A French Press Is Kind Of Perfect For Making Cold Brew

When the weather heats up, many of us make the switch from hot lattes and drip coffee to the ever-refreshing cold brew (though some of us like it icy year-round). And while most folks can competently brew a pot of drip coffee or make a pour-over, few know the secret to making cafe-quality cold brew at home. Many coffee lovers settle for hot coffee poured over a pitcher of ice, which can work in a pinch but lacks the full-bodied flavor and velvety texture of cold brews. The good thing is that making cold brew is deceptively easy, and many home brewers already have the right equipment for the task: the humble French press or plunger coffee maker. 

With a French press, all you need to make a cold brew is cold water, medium-coarse coffee grounds, and time. This is because a French press is perfect for letting coffee steep overnight, and when it's time to separate the beans from the brew, you can just push the plunger down and have properly made cold brew in a matter of moments.  

How to make a cold brew at home

Before making cold brew in your French press, you need to adjust your coffee recipe. Because hot coffee uses heat to help extract flavor from the beans, it requires fewer grounds. So, if you use your regular ratio for drip coffee, your cold brew will likely come out watery. Instead, get out a kitchen scale and create a 1:8 ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 8 grams of water. You can have a tighter ratio that uses less water if you prefer your cold brew to be stronger or if you want to create a cold brew concentrate that can be diluted with milk or syrups. 

Pour the coffee grounds into the press, then pour the water over them with a kettle or pitcher of cool water. Combine the coffee grounds and water in a counter-clockwise spiral to completely submerge the coffee grounds. For extra insurance, use a spoon or stir stick to mix them because dry pockets can occur even if everything looks wet. Finally, leave the mixture to steep overnight or at least 12 hours. The more time spent steeping, the stronger the coffee will be — but longer than 24 hours can make cold brew bitter. In the morning, simply plunge the coffee, pour it over ice, and enjoy.