Making your own cold brew coffee at home will not only help you save a bunch of money, but it’s also the perfect way to play with different flavorings and coffee beans until you find the best recipe.
To brew your coffee to perfection, you should use a French Press. All you need to do is to steep your favorite coarse ground coffee with some cold water, and soon your beverage will be ready.
Read our guide to learn more about all the secrets to making your cold brew coffee using a French Press.
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Most importantly, making cold brew coffee is very simple. All you need to do is to mix your ground coffee with water in a French Press and let sit 24 to 48 hours. Once ready, you will have some delicious coffee concentrate. You can either dilute with more water, store in your fridge, or use it as an ingredient for your recipes.
Is Cold Brew Different from Iced Coffee?
Yes. Although these two beverages may look similar, they are very different, starting from their brewing methods.
To make iced coffee, you pour hot coffee over ice or refrigerate it for a few hours. This gives you a diluted drink, which usually doesn’t taste remarkably fresh, especially after spending some time in the fridge.
On the other hand, cold-brewed coffee is made by steeping coffee beans in room-temperature water for many hours. This produces a coffee concentrate, which contains all the aroma and fragrance of your coffee. Besides, this drink tastes smoother and is also more indicated for those who don’t like the acid and bitter aftertaste of hot coffee.
Does Cold Brew Have Too Much Caffeine?
Experts suggest that you extract more caffeine when you brew coffee with hot water. Besides, when using a French Press, you need a smaller coffee ratio to water, meaning that your coffee concentrate will preserve less caffeine.
In other words, your cold brew usually has less caffeine than other coffee-based beverages. However, if its taste is still too strong, you can dilute it even more with additional water, milk, or cream.
What Do I Need to Make Cold Brew Coffee with A French Press?
The first thing you need to make your delicious cold brew at home is a good French press. You can buy one from your favorite coffee shop or any store specialized in brewing equipment. Before you purchase it, you must make sure that your press is sturdy and made of durable and strong glass, which will preserve your coffee aroma during the brewing process.
You will also need some coarse ground coffee and cold water. The amount of each ingredient depends on your French press’s size and the quantity of coffee you want to brew.
Based on how you wish to enjoy and serve your coffee, you may need some additional ingredients, such as:
- Ice cubes
The Perfect Grind Setting
Depending on the flavor and aroma you are looking for, you can either buy coarse grounds or grind your coffee beans at home. In this case, you should make sure to grind them coarsely, until you get a texture similar to that of sugar.
What Is the Best Type of Coffee?
Many types of ground coffee are available, although professional baristas suggest buying whole beans and making your own grounds. This is a cost-effective alternative, which will make your drink concentrate more intense and tastier.
Nevertheless, what matters the most is that you choose the best quality coffee, so that you won’t lose or spoil its aroma during the steeping process.
Darker roasts usually have a bitter, almost smoky flavor. Lighter roasts are fruitier but have the highest amount of caffeine.
It is advisable to try different coffees until you find the best suits your tastes and needs.
Cold Brew Coffee/French Press Ratio
To make your cold-brewed coffee using a standard 8-cup French Press, you will need the following:
- 1 – 1 ½ cups of coarse ground coffee
- 3 – 3 ½ cups of cold water
When it comes to additional flavorings, there is no fixed amount you can add to your drink. However, you shouldn’t add too much sugar or cream to your cold brew, or you will spoil the original, chocolaty taste of your coffee.
The Perfect Water to Coffee Ratio
According to many baristas, the standard water to coffee ratio is 15:1. This means that to brew 1 liter (about 4 cups) of coffee, you will need 2.4 oz. (67 g) of ground coffee.
If you prefer your cold brew to be more concentrated, the best ratio would be 10:1. On the contrary, for a lighter coffee, you could do 18:1.
Obviously, you are free to keep experimenting until you find the best ratio for your tastes.
What’s the Ideal Steep Time?
Professional baristas advocate that it is best to steep cold brew coffee between 12 to 18 hours, and no more than 24 hours.
However, when it comes to coffee, the brewing process is never an exact science. In fact, each of us has different preferences in terms of strength, aroma, and bitterness. It only takes a few changes in the coffee/water ratio and the steeping time to obtain a completely different beverage every time you use your French press.
As a general rule, if you are brewing your coffee at room temperature, then a steep time of 8-12 hours should be enough. You can then add ice before serving your coffee, or heating it if you wish to drink something warmer.
On the other hand, if you plan to make more coffee and store it in the fridge for another moment, then the steep time should increase to 12/24 hours. Cold temperatures tend to slow down the extraction of the coffee concentrate from the beans, requiring more time to achieve a bolder aroma.
The steep time may depend on the recipe you are following, or even the coffee beans you are using. Some coffee grounds need longer for the flavor to be extracted, whereas others immediately release a robust taste.
When in doubt, you should decide depending on how strong you like your coffee. Steeping cold brew for 8 to 12 hours will give you a more dilute flavor, with almost no bitterness at all. A longer steeping process, between 12 to 18 hours, will increase the coffee aroma and enhance the beans’ nutty aftertaste.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in A French Press
To use a French Press to make your coffee, you can follow these steps:
- Add 4 oz. (115 g) of coarse ground coffee to the bottom of the French press.
- Pour 3 cups of cold water over the grounds. If you are brewing your coffee in a cold environment, you can use room temperature water. Pour the liquid gently to preserve the coffee freshness.
- Stir everything gently until the coffee is wet.
- Let sit for 8 to 48 hours at room temperature. The longer it sits, the stronger your coffee concentrate will be. After the first 5 minutes, you may want to return for a quick stir and ensure that your brewing process has started.
- Once you are satisfied with your steeping time, you can press and strain into a covered jar or vessel. You should use a glass container to store your cold brew in your refrigerator.
- Sometimes, a few grains of coffee may pour out with the concentrate. If you don’t like them, you can filter the beverage through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Avoid squeezing the plunger into the grounds too much or too strongly. This may jeopardize all the coffee good flavors, including its aromatic oils and deep nutty notes.
- If your coffee is too strong, you can dilute it at any time, adding more water before serving it.
How to Skim the Coffee Sediments
The most professional way to reduce potential coffee sediments in your carafe and your mug is to use a paper or cloth filter. Besides, there’s a quicker way. A few seconds before pouring your coffee concentrate, grab two spoons, and skim the surface of the beverage to collect and dispose of any floating grounds.
However, some baristas advocate that you should never remove all the sediments, as they will keep releasing coffee flavors into the water until the very last moment.
How to Serve Cold Brew Coffee?
The best thing about homemade coffee is that you can serve it either cold or hot. To find the best recipes to delight your family and friends, you can start experimenting with the following recipes, adding your favorite flavorings and playing with different ingredients.
To serve the ultimate iced coffee, you need to:
- Pour 1 part of your cold brew concentrate into a glass.
- Dilute it with 1 part of cold water.
- Add your desired amount of ice.
- To make your coffee creamier and sweeter, you can add sugar and cream. Feel free to experiment with syrups and additional flavors!
- Stir well and enjoy your delicious iced brew coffee!
Hot Brewed Coffee
Your cold brew can be heated up to become a warm beverage.
- Pour 1-part cold brew concentrate into a mug with 1-part room temperature water.
- Place the mug in the microwave for a couple of minutes.
- Add milk, cream, syrups, sugar, or just taste it with no additional flavors to enjoy the real freshness and boldness of your coffee.
- Enjoy your coffee with a cozy blanket and a good book!
What Happens If There Are Some Coffee Grounds in My Mug?
The plunger’s job is to keep the coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe. However, inevitably some coffee “fines”, which are microscopic parts of grounds, may end up in your mug.
A small amount of sediments in your mug of cold brew is perfectly normal. In fact, it will give the drink a fuller body and enhance its aroma. Coffee beans are edible, and drinking some extra-small pieces of coffee beans will not hurt you. Nevertheless, you should always wash your teeth thoroughly after your coffee break. This will help you against potential stains which may be caused by the coffee grounds.
What to Look for In a French Press
The French press is the best tool to brew your cold coffee. For this reason, there are several factors you should look for to ensure that you are using the best press. Here’s what makes a good French press, based on the opinion of many expert baristas:
- Materials. The majority of French presses are made of either borosilicate glass (which is perfect to avoid a thermal shock) or stainless steel. Glass presses look very gorgeous, although they are more fragile. If you opt for a glass carafe, you should make sure that all the plastic and metal braces are sturdy enough to offer some protection. On the other hand, stainless steel presses are more durable and designed to keep the heat longer. Still, you will miss the appealing visual element of the glass counterpart.
- Handle Design. The handle helps you keep your press steady as you push the plunger down and brew your coffee. It is essential that your handle is sturdy, strong and, most importantly, heat resistant, to make your life easier.
- Plunger. The plunger is the key for pouring your cold brew into your cup, as it keeps the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. Plumbers usually have a large metal screen and a finer mesh one to catch tinier grounds particles.
- Capacity. The adequate capacity of your French press depends on the quantity of coffee you want to make. Obviously, carafes come in different sizes and you should make your decision based on your needs. Don’t forget that you can still use a big press to make only a couple of cups of cold brew, just by filling the carafe with less water.
What Size of French Press Should I Buy?
Buying a French press may be confusing, especially because makers insist on using “cups” instead of ouncers or millimeters to indicate the carafe’s capacity. Imagine most people’s disappointment when, after getting home with a 3-cup French press, they realize that it cannot be used to brew precisely three cups of coffee!
To make your life easier, we have finally made this whole “cups situation” clear. The most common sizes of French press you can buy are:
- 3 cups: 12 oz. (354 ml)
- 8 cups: 34 oz. (1005 ml)
- 12 cups: 51 oz. (1508 ml)
If you only make cold brew for yourself and don’t want to store it later, a 3-cup press will be perfect. Otherwise, the 8-cup size is the standard size, which many people buy. If you brew too much coffee, you can store it in your fridge for a few days or even use it as an ingredient for several recipes.
Why Use a French Press to Make Your Cold Brew?
Although there are several ways to brew your delicious cold cup, the French press is the best solution for those who believe caffeine is a serious business.
Obviously, this press is a manual brewing method. There is no electronic device doing everything for you. This means that you need to measure your ingredients, grind your coffee, allow some time for the brewing process, and press the plunger. This seems like a lot of work for some cold coffee, but the result will be absolutely lovely and mind-blowing.
By using a French press to make your cold brew coffee, you will get:
- Richer aroma. Your French press’s metal filter lets through all the coffee’s natural oils, which are transferred into your mug together with your beverage.
- A full–bodied coffee. Although the plunger will prevent any grounds from spoiling your drink, some small coffee particles will end up joining your coffee into your mug, boosting its flavor and giving it a “fuller” body and taste.
- Complete control over your ingredients. You will be able to choose all the elements of your brew, from the coffee beans to the water. This will give a fully customizable experience and lead you to the creation of the ultimate cold brew.
- A happy wallet. Coldbrew is usually one of the most expensive beverages if bought from your local coffee shops. You can finally invest your money in premium quality coffee beans to brew as much coffee as you want at home, without wasting your money every day.
How to Clean a French Press
Cleaning your French press is easy, and you will only need some dish soap, water, and a spatula. Keeping the carafe clean is essential to ensure that your coffee is always delicious and to get rid of any grounds’ residual, which may cause mold or lead to unpleasant smells.
Before you start cleaning your press, you must ensure that it is cool. With the help of a spatula or your hands, you can start digging out any coffee grounds. You should never use metal spoons for this operation, as you may scratch the glass. Coffee grounds must always be dumped in the garbage or compost, and never in the sink. If you want, you can use them to fertilize your home plants.
Once your French press is free from any coffee residual, you are ready to wash it with dish soap and some water. You can use a soft sponge or bottle brush to make your life easier.
How to Deeply Clean Your Carafe
Depending on how much you use your French press, you should do a deeper clean at least weekly or fortnightly. On these occasions, you should disassemble the plunger and clean each piece individually. Instead of dish soap, use a mixture of baking soda and water or vinegar and water. This is an environmentally-friendly and efficient way to scrub the carafe’s interior and exterior and clean it thoroughly.
Only reassemble the French press when all pieces are dry.
A Few Tips:
- You can store your cold brew concentrate in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. However, if you add dairy-based ingredients, such as milk or cream, its lifespan will decrease to just a few days.
- Make sure to use finely coarse-ground coffee. Otherwise, you may get coffee grounds and sediments in your cold brew.
- Before you enjoy your cold brew, you should leave it in a cold and dark place (like your refrigerator) for 12 hours.
- Patience is key. It takes at least 4 hours to complete the brewing process, although it Is advisable to brew your coffee for up to 48 hours.
- Always use high-quality water. If you don’t like the tap water’s taste in the place where you live, you can filter it.
- French presses are very versatile, and they are also great for tea brewing. Just don’t forget to wash your carafe after every use. Coffee oils can be particularly stubborn, and they may spoil the more subtle notes of your tea.
- Never reuse your coffee grounds to brew more coffee. All their good flavors would be already gone, and you will end up with a bitter and dull compound.
Ready for The Best Coffee of Your Life?
Cold brew coffee is straightforward and only requires a few ingredients and a French Press. The coffee needs to steep in cold water for a few hours until its aroma is released in a bold and strong coffee concentrate.
Choosing only the highest quality, freshly grinding coffee, establishing the perfect coffee to water ratio and steeping time, and finally, understanding how to use your French press properly: this is the recipe to make the best brewing coffee you have ever had!