Making Cold Brew Coffee With A French Press

How To: Make Cold Brew at Home

Todd Carmichael explains how easy it is to make cold-brewed coffee using the french press.

Cold brew coffee is ground coffee steeped in cold water and strained. Brewing it can take between 18-24 hours. It’s sweet tasting and often served over ice.

Let’s start from the beginning and see how you can get the best cup of cold brew coffee. It all starts at the source. The same variety of bean grown in different places is going to taste differently. That coffee cherry, the moment it’s picked, is the best it is ever going to be. Once the seed – the coffee bean is extracted, the next step is mixing and roasting. It’s not how dark you go there but how long you take to get there. Go too slowly, and you get roasted flavours, too fast, and you damage the bean. A great barista can make bad coffee drinkable; a bad barista can make brilliant coffee taste terrible.

So, when making cold brew coffee with a French Press, you have to consider the quality of your coffee. Taking into consideration the almost endless combinations of bean, roast and coffee making, it becomes apparent why more knowledgeable people are finding pleasure in this new wave of cold brew coffee.

There are various home methods of brewing cold brew coffee and all use the same basic recipes which are cold water, coarse coffee grounds, and an overnight brew.

Main Requirements

French Press

French PressThe French Press is an intuitive, easy-to-use device you can use to make all your favourite cold brew coffee in next to no time! The built-in plunger filter ensures that you get the best out of your coffee.


If you still think of coffee as “bitter is best” or as instant versus drip, this may sound like a far-fetched idea. Coffee has come a long way. Now we can talk about chocolate undertones and nutty flavours and hints of peach and cherry. Cold coffee has an excellent taste if it has reasonable sweetness.

French press works well with a coarse grind. When using freshly ground coffee, ensure that it still has enough oils as this helps improve the taste. Don’t take too long to use the grounded coffee because they will lose the compounds which give it the desired taste.


It’s recommended to use a set of scales to get the right measurements. There is no particular type of scale but make sure that they’re working properly. The scale is most of the times overlooked, but it makes for an important part when brewing the cold brew coffee.

Burr Grinder

Burr GrindingIf the grind is too fine, the coffee will taste bitter. If the grind is too coarse, the coffee could taste weak. Make sure that your grinder can give you an output of even coffee. The best coffee taste and flavour can only be derived from even coffee particles. The Burr grinder comes into the picture because of its quality and performance.

Cold Brewing Coffee at Home

Step 1: Test your grinder. Check the settings are correct to get the best coffee out of it for this method. There should be consistency in your coffee to get the exact taste. The Burr grinder has the best qualities to get the required even coffee grounds.

Measure your coffee into 7:1 or 8:1 water to coffee ratio

Step 2: Pour your coffee into the French Press and add cold water. The water should be filtered and at room temperature. Gently shake it back and forth to settle the grounds.

Step 3: You can use a spoon or chopstick to stir the coffee gently until it is well combined. A glass French Press requires that you should use a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the glass. Make sure you break up any coffee grounds clumped at the top that aren’t in contact with water. A gentle stir should solve that problem.

Cold Brew French PressStep 4: The coffee should now be allowed to steep. Ensure that the lid is placed on the French Press with the plunger pulled all the way up. This requires between 12-18 hours depending on the measurements. The coffee can be left at room temperature, but if you desire it to take quite a bit longer before the process finishes, then you can put it into the fridge.

Due to the length of time which this process takes, you can choose to do other things. Always make sure that you keep time because you don’t want to be too early or late with this process. It’s advisable to use a timer to keep time or set an alarm to warn you when the process is about to finish. Start the timer once you have finished all the above steps.

Step 5: Once the required time has passed, you can start to steep the coffee. Be gentle and even when pressing the plunger. There might be some resistance but don’t be harsh with it. Press it all the way down to filter the grounds. Some of the coffee will clump or come through the filter if you’re not gentle. Decant the cold brew into a large bowl or server making sure that the screen is in place. You may wish to pour your mixture through some cheesecloth for extra filtration.

Step 6: Now the cold brew coffee is ready to drink and enjoy! (Pro-tip: Keep your old coffee grounds to use as compost).

There are many reasons why the coffee might not taste exactly as expected. Some of the reasons include the quality of coffee – it will depend on how the coffee was initially processed, extraction may have been perfect, or if the coffee is ground too finely, you will get bitterness. Your ratio of water/milk to coffee and the quality of milk will both affect how easily the flavour punches through. It’s an art to getting it perfect.

Final Words

The French Press wasn’t originally designed for cold brew, but with the wave of new brewing methods, this is a sound entry level device to the world of cold brew coffee. You might even use your French Press as a tester to see whether you like cold brew and if it’s worth investing in a cold brew system like the Toddy or Bruer.

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