4 Quick Ways To Fix Weak & Watery Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew always has a much milder taste compared to filter coffee or coffee from a machine. But what if it’s excessively weak? What went wrong, and how can you fix this?

Weak cold brew coffee often results from using too little coffee for a specific amount of water. It’s also possible that the ice has overly diluted the coffee or that the coffee didn’t steep long enough. In certain cases, incorrect coffee beans might have been used.

Below, you’ll find all the reasons why your cold brew is watery and how you can resolve this.

Why Is My Cold Brew Watery/Weak?

Cold brew coffee has a much milder flavor than filter coffee. Initially, it might taste slightly watery if you’re accustomed to coffee from a machine or typical filtered coffee.

If you know what cold brew should taste like, but the version you’ve made yourself is far too weak, continue reading.

If your cold brew tastes watery, various factors could be contributing, each requiring slightly different solutions. Let’s first explore the possible and most common causes for weak cold brew and then discuss what can be done about them.

Here are the most common causes:

  • Incorrect ratio
  • Excessive dilution
  • Insufficient steeping time
  • Incorrect coffee beans

Let’s get into those causes in more depth and find out what the solutions are.

1. Incorrect Ratio

For a satisfying cold brew, the coffee-to-water ratio is key. Cold brew recipes vary, ranging from ratios like 1:3 to 1:10. The more water per gram of coffee, the weaker the outcome. A 1:3 ratio is quite strong and needs dilution, while 1:10 is relatively weak even without dilution.

These ratios significantly differ from those used in regular filter coffee, which usually employs ratios around 1:13 to 1:18. Making cold brew demands a higher coffee quantity than traditional filter coffee.

Creating cold brew requires a generous amount of ground coffee. In the end it’s up to your personal taste what is the right ratio so some experimentation might be necessary.

2. Too Much Dilution

Cold brew is often served over ice and sometimes diluted before serving. Overdoing the water or ice can lead to a weak taste. A 1:4 ratio for making cold brew necessitates dilution, while 1:10 usually doesn’t.

Ice can pose a challenge. It melts and essentially dilutes the coffee further, particularly on warmer days.

3. Not Steeped Long Enough

Weak cold brew might result from insufficient steeping time. Cold brew is distinct from regular coffee because water doesn’t flow through the grounds but rather remains in contact with them. This process is more akin to steeping tea.

Similar to tea, the strength of cold brew increases with extended steeping. Although cold water slows this process compared to hot tea, the concept is the same.

The necessary steeping duration depends on whether the process occurs in or out of the fridge but also the exact brew process and small factors like the amount of agitation.

4. Wrong Coffee Beans

Using the wrong beans or grind for cold brew can also contribute to a watery outcome. Different coffee varieties yield distinct flavors, some of which are better suited for cold brew.

The roast level is a significant factor. Darker roasts lead to a more bitter and robust cold brew, while lighter roasts offer a fruitier, less bitter taste resembling tea. The lighter roasts can lack some body you might expect.

Additionally, dark beans are more easily extracted than lighter ones. Light beans might not fully extract with cold water, and very dark beans can often turn too bitter. Brewing longer with light roasts and shorter with darker roasts is recommended.

Solutions for Strengthening Cold Brew:

Addressing different issues requires distinct solutions. Here are the best steps to enhance the potency of your cold brew.

1. Adjust the Ratio

Start by examining your coffee-to-water ratio. A higher coffee quantity relative to water yields a stronger cold brew.

For cold brew meant to be served over ice, a 1:7 ratio is a good starting point. The first number signifies 1 gram of ground coffee, while the second is the amount of water in grams.

For instance, to make 500 ml of cold brew at a 1:7 ratio, divide 500 by 7, yielding around 71.4 grams of coffee. Using a scale ensures precision. Begin with 1:7 and make adjustments as needed.

2. Dilute Less

Cold brew is often prepared very strongly (ratios like 1:3 to 1:5) and then diluted. So if you use a higher ratio, taste it first before diluting.

Consider that serving cold brew with ice can hasten dilution. Ice melting is equivalent to adding water. The longer you wait, the more the coffee will dilute.

To minimize this, chill the coffee thoroughly before pouring it over ice. Serving it in a thermal cup can also help a lot.

Making coffee ice cubes is another useful trick. Freeze a portion of your cold brew to use as ice cubes. This maintains the brew’s strength as the ice melts. If you wanted to you could even make stronger ice cubed or flavored ones for a fun experience.

3. Extend the Steeping Time

Typically, cold brew steeps for 12-18 hours. Extending this to 24 hours is acceptable if it doesn’t turn excessively bitter.

Keep in mind that water temperature influences steeping speed. Refrigeration maintains a consistent temperature, while room temperature fluctuates. In summer, when cold brew is often preferred, room temperature is notably higher which does increase extraction compared to the winter.

Experiment by brewing outside the refrigerator. After 12 hours, sample the coffee to gauge its strength. If not ready, taste every 2 hours until satisfied. If still weak after 24 hours, adjust the ratio or switch beans.

While making cold brew outside the fridge is fine, store it in the refrigerator after brewing.

4. Opt for Suitable Beans

The coffee beans’ type significantly impacts flavor. Lightly roasted beans can lead to a watery cold brew, even with hot water. They may taste more like tea than coffee. Cold brewing exacerbates the light flavor.

Medium-roasted beans often yield optimal cold brew results. They offer a balanced fruity taste and add body to the coffee without excessive bitterness.

Keep in mind that using freshly roasted beans and grinding them yields the best outcome. For cold brew, a moderately coarse grind is ideal. If previous solutions yield unsatisfactory results, consider a slightly finer grind.

Dark or medium-roasted beans can lend more depth to your cold brew.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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