How To Make French Press Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee is one of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy coffee, especially in the summer. The low acidity and mild taste occurs because the coffee is never heated but instead soaked in room temperature or cool water for 12 or more hours.

While it isn’t the fastest way to brew your coffee, with a little bit of prior, proper planning, you can be rewarded with wonderful tasting coffee that doesn’t nearly cost as much as its counterpart from a cafe.

You can save money and use the very equipment that is probably already in your kitchen, the french press. While you can make gallons of the stuff, the nice thing about using your french press to make cold brew is that it easily makes a nice amount to enjoy within a day or two.

The Basic Proportion

Depending on the size of your french press which can vary from 3 cup (12 oz) to a 12 cup (51 oz), you can make this recipe larger or smaller by keeping these proportions. Of course, your personal taste is going to determine if you use more or less coffee as you start making your cold brew this way and experimenting.

The basic proportion is roughly 1 Tablespoon of coffee per 1.5 oz water.

We will round up to make it easier to measure. Note: If you have an 8 cup or 34 oz french press, you will not be using 34 oz of water because you will need to fit the coffee in there as well. Read on to see how much you will use for your particular size of french press pot.

What’s The Size Of Your French Press?

French presses come in many sizes but most commonly come in 12 oz, 17 oz, 34 oz, and 51 oz. There is no true standard of what a “cup” of coffee is. Some companies use 4 oz as a cup and but some use 5 oz. So when you buy your 3 cup french press, you will be sadly disappointed that it does not hold 24 oz but in fact 12 oz.

If you don’t know how big your french press is, simply fill it with water and pour it into a glass measuring cup to see how many ounces it holds.

Bodum CHAMBORD Coffee Maker, French Press Coffee Maker, Stainless Steel, Glass, 12 Ounce (3 Cup)3 Cup – 12 oz

Coffee – 5 Tablespoons ground coffee

Water – 8 oz

4 Cup – 17 oz

Coffee – 7 Tablespoons ground coffee

Water – 10 oz

8 Cup – 32/34 oz

Coffee – 2/3 Cup ground coffee

Water – 24 oz

12 Cup – 51 oz

Coffee – 1 1/2 Cups ground coffee

Water – 36 oz

Now Let’s Make Some Coffee

Find your French Press size and use those coffee to water proportions for the recipe below. If you start the evening before, you can wake up to perfectly brewed coffee in the morning without having to fuss with your coffee pot.

Step 1: Grind your coffee, the coarser the better of course.

coffee grinder for french pressIf you are used to grinding coffee for your french press, you will be using that consistency of grind. It has a similar texture to kosher salt where you have large chunks of coffee since we don’t want sediment to get in our cold brew.

Step 2: Add your coffee

Add the coffee to the french press. I know, it’s a simple step.

Step 3: Measure your water

Add the water to your coffee in the french press, be sure that you are using cool water. Filtered water is not a bad idea either because the quality of your water can affect the taste of your finished product. Now gently stir so that all the grounds are immersed in the water. We want to make sure that we are getting a full extraction here.

Step 4: Put the top back on the french press and wait 12 hours

Now you are going to put the plunger top back on your french press with it completely retracted. We aren’t going to plunge it for 12 hours. You can now put it in your fridge or leave it on your counter. Either way it will brew.

If you like a stronger, bolder flavor, you will get that through leaving it on the counter at room temperature because it brews a bit faster. If you don’t mind a more subtle flavor and you have room in your fridge, you can brew it cold so it doesn’t dilute too fast when you add the ice.

Step 5: Plunge, Pour, and Enjoy

After the 12 hour steep time, you can plunge the filter of the french press down. Do this slowly though, like 30 seconds to get from the top to the bottom. If you plunge at this slow speed, you won’t have any grinds or sediment escaping. Fill a glass or travel cup with ice and pour the coffee over the ice.

Tip: If you don’t want any dilution whatsoever, you can actually freeze brewed coffee in ice cube trays and use those as your ice cubes.

Top with milk (or cream), vanilla, and/or simple syrup and you will have a drink that rivals store bought cold brew anyday.

Why Make Cold Brew?

Easy on your wallet

You can make this recipe for less than $1 at home instead of $4 and $5 at a cafe. And as you can see, it’s easy to make at home, it just requires a little bit of thinking ahead.

Easy on your stomach

Cold brewed coffee is less acidic than brewed coffee because the acids are released through heat. By removing the heat process, people with acid reflux or other stomach issues can still enjoy their coffee without causing them discomfort.

Caffeine Content

With its longer brewing time, cold brew coffee actually has more caffeine than regular brewed coffee. A little glass of it can keep you going longer than the same amount from your normal hot french press coffee.

Better Flavor

Cold brew will often have a better flavor than regular coffee because of its low acidity. The mild flavor almost surprises you, even though it’s made with a higher concentration of coffee.

What If You Don’t Have A French Press?

You can still make this in a canning jar, pot or other container and use a coffee filter or cheese cloth to filter it when you are done. Cold brew is super forgiving and if you end up using more or less coffee than we say, it’s still going to taste good. You can also cut your costs by using less expensive beans. Since they aren’t being heated, the bitterness and harshness that comes from cheap coffee is more or less reduced.

Cold brew can cover a multitude of wrongs by how it gently brews the coffee. It gives you a wonderfully mild, pleasant cup of coffee to enjoy on those hot summer days.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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