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The perfect French press cold brew

Ah, the cold brew. Nothing quite hits the spot on a hot summer morning. I (over?) indulged in it frequently over the past few months and at this point I’d say unequivocally that I prefer it to hot coffee, regardless of the season. Most of the people online were using regular drippers to home brew the stuff so I figured I’d write this guide for using a French press, a most magical apparatus for both hot and cold alike. Though, it’s so simple and intuitive as to render a tutorial nearly superfluous.

In any event, after a bit of experimentation I’ve settled on the process and measurements for extracting the optimal cold brew cup from a French press. I haven’t found the ideal beans yet, as I prefer to try something new every time, but I generally opt for something dark that’s heavy on the chocolate notes. I’ve noticed the chocolate flavor, for which I have a particular affinity, really gets amplified with the cold brew process. Recently I rather enjoyed the Stinky Bkln blend (ultimately from D'Amico) and a Guatemalan roast from Gorilla.

Without further ado…


  • 0.5 cups fresh coarsely ground coffee (the usual for a French press)
  • 3.5 cups water
  • A jug of sorts. I use a glass (no BPA!) quart bottle. Previous tenant: milk.
  • Cold storage area (e.g. a refrigerator)


  1. Pour the coffee into the French press.
  2. Add the water and stir vigorously with a spoon.
  3. Put the uncovered press into cold storage for 12-24 hours.
  4. Put the jug in next to the press (pouring the cold brew into a warm container sucks).
  5. After the time has elapsed, take the brewed coffee out
  6. Break the coffee cake on the top and lightly stir.
  7. Scrape off the “fines” that remain hovering (demonstration).
  8. Cover and press!
  9. Let it sit for a minute or so.
  10. Unload the cold brew into the cool container (or straight into a mug) and partake.

The length of the brewing process is up for debate; some swear by 24 hours and others 12. I always do the latter mostly because I don’t want to go sans French press for a whole day and it works out nicely to do the preparation after dinner, let it sit overnight, and then have it waiting in the morning.

One of the great things about cold brewing is it doesn’t go bad within the hour like hot coffee. You can brew a large quantity and store it in the fridge for up to a week without tarnishing the flavor.

Note: I’m sorely lacking in the precision measurement department at the moment, but I’ll hopefully acquire a scale soon and write an update with more accurate numbers.