How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press [Best Recipe]

As much as I look forward to summer, I know it is a trap. When summer is at its hottest and the sun is at its brightest, not only does it drench you in sweat, but it also drains your energy.

I cannot think of a crueler irony than to face the inviting green openness of a clear summer day, only to have your motivation and spirit drowned in a lake of warm and salty sweat.

But hallelujah to the Japanese for inventing cold brew coffee to cool and stimulate our overheated bodies, and get us back out frolicking (yes, frolicking) into summertime.

You don’t have to brave the herd at Starbucks or order some crazy contraption off of Amazon to enjoy the rejuvenating elixir, because today I am going to show you how to make cold brew coffee with a French press.

What You Will Need

Bottom link: Water, a french press, and fresh ground coffee

Here is a quick list of all the things you will need to create your French press cold brewed coffee:

  • Most obvious, you will need a French pressBut since you're already reading this, I'm assuming you have one. If not - go here.
  • You will also need some coffee beans. Choose one from this list.
  • To grind up those beans, you’ll need a burr grinder. Just make sure whatever you have can produce an extra-coarse grind.
  • Although it is not entirely necessary, a good scale will help you maintain accuracy (the key to tasty coffee) in your brew.
  • You will need 3 ¾ cups (887 ml) of filtered, room temperature water. And if you use good water like this, your cold brew will taste better.
  • You will also need a sealable container, no smaller than your French press, to pour your brew into.
  • You may want to have some type of fine filter, though this isn’t an absolute necessity.*

* For the (optional) fine filter, this could be anything from a cheese cloth to a Chemex dripper with paper filters. This will simply serve as a secondary filter to screen out any sediment that your French press might let through.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press

Now that you (hopefully) have all your ingredients, let’s dive into the recipe!

1 - Measure and Grind

Get your beans ready. The correct coffee to water ratio for cold brewing is between 1:5 or 1:4, depending on how strong you like it.

For this tutorial, we will use 90 grams (a little less than a cup) of coarsely ground coffee, which is just a scaled down ratio from the Toddy cold brew recipe.

The cold brew grind is the coarsest grind of all coffee brews, and it should be slightly larger than a French press grind. Make sure you have a good burr grinder to help you out here.

Once you have your grounds, pour it all into the French press.

2 - Add Water

Fill up your French press with 3 ¾ cups (887 ml) of filtered water — pouring in a slow, circular motion — but do not stir.

Instead, use the back of a metal spoon (to prevent any sticking) to press down on any grounds floating near the top, ensuring that all the grounds have been submerged.

Step #3 — The Long Wait

This step is the easiest, but also the most frustrating.

You will now need to let your brew sit at room temperature for no less than 12 hours.

In comparison to the standard hot brewing methods, cold brewing replaces heat with time to achieve an adequate extraction.

Letting your grounds soak for half a day will release all the flavors and oils trapped inside your beans.

Although you want your coffee now, do not rush this process, or else you will end up with a decanter full of slightly coffee-flavored water.

4 - Pour and Filter

Now that you’ve survived the long hours waiting for your cold brew to finish, it is ready to decant.

Start by placing the French press’s top on, and pushing the plunger down only a few inches, allowing it some stability for the upcoming pour.

You don’t want to push it all the way down, because this will agitate the grounds and cause them to release their more bitter-tasting solubles.

With the screen in place you can now pour your fresh brew into the large, sealable container.

If you’ve ever used a French press before, you know the metal screen isn’t the best at keeping out all the sediment from your brew; therefore, you may want to use a secondary filter. You can use almost any pour over dripper for this -  or you can loosely tie a piece of cheesecloth around the opening of your container and pour through it.

5 - Enjoy your hacked cold brew!

Whichever way you go, one filter or two, once you’ve decanted your brew you are now ready to enjoy!

When preparing your cup, remember that cold brew is incredibly concentrated, and that you should dilute it with a few ice cubes and a splash (or two) of water.

Now that your refreshment is ready, sit back, embrace the sun, and start planning what you’ll do on this fine summer day!

Orrr.... use your cold brew concentrate for something exciting, like one of these cold brew coffee recipes.

What did you think of today’s tutorial?

Cold brew coffee, although time consuming, is one of the easiest and most versatile brew methods, and anyone can make it at home. And as you’re now aware, you don’t need a cold brew coffee maker to create it!

In the comments below tell me what you thought and how your brew turned out. If you liked the article, don’t forget to share and show your friends how to make cold brew coffee in a French press.

cold brew french press coffee

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
PAUL SCHRADE - April 2, 2017

Why “just less than a cup” of coffee and “3-3/4 cups of water”? Why not rounding to 1 cup of coffee and 4 cups of water. As a former chemist I like accurate measurements even in the kitchen. Just a suggestion. Thanks for your info.

    NDC - July 4, 2018

    What’s more accurate when you want just 3-3/4 cup?:

    1) 3-3/4 cup
    2) 4 cup

    Doesn’t take a chemist to give a correct answer.

    Kyle - October 30, 2018

    I think this recipe is way off, I find that 232 mL ground coffee to 843 mL water makes a far superior brew. Just make sure you dilute your tap water with melted Himalayan glacier water at a ratio of 1:3.47 or your chi will explode. 🙂

Hinemoa Puriri - July 26, 2017

Excellent tutorial, thank you. Also great website.

Six: The Toddy Brewing System – favorite things - December 18, 2018

[…] first, I would make small batches in a french press, but my household consumption forced me to grind too often. In comes the Toddy. This little wizard […]


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