How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press
Cold brew coffee is now becoming quite a trendy choice here in the UK. Brewing coffee comes in many different forms, but cold brewing is a different matter to the other better known brewing methods.
Just be aware though that iced coffee is not the same thing as cold brew coffee. Iced coffee is simply a normal brewed cup of coffee that has ice cubes added to it. Cold brew is exactly what you would think, the coffee is actually brewed cold.
There are a few different methods of doing a cold brew. In this article however, we are going to explain how to make cold brew coffee in a French Press. If you have never done this before, then it is worth a try.
We do want to point out right at the start, that this making cold brew coffee is a very slow process. The actual process is very simple to do, but can take up to 12 hours to brew. Make sure you have the patience to wait.
The good news is the actual brewing process is fast, but being patient with the brew is something you have to get used to.
Understanding Cold Brew Coffee
This cold brew method is pretty popular in the USA, Canada and in some parts of Europe. It has recently made an appearance in the UK. This is a brewing method where you steep coffee grounds in water, that is cold, or if you prefer at room temperature.
- It is mainly drunk during the heat of the summer for those that like a cold drink, and also need their caffeine kick
- It can also be added to ice cream
- It is a truly simple way of making coffee that anyone can learn to do very quickly
- We mainly use this method if we are trying to use up older coffee beans or grounds
French Press Cold Brew Coffee Brewing Method
You don't need that much to get started with this. You will of course need a French Press, some coffee beans, water and a spoon. It doesn't get much better than that.
Ideally if you have your own coffee beans and a grinder, then you can make a fresher tasting brew. If not, then simply skip that step and use the pre-ground coffee. Most coffee lovers like us will likely have all of these ingredients and basic coffee accessories in the house anyway.
With normal coffee making the ratio of water to coffee grounds is very important. When making a cold brew coffee this ratio is even more important, if you want your coffee to taste right.
The golden rule is that you will always need to use more coffee than you would normally do when making regular coffee.
A really good guideline for this is simply to double up on the amount of coffee that you would normally use. Now coffee buffs do have a slight disagreement about how much coffee you should use.
The so called experts say that you should always use a 7 to 1 ratio. That means 7 parts water to one part coffee. Here at the Perfect Grind, we believe that you will figure out your ideal strength.
Try out the 7:1 theory and see if that suits your taste buds. There is no right answer here as it really does depend on the strength of coffee that you prefer to drink.
Personally I like my coffee stronger than that and I have used a 5:1 ratio and found that an ideal choice for me. They key to finding your perfect home brew is to play around with these ratios and find the one that you like best.
Accuracy is important here and ideally you need to know or figure out the size of your particular French press. These come in different sizes such as 12 ounce and 34 ounce.
You can then work out the amount of water required, and from that use the amount of coffee that you want to try out.
STEP 1 - GRIND YOUR COFFEE
OK it's time to get started with the actual cold brew itself. That process all starts with the grind of course.
The ideal situation is to have your choice of coffee beans and a good grinder. For a good quality cold brew coffee, a course ground is highly recommended.
As with the ratio of water to coffee, the grounds are something that you can also experiment with. Some people prefer a medium grind rather than a coarse filter type grind.
The important thing to note here is that the finer you grind your coffee in this particular brewing process, the stronger your coffee will be.
if you don't like grinding your own coffee, or simply don't own a coffee grinder, then it is best to buy coffee that has already been ground. If you do that then you can skip to the next step.
Again with pre-ground coffee you can either buy a coarse ground or a medium ground.
STEP 2 - ADD THE COFFEE TO THE WATER
If you are familiar with making French Press coffee then simply follow that process. All you need to do is add your coffee to the bottom and then pour in your water.
Again brewers differ slightly on the type of water that should be used. some people will only ever use filtered water. Ordinary tap water also works find, but some brewers insist that filtered water tastes much better.
The next debate among brewers of cold coffee is whether the water should be be cold or left at room temperature. I have tried both methods and for the life of me I see very little difference in the end product.
The best way again is to try this out and see what works for you.
STEP 3 - STIR THE COFFEE & WATER
This part of the process is simple enough but does take just a little care. You can now start to gently stir the coffee into the water.
What you should focus on here is making sure that every ground is touching the water. That will ensure a good and consistent brew. Make sure the water and coffee are well mixed before leaving it to brew.
STEP 4 - LET IT SOAK & STEEP
I hope you are not in a hurry for your coffee. You need both plenty of time and a lot of patience for a cold brew. There is no proper way to shortcut this process as you now need to let it brew for 12 HOURS.
Some brewers have added ice to try and speed this process up but please don't do that. Not only does it not work, but we found that it gave the coffee a bitter taste.
We don't know the science behind that problem, but we do know that if you let it brew for 12 hours, you get a great tasting cold coffee.
Here we go with yet another debate, and cold coffee experts do disagree on this. This debate concerns whether you should brew your coffee at room temperature or in your fridge.
The good news is that we tried both and we found that if brewed at room temperature it took about 10 hours. We also found that if brewed in the fridge it took about 12 hours.
The big question is which tasted better and hands down it was the one that we brewed in the fridge.
Clearly the best way to do this is an overnight brewing process.
STEP 5 - FINISH YOUR COLD BREW
When you have finished the brewing time which should be between 10-12 hours, then it is time to very slowly push the plunger down, as you would normally using a French Press.
Don't rush the plunge. You have already waited 12 hours so another 20-30 seconds will seem a very short time. Many people plunge far too quickly when using a French Press, and that is always a big mistake.
Now that you have finished the process, it is time to give it a go and see what it tastes like. For me anyway the first time I tried this cold brew coffee, I was not that impressed.
However, over time and with a few tweaks here and there, I did manage to get a cold brew that I liked. I did play around with most of the process to get that exactly the way I liked it.
Video on How to Make Cold Brew Using Your French Press
A Few of My Cold Brewing Tips
The strength of the coffee is very important and there are a couple of ways to experiment with that. These are:
- Changing up the coffee to water ratio
- Allowing the coffee to steep longer will also make the coffee stronger. By doing that you can also reduce the coffee to water ratio
- You don't have to drink this cold brew as is. Don't be afraid to add milk, cream or even a little sugar to the brew
- I haven't tried syrups as yet, but will probably give those a try over the summer.
So there you have it folks, a long and tedious process. However if you like your cold coffee, then this is one method of trying it out.
As you can see the process is not that complicated, and as long as you have a French Press and some coffee, the rest is an easy process.
We would encourage you to change things up though as that will help you find a cold brew that you can really enjoy.