How to Make the Perfect French Press Cold Brew at Home

Joshua Allerton
February 21, 2024

I've always been a fan of cold brew coffee for its smooth, rich flavour that's hard to beat, especially during the warmer months. But, let's be honest, constantly buying it from a coffee shop can quickly add up. That's why I've mastered making my own French press cold brew at home, and I'm excited to share this simple yet delicious recipe with you.

Benefits of French Press Cold Brew

When I stumbled upon the method of making cold brew in a French press, it honestly felt like a game changer. Here's why I've become such a fan.

First off, flavour. By brewing coffee cold, we're talking about a smoother, richer taste with less acidity compared to its hot-brewed counterpart. This method extracts the coffee's natural sweet flavours while minimizing the bitter ones, resulting in a cup that's not just refreshing but also kind to your stomach.

Then there's the convenience. Most of us have a French press sitting around at home, collecting dust. Turning it into your personal cold brew machine? It's a no-brainer. You don't need any fancy equipment or filters – just the press, coarse-ground coffee, water, and a bit of patience.

And can we talk about the cost-effectiveness? Visiting coffee shops daily can quickly drain your wallet, especially when splurging on cold brews. Making it at home using a French press not only saves you a significant amount of money but also allows you to control the quality and strength of your coffee. Plus, you get the satisfaction of mastering a new skill in your own kitchen.

Here’s a simple French press cold brew recipe that I’ve been using:

  • Grind your coffee: Aim for a coarse grind, similar to breadcrumbs.
  • Mix and Stir: Add your coffee grounds to the French press, then top off with cold water. Give it a good stir to ensure all grounds are wet.
  • Let it Steep: Cover the press with its lid but don’t plunge. Let the coffee steep in the fridge for about 12-24 hours, depending on how strong you like it.
  • Plunge and Serve: After steeping, gently push down the plunger. Pour your cold brew over ice, and add milk or sugar if desired.

This no-fuss method is not only easy but also rewarding. Whether enjoying a glass on a warm summer morning or looking for a less acidic coffee option, French press cold brew delivers on all fronts.

Ingredients Needed

When I’m gearing up to make my favourite French press cold brew at home, I always make sure to have a few essential items on hand. Trust me, there's nothing more disappointing than having your coffee cravings hit only to find you're missing a key ingredient. So, let's ensure you’re fully prepped for cold brew success.

Firstly, quality coffee beans are a non-negotiable. The type of bean can dramatically influence the flavour of your cold brew, so I suggest going for a medium to dark roast for that rich, smooth taste we're all after. If you're unsure about which beans to pick, don't hesitate to ask for recommendations at your local coffee shop. They're usually more than happy to help.

Next up, fresh, cold water. This might seem obvious, but the quality of water can really make or break your brew. I always use filtered water to ensure there are no unwanted tastes lurking in my coffee. Remember, we're making cold brew, so the water should be cold or at room temperature to start with.

Here’s a simple list of what you’ll need:

  • Quality coffee beans
  • Fresh, cold water
  • French press
  • Coffee grinder (if grinding your own beans)
  • A large spoon (for stirring)
  • A refrigerator (obviously)

With these ingredients and tools at the ready, you're all set to dive into the brewing process. Keep in mind, the ratio of coffee to water can greatly affect the strength and flavour of your cold brew, so it might take a few tries to find your perfect balance. A good starting point is a 1:7 coffee to water ratio, but feel free to adjust according to your taste preferences. Let’s not let the quest for perfection stand in the way of a good cup of coffee.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that we've gathered our high-quality coffee beans and filtered water, let's dive into the Step-by-Step Instructions for making the perfect French press cold brew at home. Trust me, it's easier than you think and the results are absolutely worth the wait.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Brewing Time: 12-16 hours

Ingredients:

  • Coarse ground coffee: 1 cup
  • Cold water: 4 cups (filtered, if possible)

Equipment:

  • French press
  • Coffee grinder (if grinding beans)
  • Stirring spoon
  • Refrigerator
  1. Grind the Coffee: If you're starting with whole beans, grind them to a coarse consistency, similar to breadcrumbs. This is essential for a smooth extraction and prevents your brew from getting too bitter.
  2. Add Coffee to French Press: Transfer the ground coffee into your French press.
  3. Add Water: Pour the cold water over the coffee grounds. Make sure all the grounds are soaked by giving it a gentle stir with the spoon.
  4. Let It Brew: Place the plunger on top but do not press down yet. Allow the coffee to steep in the refrigerator for about 12-16 hours. The brewing time is critical – too short, and you'll miss the depth of flavor; too long, and the brew might become bitter.
  5. Plunge: After the brewing time, gently press the plunger down. This separates the coffee grounds from the liquid, revealing your cold brew concentrate.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: You can dilute the concentrate with water, milk, or any milk alternative based on your preference. Serve it over ice for the best experience.

Brewing Time and Tips

When I first dove into making my own French press cold brew, I realised the brewing time was crucial to unlocking that smooth, rich flavour without the bitterness often associated with coffee. Here's the scoop on how long you should let your coffee steep and a few tips to get it just right.

The Ideal Steeping Time

The magic number for steeping your cold brew in the fridge is between 12-16 hours. This window ensures that the water has enough time to extract the flavours from the coffee without going into over-extraction territory, which can make your brew taste bitter. I've found that anything less than 12 hours tends to produce a somewhat underwhelming flavour, while steeping beyond 16 hours doesn't add much in terms of depth and can indeed push the brew towards bitterness.

Tips for the Perfect Brew

  • Coarse Grind: Always use a coarse grind for your coffee beans. A finer grind will make plunging difficult and can lead to a bitter taste due to over-extraction.
  • Water Quality: The quality of water you use matters a lot. I stick to filtered water to ensure there are no off-flavours in my final cup.
  • Maintain Ratio: I've experimented with different coffee-to-water ratios and have landed on 1:7 (coffee to water) as the sweet spot for a strong yet not overpowering brew.
  1. Grind your coffee beans to a coarse consistency.
  2. Add the ground coffee to your French press.
  3. Pour cold, filtered water over the coffee grounds.
  4. Stir the mixture gently to ensure all grounds are wet.
  5. Cover the French press and place it in the fridge.
  6. After 12-16 hours, plunge the press slowly.
  7. Pour your cold brew concentrate over ice and dilute with water or milk as desired.

Enjoy Your Homemade French Press Cold Brew

After meticulously following the steps and patiently waiting for the 12-16 hours of steeping in the fridge, I'm excited to share how you can now enjoy your homemade French press cold brew. It's easier than you might think and the result is incredibly rewarding.

First off, you'll need to have your French press at hand, along with a pitcher or large jar if you're not drinking it straight away. Here’s my simple, go-to method to enjoy this refreshing beverage:

  1. Plunge Slowly: Once your brew has steeped for the recommended time, take your French press out of the fridge. Hold the lid with one hand, apply a steady pressure on the plunger with the other, and slowly push down. Remember, the key here is slow and steady to avoid agitating the grounds too much, which can make your brew bitter.
  2. Serve Immediately or Store: You can pour your cold brew over ice and enjoy it right away or store it in the refrigerator. If you're not serving it immediately, transfer the coffee to a pitcher or jar to avoid over-extraction and bitterness. Cold brew can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
  3. Customize Your Cup: One of the best things about cold brew is how versatile it is. Whether you like it black, with a dash of milk, or sweetened, it's all up to you. Don't be afraid to experiment with flavours and proportions to find your perfect cup.
  • Ice (for serving)
  • Milk or dairy-free alternative (optional)
  • Sweetener of choice (optional)
  • Flavour Shots (optional): Vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut can add an exciting twist to your coffee.

Remember, the coffee-to-water ratio of 1:7 is a recommendation for a strong yet balanced taste, but feel free to tweak this according to your preference. More water will dilute the strength, while less water will make it stronger.

Enjoying your homemade French press cold brew is all about personal preference. From the moment you plunge to your first sip, celebrate the fact that you've created something both refreshing and rich in flavour, and entirely catered to your taste.

Conclusion

Crafting the perfect French press cold brew is an art that's both enjoyable and rewarding. I've found that taking the time to plunge slowly and experiment with different coffee-to-water ratios really pays off, delivering a beverage that's uniquely mine. Whether you're sipping it straight from the fridge or customising it with your favourite additions, there's a satisfaction in knowing you've created something special. Remember, the key to a great cold brew lies in the details, from the quality of your coffee beans to the time you allow it to steep. So don't be afraid to tweak the process until you find your perfect match. Happy brewing!

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