Ever taken a sip of your first home-brewed batch of cold brew only to find it’s a disappointing watery beverage? It’s certainly not the best way to be greeted in the morning.
Cold brew requires different ratios of coffee to water than a traditionally brewed hot cup. If you follow the same process but with cold water, it won’t deliver the classic cold brew flavor you’re seeking.
So, how can you make the perfect cup of cold brew iced coffee? It’s all about the ratio.
Below, we explain the basics of cold brew and share step-by-step instructions so you can enjoy a deliciously cold cup of coffee at home without a weak taste.
What Exactly Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is exactly that—a coffee brewed using cold water rather than hot. Since no heat is used when extracting the coffee from the beans, the cold brew process is much longer than a typical hot morning brew.
However, due to its unique process, cold brew packs an extra punch of caffeine. What’s more, many people find it to be more pleasant to drink due to its lower acidity and easiness on the stomach.
Basic Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
Generally speaking, most people will agree that a good ratio of coffee to water for cold brew is one part coffee to five parts water. If you let this sit long enough, it will transform into a balanced coffee drink most will enjoy.
Should you prefer not to drink your cold brew black, you can keep the 1:5 ratio. Still, you will need to switch out the five parts water by five parts of whatever combination of water, milk, or creamer you prefer.
For one person, this could be one part coffee, three parts water, two parts milk, but it will look different for each person.
The Importance of Getting the Ratio Right
Getting the ratio right turns what has the potential to be weak, coffee-flavored water into a strong and satisfying brew.
If you don’t use enough, it won’t have a full coffee flavor. This is the biggest mistake people make because they assume the ratio of coffee to water is the same for a hot coffee and a cold-brewed batch.
In fact, cold brew requires twice the amount of coffee as a regular drip hot coffee brew.
However, if you use too much, the coffee can taste rather bitter and pack a much stronger punch of caffeine than you’re likely anticipating.
Once you understand how cold brew works and how specific ratios create different flavors, you can adjust your ratios to get the exact result you’re looking for. After all, many people prefer their coffee a bit stronger (or weaker) than the average person—it’s all a matter of preference.
How Do You Calculate the Cold Brewing Ratio?
You will want to calculate your cold brew coffee ratio of coffee to water using this general guideline and your preferences to find the right balance between the two.
The approach differs for cold brew concentrate. So, to get the same result, you’ll have to adjust the ratio slightly.
Cold Brew Coffee Ratio
For homemade cold brew coffee made from ground and water, the standard preference is a 1:5 ratio of coffee to water.
If you’re using a French press or specialty cold brew coffee machine, you can adjust the ratio slightly. A low-strength model can use a 1:12 ratio, while a high-strength French press can use a 1:7 ratio.
Someone who prefers their cold brew stronger can use a 1:4 ratio if they’d like.
Cold Brew Concentrate Ratio
For cold brew concentrate, you need to consider that it’s already in liquid form, so you’ll want to increase your ratio of the concentrate and decrease the ratio of water.
A standard cold brew concentrate ratio is 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water. For a stronger taste, replace it with a 1:1 ratio. And for those who would prefer to instead drink a small shot of coffee in the morning, a 1:1 ratio with cream instead of water can be a fantastic way to start the day.
What Is Cold Brew Concentrate?
Cold Brew is an expedited way to enjoy iced coffee at home since it takes the long brewing time out of the cold brew process. Since cold brew doesn’t use any heat to speed up the extraction process, it can take up to 12 hours to produce the delicious beverage so many love.
For those who want the taste of cold brew without the pre-planning and hours required, a cold brew coffee concentrate only needs to be mixed with water for an instant cold brew experience.
Cold brew concentrate is stronger than the typical iced coffee you can get in stores and is meant to be mixed with water or milk at home. Since it does not include high amounts of water, buying cold brew concentrate can be a better value than a pre-made cold brew beverage.
Are You Supposed to Dilute Homemade Cold Brew?
Homemade cold brew only needs to be diluted if you made it too strong in the first place. Dilution is the easiest way to correct a brew that’s a bit too strong without having to start over and make a new batch.
If you learn how you like your cold brew and get the hang of the process at home, you shouldn’t need to dilute it further unless you want to.
Of course, you may prefer a taste that isn’t too strong. If that’s the case, consider adding milk or creamer after the brewing process.
How to Make a Cold Brew Coffee at Home Step-by-Step
Ready to enjoy your at-home cold brew? Follow these steps and cold brew coffee recipe and have a delicious morning drink waiting for you.
Grind Your Beans
First, note if you have ground coffee or a bag of coffee beans on hand. If the coffee bean is not yet ground, you’ll need to do it yourself. Freshly ground beans are recommended for cold brewing because they create more flavor.
You can use an electric grinder, which grinds the beans in just a few seconds for a faster batch. Alternatively, you could grind the beans manually for a slightly more aromatic blend.
Steep Coffee Grounds in Cold Water
After you have the coffee ground, you can then steep the grounds in cold water. You can use any container to do this, a french press, or a specialty cold brew coffee maker if you have one.
Then, wait at least 12 hours (but up to 24 hours) for the beans to brew in the cold water. Keep the container in the fridge so it stays cool.
Once enough time has passed and the color of your cold brew is to your liking, you can strain the coffee grounds from the water. Some people use a nut milk bag, but cheesecloth or a french press also works great.
Be sure to strain the coffee well and really squeeze the water through the grounds to ensure all the coffee is extracted from the beans before you take your first sip.
Now you can prepare your iced coffee to meet your exact tastes. Add some cream, sugar, liquid sweetener, whipped cream, a dusting of cinnamon, or whatever you like to start your day with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cold brew coffee stronger than regular coffee?
Cold brew is much stronger than regular coffee because it uses a higher ratio of coffee grounds to water than a hot drip-brewed pot. This gives it a potent, bolder taste.
Does cold brew have more caffeine than regular coffee?
A traditional cup of drip coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, while a cup of cold brew the same size possesses about 200 mg of caffeine. This can effectively double the caffeine content between hot and cold brews.
Is cold brew coffee easier on your stomach?
Some people say that drinking cold brew coffee is easier on their stomach than regular coffee. This is because the lack of hot water reduces the total acidity of the coffee just slightly. Drinks higher in acidity can cause acid reflux and may irritate the stomach lining.
How long can I store cold brew coffee?
If you want to drink your cold coffee for days, you’ll be happy to know that cold brew coffee can be stored for up to a week in a refrigerator.
Treating yourself to coffee at your favorite coffee shop is always fun, but it’s even better knowing you can make coffee that tastes just as great right at home. And with cold brewing, you can make one big batch and enjoy it for days on end!
The key is to get the ratio right. Start with the standard 1:5 ratio of coffee to water, and adjust from there depending on your preferences.