How to Make Cold Brew in a French Press At Home

Cold brew has gained popularity in recent years for its smooth flavor, lower acidity, and the ability to customize it to individual taste preferences. The good news is that you do not need special equipment to make this brew right in the comfort of your home.

So, in short, yes, you can make cold brew in a French press, and if you want you can skip to the recipe for French press cold brew

The Brewing Process

The brewing process for cold brew involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time, typically 12-24 hours. This slow extraction process results in a smooth, less acidic tasting coffee concentrate that is typically diluted with water or milk and served over ice.

The process of making cold brew involves combining coffee grounds and water in a container and allowing the mixture to steep for an extended period of time. The steeping time can vary depending on personal preference, with longer steeping times generally resulting in a stronger brew. Once the steeping is complete, the coffee is typically strained through a coffee filter to separate the liquid coffee concentrate from the coffee grounds, resulting in a smooth, concentrated coffee extract.

Cold Brew Flavor Profile

Cold brew is known for its distinct flavor profile, which tends to be less acidic and less bitter compared to traditional hot brewed coffee. The slow extraction process of cold brew results in a mellower and smoother taste, with less of the sharp acidity and bitterness that can be present in hot brewed coffee.

Equipment Needed

There are many things that you can use to brew the perfect cold brew coffee. These include French presses and cold brew makers, but you can even use a mason jar or water pitcher if you have neither of those. Here is an overview of what a cold brew maker is before I move on to using a French press and why I think you don’t really need special equipment.

Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Cold brew makers are kitchen appliances or devices used to brew coffee for a long time in cold water. It typically consists of a container or pitcher for holding the water and coffee grounds as well as a filtration system to separate the cold brew concentrate from the grounds. The most common types of cold brew makers include:

  1. Immersion Cold Brew Maker: This type of cold brew maker involves steeping coffee grounds or tea leaves in cold water for an extended period of time, usually 12-24 hours, allowing the flavors to infuse into the water slowly. After steeping, the brewed liquid is separated from the grounds using a built-in or separate filtration system.
  2. Slow Drip Cold Brew Maker: This type of cold brew maker uses a slow dripping process to gradually extract flavors from coffee grounds. Cold water is slowly dripped over the grounds, usually taking several hours, and the resulting liquid collects in a separate container.
  3. Cold Brew Coffee Bag: Similar to a traditional tea bag, cold brew coffee or tea bags are pre-filled with coffee grounds, and can be steeped in cold water to make cold brew. After steeping, the bags are typically removed to separate the cold brew coffee concentrate from the grounds.

Cold brew makers are available in various sizes, materials, and designs to suit different preferences and needs. They offer a convenient and easy way to make cold brew at home, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing and flavorful cold coffee beverage. However, they can be pricy and most coffee lovers probably already have a French press at home.

French Press

I prefer my trusty French press because it is not as expensive as a cold brew coffee maker and unlike a mason jar, it has a built-in filter. When you use a French press, the plunger acts as a filter and removes most, if not all of the grounds. On the other hand, when you use a mason jar, you have to use other filters like a paper filter, cheesecloth, or fine mesh strainer.

Cold Brew Recipe Using a French Press

Here’s a simple recipe for you to make your own cold brew:

Ingredients

  1. Coarse ground coffee beans
  2. Cold, filtered water

Tools

  1. French press
  2. Spoon or stirring stick

Instructions

Add the Ingredients

Add coarsely ground coffee to your French press. A general rule of thumb is to use a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio. For example, if you’re using 1 cup of coffee, add 4 cups of water. However, if you like very strong coffee, you could use more coffee grounds and less water.

I used the above ratio and I will do so in the future again. It was a bit weak to my taste, but I decided to rather change the dilution ratio and steeping time (I’ll get to that in a second) instead of the coffee-to-water ratio.

Pour cold, filtered water over the coffee grounds. Give it a gentle stir to make sure all the coffee is fully saturated with water.

Place the plunger on top of the French press, but do not press it down. This is just to prevent any dust or contaminants from getting in.

A Note On Coffee Beans
Roast

A light roast will have a higher acidity level whereas a dark roast is on the bitter side of the spectrum. I used Starbucks’s blonde roast and one of their medium roast blends called “Pike Place”.

Side note: I really recommend both the Starbucks blonde roast and “Pike Place” roast. Try them out and let me know what you think.

With warm coffee, I prefer the “Pike Place” roast, but interestingly enough with the cold brew the blonde roast was actually a bit better for me. I wrote an entire post on my opinion on the difference between blonde roast and normal coffee beans (I used “Pike Place”).

Grind Size

Grind size is also important. Using a too fine grind will make it hard to filter out all of the grounds. A coarser grind is perfect for this kind of coffee.

If you do not have a coffee grinder you can either buy pre-ground coffee from your grocery store or buy the coffee from your local coffee shop and ask them to grind it for you. I think the latter is a good idea because then you have more control over how fine it is grounded.

Let the Coffee Brew

Let the coffee steep in the French press in the refrigerator or at room-temperature for at least 12-24 hours.

Steeping Temperature

The temperature at which you steep the coffee will have an impact on the taste. Coffee steeped at room-temperature will be a bit stronger. However, if you let it steep around 3-5 hours longer in the fridge, you’ll probably get about the same taste.

Because I like strong coffee, I decided to steep it at room-temperature and I will do that again in the future.

Steeping Time

The longer you steep, the stronger the cold brew will be. You can adjust the steeping time to suit your taste preferences. I let it steep for 13 hours, but in future I will leave it a bit longer. This time I changed the dilution ratio to achieve a strong glass of coffee, but next time I would first try a longer brewing time.

Final Preparation

After the steeping time is up, slowly press the plunger down to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. Pour the cold brew concentrate into a separate container.

It can be diluted with water, milk, or a dairy alternative like almond milk or oat milk to taste, and served over ice cubes. A great ratio to start with for your dilution is one part water and four parts water or milk. However, because my brew was not strong enough to my taste, I ended up using one part of coffee and two parts of milk or water (I tried both and prefer the milk).

You can also flavor it with things such as sweetened condensed milk or chocolate sauce. I wrote an entire post on how to sweeten cold brew.

Other Ways of Serving Cold Brew

It can also be used as a base for other coffee beverages, such as iced lattes, iced mochas, or blended frappes. You can even change it into hot coffee if you want to switch up your traditional hot-brewed coffee for a hot cup of cold-brewed coffee.

Can’t I Just Use Regular Coffee?

Of course, you can use regular hot brew coffee to make cold coffee. However, cold brewing coffee has a different taste from coffee that was brewed using hot water. As I mentioned earlier, cold brew is not as acidic and bitter as hot brewed coffee. It also has a mellow and smooth taste.

I wrote an entire post on how cold brew and iced Americano differ which might interest you.

Final Thoughts

Homemade cold brew is probably the easiest way to get your hands on delicious cold brew on a hot summer day.

You can experiment with different brewing times, coffee-to-water ratios, and steeping temperatures to customize the strength and flavor of your cold brew to suit your preferences.

The are many different ways to get the perfect coffee with you. I gave some ideas as to where to start, but none of it is set in stone. Adjustments may be necessary depending on the type of coffee beans you use and your personal taste preferences.

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