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Try This Surefire Ratio For Cold Brew Coffee Done Right

short glass of cold brew and ice with tangerine-colored backdrop, ratio for cold brew coffee

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Ahhhh, cold brew. The deliciously refreshing morning beverage that gets us out of bed each day.

But you don’t have to run to your local coffee shop for a cold brew. You can already have it in the fridge when you wake up!

Making cold brew at home isn’t complicated, but getting the proper coffee to water ratio for cold brew coffee is critical in achieving a perfect brew. Here, we’ll run through the steps to making epic cold brew at home, and soon, you will wake up to its smooth, caffeinated goodness.

But before we get to the ideal ratio for cold brew coffee, let’s go back a few steps.

What’s Cold Brew?

What makes cold brew different from other cold coffee drinks is the brewing process (more on that in a moment).

The term “cold brew” refers to the brewing method, not the serving temperature. Cold brew coffee is also smoother and less acidic than traditional iced coffee.

Cold brew lacks the bitterness often associated with iced coffee, so many prefer to drink cold brew coffee black.

How To Cold Brew

As the name suggests, cold brew coffee is brewed with cold or room temperature water, which is one significant difference between iced coffee and cold brew.

Another big difference is the brewing time. Cold brew is steeped slowly (12+ hours slow), allowing all of the fruity, bright notes to be extracted from the coffee grounds without bitterness.

It’s a time commitment for sure, but cold brew remains the best iced coffee to make at home because it is so easy, and the result is so delicious.

No special equipment is needed to make cold brew. In fact, our favorite method for making cold brew is the French press.

plastic cup of cold brew with milk swirling on wooden table

Ratio For Cold Brew Coffee

The ideal ratio for cold brew coffee is 1:5 coffee to water. 

This coffee to water ratio for cold brew will work well with most roasts. We like to use a medium roast coffee for our cold brew.

We use 140 grams of coffee to 700 grams of water when making cold brew in our french press. You may notice that this coffee to water ratio for cold brew coffee is quite a bit stronger than other brewing methods.

Remember, the best cold brew coffee to water ratio will result in a potent cold brew concentrate that’s diluted with milk or water before consumption.

Now let’s get brewing with this easy recipe for cold brew coffee made in a French press.

How To Make Cold Brew In A French Press

Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need To Cold Brew

  1. French press
  2. Coffee Scale
  3. Filtered water 
  4. Coffee beans
  5. Coffee grinder
  6. Paper filter
  7. Sealable container(s) 
  8. Spoon
woman's hands scooping coffee into small bowl on coffee scale beside pour over dripper, Using filtered water for coffee
Best coffee beans to use for cold brew

Step 2: Measure Coffee

Working with the 1:5 ratio for cold brew coffee, measure 140 grams of your coffee of choice. (we think these are some of the best coffee beans to use for this recipe for cold brew coffee)

While experience has taught us that the best results are achieved using a 1:5 coffee to water ratio cold brew is a matter of personal preference. While this may be the best cold brew coffee to water ratio for us, experiment until you find the ratio that you like best.

Start with 1:5 and adjust from there.

Step 3: Grind Your Coffee

Now that you’ve selected your coffee beans, it’s time to grind them. 

To make cold brew in a French press, you’ll want to use a coarse grind slightly larger than you’d typically use for hot French press coffee.

Grab your grinder, grind your coffee, and pour it into your French press.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Step 4: Add Filtered Water

Again, using the 1:5 coffee to water ratio for cold brew, measure 700 grams of cool or room-temperature filtered water

Using filtered water for coffee dramatically improves the flavor of the brew. Slowly pour the water over the grounds in a slow, circular motion. Do not stir.

Use the back of a metal spoon to gently press down any floating grounds near the top, ensuring all coffee is submerged. Place the lid on the French press, but DO NOT PLUNGE.

Step 5: Steep Cold Brew

Cold brew steeping time isn’t an exact science. A good rule of thumb is to steep for at least 12 hours. We like to steep ours for 16 hours but start with 12, then adjust as needed.

We recommend steeping at room temperature, provided you’ll be available after 12 hours to finish the process.

Steeping cold brew in the refrigerator slows the brewing process. If you plan to be away longer than 12 hours, it might be best to steep in the fridge for the best results.

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Step 6: Finish Your Brew And Store

Congratulations! You survived the long wait, and it’s time for a cold brew!

Plunge your French press as you normally would, but move slowly with a cold brew. Shoot for a full 30 seconds, and don’t rush it.

Be careful not to press the plunger all the way down.

Place a secondary filter (any pour over paper filter is fine) on the top of your sealable container(s) and, with the screen in place, pour your cold brew into the container(s).

milk pouring into glass of cold brew and ice on wooden coaster with grey towel

Step 7: Enjoy Your French Press Cold Brew

Now that you know the perfect ratio for cold brew coffee, you’ll likely become obsessed like us. It’s OK; we’re here for you. Just remember that this recipe for cold brew coffee results in an incredibly concentrated beverage!

You’ll want to dilute your cold brew for the best results. Pour it over ice and add water (or milk) to taste. A 1:2 coffee to water ratio (or coffee-to-milk) works well in most instances.

Remember that your ice will eventually melt and dilute the cold brew (after all, something so smooth and refreshing is meant to be savored, right?).

But wait, how much caffeine does cold brew have?

Caffeine Content

Those who are sensitive to caffeine should consume cold brew with caution. Because cold brew is steeped over such an extended period, the result is a highly caffeinated cold brew concentrate.

Don’t forget to dilute before drinking when you’re learning how to cold brew at home. If you want to reduce caffeine in your brew, add more water or milk to your concentrate rather than adjusting your brewing ratio for cold brew coffee.

As with all coffee beverages, the actual amount of caffeine in cold brew varies greatly. The average 16 oz cold brew has about 200 mg of caffeine. Remember that when you order a 16 oz cold brew from Starbucks or another coffee shop, it’s already diluted, resulting in a caffeine content that’s comparable to regular coffee (about 95 mg of caffeine per 8 oz).

Getting the correct dilution ratio for cold brew coffee is critical.

FAQs: Coffee To Water Ratio Cold Brew

Can you heat up cold brew coffee?

Umm, sure.

But we have no idea why you’d want to. If you’re looking for a hot cup of coffee, several brewing methods will yield a better cup than a microwaved cold brew. Cold brew is meant to be enjoyed cold, so we recommend keeping it that way.

Can cold brew coffee go bad?

Yes, cold brew coffee will eventually expire. Can cold brew coffee go bad? It may not spoil like other perishable foods, but it will lose its flavor and become sour over time. 

An adequately stored batch of cold brew should last up to two weeks in the fridge. Make sure to store your cold brew in an airtight container for best results and consume it within ten days or so.

What is cold brew nitro?

Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen for an ultra-creamy, velvety texture. It’s sinfully delicious.

Nitro cold brew is served without ice, an essential factor to consider when ordering. While you won’t experience additional dilution from the ice, your beverage won’t stay cold very long unless it’s in an insulated mug.

Chug, chug.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters