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 full-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
I use the same cold brew ratio, no matter whether I make it in a French press or not. It 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 for dark roasts, and the “1:8” for medium and light roasts.
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
|1 to 8 Ratio
101 fl. oz.
68 fl. oz.
34 fl. oz.
27 fl. oz.
24 fl. oz.
20 fl. oz.
8.5 fl. oz.
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:
- Pour ground coffee into the French press.
- 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. For more insight on the influence of water quality on coffee extraction, check out this post.
- Press the ground beans down with a spoon (gently). This way you’re making sure that they are well-soaked in water.
- Place the filter screen on top and slightly push the plunger down just enough so the grounds are kept submerged.
- 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.
- Leave it there for 7 to 12 hours. 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 enough for you to enjoy.
- Remove the lid and the filter and stir up with a spoon.
- Wait for 2 to 5 minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the carafe.
- Place the screen and the lid and start pushing down gently.
- 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.
With that being said, if you are to use your French press for both hot and cold brewing, you may want to get a stainless steel insulated cafetiere instead. It will keep your brew hot for longer, whenever necessary. Furthermore, metal devices are virtually unbreakable, and therefore – more sustainable.
You can check out my post on the best French press coffee makers for some product recommendations and their reviews.
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 stopped 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 screen will let into the concentrate.
On the following photo you can see the coffee sediment that’s left in my cold brew after using a Hario Skerton manual grinder for brewing:
Using an affordable manual grinder, such as the Hario Skerton is better than using pre-ground store-bought coffee. After all, the flavor is always superior when preparing a cup with freshly-ground beans. Nevertheless, the Skerton isn’t great at providing consistent results on coarse settings.
If I pour the concentrate from the French press straight to an 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 may get spoiled because of over-extraction of the coffee fines.
That’s the reason why I prefer filtering my cold brew by using 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.
- Ground Coffee - 167 grams (5.89 oz.) *(see notes)
- Water - 1 liter (34 fl. oz.)
- Pour ground coffee into a French Press.
- Add room-temperature water on top.
- Press down the ground beans with a spoon, to submerge them in water.
- Place the filter screen on top of the ground beans.
- Gently push down the plunger - just a tiny bit, not all the way down. Just so the coffee grounds are kept submerged.
- Seal the lid and place the French Press in the fridge. You can also leave it at room temperature.
- 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.
- Remove the lid and stir with a spoon.
- 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.
- Place the screen and secure the lid and start pushing down gently.
- Pour the cold brew concentrate into a glass and dilute it according to your taste.
* 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!