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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press

Over the last few years, iced coffee has become very popular with consumers. Though there are many iced coffee recipes, but one method that draws the most interest is cold brew coffee. The answer to the question is yes, you can make your own cold brew at home. It’s very simple, and we will explain how!

Cold brew concentrate next to a dessert

Can You Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home?

Over the last few years, iced coffee has become very popular with consumers. Though there are many iced coffee recipes, but one method that draws the most interest is cold brew coffee. The answer to the question is yes, you can make your own cold brew at home. It’s very simple, and we will explain how!

Though cold brew coffee has existed for centuries, its popularity has recently gained momentum. This brew method does require more time, but it allows coffee lovers to extract different flavor notes from their coffee, all while creating a refreshing drink.

Certain coffee brands and commercial roasters create their own cold brew in a ready-to-drink format. But be careful of their sugar level, though, which can be very high! There is a carbonated version called nitro cold brew, and some establishments serve it on tap. Visually, it looks a lot like a glass of Guinness!

Bartenders adore cold brew due to the flavor and richness it can bring to cocktails. Some use it in its basic format, whereas others use cold brew as a base to create a syrup with a touch of sweetness. Since cold brew can be stored and used over a period of a few days, it’s a very practical for bars and restaurants to have on-hand.

If you want to make flavored cold brew, you can start with ground flavored coffee, or add a few pumps of our Flavor Shots to get great flavor without any added sugar.

Adding ground coffee to a French press

A History of Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brewing ground coffee has a long history. We can find examples from 17th century Japan, where they steeped coffee in cold water. It appears Scottish merchants introduced the Japanese to cold brew coffee, as this was the method the Scots used on their ships.

The arrival of cold brew in North America is fairly recent. Years ago, coffee aficionados were looking for new ways to drink their favorite beverage. With the increase in iced coffee consumption, interest grew in the cold brew method. 

It’s a relatively new way to brew it here in this corner of the world, but we shouldn’t overlook it. Due to the different chemical reactions created with cool water compared to hot, steeping coffee in cold water for a long period of time creates a less bitter coffee with a slightly sweeter and mild taste. When coffee is brewed with hot water, the heat is what gives it that bitter, slightly burnt taste.

Are Iced Coffee and Cold Brew the Same Thing? 

No, they are not necessarily the same drink. Though you can make iced coffee with cold brew, iced coffee is traditionally made with coffee brewed hot, then cooled down and added full strength to a glass with ice cubes. As the ice melts, it dilutes the flavor and intensity of the coffee.

Cold brew, on the other hand, is steeped with room temperature water usually at a ratio 1:2 of coffee to water to create a coffee concentrate. Since it’s a concentrate, you won’t be drinking it straight and will need to add water or milk to your iced coffee to offset the intensity.

Even though it is concentrated, it will not necessarily have more caffeine than iced coffee made with hot coffee. This is because less caffeine is released using a cold-water brewing method. Plus, when consumed, it’s usually diluted 50/50 with water (or milk and cream), so caffeine levels shouldn’t be much stronger.

Iced coffee made with cold brew

There are many ways to use cold brew, and it’s not just cold! We’ll give you a few suggestions at the end of this blog – and since cold brew lasts up to 5 – 10 days in the fridge, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment with each batch you create.

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Ingredients Needed

The primary tools are a glass jar, a lid or way to seal the container, and a filter or cheesecloth to strain the brew once it’s ready. Any jar or container will do, but we recommend a French press. You can use it to steep your coffee, strain it a first time by using the plunger, and when you pour the coffee through a filter or cheesecloth, you’ll end up with an extra-refined batch of cold brew!

Infographic for making cold brew coffee, and five things you can make with cold brew.

Steps for Making Cold Brew

  • Grind your coffee beans so that you have 1-1/2 cups of coarsely ground coffee.
  • Take the lid off the French press and add your ground coffee to the container.
  • Add 3 cups of tap water or filtered water at room temperature. It may cause bubbles to form – this is normal.
  • Stir the water into the grounds so that they are evenly saturated.
  • Place the lid on the French press with the plunger up, so that the coffee grinds can steep in water for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature.
  • After the coffee has steeped for the required amount of time, press the plunger on the French press so that the ground coffee is at the bottom of the container.
  • Transfer to another jar or container, straining with a paper filter or cheesecloth to capture any sludge that made it through the French press filter.
  • Voilà, you have cold brew that can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 to 10 days. Enjoy!

Five Things You Can You Make with Cold Brew

Iced Coffee

There are many great recipes for iced coffee available, but the general method is combining one part coffee concentrate to one part water or milk. Then add ice cubes and enjoy.

Hot Coffee

The great thing about cold brew is that it is a very delicious and custom form of instant coffee! Just add it to hot water (in a 1:1 ratio), and you can make your morning cup of joe in the fraction of the time it normally takes. It’s perfect for those busy mornings!

Ice Cubes

To add an extra punch to your iced coffee, pour cold brew to an ice cube tray and freeze. Then when you make an iced coffee, it won’t be diluted with water when the ice cubes melt.

Mixed Drinks or Cocktails

When it comes to mixed drinks or cocktails, the sky is really the limit! It adds a richness and intensity and really compliments alcohols such as Kahlua, Tia Maria, and Baileys Irish Cream. Surprisingly, it also works in drinks that incorporate bourbon, rum and even gin. Go ahead, experiment!

Coffee Syrup

Cold brew coffee syrup is wonderful! You can add this syrup to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, drizzle it over ice cream or desserts, or use it in baking.

If your morning coffee routine is feeling a little too, shall we say, routine - go ahead and try making cold brew at home for a new way to enjoy coffee! 


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