Cold brew coffee is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. It’s easy to make and has a smooth, mellow flavor. You can find cold brew everywhere, in coffee shops, in grocery stores, super markets, and even online. But today we are learning how make cold brew at home using a French press coffee maker.
The French press is one of the cheapest ways to make cold brew. All you need is ground coffee, water, and a French Press.
In this article we will give you the recipe, the tips to make it better than perfect, and links to various related resources, if you want to go down the cold brew rabbit hole. Or you can just stick to our recipe and enjoy cold brew that you made, and you’ll see it’s better than the store bought.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is a method of coffee preparation that uses cold water to extract coffee solubles from the coffee grounds.
Also known as cold press, cold brew coffee offers a smooth and mellow flavor that is unique, unlike any other coffee brewing method. It’s easier to make at home, and you don’t absolutely need any special equipment, or skills. All you need to do is follow a recipe.
The unique flavor and convenience make it the perfect drink for those who want to get a boost can’t drink regular hot brewed coffee.
It is less bitter than traditional hot-brewed coffee, and it has a smoother, less acidic flavor. This is because the acidic compounds in coffee, only get extracted at higher temperatures.
The most popular cold brew method is immersion, but various other techniques exist, such as vacuum cold brew, cold drip, or slow drip, agitation cold brew, etc… Today’s recipe uses immersion, as it is the simplest method, and the French press is the perfect brewing device.
Cold Brew Coffee Health Benefits
Cold brew coffee has some great advantage over hot-brews, but probably the most important is the health aspect. Because it’s brewed cold, it lacks some of the compounds that irritate your stomach, and it is the preferred caffeinated beverage of people with sensitive stomach.
Why Is the French Press a Great Option for Making Cold Brew?
As we mentioned before, there are many ways to prepare cold brew, and some of these options are quite expensive, and some are just inconvenient. French press, is the second best option, just inches behind the mason jar and disposable coffee bag cold brew solution. The mason jar is the easiest way to make cold brew at home, but the French press method is not that far behind.
The beauty of the French press method is that you don’t need to buy anything, besides have the right equipment, it can be difficult to make a good cup of cold brew at home. Not everybody likes cold brew, and I get it. If you try it and you don’t like it, all you lose is just some ground coffee.
Will Make a delicious Cup of Cold Brew
Immersion cold brew is not rocket science, follow the recipe, find the perfect dilution ratio, and you get a delicious cup. Whether you brew it in mason jar, in a cold brew coffee maker such as Toddy, or Oxo, or in a French press, the results are replicable, if you follow the recipe.
There are some advantages of using a proper cold brew coffee maker, but a French press is not bad.
But remember, this tastes nothing like hot brewed French press coffee. Cold brewing extracts different compounds from the coffee grounds.
Fits Well in the Fridge
The French press is a great option for making cold brew at home, especially if you brew it in the fridge. It fits well in the fridge, and it is not as bulky as the Oxo, or Toddy units. The only other brewer that fits as well in the fridge is the mason jar.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee with a French Press
We touted cold brew as the non-skill needed brewing method, and if you follow our recipe, you’ll see that it’s not rocket science. All you need for this is freshly ground coffee, cold water, and a French press.
Here is a step-by-step guide to making cold brew coffee with a French press.
Materials and Ingredients:
- The French press.
We assume you own one, if you need to buy one, don’t bother. You’d be better off using the mason jar method, which is the easiest and most practical way to make cold brew at home on a budget. This recipe uses a 34 ounce press pot, (1 liter).
- Good coffee.
You need good coffee, whether is pre-ground or you have beans that you grind it’s up to you. Our method uses the drip grind size, and pre-ground coffee is perfect for that. We recommend coffee beans though.
- Coffee grinder.
This is optional, but you can only get really good cold brew if you use freshly ground coffee beans. You can only get that when you buy coffee beans, and you grind them just minutes before brewing. Don’t attempt to use a blade grinder, it’s not meant for coffee. You will need a decent bur grinder instead.
- Great tasting water.
There is only two ingredients in a pure cup of coffee, water and coffee beans. If one of the ingredients tastes bad, your final cup will be tasting bad. Use filtered water, or spring water if you have access. Use tap water if it tastes good, but you have to dechlorinate it.
The Step by Step Recipe
Step 1: Grind Coffee
Grind about 120 grams of coffee to a medium-coarse grind size. If you want to use pre-ground coffee from the store, use it, but you will probably need to filter it through a paper filter.
Step 2: Weigh Coffee
Measure 120 grams of coffee, by weight, or 24 level tbsp. by volume. We recommend you use a scale, as coffee volume can vary consistently, depending on roast and origin.
Step 3: Transfer the Grounds
Place the coffee grounds in a 34 ounce French press, or larger. (If you have a smaller French press, you will need to adjust the recipe.)
Step 4: Add Water and Stir
Add 720 ml of filtered water in the French press, and stir the slurry to wet all of the coffee grounds.
Step 5: Final Set Up
Place the plunger in the beaker and push it in just a little, in order to ensure all the grounds are immersed in the slurry.
Step 6: Steep for 12 Hours
Transfer the French press in the fridge, and let it steep for 12 hours. There is an entire discussion around cold brew extraction time, and water temperature, but let’s keep it simple – 12 hours steeping in the fridge.
Step 7: Plunge and Strain
Take the brew out of the fridge, and push the plunger in all the way down, to separate the spent grounds from the coffee. Pour coffee concentrate into a glass bottle or a glass jar.
Step 8: Optionally – Filter It.
If you used pre-ground coffee, use a coffee dripper, and a paper filter to filter it. You can skip this part, but you might need to let the slurry settle, in order to have a cleaner cup.
Step 9: Dilute and Enjoy
Pour in cups, dilute to 1:1 with water and milk, and serve.
Tips to Make the perfect cold brew coffee
Cold brew coffee is the perfect way to enjoy a cup of java without the bitterness or acidity of traditional hot-brewed coffee. With its smooth, mellow flavor and low acidity, cold brew coffee has become increasingly popular with coffee drinkers everywhere. But making the perfect cold brew coffee is no easy task. In this article, we’ll provide some tips to help you make the perfect cold brew coffee every time. We’ll cover topics such as selecting the right beans, grinding your beans, and steeping your cold brew coffee. We’ll also discuss the best brewing methods and other tips for getting the most out of your cold brew. So let’s get started!
French Press Cold Brew Ratio
You can use whatever ratio you want when you brew and when you dilute. If you know what you are doing, you can translate this ratio to something that fits you. However, we found that the following ratio works best for a French press cold brew.
Use 1:6 coffee to water ratio to get a cold brew concentrate.
This works best for a 34 fl. oz. French press, which is what most people have in their house. The 1 to 6 ratio is by weight. This comes up to 120 grams of ground coffee to 720 grams of water. It’s easier if you do this on a scale, but since it’s frugal method, let’s assume that not everybody has a kitchen scale.
A rough approximation is 5 grams of ground coffee is around a level tablespoon. SO 120 grams comes out as 24 tbsp. or 1.5 US cups, or 12 fluid ounces.
The 720 grams of water is equivalent to 720 ml, which is about 24 fluid ounces. As you probably noticed, the ground coffee occupies about 1/3 of the French press in volume, and the water the other 2/3. The ground coffee will take up a lot of space in the press. Make sure you take that in consideration, if you want to change our recipe.
This recipe will yield about 20 ounces of coffee concentrate, and after the dilution you’ll get about 40 ounces of coffee. So you’ll have about 9 to 10 cups of java – normal strength.
Use a 1:1 cold brew concentrate to water to dilute the result
Do not drink the coffee concentrate as is, even if you find it palatable. Cold brew concentrate tastes great, but it has the double the amount of caffeine of a normal coffee serving. Add water, or milk to the concentrate, to bring it to a normal strength.
I see a lot of people complaining that they don’t like the home-brewed result. Many times it’s because they don’t dilute it. Cold brew can be a little deceiving that way, it tastes less strong than hot-brewed counterparts. But if you dilute it, it will taste even better.
For ready to drink cup, use a 1 to 9 coffee to water ratio
I don’t recommend using a ready-to-drink ratio, as this will limit the amount you can brew at once. And it’s more convenient to brew it concentrated. But if you insist, you can, and coffee will be equally delicious. Just less of it.
But make sure you experiment with your ratios of coffee and water. A 1:9 might taste too weak for some, but it packs a lot of caffeine in it.
Filter Your French Press Cold Brew
Not all French presses are equal, some of them filter better, some of the not so good. The mesh filter at the end of the plunger is not the same on all press pots. Sometimes they don’t fit snugly the beaker, and grounds can slip up in your coffee.
We are intent to not ask you to buy any equipment, as we touted this as the cheapest method. So stick to your current French press, but take some extra measures to filter your end result.
If you find your coffee too grainy, just filter it with a paper coffee filter, or a permanent mesh coffee filter. If you own a very fine mesh strainer, that will work too.
What Types of Beans Work Best for Cold Brew?
To make a truly great cup of cold brew, you need to start with the right type of beans. Different types of beans have different flavors and aromas, so it’s important to choose the right ones for your cold brew. We have an article where we review a few great coffees for cold brew, but medium roast to medium-dark roast work the best.
Dark roasts have the advantage of being more soluble, so you can get away with less steeping time, when you are in a big hurry, but they don’t taste that great. Many times very dark roasts are used to cover beans’ defects. When roasted too darkly, all beans taste same: smoky and ashy.
On the other hand, immersion cold brew works better with medium roasts. If you want to experiment, with lighter roasts I absolutely encourage you, but know that you will have to grind finer, and probably strain with a paper filter.
The most important is to use great quality beans, and stay away from very cheap stuff. You only have two ingredients in a pure cup of coffee: water and coffee beans.
What Is the Best Grind Size for French Press Cold Brew?
We recommend grind size is medium-coarse. This is somewhere between drip coffee grind size, which is a medium, and coarse.
If you grind too fine, coffee will be a little muddy. This is acceptable, if you like a stronger, bold coffee, with ample body. But if you like a brighter cup, you will need to grind a little coarser.
We do say in our recipe that you can use pre-ground coffee for the regular drip coffee maker. That is a medium grind size. If you use medium grind size, make sure you use a paper filter.
Fine grinds can clog the French press’s mesh filter and you risk splashing coffee out, when you plunge. Best presses have a double layer screen filter, with different screen size. This helps against the clogging.
Most cold brew coffee recipes on the Internet, tell you to grind very coarse. Coarse grinds don’t dissolve easy in water and will under-extract. Grind your beans medium-coarse instead and you’ll get a better coffee.
Water Quality Is Very Important
This is the same rule for hot coffee or cold brew coffee. If your water tastes like mud, how can your coffee taste better. Use good tasting water; ideally, the same water that you drink on a daily basis.
In theory, the longer the coffee grounds are left to steep, the stronger the resulting coffee will be. You then dilute it accordingly. For 9-12 hours brews you dilute less than for 48 hour brews. But things are not as simple as that.
If you steep too short, you won’t extract all of the flavors from the grounds. Immersion cold brew is a very slow process, and we need have patience.
On the other hand, if you brew too long, some of the antioxidants in coffee might get destroyed in the process, so you will get a stronger coffee but with less health benefits.
When cold brew started to get popularity, the recommended brew time was 72 hours. The research in the field showed that this might be a bit too long, so the recommended steeping times today are 6 to 24 hours. Remember, shorter brew times require finer grinds, and finer grinds require extra filtration. The best example is the cold drip brew method, which takes only 3 to 6 hours to extract.
We recommend using the refrigerated method, because it reduces the risk of contamination. But coffee spoils pretty hard, so you can use room temperature water to brew it, if your fridge is too small.
If you brew it in the fridge, you have it ready to drink. If you use water at room temperature, it will extract slightly faster, but you’ll have to cool it down with more ice cubes, or use a coffee chiller, for faster results.
For a stronger taste steep for 24 hours
Cold brew coffee has a very strong, complex taste and a full-bodied aroma. It’s a bit more time consuming but the taste is well worth it. You can also make cold brew coffee using a French press, but the results will be more consistent with a Toddy system. If you want to make cold brew coffee without a Toddy, you can use a French press. Place the ground coffee beans into a French press and add water. You can use the same amount of coffee grounds as you would if you were using hot water. It’s the steeping time that counts. If you’re using a French press, you’ll need to let it steep for about 12 hours. You can also make cold brew coffee with a coffee maker. The best way to do this is to use a French press pot. It’s very simple, all you need to do is add the beans and water, and let it sit for 12 hours. You should always keep in mind that the longer the brewing time, the stronger the taste will be.
How To Serve and Store French Press Cold Brew Coffee
We showed you the recommended dilution ratios, but I just need to remind you that you are getting a cold brew coffee concentrate that tastes decent. But it tastes better when you add cold water, or ice.
You can serve cold brew coffee over ice or warm it up, if you crave a hot cup. Remember, if you It’s best served over ice, though.
The best way to enjoy it though, is to freeze it into coffee ice cubes, and add milk to it. This way you’ll have a strong coffee until the end of the cup, unlike the regular iced coffee.
When you follow this recipe, you are making more than you can drink in a day. You can store the cold brew coffee concentrate in the fridge for up to two weeks, and coffee will taste the same.
You can flavor your cold -brewed coffee with almond milk and sweeten it with a bit of honey or maple syrup, but I’d stay away from the sweetener if you can. Cold brew is much less bitter than hot brew coffee, so you don’t really need to sweeten it.
Don’t use flavored coffee beans if you must flavor your cold brew. You can instead add some natural flavors yourself during the steeping. Some ideas are: shredded coconut, cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, or add sweet cream cold foam.
Making cold brew in a French press is an easy and effective way to make a fantastic cup of cold brew in the comfort of your own home. It’s the fastest and cheapest way to try cold brew at home.
I personally recommend you look at our tutorial for cold brew in a mason jar with a disposable coffee bag, as that is the easiest and most convenient way to make it. It just going to cost you a few bucks more, but it’s absolutely worth it. Enjoy!