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How to Make Cold Brew with a French Press

We recently tested, tweaked, and toiled over a few cold brew makers in our blog, “Cold Brew Off: Hario vs. Kinto vs. Toddy”. We had a lot of fun working with the brewers and ultimately landed on the Hario Mizudashi as the winner, with the all around best features, ease of use, and brew quality. 

Hario Mizudashi, Kinto Capsule, Hario Cold Brew bottle, and Toddy Cold Brew Maker in a row(note: the Mizudashi has since been discontinued so we now carry Hario’s similar brewer and close runner-up, the Filter-In Cold Brew Bottle).


Take the Plunge: French Press Cold Brew

12oz bag of Haya Cold Brew Blend next to a Yama 6 Cup French Press and a iced glass of cold brew coffee

But what if you don’t have one of these brewers? Or better yet, do you really need one of these brewers to make great cold brew coffee?

What if you only have a trusty French Press?

We’re here to help. Read on to see how you can make delicious, easy-to-brew, and refreshing cold brew using just your French Press coffee maker. 

Click here to skip to the brewing directions


BEFORE WE BEGIN: DOSING AND DILUTION 

We covered terms like "ratio", "concentrate", and "dilution" in our blog, “Cold Brew: 5 Things You Should Know”. Long story short, most cold brew is not made ready to drink - or if you do drink it, you will be drinking a very caffeinated, very strong cup of coffee. Instead, you’re using a smaller portion of water to do the brewing, and then “cutting” the concentrate when you’re ready to drink it. 

French Presses also come in a wide variety of volume options. We’ve seen some as small as 400ml, and then others that are gargantuan whoppers, weighing in at 1.5 to 2 liters! Our current pick for a French Press, the Yama 6 Cup, is a little over 800ml. With that kind of diversity, it can be hard to know where to start.

Also, before you begin, it may be worth your while to check out our "Cold Brew: 5 Tips for Better Brewing At Home" article! 

5 Tips for Making Better Cold Brew at Home

Our baseline for Cold Brew in a French Press

This recipe covers how to get the most cups out of a smaller (1 liter and under) French Press by using a tight ratio, which can also be used to produce a week’s worth of concentrate in a larger press. You can also see how to brew a smooth, easy extraction in a larger French Press in a sidebar.

Overall, however, cold brew is a forgiving process and you should feel confident that you’ll get something great. We used our Haya Cold Brew Blend because we know it’s been roasted and blended to create a classic cold brew, but experimenting with single origins is always recommended! 

Shop Single Origin Coffee Collection

Note: Cold brewing takes a while. Our recipe requires 16-20 hours of ambient temperature brewing. Be sure to start your brew with a plan, so you don’t miss the window for finishing up the next day!

______

Making Cold Brew in a standard, 6 cup French Press

How to Brew:
  • 75 grams coarse ground coffee (french press) 
  • 600 mL water (1:8 brew ratio)
  • Fresh, filtered, room temperature water
Why Brew It This Way:
  • You’ll be able to get more cups out of this method, eliminating the need to brew daily.
  • Allows you to pour equal amounts water or ice to “cut” the concentrate before drinking. 

Directions for French Press Cold Brew

Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press Directions Collage

  1. Put coarsely ground coffee grounds into French Press
  2. Tare your scale
  3. Using ambient (room) temperature water, pour in enough water to cover the grounds and stop
  4. Stir the grounds with a spoon, or simply swirl, to get everything evenly wet
  5. Pour in remaining water up to 600ml
  6. Cover brewer and put in a place away from sunlight
  7. After 16-20 hours, remove cover and break any remaining “crust” from the brewer
  8. Slowly, very slowly, plunge the filter down until it sits just above the rested coffee bed
  9. Enjoy! We recommend diluting with an equal amount of water to get something close to the strength of normal drip coffee, but you can experiment and dilute to suit your tastes!
Further notes:
  • You should expect around 450 mL of drinkable cold brew coffee concentrate. 
  • Diluting this with equal amounts of water gets you 2 or 3 full servings of cold brew coffee. Ice will get you a little further, as well. 
  • Results should be strong and rich, nicely chocolate-y but still with a mellow acidity; should be diluted at a 1:1 ratio for a smooth and drinkable cup, or over a full glass of ice with a dash of water.  It’s always worth making a note and adjusting your cut for your own personal taste!

ENJOY!

Glass of iced cold brew coffee next to a Yama 6 Cup French Press

 
Top tips for making Cold Brew Coffee
  • Helpfully, one milliliter is equal in mass to one gram, when weighing your water.
  • To vary the size of your brew, using our ratio (1:8), you’ll need 12.5 grams of coffee for every 100 mills (grams) of water. Just remember, this ratio produces a concentrate, which should be refrigerated after brewing, and cut with water or ice before serving. This will let you maximize your time and effort, whether you’re brewing with a small, single serving French press, or brewing a week’s worth of concentrate in a 1,700 mill beast.
  • To brew a mellow, ready-to-serve cold brew in a larger press (because you’re not worried about maximizing servings through a concentrated brew), we recommend a ratio of 1:12, or 8.4 grams of coffee for every 100 mills (grams) of water you’re adding. Repeat the outlined directions with this ratio, ignoring our advice to dilute the brew afterwards, and you’re ready to sip!
Learn More About Cold Brew Coffee in Our Cold Brew Blog Series

Kaldi's Cold Brew Coffee Blog Series

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Read Next
COLD BREW-OFF: HARIO VS. KINTO VS. TODDY
Cold Brew-Off: Hario vs. Kinto vs. Toddy | Kaldi's Coffee Blog

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