French Press Cold Brew
Making cold brew in a French press is one of the easiest ways to get refreshing coffee. This method is a mixture of the traditional method and that introduced by James Hoffman, winner of the 2007 World Barista Championship and author of the World Coffee Atlas. The coffee will be soft and balanced with a naturally sweet aftertaste.
You will probably like this method because it is fast, easy, and cheap. There is no need for expensive equipment—all you need to do is pour water over high-quality coffee beans.
For other methods, special filters are needed to properly filter out small particles. In a French press, the piston performs this function in seconds. Therefore, when choosing a French press, pay attention to the quality of the filter: it must be made of stainless steel and leave no gap between the edge of the filter and the edge of the carafe. This way you will get a clean taste without small particles.
Check out this video for a quick overview of how to make cold brew in a French press:
To prepare cold brew in a French press, you will need:
- French press
- Freshly roasted coffee beans
- Filtered cold water
- Sugar or syrup (optional)
- Milk (optional)
- Scales (optional; you can use a tablespoon)
Choice of Coffee Beans
We recommend using a light roast. Then the coffee will be soft, very sweet, and not too acidic, while retaining its flavor and aroma characteristics.
But in general, a wide variety of coffee beans are suitable. Your choice is a matter of personal taste.
Depending on the roast, you can adjust the immersion time. For example, dark-roasted coffee beans require less immersion time than medium- or light-roasted coffee beans.
Of course, the cold brew method does not require using freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee beans (even though this is best). If you happen to have a bit of ground coffee lying around in your kitchen, then feel free to use it. You can get quite decent cold brew coffee. The aroma and taste of your drink will just be less deep than if you used freshly ground beans. If you like to add milk, sugar, or syrups, you won't even notice the difference.
For cold brew, a medium-coarse grind is best. Since cold brew coffee takes a long time to brew, even in cold water all the necessary substances will have time to be extracted. If you use a finer grind, the finished coffee can taste bitter and leave a dry aftertaste. In addition, finer particles are more likely to escape the filter and end up in your drink.
The coffee-to-water ratio is good to experiment with. It all depends on whether you are going to drink cold brew plain, with ice, or diluted with water or milk.
You can start with a ratio of 1:17—about 2 oz (60 g) of coffee per liter of water. This is the standard ratio for making filter coffee; the drink will be light and refreshing, and good to drink plain. If you want to add water or milk, brew a stronger drink.
Use bottled or filtered water to make coffee.
At room temperature, extraction is faster than in a refrigerator, but in any case, it takes hours. The optimal brewing time for cold brew is 12 to 18 hours. The longer the coffee is brewed, the richer it will be. Be guided by your taste: if the drink seems undersaturated and lacks sweetness, you can leave it to brew for two to three more hours.
French Press Cold Brew
Brew Time: 12 hours
Yield: 3 cups
What You Need
1. Pour ground coffee into a French press and add clean water.
2. Insert the plunger into the French press and lower it to the top layer of coffee to keep the coffee particles under the water. Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours.
3. Take the French press out of the refrigerator, remove the plunger from, and stir the contents with a spoon.
4. Wait until all fine coffee particles have settled to the bottom of the press.
5. Insert the plunger until it's just above the ground coffee layer (but not touching the layer) and pour the filtered concentrate into another container.
6. Mix the concentrate with cold water or milk. The recommended ratio is 1:1, but you can vary it based on your tastes.
Step-by-Step Brewing Instructions
- Grind the coffee and pour it into the French press, then gently shake to smooth the layer.
- Add water.
- Insert and slightly lower the piston, but do not immerse it. The filter should be placed directly on top of the coffee layer to keep the coffee grounds underwater.
- Put in the refrigerator and leave to steep for 10 to 12 hours.
- After 10 to 12 hours, take the French press out of the refrigerator and remove the plunger. Stir with a spoon several times—until the layer of ground coffee from the surface is completely mixed in the drink.
- Then leave for 5-10 minutes, so that almost all small coffee particles settle to the bottom.
- Insert the piston, but don't lower it completely. Lower it until it's just above the ground coffee layer. Pushing the piston all the way down can ruin your ideal cold brew and lift any slurry that has settled for a long time from the bottom.
- Carefully pour the finished concentrate into a container with a lid. Before drinking, dilute with fresh cold water in a 1:1 ratio or to your liking. In a well-sealed container, the concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The brewing process produces a highly concentrated beverage. It is best served over ice or diluted with cold water or milk. Leftover coffee can be stored in a glass carafe in the refrigerator.
If you want to make your coffee even sweeter, try pre-soaking the grounds with hot water. Heat the water to 203°F (95°C), add ground coffee in a 1:3 coffee-to-water ratio, stir, and wait for about a minute, then add cold water to the required volume.
Since cold brew takes time, it can take days to find the perfect recipe. To find the perfect brew faster, it is best to brew several drinks at once in different devices, with different dosages, with or without hot pre-wetting, for different times. Then the very next day you can compare all the different options and choose the one that suits your taste.
If you don't have a French press, you can use any jug or jar with a lid. In this case, carefully and slowly pour the finished coffee concentrate through a paper or cloth filter.