Are you thinking about getting a cold brew coffee maker to brew cold brew coffee? You might not need one if you have a French Press. In this guide, we'll go over how to make cold brew coffee French Press style.
You might not realize that you probably have all the necessary tools at home to brew a nice refreshing cold brew coffee at home with a French Press!
French Press Cold Brew Coffee
Making coffee in a French Press can seem a little daunting for someone who has never done it before, but once you understand the anatomy of a French Press, applying the principles of cold brewing to it are pretty straightforward. What's more, French Press coffee tastes great even if you aren't making cold brew in it.
French Press cold brew mastery ensures that you get all the benefits of coffee (caffeine, antioxidants, and more) without the heat. Of course, you could go to your favorite coffee place or purchase a strange-looking machine to have it at home, but a French press was made for cold brew coffee (or it could have been), and it works just as easily.
The Anatomy of a French Press
So that you are more familiar with the French press, let's briefly go over each part of the tool. Have a look at the image above if anything seems confusing.
Your fully assembled French press combines a carafe with a filter on the end of a plunger stick.
The filter ensures no grinds escape as you press down, while the plunger plate and cross assembly plate sandwich the fine mesh screen of the filter, so that it remains rigid and strong while plunging.
The lid and plunger stick are permanently attached, with the plunger plate and fine mesh screen held in place when you screw the cross assembly plate into the plunger stick at the end.
This design enables you to quickly and easily remove parts for cleaning and quality parts will keep your French press working for many years.
List of Supplies & Ingredients
Now that you have a better grasp on the anatomy of a French press, it is time to gather yours or buy one, and then collect the other ingredients you will need to make cold brew coffee in a high quality French press.
The first thing you’re going to need to make a French Press cold brew is a French Press. You can find a variety of options and styles on the market, and they are relatively inexpensive.
You can usually find them for $20 or less, but if you want a higher-quality one, you might have to pay a bit more. For the recipe found below, you'll need a French press that can hold up to 34 ounces of water.
Note: The larger the French Press, the more cold brew you'll end up with.
Coffee Grinder and Food Scale
The next piece of equipment is a grinder. You need it to grind up the beans because it is best to purchase the beans whole and grind them yourself.
However, if you’re in a pinch, you can grab some pre-ground coffee; just make sure that it is coarsely ground coffee. You need a coarser grind so that the grounds get pressed down and out of the way of the liquid without passing through the metal filter.
While it’s not a necessity for cold brew coffee at home, you may want to invest in a small food scale to ensure accuracy in the brew.
You also need coarsely ground coffee beans, and you can use any beans you desire and may want to stick with your favorite one.
However, most cold brew lovers claim that dark- or medium-roast varieties work best because in a French press brew as they taste sweeter than a light roast using the same brew method.
The cold brew process is much different than hot brew, so you need something that has more flavor nuance to it because some of the flavors are invariably going to be lost as opposed to traditional coffee in a French Press.
You also need 887ml or about 3 3/4 cups of room-temperature, filtered water. The water you use makes a difference in how the coffee, tastes, so consider using bottled or filtered water over tap.
Quality Storage Container
It’s also important to have an airtight, sealable container that is the same size as your French Press or a little larger so that you can pour your cold brew batch into it for storage.
Some people also use a fine filter or sifter to catch any of the smaller grounds, but that isn’t absolutely necessary. If you have paper coffee-pot filters, these can work well to filter out more of the sediment from the French Press, after you make cold brew coffee.
Simple Steps to Make French Press Cold Brew Coffee
Once you have gathered all the tools and ingredients needed, it’s time to start making your delicious cold-brewed coffee in your French Press. The prep time is minimal. To make this recipe, you'll need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Assemble the French Press
Attach the lid and plunger stick of your French press to the cross assembly plate. Sandwich the fine mesh filter between the plunger plate and cross assembly plate. Do not overtighten, as this may damage your French press.
Place the plunger assembly you've just constructed into the French press carafe to make sure the plunger is level and that all sides of the filters touch the carafe walls.
Step 2: Remove the Plunger Assembly
Once you've determined the plunger assembly has been installed correctly, you can now remove it from the carafe.
I like to hang the plunger assembly on the lip of the carafe while I perform the next steps, but you can do whatever you prefer.
For proper sanitization reasons, I do not want my plunger assembly to touch anything except for the carafe and ground coffee, since it will be brewing in cold or room temperature water.
Step 3: Add Coffee Grinds
It’s time to get the coffee beans ready. You need a coffee-to-water ratio of about 1:5 or 1:4 for the cold-brewing process, depending on the strength of the coffee. Ad more coffee grounds for a denser cold brew concentrate.
For this recipe, 90 grams of coarsely ground coffee is used, which is a little under a cup.
You need a good burr grinder to ensure that you have the coarsest grind possible for the cold-brew version.
It must be slightly bigger than your French press filter holes. Once the coffee beans are ground up appropriately, you can add them to your French press.
Step 4: Fill with Water
Fill your French Press (34-ounce size) with 3 3/4 cups or 887ml of filtered cold water. You should pour it in slowly and in a slightly circular motion, but don’t stir it together. Instead, you should use a metal spoon to press down the grounds that might float to the top, making sure that all your grounds are submerged.
Alternatively, if you prefer to bloom your coffee grounds, you can use hot water to bloom your grounds before adding in cold water, but this blooming process defeats the purpose of cold brew coffee because you are adding in heat.
Step 5: Replace Plunger Assembly in Carafe
Now that your coffee grounds are properly saturated, place the plunger assembly back on the carafe, with the plunger pulled all the way to the top. Secure the lid and turn it counter-clockwise ensuring the spout and pouring grate in the lid are not aligned. Turning the lid will prevent debris from entering your press.
Now we wait...
While the waiting process is the easiest step, it’s also frustrating because you do absolutely nothing for up to 24 hours while the water and coffee do their work.
You just let the brew sit on the counter at room temperature for about 12 to 24 hours.
Some people like to let the coffee steep for up to 48 hours in their fridge, but if you prefer yours a bit less bitter with a smooth mouthfeel, brew for no more than 24 hours.
Of course, this is a primary difference where cold brew differs from hot-brew coffee because, with a hot brew method, you get coffee almost immediately.
The cold brew coffee French Press method replaces the heat with time to ensure proper extraction.
If you let the grounds soak for at least 12 hours, it releases most of the oils and flavors trapped inside the beans.
You’re going to want to rush this process, but you should refrain because you’ll have a container full of coffee-flavored water instead of the rich, less-acidic cold brew coffee you are expecting.
Step 6: Press the Plunger Down
After 12 hours (or longer), it’s time to press the plunger. Plunge slowly and continually to prevent grounds from seeping through the fine mesh filter. You will also prevent damage to your press, the more deliberate you are with this step.
Turn the lid clockwise, exposing the lid's pouring grate and ensure the screen is in place. Now you are ready to pour your cold brew into a storage container. While you are at it, pour yourself a glass with ice and enjoy some French Press cold brew right away!
Note: A French Press isn’t the best at preventing sediment. Paper Filters help.
You can make cold brew coffee using a French press, and it is likely to taste just like the store-bought or coffee-shop varieties while saving you money. Just make sure that you choose the right equipment and coffee grounds.