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How To Make Cold Brew In A French Press: A Simple Guide

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You don’t need special equipment or contraptions to make epic cold brew coffee at home.

So before you start perusing the interwebs searching for the perfect vessel to cold brew coffee, let us walk you through how to make cold brew in a French press instead.

Using a French press to cold brew coffee is actually our favorite way to make cold brew because it’s so easy.

And the best part? You likely already have everything you need to learn to make cold brew coffee at home.

If not, don’t fret. We’ll include a few basics you may want to add to your collection that may be used for more than just cold brewing.

How To Make Cold Brew In A French Press

Step 1: Gather Supplies

  1. French press (umm, duh): We’re guessing you’ve got one if you clicked on this post, but if not, try this one.
  2. Filtered water (yes, you should always use filtered water for coffee because it will make it taste better)
  3. Coffee beans: Pick your favorite or try this tasty variety.
  4. Coffee grinder: You’ll want a coarse grind for making cold brew.
  5. Paper filter: While not totally necessary, it’s good to have a filter on hand if any sediment passes through in your French press.
  6. Sealable container(s): Store your cold brew concentrate in the refrigerator. Mason jars are a good option and allow you to pre-portion your brew.
  7. Spoon
fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Step 2: Measure Coffee

The cold brew ratio isn’t an exact science, unfortunately. We all have different tastes and preferences, but a great starting point is between a 1:4 and 1:6 coffee-to-water ratio. 

When learning how to make cold brew coffee, try this ratio for cold brew first and adjust as necessary to get the strength to your preferred level.

We use 140 grams of coffee (working on a 1:5 cold brew ratio). 

Coffee bean density varies, so the weight will be slightly different depending on which roast you’re using. This is why we always recommend using a scale in lieu of measuring in scoops or cups.

Remember, the best cold brew ratio will result in a strong cold brew concentrate diluted with milk or water (more on that later).

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Step 3: Grind Your Coffee

Now that you’ve selected your coffee beans, it’s time to grind them

To make cold brew in a French press, you’ll want to use a coarse grind slightly larger than you’d normally use for hot French press coffee. Your ground coffee should resemble rock salt.

Grab your grinder, grind your coffee, and pour it into your French press.

Step 4: Add Filtered Water

Measure 700 grams of cool or room-temperature filtered water. (Yes, you should always use filtered water for any recipe for cold brew coffee.)

Slowly pour the water over the grounds in a slow, circular motion.

Do not stir.

Use the back of a metal spoon to gently press down any floating grounds near the top, ensuring all coffee is submerged. Place the lid on the French press, but DO NOT PLUNGE.

grounds and water in french press

Step 5: Steep Cold Brew

Okay, you guessed it. The secret to making cold brew in a French press is patience, which is key to any cold brewing process.

One of the defining characteristics of cold brew coffee is that it is steeped slowly. This slow, cold extraction process ensures that all the delicate, smooth, fruity goodness is extracted from the beans without bitterness.

Like the cold brew ratio, steeping time isn’t an exact science. A good rule of thumb is to steep for at least 12 hours.

We prefer to steep ours for 16 hours but start with 12, then adjust your recipe for cold brew coffee as needed.

We recommend steeping at room temperature, provided you’ll be available after 12 hours to finish the process.

Steeping cold brew in the refrigerator slows the brewing process, so if you plan to be away longer than 12 hours, it might be best to steep it in the refrigerator for the best results.

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Step 6: Finish Your Brew And Store

Congratulations! You survived the long wait, and it’s time for a cold brew!

Plunge your French press as you normally would, but move very slowly with cold brew. Shoot for a full 30 seconds, and don’t rush it.

Be careful not to press the plunger all the way down.

Place a secondary filter (any pour-over paper filter is fine) on top of your sealable container(s). With the screen in place, pour your cold brew into the container(s).

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Step 7: Enjoy Your French Press Cold Brew

Now that you know how to make cold brew coffee, you can enjoy it regularly.

Just remember that cold brew is incredibly concentrated!

You’ll want to dilute your cold brew a bit for best results. Pour it over ice and add water to taste. 

Remember that your ice will eventually melt and further dilute the cold brew (after all, something so smooth and refreshing should be savored, right?).

You can also use a ratio of roughly 1:1 cold brew concentrate and milk over ice if you prefer.

However you take it, it’ll be worth the wait. We promise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best coffee for cold brew in a French press?

We recommend using a medium to dark roast coffee with a coarse grind for cold brew in a French press. This will give your cold brew a rich and smooth flavor. Some popular choices include Colombian, Sumatran, and our personal favorite, medium-roast Ethiopian beans.

How long should you steep cold brew in a French press?

We recommend steeping the coffee grounds at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours to make cold brew in a French press. This will give your cold brew enough time to fully extract the flavor from the coffee beans.

What’s a good cold brew French press ratio?

A good cold brew French press ratio is 1:5, with one part coffee grounds and five parts cold water. For example, if you’re using one cup of coffee grounds, you should use five cups of cold water. However, using a scale to measure is a much more accurate method that will yield superior results. We recommend using 140 grams of coffee and 700 grams of water.

Fellow Clara French press in black

Can you make cold brew in a 4-cup French press?

Yes, you can make cold brew in a 4-cup French press. Simply adjust the amount of coffee grounds and water accordingly. For a 4-cup French press, we recommend using 3/4 cup of coffee grounds and 3 3/4 cups of cold water.

What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?

Cold brew and iced coffee are both cold coffee drinks, but they are made differently. Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time, while iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then pouring it over ice. Cold brew is typically smoother and less acidic than iced coffee.

How do you make overnight cold brew in a French press?

To make an overnight cold brew in a French press, simply follow the recipe for cold brew coffee above. Add coarsely ground coffee and cold water to the French press in a 1:5 ratio. Place the French press on the counter overnight or for 12 hours (whichever is longer). In the morning, press down the plunger and pour the cold brew into a glass over ice.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters