this method is somewhere around 1:12 (coffee-to-water).
These are the parameters that will affect the taste, and you will have to try different ratios to find the perfect balance between coffee and water.
Since there are so many different methods, and since a big part of it is your personal preference, you probably will have to do some testing before you come up with a recipe optimal for you. My suggestion is to use 1:16 or 1:8 and add equal amounts of water and cold brew before serving. I hope you can come back to this post for help if you don’t achieve the result you wished for, or if you are tweaking things and wonder how it will affect the taste.
I also recommend you to join DripBeans Facebook-group. There are plenty of knowledgeable people in the group that can help you, and we are also doing some sweet cold brew giveaways from time to time.
Thank you for reading, and if you think anyone you know would want to read this, please share it with them. It would help them and us a lot!