Easy cold-brew coffee with a French press


What ratio of grounds and water do you use?


I like strong coffee - I soak 1/4 cup grounds (dark roast) to 1 cup water. The result is a concentrate (mix again with water 1:1). I got the ratios from a couple of Boing Boing articles on cold coffee (2009) and did some experimenting to come up with my method. - What I like about this coffee is it tastes as good as it smells & also easy on the stomach.


Nah. Cold coffee is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

Besides, unfiltered coffee contains carcinogens and diterpenes (that raise serum cholesterol levels) which are removed by paper filters.

Make mine drip, please.

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I have been doing nothing but cold-brew since trying a recipe out a few months ago. It is great.

I switched from my normal dark espresso-style roasts to something lighter, and grind it much coarser than I used to. I give it the same amount of time (10-15 hours) to brew and a pitcher lasts me several days.

I make it a pitcher at a time, with 3 cups per pitcher. I have no idea what ratio it is (no idea how big the pitcher is) but it took awhile to work up to where I am. It makes very good stuff… Easy to drink, great with ice and a little milk. AWESOME with some condensed milk “Vietnamese” style.

I filter it out directly into my mug using a simple drip filter, the kind that are supposed to replace your paper filters permanently. I suppose my only grip is that if I don’t get the grind just right, the filter gets clogged and drains very slowly. A very coarse grind works best.

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This isn’t just “cold coffee”. It’s cold brewed. I’ve had iced coffee from Starbucks. It absolutely IS an abomination. Hot brewing coffee and putting it over ice is just yuck. This is different. Try it. I think you’ll find it doesn’t taste like what you’re afraid it will taste like. Also, you can filter it. Most people do.


So why not just run the cold-brew through a paper filter then?

I love cold-brew coffee. I’m pretty sure I was introduced to the concept through boingboing a couple years ago.

But when I tried it myself in a big jar, I don’t know what I did wrong but it didn’t really work… it tasted bitter and weak. I used the right ratio, and I used good coffee, and I left it for 12-15 hours.

You can get premade cold-brew concentrate in bottles; Whole Foods has had it for a while and Trader Joe’s came out with their version a few months ago which is really rather good. Unfortunately it’s a bit expensive, though doing it yourself with good quality coffee isn’t really much cheaper.

My point is that if you try it and you don’t like it, it might not have worked quite right. Try the one from Trader Joe’s to find out how it should taste, then experiment until you get it right.

Also, the iced coffee at some coffee shops is cold-brew. Stumptown Coffee offers it, as well as lots of indie coffee shops I’m sure. I’ve had plenty of good iced coffee that was made hot though - like Vietnamese iced coffee, which I got hooked on when I lived in Little Saigon.

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After reading this article, I tried it last night and have it in front of me right now. I’m not happy with the first results. It is weak and there is too much sediment. I’m a bit surprised about the sediment because I use a burr grinder. As for its weakness, I think during the 12 hours of steeping, it needs to be mixed a couple of times. Most of my grounds floated at the top of the french press and stayed that way all night. We’ll see how attempt #2 turns out…

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I recall my food scientist friend explaining the cold brew process CC’s used to make the iced coffee sounding much like this. The part you left out is that the brewing process can also net you much more caffeine.

I’ve been doing the same thing for a while now, stirred up and steeped in a cheap French press and then pouring it through a paper filter to get rid of the grounds that escape the press. That step is vital if you intend to keep a pitcher around. Otherwise, it’ll keep brewing and get more bitter over time. Only problem I have with the press is it’s more fiddly to wash the mesh and wire bits, but I’m lazy.

I’ve been using 3:1 water to coffee, which works pretty well if you intend to dilute later. Anywhere between 12 and 18 hours works- pretty forgiving, I’ve found. Typically I drink it 1:1 water to brew, poured over ice. Also good 1:1 with milk.

Back before I discovered caffeine was making my life worse, I used the same ratio. I didn’t dilute though. I just took a 20 oz container and filled it to about 17 oz with the coffee, poured in 2-3 TBSP of sugar and topped it off with a bit of 2% milk.

Minor thoughts for anyone who is interested and hasn’t tried making it yet:

  • Do not cold brew in the refrigerator. It doesn’t taste quite right. Room temperature will do.
  • You can go fancy if you really want to … but if you just want to try it out, don’t bother. Throw some grounds in some water for about 12 hours and filter it using one of your coffee filters. Then, throw it in the fridge until it’s cold and mix however you want.
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I disagree with using a French press for cold brew for it does not properly filter the grounds for me. I prefer using a glass vessel with a rubber top, placing the grounds inside with filtered water and leaving in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Then, I filter that through two mesh filters (fine and standard tea style) collecting most (if not, all) of the grind and “silt”. Yes, it’s not as simple as using a French press but I think quality is more important to me than ease of use concerning cold brew coffee.
French pressing for cold brew would seem more optimal if you’re camping or traveling, in my opinion.

FWIW, I filter it when pouring from the French press to the refrigerator jug. That way you only have to do it once per jug/pitcher/press.

I got turned on to cold brew a few years ago thanks to a post from Cory. Since then I have started using a V60 as my main brewing method but cold brew is still go to method for bringing good coffee with me when I bike to work.

That being said, last year I took a brewing coffee at home class at a local coffee shop. The barista there recommended a ratio of 8.25 cups water for 12 oz. This ratio was meant for use in a toddy and obviously won’t fit in your average french press but a little math can get you the right amount. This turned out much better for me than the toddy recommendation which I think is 7:12. Other things worth mentioning are brew time can be 4-24 hours with the same results (longer than 24 hours and the mixture starts to ferment) and make sure that if you have the option you are using coarsely ground beans since they will yield the best results.

Hopefully this helps a bit. I haven’t tried this with a french press, but general principles should transfer between that and the toddy

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