French press cold brew is actually really easy to make and only takes a few minutes of prep. Here’s everything you need to know!
What’s better than a regular cup of joe when it’s hot outside? French press cold brew! It’s a robust cup of chilled coffee that’s so refreshing, especially when served over ice and sweetened just the way you like it. Plus, you can beat the heat and not have to wait in line!
By the way, this cold brew is great in my Starbucks Chocolate Cream Cold Brew Recipe and any other recipe that calls for cold brew. Just remember to dilute it first (directions are above), as this is a concentrate.
What is cold brew?
Cold brew is a popular type of coffee that’s steeped in filtered cold water overnight. This process makes it less acidic, a little sweeter, and less bitter than a regular cup of coffee. If you don’t like regular coffee, you may just like cold brew.
And as a bonus, it’s also easier on the stomach! It’s definitely worth trying if you haven’t already made it before.
It only takes 5 minutes to make, but it has to sit for 16-24 hours. You don’t want to rush it, or the flavor won’t be right. So plan ahead!
So what’s the difference between regular coffee and cold brew?
It basically comes down to temperature. Normal coffee uses hot water that is pressurized and forced through coffee grounds.
Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, uses cool water from the start. So unlike an iced coffee that has been brewed in hot water and poured over ice, cold brew steeps in room temp water overnight and is served chilled – having never been exposed to heat.
Another noticeable difference is the time it takes. For regular coffee, you’re looking at a few minutes. But cold brew coffee takes time to extract the oils and to produce a nice smooth drink, so some forethought is needed.
Despite the large amount of time required, making cold brew is worth it and super simple!
What is a French press?
A French press is a device for brewing coffee. It’s easy to use, eco-friendly, and portable!
The press has a glass or stainless steel cylinder with a special lid that consists of a mesh piston and a coffee plunger that acts as a filter. Originally, it was made to filter tomato skins when making tomato juice! But it has other functions like frothing milk or steeping tea.
The French press maximizes the extraction of the oil and flavonoids from the ground coffee, and the plunger filters out the grounds when you’re ready to pour.
How to make cold brew with a French press
- Measure coffee grounds and add them to the French press.
- Add the water, stir and cover the French press.
- Let it sit overnight.
- The next day, plunge and pour.
You can pour it over ice or serve it chilled. You’ll likely want to dilute it. More on that below!
Coffee to water ratio
When making coffee or espresso with a French press, it’s all about proportions.
The widely accepted coffee to water ratio for cold brewing is usually between 1:5 or 1:4 by weight, depending on how strong you like your coffee.
For French press cold brew, it’s a little different. Here you need a ratio of 1:6.
So that means you need 1 part coffee and 6 parts water – by weight.
So if you use 100 grams of coffee, then you do:
100 grams x 6 to get 600 grams of water
If you want to use 4 cups of water, which is 946 ml, then you do:
946 ÷ 6 to get 157 grams of coffee
1 ml of water = 1 gram, so that makes the converting easy.
Note that these coffee ratios only work by weight! You can’t use them for volume.
So you can’t say for 1 cup of coffee beans, you need 6 cups of water.
Which roast works best?
It depends on your preference, but for French press cold brew, I’d recommend medium to dark.
Roasted coffee beans vary from light to medium to dark.
A light roast will have a full flavor, but no oily shine.
A medium roast will be brown and great for making a strong brew.
A dark roast will have an oily shine and are dark brown. They’re full-bodied and robust, but less acidic.
If you want to be better versed on the different types of roasts, check out this post.
Does the grind size matter?
Yes, it does! For every type of coffee maker, there is a perfect grind.
The perfect grind for French press cold brew is going to be a coarse grind. It will give you the best flavor profile. And it all has to do with how the French press works.
During the extraction process, cold water mingles with the coffee grinds for a long time. Then the grinds are plunged to the bottom, and you’re ready to pour some coffee.
If the grinds are too fine, the plunger can’t filter out all of the coffee bits. And you won’t get as much extraction as if you had used a coarser grind.
The mesh piston of the French press plunges and filters the coffee grounds to the bottom of the press. If the grind is too small, some coffee bits can wind up in your cup. If that happens, you can filter it out with a paper coffee filter or fine mesh sieve.
All great coffee starts with filtered water.
Water is the solvent used to extract flavors from the ground coffee beans, so you really don’t want to add to the taste with tap water treated with chlorine, for example.
Filtered water is odorless and tasteless which allows the deep coffee flavor to be the star.
Tap water can also have particles of dust, sediment and rust. All of which could distract from the true coffee taste.
So you can buy filtered water, use a water filter, or if you have really good tap water… that’s fine, too!
Why not refrigerate?
A few recipes call for refrigerating French press cold brew, but if you do that, you’re limiting extraction. That’s because things are more soluble at higher temps.
So if your cold brew sits out at room temperature, then it can extract more of that coffee-flavored goodness.
But! If it’s really hot in your kitchen, you might want to put the French press in the fridge after about 4 hours.
How to dilute your concentrate
If you enjoy really strong coffee, you don’t have to dilute it. Give it a try and see what you think.
Once it’s been filtered, you’ll have about 2 3/4 cups (675 ml) of cold brew concentrate. When serving, I recommend diluting it 1:1
So mix together 1/2 cup of the concentrate + 1/2 cup of milk or water and serve.
How to store cold brew
You want to reduce as much exposure to air as possible after brewing the coffee. Pour the coffee into a container that has an airtight lid.
Cold brew coffee, unlike regular hot coffee, will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. It will start to lose its hearty flavor after a week, so be aware of that.
I would recommend not storing it for more than 10 days to keep the taste from degrading.
If you have a wine pump – great! You can use it when storing the cold brew to preserve the richness, and it will keep for many more days. Just pour it in a wine bottle and pump out the air, cork it and store.
Making cold brew means you never have to wake up in a fog and fumble your way through making coffee anymore. It’s one of the easiest ways to wake up and get rolling!
Can I use cold brew in place of regular coffee?
Yes, you can! But dilute it according to recipe directions first.
The difference between regular coffee and cold brew is that cold brew is less acidic, which results in a slightly sweet taste.
If it’s a coffee drink you’re making that calls for regular coffee, you may want to use a little less sugar than you usually would. Then add more sweetener to taste.
But if you’re baking something, you don’t need to reduce the sugar to make up for the slightly sweet taste of the cold brew. You can keep the recipe exactly as is.
Nitro cold brew at home
If you want to wow your guests, nitro cold brew is the way to go. All you need is a whipped cream dispenser and some nice cold-brewed coffee.
If you’re asking yourself, what is it? It’s basically nitrogen-infused coffee.
It’s been all the rage at coffee houses for years, but it’s easier to just make it at home!
More specifically, you take cold brew coffee (after you’ve diluted it) and infuse nitrogen gas through a pressurized valve. And you can use a whipped cream dispenser to do this at home.
- Just prepare the cold brew as directed.
- Then add the coffee to a whipped cream dispenser.
- Seal it and shake for 30 seconds.
- Get your glass ready and discharge the coffee right into the glass or over ice!
It makes a super creamy coffee much like a pint of Guinness, but with coffee and it will surely make an impression on your day!
Other summer drinks
I have drinks for every season on the site. Here are some of my favorites!
- Honey Sweetened Lemonade
- Vietnamese Avocado Smoothie
- Raspberry Smoothie
- Gin Margarita
- Frozen Pineapple Margarita
- Pineapple Matcha Starbucks Copycat
- Herbal Iced Tea
If you liked this recipe, please leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you! :)
French Press Cold Brew
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 2 3/4 cups (675 ml) cold brew concentrate
- 158 grams (2 cups minus 1 tablespoon) medium-dark to dark roast coffee beans
- 946 grams (4 cups) room temp filtered water
- Grind your beans coarsely. One pulse is enough.1
- Add the coffee grounds to the bottom of the French press.
- Pour the water over the top and stir gently to make sure all the coffee grounds are wet.
- Place the lid on (but do not push the plunger down!).
- Let it sit on the counter overnight.
- It needs to sit for 16-24 hours. The exact time depends on your preferences and your beans.2
- Slowly press down the plunger, but not all the way down, of the French press until you meet resistance from the coffee grounds.
- If your French press isn't the best at filtering, then strain the coffee through a coffee filter into a jar. Otherwise, simply pour the concentrate into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
- When serving, dilute it 1:1. So mix together 1/2 cup of the concentrate + 1/2 cup of milk or water and serve.