How Cold Brew Coffee Ratios Work (+3 Easy Recipes)

Last updated on October 8th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield

cold brew coffee review

Cold brew coffee has taken the world by storm and everyone is getting in on it…even the younger crowd. Did you know that cold brew originated from Japan…Kyoto to be exact?

The first documented cold brew coffee, called ‘Kyoto’, comes from the 1600s. Since then, it has grown in popularity, and now everyone wants to learn the secrets to making the perfect cold brew.

Now, almost any coffee shop you go into will have cold brew. Some will even create it using drip coffee and using all kinds of different beans. But how do you know if its legit cold brew coffee or not?

Settle down to a refreshing beverage as we go through everything cold brew coffee from what it is, the different types, the ratios and how to make it.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

The thing that makes cold brew unique is that it is a brewing method that uses no heat. So it’s fairly simple to execute. Plus, it can come in many different delicious flavors – any flavor you like, really.

Usually, cold brew requires some planning since it can take a while to make and get right, usually several hours, but the result is worth every minute you have to wait. 

Also, because cold brew coffees do not use any heat, the acidity level is much lower. This is a great for people who might have digestive systems that are more sensitive, or for anyone who just does not like the acidity of regular coffee.

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee

A common question of confusion is what is the difference between cold brew and iced coffee? They are both made with coffee, and they are both served cold, so what’s the deal? 

As we mentioned before, cold brew coffee never goes anywhere near heat when it is being made. To make a cold brew, the coffee is steeped in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time.

Typically, the beans used for cold brew are medium to coarse, and sit in the water for 12 or more hours. Then, the liquid is filtered to remove any sediments, leaving a smooth coffee behind. The key ingredient is time. 

Iced coffee, on the other hand, is created just like a regular coffee is. Hot water is used, but is then left to cool down enough so that it can be poured into a glass with ice.

When it comes to brewing iced coffee, you actually do not want to let it cool down on the counter where you forget about it for a day. Doing that will make it bitter and taste unpleasant.

If you want to make a delicious iced coffee, the best method to use is the Japanese method, as the coffee will instantly be cooled down as it drips down onto ice cubes. 

Cold Brew vs Hot Coffee

The obvious difference is that hot coffee is hot. Hot coffee is generally more acidic and can be bitter depending on the brewing style. We already know that cold brew has little to no acidity and is far less on the bitterness scale.

Different Types of Cold Brew Coffee

Different Types of Cold Brew Coffee

You can get cold brew in any flavor you can imagine, so the world is your oyster. There are great selections at places like Starbucks, but you can also make your own brews just as easily.

Not only are there different flavors (you can even add in foam to top off your coffee!), but there are different ratios you can use as guidelines, as well as different types of coffee.

New Orleans Style

One of the many twists of cold brew coffee comes from New Orleans. With a city so full of culture and delight, is anyone really surprised?

New Orleans style cold brew incorporates chicory during the steeping stage of the process. Chicory is added to grounds as the coffee steeps to create that beautiful, smooth flavor and feeling.

Adding chicory to the grounds makes the resulting coffee sweeter, creamier and richer than any other type of cold brew.

Mexican Style

Mexican style cold brew is another popular twist on the regular cold brew. These brews have cinnamon and vanilla flavors.

The cinnamon and vanilla brews with the ground coffee to create a rich and delicious flavor. Definitely worth considering if you’re a fan saucy flavors!

Homemade Cold Brew vs Bought

Like any recipe in the world, you might love a specific company’s cold brew and hate another. You might also prefer your own or your family’s cold brew coffee recipe, so it will come down to your own personal preference.

The nice thing about homemade cold brew is that you know exactly what goes into it. While many store-bought brews will have additives to keep the drinker fresher and last longer. 

In terms of overall flavor, however, you can make a cold brew that is just as delicious at home. But you also have to consider the time and skills necessary to brew your own from home.

But if you’re willing to learn, and stick to the correct ratios and methods, your homemade cold brew will come out pretty delicious.

What Can You Use Cold Brew Coffee For?

cold brew coffee mason jar

You can do a lot more with cold brew than just drink it as is. Cold brew coffee concentrate can be used to make iced coffees as well as hot coffees and lattes. They are great for these uses, as they are often used as a base for other drinks and recipes.

Popular uses of cold brew coffee concentrate also includes creating cocktails and sodas – so you definitely will not run out of things to try.

Which Coffee Beans are the Best for Cold Brew?

You don’t need a specific brand or type of coffee bean to make your cold brew. The most important factor to pay attention to is the size of the grind.

You can use any type of coffee you like as long as it is coarse. Typically, the coarser the grind, the better the coffee will come out after steeping for the allocated number of hours.

Be sure to use a reliable coffee grinder so you get uniform grounds which will ensure a consistent flavor for your beverage.

How Does the Ratio Affect the Flavor of Coffee?

The ratio of coffee to water is crucial when it comes to making coffees. Too much or too little of either component can significantly effect the level of extraction and kill the flavor and strength. In the end, you get a cup of liquid disappointment.

While discussing ratios, we will be using grams as a general rule so that numbers are easier to read and understand. To give you an example, a ratio of 1:15 means that for every 1 gram of coffee you use, you are going to use 15 grams of water to create your brew.

To clarify, 1 gram of water is considered to be equal to 1 milliliter of water. So using the ratio of 1:15, the measurement will be:

  • 1 gram of coffee and 15 grams (ml) of water.

Regular coffee uses ratios anywhere between 1:15 and 1:18. The ratio of 1:15 results in more concentrated beverages, while 1:18 is much lighter and not nearly as concentrated. Many people find that less concentrated coffee is more palatable, but this will vary for everyone.

Cold Brew Coffee Ratios

Cold Brew Coffee Ratio Grams

The ratios for regular coffee are pretty straightforward, but for a cold brew things are very different. When you are making a cold brew, you are creating a concentrate. And usually, requires ratios that are a lot higher.

These ratios can range from 1:2 to 1:5. At first glance, these ratios look pretty hardcore right? But remember that the coffee is steeping for hours without any heat.

So because we are relying on the natural osmotic pressures to pull the coffee flavors out which takes a lot of time, we counter this by concentrating the ratio so theirs more coffee per unit of water to pull from.

There are two important things to remember when considering the ratios when creating cold brew coffee:

  • You can brew large batches at once
  • You can dilute the brew to achieve a palatable strength and taste

Also, keep in mind that this concentrated cold brew can be used as a base for many other things, so it can always be diluted. For a general overview of coffee strengths, you can consider the following as a guideline:

  • 1:2 – cold brew concentrate
  • 1:5 – standard preference
  • 1:7 – high strength French press
  • 1:12 – low strength French press

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

You can make cold brew coffee by hand or leave it to a machine to do. Cold brew coffee makers are popular and do all the work for you, including giving you measurements to use, so that making your brew is super easy.

We will go through three ways to make cold brew coffee – without a machine, with a French press, and with a cold brew coffee maker.

Making Cold Brew Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

If you do not have a French press or a coffee maker, you can make homemade cold brew coffee using a mason jar (or anything else similar). Heres what else you will need:

  • coffee
  • a mason jar
  • a strainer
  • coffee filter
  • a bowl
  1. Add your preferred ratio of coffee into the jar add water so that the jar is half filled, and stir.
  2. Then, fill the jar with cool water and put a lid on it and leave it to refrigerate for its allocated time (12-24 hours). 
  3. After steeping, get a mesh strainer and place it over a bowl.
  4. Place a coffee filter onto the strainer to make sure none of the finer coffee grounds get through, and slowly pour the cold brew in.

The strainer and coffee filter will catch the coffee grinds, leaving you with a bowl of beautiful cold brew. You can use the same jar to store your cold brew coffee once it has been rinsed out, and you are done! 

Making Cold Brew Coffee with a French Press

Making a cold brew coffee in a French press is super easy and straightforward. Use the French press like you normally would if you were making regular coffee – put your coffee at the bottom, add the water, and insert the press.

Only, instead of using it after a few minutes or immediately, you will leave it to steep for anywhere between 12-24 hours. When you are ready to enjoy your cold brew the next day, you will push the plunger down and pour out your coffee concentrate. Voila!

Making Cold Brew Coffee with a Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Coffee makers can be expensive, depending on which one you choose, but they all do the same thing. The method is the same as previously mentioned in this post, and is similar to the Japanese style makers.

You will just follow the instructions given for your coffee maker, which will vary. But the method will be simple. All you will need is patience.

Final Thoughts on Cold Brew Coffee and Ratios

Ratios are a big factor when you are making your cold brew (or any other kind of coffee). It’s how you can ensure a consistent result each time you brew. If you get the ratios wrong, the coffee may over or under extract and leave you with a poor product.

There are a number of ratios that gurus suggest, and you can find them all over the internet. But if you follow the simple guides given to you in this post, you should be able to use it as a template to dial in the perfect drink for you.

Now, if you have been wanting to create a cold brew but just weren’t sure about how to actually do it – you know everything you need to. Go forth and make your most delicious beverage yet!

You can also try adding Nitrogen gas to try Nitro cold brew.

Coffee Has Never Read This Good!

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