Cold Brew Coffee Ratio and Proportions

By Shabbir
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Can’t bear the heat, but need your fix of coffee? I’m going to teach you how to make an amazing coffee using the magic cold brew ratio.

Cold brewing is a brilliant method of extracting flavor from coffee grounds very gradually which results in a milder yet more coffee infused drink.

The taste is mellower (which makes it milder) but the caffeine content is actually higher, and whether that is good or bad is completely subjective!

The caffeine is indeed released more slowly into your system than with a normal hot coffee, so you’ll feel rejuvenated for a lot longer.

Cold brew coffee is rather expensive, at $4 to $5 per glass, so it’s useful to know how to make it at home. The two secrets to brewing it just right are the cold brew coffee ratio and the time you let it brew.

Coffee dripping from an cold brew coffee maker into a container with ice cubes, next to an empty white cup.
Cold brew coffee maker

What cold brew ratios can you use?

There are four very common cold brew ratios you can use:

  • 1:2 (1 part coffee to 2 parts water)
  • 1:4 (1 part coffee to 4 parts water)
  • 1:8 (1 part coffee to 8 parts water)
  • 1:10 (1 part coffee to 10 parts water)

Let’s go into each one in detail. The first two ratios are good to make cold brew concentrates, and the other two are good for straight shots of cold brew coffee.

Using the 1:8 or 1:10 ratio will get you a cold brew that can be enjoyed straight. You can also pour it over ice or add a splash of milk if you prefer a mellower coffee.

Since you will measure using a scale, it does not matter if you measure out coffee beans or coffee grounds. The cold brew ratio for coffee grounds and for coffee beans is the same!

I don’t recommend measuring using cups because there is a huge difference in the amount of coffee between a cup of coffee grounds and a cup of coffee beans!

These are the best coffee beans for cold brew.

What is a good ratio for cold brew coffee concentrate?

To make very concentrated cold brew coffee, you want to use a 1:2 or 1:4 ratio.

I personally prefer using the 1:4 ratio as using a 1:2 ratio requires some tricky brewing.

To effectively make cold brew with a 1:2 ratio, you’ll need a cold brew dripper (aka cold brew coffee maker). If you try to make 1:2 cold brew concentrate in a french press or mason jar, you’ll find that the coffee grounds just absorb all the water and you won’t be left with anything!

If you don’t have a cold brew dripper lying around, stick to the 1:4 ratio. You can easily make 1:4 cold brew concentrate with a french press or mason jar.

Here are some example brews using the 1:4 ratio:

  • 125 grams coffee grounds to 500 ml of water
  • 250 grams coffee grounds to 1 liter of water

How much water to add to cold brew concentrate?

If you brewed your concentrate using the 1:4 ratio, use two to three parts water to one part coffee.

So if you wish to dilute 1:4 cold brew to a 1:8 ratio, use two parts water. That means 100 ml of cold brew and 200 ml of water for a 300 ml serving.

Use three parts water to one part cold brew to get to a 1:12 ratio.

The dilution ratios are not set in stone, and I encourage you to experiment by adjusting up and down until you find the sweet spot.

Coffee is all about experimentation and finding a balance, and cold brew is no different.

How long does cold brew take?

Cold brew takes between 12 to 18 hours to brew. You can brew it in the fridge or on the countertop at room temperature.

The warmer the water is, the faster the coffee will brew. So aim for 18 hours in the fridge or 12 hours on the kitchen counter.


The 1:2, 1:4, 1:8, and 1:10 ratios all yield varying strengths of cold brew coffee. It’s up to you to experiment and decide which one works best for you. You don’t even have to stop at 1:10 – push the limits to 1:12 or even higher if you want a lighter cup.

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.