Can You Make Cold Brew in a French Press?
Cold brew coffee is the perfect companion on a hot summer’s day! It offers a refreshing, thirst quenching pick me up that will please your taste buds and cool you off at the same time.
The traditional method for making cold brew coffee calls for a mason jar, a sieve and or a paper filter to separate the coarsely ground coffee from the cold concentrated java.
However, yes, you can make cold brew coffee in a French press. Simply add your coarsely ground coffee beans to your French press carafe, add cold, filtered water and stir. Then, place in the fridge for 12-24 hours and press your plunger all the way down to strain out your sediment.
Keep reading for the exact, step by step method of how to make cold brew coffee in a French press, along with a number of top tips and things to look out for.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is made through combining cold water with coarse coffee grounds and left to steep overnight. The reason cold brew coffee takes so long to make, is that there is no heat being directly applied to the coffee to speed up the extraction process.
In all other methods of coffee extraction, hot water in one form or another comes into contact with the freshly ground coffee beans, which extracts all of the oils and aromas that we all enjoy in the cup.
Even with iced coffee, a shot of hot, double espresso is poured over an awaiting glass filled with ice which rapidly cools it down. This is one of the main differences between cold brew and iced coffee.
Cold brew coffee offers a more mellow and mild taste when compared to the boldness of an espresso based iced coffee, or the sweetness of a frappe.
This means cold brew coffee is often served black, as no milk, creamer or sweetener is needed to counteract any bitterness.
What is a French Press?
A French press is an incredibly simple and easy to use coffee brewing device. All you need is hot water, coarsely ground coffee and some patience!
The French press offers a perfect, convenient way to make cold brew coffee concentrate, and you don’t even need any additional equipment.
If you want to find out more about how to maintain and clean your French press, check out my article on the topic.
There are a few mistakes that coffee lovers make when using their French press which leads to bitter or weak coffee. Here are 13 of them!
Why Use a French Press to Make Cold Brew Coffee?
Using a French press to make cold brew coffee is a more convenient, mess free way to get that chilled caffeine hit.
Instead of using a mason jar, a cheesecloth and or filter paper to hold back your coffee grounds when pouring out your cold brew concentrate, simply use your French press filter and pour straight into your serving glass.
You can then top up with ice, cold filtered water and milk if you so desire. This makes it a lot easier to store and serve your cold brew coffee straight from the fridge!
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press?
Here is a simple, step by step guide to help you make the perfect cold brew concentrate using your humble French press.
In general, for cold brew coffee, you can produce either a coffee concentrate or a ready-to-serve coffee solution. Coffee concentrate uses a ratio of around 1 part coffee to 3 parts water, whereas a cold brew coffee that is ready to drink would use 1 part coffee to 7 or 8 parts water.
The benefit of producing coffee concentrate is that it can be diluted down to make many more cups of cold brew coffee from a single batch, so it is a more efficient way of using your coffee grounds, especially when you have to wait overnight!
For the purposes of the method shown below, I will be using a ratio of 1 part coffee to 3 parts water to produce a strong, but not overpowering coffee concentrate.
- French Press
- Extra Coarse Ground Cold Brew Coffee – 1 Cup/200g/7 oz
- Cold, Filtered Water – 3 Cups/600g/21 oz
- Serving Glass
- Ice Cubes
- Milk (optional)
- Preparing the Coffee (1 Minute)
- Steeping and Brewing in the Fridge (12-24 hours)
- Extracting Coffee and Serving (1 Minute)
Here is a step-by-step foolproof method to brewing great cold brew coffee from the comfort of your own home, using your French press!
Step 1: Pick Your Beans
The first step to making the perfect cold brew coffee from home is to pick the correct beans for the job.
Whilst any good quality coffee beans would make a high-standard cold brew, I’d recommend going for a specially roasted “Cold Brew” bean. These are specifically blended to steep well during the long extraction period associated with cold brew coffee.
Don’t forget, we are brewing coffee using cold rather than hot water here. This extraction method brings out the dark, earthy notes of the beans rather than hot water which tends to extract more vibrant, nutty flavors.
Therefore, you want to use a bean that will complement this process.
If you are looking for cold brew coffee beans, check these out on Amazon.
Step 2: Grind
Next, let’s talk about grind size.
The main differences between which size of coffee grind you’ll need comes down to whether you’ll be forcing pressurized water through the grounds or submerging the coffee in water and letting it steep to brew.
For pressurized coffee extraction; think espresso, moka pot, percolator, Aeropress, etc, you’ll want a very fine grind.
Whereas for submersion coffee extraction; think the french press, cold brew, drip brew, etc, you’ll want a coarser grind.
For cold brew coffee, you’ll want to use the coarsest grind your grinder will allow. This ensures that the maximum coffee flavor is extracted overnight.
Again, since we are using cold rather than hot water to dissolve those coffee flavors into the water, we need to ensure the grind is as robust as possible for the best results.
Add approx 1 cup/7oz/200g of these coarse coffee grounds to your French press and try not to spill any!
Step 3: Steep in Cold Water
The next step is to add your cold, filtered water to your French press. Add around 3 cups, 21oz, 600g of cold, filtered water to the carafe and stir well to ensure all of the coarsely ground coffee makes contact with the water.
If you don’t have a water filter but need to order one, here are some of the most popular options on Amazon.
Step 4: Leave Overnight
To get the best results and the maximum coffee extraction, you’ll want to leave your cold brew coffee in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but preferably overnight.
Step 5: Plunge Your French Press
Once your cold brew coffee has been fully extracted, you’ll need to filter it to ensure you get the perfect, strong coffee concentrate without any leftover sediment or grit.
Because you will have used coarsely ground coffee, you can simply use your French press filter to sift out the sediment and pour straight into your serving glass.
If you want to be doubly sure that you’ve avoided all the coffee silt, you can use two mesh filters rather than one.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy
It would be advisable to water down your coffee concentrate before serving.
The amount of water, ice, and milk you may add to your cold brew coffee is up to you, and it definitely takes some trial and error to get the blend to your liking.
But as a general rule of thumb, add to your glass approx 1 third coffee concentrate, 1 third cold, filtered water, 1 third ice (and a splash of milk if required).
Watching the milk cascade down the sides of your chilled glass is one of the most satisfying parts of making a cold brew coffee!
Simply stir it up and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Overall, the French press offers a convenient, simple way to make delicious cold brew coffee from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even need to go to your local Starbucks to enjoy a perfectly chilled coffee experience, the perfect choice for a hot summer’s day!
How Long Does it Take to Make Cold Brew in a French Press?
Ideally, cold brew coffee should be left overnight in the fridge to ensure the coffee oils and flavors have been fully extracted. However, you can leave your cold brew in your French press for around 12 hours and still get good results.
Is Cold Brew Better in a French Press?
Using a French press to brew your cold brew coffee is more convenient, creates less mess and takes less time to prepare than the traditional method for making cold brew coffee.