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 a 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.

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

To make a cold brew in your French press use the 1 to 6.25 ratio – for every gram of coffee you need to add 6.25 grams of water. This means that for 1 liter or 34 fl oz of water, you have to use 160 g or 5.6 oz of ground coffee. Respectively, if you use 500 milliliters or 16.9 fl oz of water, you need 80 grams or 2.8 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), nevertheless, I prefer using the ‘1:6.25’ one.

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 1:6.25 and 1:8 cold brew ratio:

Water 1 to 6.25 Ratio
Ground Coffee
1 to 8 Ratio
Ground Coffee
3 liters
101 fl. oz.
480 grams
16.9 oz.
375 grams
13.2 oz.
2 liters
68 fl. oz.
320 grams
11.3 oz.
250 grams
8.8 oz.
1 liter
34 fl. oz.
160 grams
5.6 oz.
125 grams
4.4 oz.
900 milliliters
30 fl.oz.
144 grams
5.1 oz.
113 grams
4 oz.
800 milliliters
27 fl. oz.
128 grams
4.5 oz.
100 grams
3.5 oz.
700 milliliters
24 fl. oz.
112 grams
4 oz.
88 grams
3.1 oz.
600 milliliters
20 fl. oz.
96 grams
3.4 oz.
75 grams
2.6 oz.
500 milliliters
17 fl.oz.
80 grams
2.8 oz.
63 grams
2.2 oz.
250 milliliters
8.5 fl. oz.
40 grams
1.4 oz.
31 grams
1.1 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 a coarse grind for this type of immersion brewing, by grinding your beans finer than coarse 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 in 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 12 to 18 hours.
  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 (depending on whether you dilute 1:1 or 1:2). 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.

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!

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