For first-time cold brewers, there is something magical about your very first batch of cold brew coffee. The rich, robust aroma and the burnished, amber glow of your coffee make it almost good enough to eat – or in this case, drink. But before you pour yourself a glass of the good stuff, there is one last important step you need to take: dilution.
While it might be tempting to drink your cold brew straight from the fridge, you really, really shouldn’t. That’s because the product of cold brewing is actually a coffee concentrate, and far too strong on its own. You will need to dilute your cold brew coffee before you can drink it.
Whether you’re new to the world of cold brew or have found that your most recent batches are missing that little something extra, our dilution guide is here to help you on your way to a better cup of cold brew.
What is the ratio of coffee to water for cold brew?
Before you start watering down your coffee concentrate, it is worthwhile understanding just how strong your concentrate is in the first place.
The strength of your cold brew will depend on the ratio of coffee to water you used at the beginning of the brew process. While this ratio is subjective for most people, and really depends on individual taste, the standard ratio of coffee to water is between 8 and 12 ounces of ground coffee to 64 ounces of water.
If you’re a cold brewing novice, start on the lower end of this ratio. You can always add more coffee to later batches if you find your concentrate doesn’t pack enough of a punch.
Once you’ve settled on your ideal ratio of coffee to water, you can scale the quantities up or down, depending on how much cold brew you want to make. With a typical batch of cold brew lasting up to 10 days when stored in the fridge, a big batch is never usually an issue for caffeine lovers!
How much water do you add to cold brew concentrate?
So, your cold brew concentrate has been brewed, filtered, and left chilling in your fridge. What now?
Given that cold brew is, by its very definition, intended to be diluted before serving, you’ve now reached the most crucial stage of the entire cold brew process. No matter how well you’ve brewed your batch, if you don’t properly dilute your cold brew coffee you’ll end up with something that is either watery and weak, or strong enough to strip paint!
Again, the degree to which you dilute your cold brew concentrate will very much depend on your own tastes and preferences. If you’ve followed the above advice to brew your coffee with the 8-12:64 ounce ratio, you can expect to dilute your concentrate by around half.
Your best bet here is to experiment with your concentrate. It is much easier to add a dash or two more than it is to take away a dash too many. If it’s your first time making cold brew and you are worried, go light and dilute your cold brew concentrate slowly until you feel you’ve achieved the perfect balance.
It is also worth noting that you can dilute your cold brew with milk instead of water. If you prefer a creamier, slightly sweeter cup of coffee, feel free to substitute milk for water when diluting; the same rules still apply!
How do you dilute coffee concentrate?
Once you have done the hard work of brewing and filtering your coffee concentrate, it is time for the most enjoyable part of the process: drinking your cold brew!
You should keep your coffee concentrate in the fridge, preferably in a large pitcher, so you are able to easily serve it throughout the week. There is no need to dilute your coffee concentrate in the pitcher – it can all be done directly in your cup on a per serve basis.
Our below guide to diluting your coffee concentrate is based on the initial brewing ratio of 8-12:64 ounces of coffee to water. If you have used more or less coffee in your initial brew, you may need to ramp up or dial down your dilution accordingly.
To begin, fill a drinking vessel of your choosing (whether that be a latte glass, highball glass, or a tankard!) with ice. After going to the trouble of brewing and chilling your coffee concentrate, the last thing you want is to end up with lukewarm cold brew!
Pour your coffee concentrate over the ice until it fills your vessel about halfway. Now take your water or milk and fill the remaining half of the glass. Sit back and enjoy your cold brew!
If you feel that your coffee is either too strong or too weak, play around with the amount of water or milk you add to the coffee concentrate. It may be that you prefer a mellower cup of coffee, so need to dilute your cold brew a little more. Or perhaps you want to turn up your caffeine hit, and need to dilute it less.
One of the best things about cold brew, especially if you’ve made a large batch, is that it’s a great drink to serve guests. It’s incredibly easy to make a cup of cold brew to suit the tastes of any guest – just add the right amount of water!
What are some other ways I can use my coffee concentrate?
If you find yourself with a little too much coffee concentrate at the end of the week or you just want to shake it up a little, there are other ways to use your cold brew.
If you’re a cocktail lover, why not try a cold brew espresso martini, or a cold brew negroni? Or keep yourself cool during summer with a cold brew milkshake. The options are endless once you’ve brewed up a batch of cold brew!