Ah, cold brew coffee. The perfect drink whether it’s summer, spring, autumn, or yes, even winter! While there are many ways of making cold brew, one of the most straightforward ways is the french press cold brew.
The french press is my go to method for making cold brew, simply because I already have a large french press lying around. If you don’t want to invest in another dripper or cold brew coffee maker, then just brew coffee in a french press.
Can you make cold brew coffee with a french press?
Yes, you absolutely can make cold brew coffee in a french press! When it comes to the different methods you can use to brew coffee, they all boil down to essentially these two: drip or immersion.
Drip methods include your traditional pour-over coffee, filter coffee, and to an extent, espresso too. Immersion coffee is cowboy coffee and french press.
Since cold brew relies on slow, steady extraction of the flavor compounds from coffee beans, an immersion method like french press is ideal.
How to make cold brew coffee in a french press
With that short introduction out of the way, let’s talk about how to make cold brew coffee in a french press.
What you’ll need
To start making cold brew coffee in a french press, here’s what you’ll need:
- Cold or room temperature water
- Coffee beans
- A coffee grinder
- A french press
- A container to fill the ready coffee in
- (Optional) a paper filter or cheesecloth
Step 1: measure out coffee and get your coffee grounds ready
I’ve said this over and over again on this site, and I’ll say it again: coffee grounds don’t hold a candle to coffee beans. For the best cup of coffee, buy freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them right before brewing.
The best way to grind is using a burr grinder. Burr grinders let you control the coarseness or fineness of the grind much more accurately than a blade (spice) grinder, where you just have to time it and hope you get it right.
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Whether you’re using a manual grinder or an electric grinder, you can fine-tune the grind size.
For cold brew, you want to use a very coarse grind. This ensures that the extraction of flavor compounds from the coffee is slow and steady.
Additionally, coarser grounds are easier to filter out and result in a clearer, smoother cup.
Adjust your grinder to a very coarse setting, and measure out the coffee. For best results, use a scale.
The amount of coffee depends on how much you wish to make. There are a lot of different ratios you can use, anywhere from 1:8 to 1:4 or even 1:2 for a super strong concentrate.
If you went with the 1:8 ratio, you’d use 100 grams of coffee for every 800 milliliters of water. For the 1:4 ratio, you’d use 100 grams of coffee for every 400 milliliters of water.
Since cold brew takes so long to brew and it keeps for a few days in the fridge, you may as well brew a large batch every time, so use at least 800 milliliters or more of water every time. You can also bottle it for storage.
Measure out and grind your coffee accordingly, and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Start brewing
Place the ground coffee in the french press, and pour cold water over the grounds. Try to pour in a circular motion to wet all the grounds evenly. There are a lot of grounds in this case, so the more evenly you can wet them, the better.
If you find that there are still some dryish grounds floating around at the top after all the water has been poured, use a spoon to gently push them in the water and get them wet.
Stirring will agitate the grounds and release acidic compounds, which you don’t want. Place the top of the french press on, but don’t plunge.
You can leave the french press on your countertop or place it in the fridge. Leaving it out at room temperature will result in a quicker brew (8-12 hours).
If you put it in the fridge, it will take longer to fully brew, so be prepared to wait 12-24 hours in this case.
While almost every cold brew coffee recipe you find will call for brewing for at least 12 hours, how much time between 12 and 24 is up to you and you can experiment to see what results in the best cup for your palate.
If you don’t feel like experimenting, 12-14 hours is more than enough.
Step 3: filter and store
Now that 12 excruciating hours have passed(or you put it right before you went to bed, in which case, kudos!), it’s time to filter out the ground coffee and store your fresh batch of cold brew.
Gently plunge down the french press until it’s all the way at the bottom.
Pour out the coffee into a jug or mason jar for storage.
Since the french press filter is not very effective at filtering out all sediments, you can use a paper filter or a cheesecloth to filter once more to make sure any renegade grounds don’t get into your final brew.
Close the lid of your storage container tightly and let the coffee chill in the fridge.
Cold brew will last for 1 to 2 weeks before going stale.
Step 4: serve
Now for the best part, drinking your cold brew coffee!
There are a number of ways you can enjoy cold brew:
- If you used a relatively higher ratio like 1:8, you can just drink it straight. The resulting cup will be smooth, balanced, and really refreshing, especially if it’s really chilled.
- If you used a lower ratio and made a concentrate, you can dilute it with water or ice cubes. A little splash of milk or cream will also taste really nice.
- A cold brew concentrate is also a quick and dirty way to make hot coffee. Just dilute your cold brew with an equal amount of water and heat it up!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between cold brew and french press?
Traditionally, french press is used to brew hot coffee. You use medium-coarse coffee grounds and hot water, then steep the coffee for 4 minutes. Once the coffee is done steeping, you push down the plunger to separate the grounds and water, and you have yourself a cup of steaming hot coffee.
Cold brew, on the other hand, is made using much coarser coffee grounds and steeped in room temperature or cold water for 12 to 24 hours.
Is cold brew coffee just cold coffee?
Cold brew is not the same as cold coffee. Cold brew is brewed slowly over 12 to 18 hours, while cold coffee is just regular hot brewed coffee served cold.
Do you need special coffee for cold brew?
Some manufacturers make special cold brew blends but you can make cold brew with any kind of coffee.