Cold Brew in a French Press: Best How-to Guide


By reading through this comprehensive guide, you will become a pro at using this brewing technique.

If you’ve wondered whether you could make cold brew coffee in a French press, the answer is yes.

In fact, some people purchase this coffee making device to exclusively use it for immersion cold brewing.

Making a batch in a French press is, undoubtedly, convenient and easy, but you need to follow a couple of basic guidelines to extract the best concentrate out of the ground beans.

I’ve included all of the essential instructions in this recipe.

You will find out what’s the French press cold brewing ratio, what’s the proper grind size, and some basic instructions that will take your experience to the next level.

So let’s dive in!

French Press Cold Brew: Coffee-to-Water Ratio

When it comes to the cold brew ratio, no matter whether I make it in a French press or not, I use the same one, which results in a great (according to my taste) concentrate.

As you might be aware – coffee brewing ratios are in grams, not in volume.

To achieve the best outcome you need to be precise and use an accurate coffee scale.

Nevertheless, if you don’t have one, and you want to make a cold brew batch in your French Press, feel free to work with volume measurements. Furthermore, I’ve found that a rounded tablespoon of ground coffee usually weighs between 6 to 8 grams.

You can check out my complete cold brew coffee guide, where you can see a chart with an approximate estimation of how many tablespoons of ground coffee you need to add, according to the water volume you use.

With that being said here’s the cold brew French press brewing ratio:

To make a strong cold brew concentrate in your French press you can use the 1 to 6 coffee-to-water ratio. This means that for every gram of coffee you need to add 6 grams of water.

Respectively, for 1 liter or 34 fl. oz. of water, you have to use 167 g or 5.89 oz. of ground coffee.

If you use 500 milliliters or 16.9 fl. oz. of water, you need 83 grams or 2.92 oz. of coffee to make cold brew concentrate in a French press.

If this results in a concentrate that’s too strong for you, you might want to try the 1:8 ratio instead.

The latter is also pretty common when making cold brew with a French press (or in a different vessel, for that matter).

Usually, I prefer using the “1:6” ratio.

You can dilute the concentrate with the same amount of water (1:1), or twice as much (1:2 concentrate to water ratio), depending on the type of coffee you feel like having.

To spare you some time I made the following chart, where you can see all the measurements according to the 1:6 and 1:8 cold brew ratio:

Water 1 to 6 Ratio
Ground Coffee
1 to 8 Ratio
Ground Coffee
3 liters
or
101 fl. oz.
500 grams
or
17.63 oz.
375 grams
or
13.2 oz.
2 liters
or
68 fl. oz.
333 grams
or
11.75 oz.
250 grams
or
8.8 oz.
1 liter
or
34 fl. oz.
167 grams
or
5.89 oz.
125 grams
or
4.33 oz.
900 milliliters
or
30 fl.oz.
150 grams
or
5.29 oz.
112.5 grams
or
3.96 oz.
800 milliliters
or
27 fl. oz.
133 grams
or
4.69 oz.
100 grams
or
3.52 oz.
700 milliliters
or
24 fl. oz.
116 grams
or
4.09 oz.
88 grams
or
3.1 oz.
600 milliliters
or
20 fl. oz.
100 grams
or
3.52 oz.
75 grams
or
2.64 oz.
500 milliliters
or
17 fl.oz.
83 grams
or
2.92 oz.
63 grams
or
2.22 oz.
250 milliliters
or
8.5 fl. oz.
42 grams
or
1.48 oz.
31 grams
or
1.09 oz.

Grind Size

To make cold brew coffee in a French press use a medium-to-coarse grind. Even though it’s often recommended to use an extra coarse grind for this type of immersion brewing, by grinding your beans finer than that you will yield better results.

Of course, you can play around with the grind size and the coffee brewing ratio to adjust the recipe according to your taste. So feel free to experiment!

If you have a burr grinder that’s great! Making coffee with freshly ground beans is always better.

If you don’t have a grinder at home, you can either buy freshly ground coffee from your local coffee shop, or you can get a bag of pre-ground coffee online (or from the supermarket).

I recommend doing the former, but if you prefer otherwise, check out the Woke Lark’s whole bean and pre-ground cold brew coffee recommendations.

All of them can be found listed on Amazon and you can easily order them now.

How to make cold brew in a French press – Instructions

I use a French press with a capacity of 34 fl. oz. or 1 liter.

Since the ground beans take up some space in the carafe, I use around 900 milliliters or 30 fl. oz. of water. Keep that in mind to avoid making a mess.

On the other hand, if your French press holds 1 liter of liquid in total, you won’t need 160 grams of coffee, but 144, which is the amount needed for 900 milliliters.

So take this into consideration to avoid grinding too much coffee.

To make a cold brew in a French press do the following:

  1. Pour ground coffee into the French press.
  2. Add water. I would recommend NOT using tap water. Choose either filtered or bottled. If the water doesn’t taste good on its own, it won’t make a delicious cup of coffee.
  3. Press the ground beans down with a spoon (gently). This way you’re making sure that they are well-soaked in water.
  4. Place the filter screen on top and slightly push the plunger down just enough so the grounds are kept submerged.
  5. Seal the lid and place the French press in the fridge. It might be easier for you to fit it in if you remove it from its frame. Nevertheless, if it still doesn’t fit, feel free to leave it on the kitchen counter and let the ground beans steep at room temperature.
  6. Leave it there for 7 to 12 hours. Before I used to recommend steeping for 12 to 18 hours, but after testing, I actually found out that I get the best-tasting cold brew coffee concentrate if I only steep it for a maximum of 12 hours. Of course, don’t worry if you steep the ground coffee beans for longer. Even if you leave the French press in the fridge for 24 hours, your cold brew concentrate will still be good.
  7. Remove the lid and the filter and stir up with a spoon.
  8. Wait for 2 to 5 minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the carafe.
  9. Place the screen and the lid and start pushing down gently.
  10. Pour the cold brew concentrate in a glass and dilute it according to your taste.

On the photo illustrations above, you can see the French Press by Bialetti that I use. It’s sturdy and I’m quite happy with its performance. You can check it out on Amazon here.

If you’re wondering how much cold brew concentrate you’ll get if you use a 34 fl. oz (1 liter) French press, have a look at the photo below:

You’ll have around 620 milliliters of cold brew concentrate or 21 fl. oz. With this amount you can make 5 to 7 cups of coffee.

That’s perfect, if you only have a cup of Joe per day – by making a batch, you won’t need to worry about making coffee for about a week ahead.

Make sure you use an airtight container for storing the cold brew that you’ve made.

Note that you shouldn’t leave the concentrate in the French press for too long (especially if you haven’t removed the ground beans) as the flavor will be compromised.

Even when I have enough guests that are to finish up the whole batch at once, right after pressing with the plunger I pour the concentrate in my Chemex (or in a different vessel).

This way I make sure that I’ve terminated the process of extraction:

Disadvantages to making cold brew by using a French Press

There are, in fact, a couple of disadvantages that you should consider before investing in a French press for the sole purpose of using it for cold brew. Here they are:

  • Since you’re not pushing the plunger all the way down, it sticks up and the French press takes a lot of space, which you might not have in your fridge. It’s even harder to find a spot for it if you have a larger 8 cup model.

    My Bialetti fits perfectly on the fridge door shelf, but only after I remove the frame. Overall you should consider that you might only have the option to leave it outside and make your French press cold brew at room temperature.
  • If you don’t have a grinder which provides consistent results on a coarser setting, there might be too many fines, that the not-so-precise French press filter will let in the concentrate.

    On the following photo you can see the coffee sediment that’s left in my cold brew:

    This batch I made by grinding the beans with a Hario Skerton hand grinder that, unfortunately, isn’t consistent on coarser settings.

    If I pour the concentrate from the French press straight to the airtight container without using another filtering unit, the fine particles will continue extracting in the fridge where I will supposedly store the cold brew for at least a week.

    This means that by the end of the week the taste of the concentrate will be spoiled because of over-extraction.

    That’s the reason why I prefer filtering my cold brew by using a Chemex filter or a double-layered cheesecloth. You might want to check my coffee filter alternatives post, to find more DIY filter substitutes that you can use.

If you take into consideration the aforementioned disadvantages, you will avoid all the potential unpleasant surprises.

Over to you

With all being said, making cold brew in a French press is quite easy and convenient.

Yield: ~22 fl. oz. (650 milliliters)

Cold Brew in a French Press

Cold Brew in a French Press

Find out how to make cold brew concentrate in a French press, and enjoy a cup of smooth cold brew coffee at home.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • Ground Coffee - 167 grams (5.89 oz.) *(see notes)
  • Water - 1 liter (34 fl. oz.)

Instructions

  1. Pour ground coffee into a French Press.
  2. Add room-temperature water on top.
  3. Press down the ground beans with a spoon, to submerge them in water.
  4. Place the filter screen on top of the ground beans.
  5. Gently push down the plunger - just a tiny bit, not all the way down. Just so the coffee grounds are kept submerged.
  6. Seal the lid and place the French Press in the fridge. You can also leave it at room temperature.
  7. Leave it there for 7 to 12 hours. Of course, you can let the grounds steep for longer, but you don't really need to.
  8. Remove the lid and stir with a spoon.
  9. Wait for 2 to 5 minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom. If you're in a hurry you can skip this step.
  10. Place the screen and secure the lid and start pushing down gently.
  11. Pour the cold brew concentrate into a glass and dilute it according to your taste.

Notes

* If you don't have a coffee scale, feel free to use 21 to 27 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee for a liter (34 fl. oz.) of water to make a strong cold brew concentrate. For a cold brew concentrate that isn't as strong use 16 to 20 tablespoons of ground coffee. This equals approximately 125 grams (4.33 oz.) of grounds (that is 1:8 coffee to water ratio).

Try it out or simply follow the instructions without even using this brewing device. The aforementioned directions are useful no matter what vessel you use for the making of your cold brew concentrate.

Please, drop me a comment below to ask me a question or share your thoughts on my recipe recommendations!

8 thoughts on “Cold Brew in a French Press: Best How-to Guide”

  1. Hey Vessy! I made cold brew using your instructions and method and loved it! Only question is if you happen to know how much caffeine there is in this particular brew (I did 1:6)? I’m currently breastfeeding my son and need to keep track of my caffeine intake, so I didn’t want to chug a bunch of CB if there is significantly more caffeine. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Hey Rachel, I’m glad that you loved how your coffee turned out!

      When it comes to caffeine content, the amount per serving depends on several factors.

      For example, if you use Robusta coffee beans, they usually contain twice the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica coffee beans.

      The amount of caffeine in a certain type of coffee beans also depends on the environment under which they were grown.

      The steeping time and the grind size also have an impact on the amount of extracted caffeine.

      With all being said, I’d recommend not going overboard with the serving size – stick to 2 fl. oz. to 3 fl. oz. (60 milliliters to 90 milliliters) of cold brew concentrate per serving.

      Based on my research for my post on which coffee has the most caffeine, this amount (2-3 fl. oz.) shouldn’t contain more than 100 milligrams of caffeine.

      When I prepare cold brew coffee drinks at home I use no more than 3 fl. oz. (90 ml) per serving, and they turn out great.

      By the way, by clicking here, you can check out my recent guide where you can find some cool ways to use your homemade cold brew concentrate to prepare yummy coffee beverages.

      I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more precise with the estimation of how much caffeine your cold brew contains, but I hope that you found some useful information in my reply.

      Take care!

      Reply
  2. Is cold brew diluted with cold water to make cold or iced coffee, or is it diluted with boiling water to make hot coffee, or can it be use to make both cold or hot coffee? I’ve seen plastic containers of cold brew coffee in the supermarkets here in the Bangkok metropolitan area, but there are never any instructions as to whether those containers are meant to be drunk as is or diluted with cold or hot water. Thanks for your advice. I will use my French press to experiment. By the way, for reader’s measuring problems with grams of liquid, use the 1:1 principle that one milliliter of liquid equals 1 gram.😍

    Reply
    • Hey John,

      Cold brew is usually brewed as a concentrate. Generally, it should be diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio. More often than not, cold brew is an iced beverage that is diluted with cold water. Nevertheless, you can dilute it with hot water instead, if you feel like having a hot coffee drink. I actually have a detailed post about hot cold brew coffee; you can check it out by clicking here. Thanks for being a reader and leaving this comment! Feel free to ask me additional questions if you feel the need to!

      Good luck with your French press cold brew experiments!

      Vessy

      Reply
      • Thanks, Dear Vessy. I’ll definitely give it a try now that I know it can be diluted with either cold or hot! I clicked on the link to get to your previous post that you had mentioned, but nothing opened. It seems not to be working. BTW, yesterday I subscribed to the Woke Lark and am looking forward to more intetesting articles again.

        Reply
  3. Hi Vessy, thank you for the comprehensive post. I came across it on Pinterest while looking for a good cold brew method. My only question is if you have a volumetric approximation of your coffee mass; how many tablespoons do you use (approximately) for 1 liter of water? I know the volume varies with the grind size, but it’s a good place to start the experimenting process if I don’t have a kitchen scale.

    Reply
    • Hey Lyne,
      You’re right that the volume varies depending on the grind size. Nevertheless, I’d say that for 34 fl. oz. I’d use around 16-20 tablespoons of ground beans when making a batch of cold brew at home. Of course, if you’re not happy with the first batch you’ve brewed, you can keep playing with the coffee-to-water ratio until you find one that matches your personal taste best. The good thing is that the cold brewing method is rather forgiving. For example, if your brew turns out too strong, you can easily dilute it with more water. Having a scale isn’t a must in order to make a great cold brew batch, so don’t worry. With that being said, owning one would definitely make it easier for you to improve your homemade coffee. You can also check out my guide on how to brew hot coffee in a French press in which I point out the coffee to water ratio by both weight and volume. You might find it helpful. You don’t need a French press to put these brewing methods to use. You only need cheesecloth to filter out the ground beans when you’re done brewing.
      Feel free to ask more questions if you need any help.
      Good luck and thanks for reading my blog.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the great reply! I will check out the article you mentioned and probably others, as I love coffee and experimenting with different methods and flavors. Happy brewing!

        Reply

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