In our opinion using a French Press to make coffee is one of the best ways to make that perfect cup. Whether you’re making hot coffee or cold brew, we highly recommend that every coffee drinker have a French Press at home. And it’s for that reason why we want to show you how to make cold brew coffee using a French Press.
Coffee aficionados tend to know a lot about the science of making good tasting coffee. And making coffee is indeed a science. The single, overriding element that determines what makes an excellent cup of coffee is its taste. Nothing much else matters. There’s aroma, of course, and freedom from grounds in your mouth, and the purity of the water, and a whole host of other significant details, but they all pale compared to how that cup of coffee tastes.
There are many types of coffee, and it comes in many forms. There’s light roast, medium roast, and dark roast, along with a variety of different flavors. In order to brew the best tasting cold brew for you, you’re going to want to stick with a coffee that you like. You can search all around for different opinions on which coffee beans are the best for cold brew, but in the end it all comes down to your personal preference.
Pressing the Advantage
As we mentioned above, in our opinion the French Press provides the best way of making coffee out there, and there is a scientific, technical reason for this. Other types of coffee makers force the water all the way through the coffee grounds, held in a filter basket. The water then pours or drips or percolates into a receiving chamber of some sort. Many of the essential oils and flavors of the coffee beans are left in the filtered basket of grounds — not to mention in the filter itself — and then are discarded or sent to the compost heap in the garden.
When using a French Press, the ground coffee is submerged and stirred into a wet slurry, and the essential oils and flavors remain steeping in the water during the entire brewing cycle. Nothing escapes the water, especially the bold taste of the coffee. The French Press plunger is used to press and filter the coffee out of the carafe and into a waiting cup or storage jar, leaving you with all of the delicious flavors of the coffee.
There are several different versions of the French Press available, but most are made up of the same essential elements:
- The carafe, which holds the water and the coffee grounds for brewing. Most are of glass, ceramic, plastic or stainless steel.
- The screen, which keeps the slurry from draining coffee grounds into the serving cup
- The lid, with the plunger, for pressing the brewed coffee out of the carafe
- The frame, along with the handle, to hold the structure together
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee with a French Press
We’ve established the superiority of the French Press in making our iced, cold brew coffee, now let’s proceed to brew our coffee.
The following steps, done in order, will produce about a liter, or 34 ounces of cold brew coffee.
This recipe calls for a water to coffee ratio of seven to one (7:1). Translated, that is one liter of water to 140 grams of coffee. For best results, use a kitchen or coffee scale to weigh your beans, and measure your water carefully.
Grind the coffee with a rough grind. Most sources recommend the same grind as for French Press hot coffee. An even coarser grind will weaken the coffee, and a finer grind will make it stronger. Experiment to find your favorite granularity. If a medium grind is still too strong, you can add more water to dilute the brew in the next step.
Add Ground Coffee to French Press Carafe
Don’t spill! It makes a mess.
Room temperature water is used to make cold brew coffee. Filtered water is best; tap water will do. Add the water slowly, stirring the grounds carefully to create slurry, which immerses and coats the coffee grounds completely in the water. If your French Press carafe is made of porcelain or glass, use a wooden spoon to stir so you don't break it.
Wait 12 Hours
If you know you are going to decant the brew in 12 hours, you can leave the French Press on the counter, unrefrigerated, however if you plan to be longer than 12 hours, you can place the French Press in the refrigerator, slowing the brewing process slightly. Letting it steep just the right amount of time, and being consistent time after time, ensures that you can keep your brews consistent too.
Decant the Brew
Be careful with this step! Prepare your storage jar or whatever you are going to use to decant your brew. Then slowly press the plunger down trying to take about 30 seconds to press it all the way down. Don’t go too fast, doing so will stir up the grounds and introduce bitter-tasting solubles into your coffee. If you find some fine coffee residue/particles in your cup, you can filter the decanted brew with cheesecloth or another filter over the storage jar so that there is no chance of grounds getting into it.
Your homemade cold brew coffee served in an elegant glass, perhaps over a large ice cube or two, is a very pleasant experience. While it takes half-a-day, the result is spectacular, and you have plenty in reserve for friends or family.
And here’s a fun little tip, if you want to use ice cubes, but don’t want to water down your coffee, use an ice tray and make ice cubes out of a batch of your cold brew coffee. Then, next time you make a batch, use those ice cubes in your beverage. It will keep your drink ice cold without watering it down!