I’m sharing How to Make French Press Cold Brew Coffee at home (my favorite way). No French press? No problem, I’m also sharing how to use a strainer or paper filter system plus all-in-one systems you can purchase. I’ve included all my tips and resources and the cold brew coffee ratio I use to make the best cold brew concentrate recipe and vanilla cold brew at home! It’s perfect in an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte‘!
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Worth the Fuss
I get it. During the coldest of months having a piping hot cup of jo in hand is like putting on your comfy socks and snuggling up on the couch with your favorite blanket. But in the warmer months, a cold brew latte is like diving into a cool swimming pool and an enjoyable way to refresh in the afternoon. Do you have a seasonal preference?
Understanding why cold brew coffee is such a big deal takes some comparison. Have a cup of your hot morning brew. Then, drink an ice-cold glass of homemade cold brew sweetened with your favorite sweetener and cut with your milk of choice, water or simply without any additions. You’ll notice the differences right away.
Before I share my best cold brew coffee recipe, cold brew tips, and how I DIY cold brew coffee at home in a French press and using a filter system, I want to share why I think cold brew is worth exploring.
Why Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
There’s the reason why coffee shops are selling out of their cold brew coffee concentrate. It’s refreshing during the warmest months and less acidic than its hot sibling producing a thirst-quenching flavorful coffee. I find it to have a richer, more subtle, and somewhat chocolatey flavor profile too.
Both sippers are made of the same ingredients but taste vastly different. Although roasting plays an important role in teasing out the nuances of coffee bean flavor, temperature and time contribute most significantly to the flavor profile of your morning cuppa.
During the brewing process, the hot brew methods use heat to extract the bean’s flavors offering a more acidic profile, while cold brew methods brew coffee at room or refrigerator temperature, like an infusion, offering a sweet, rich, and less acidic profile.
Also, it’s a refreshing way to get your caffeine fix on a hot summer day! And seriously, it’s so simple to do.
Benefits of Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
Making a batch of cold brew coffee at home is more economical than purchasing at the corner coffee shop or store. From $0.10/oz for my latest purchase of beans versus $0.15 to $0.27/oz for a black cold brew from a coffee shop or in a convenient grab-and-go bottle at the store.
In other words, one cup of home cold brew will set you back about $0.80, whereas going out, an average of $1.86. That’s about ONE DOLLAR more per cup (and that’s average, not even the high end)! This may not sound like much, but that’s money in your pocket over time.
And there’s an added benefit. Brewing cold brew at home creates little to no waste. Those plastic cups and straws are using valuable resources only to be thrown away. They’re polluting our environment! And before you say recycling, recycling isn’t as feasible as it once was. Even if you take your refillable container (thank you for that), you’re still paying more per cup.
Coffee can be purchased from a local roaster if available, thereby reducing the number of miles traveled by those coffee beans. Plus, supporting the local economy feels good!
The last benefit I’ll mention is you can DIY cold brew coffee to your own specifications. Make a cold brew that’ll curl your toes or one that’s a little more mellow; you’ll soon find the cold brew coffee ratio that fits your tastes.
Cold Brew Concentrate Recipe at Home
Now that we have the why out of the way, let’s talk method before I share my best cold brew coffee recipe. I’ve made cold brew concentrate two ways at home:
- coffee filter system
- French press cold brew
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Using a Coffee Filter
This is a quick how-to summary. For more detail, see the recipe card below:
- Coarsely grind the coffee.
- In a large mason jar, add the coffee grounds and pour room-temperature water over the grounds.
- Submerge the grounds so they are all below the water’s surface.
- Lid the container and set it at room temperature overnight or for about 12 hours.
- Filter the coffee using a paper filter, be careful here as it can easily tear. You may need to double up.
- Discard the filter in your compost bin or garden, transfer the cold brew to a mason jar or glass pitcher, and store it in the fridge.
How to Make French Press Cold Brew
French press cold brew coffee is the easiest way and my preferred method. This is my self-proclaimed cold press coffee maker! It has limitations because my French press only holds three cups of water, but I find it the tidiest and no-waste way to make cold brew at home. I can get about five servings from this recipe when cut with milk or water. And I didn’t have to buy anything new to make it. In summary, here’s how to make the best French press cold brew coffee recipe (see recipe card for details):
- Coarsely grind the coffee in a burr grinder or in a commercial grinder at the grocery store.
- In the French press container, add the coffee grounds and pour filtered water over the grounds.
- Lid the French press and plunge slightly, to submerge the grounds so they are all below the water’s surface – yet still at the top of the press. No need to stir.
- Set at room temperature overnight or for about 12 hours.
- Use the plunger to s l o w l y press the grounds through the water for best flavor extraction.
- Discard coffee grounds in your compost bin or garden and transfer the cold brew to a mason jar or glass pitcher. Store the cold brew concentrate in the fridge.
See how simple it is to make French press cold brew coffee?
How Fine Should The Ground Coffee Beans Be?
In a word, coarse. I use the commercial coffee grinder at the store where I buy my beans. Otherwise, you can use a burr grinder at home. My little mini grinder at home just doesn’t cut it! I purchase the beans in bulk (economical), then grind them using the coarse setting on the commercial grinder. Don’t forget to reuse your coffee bag!
Let’s Talk Cold Brew Coffee to Water Ratio
Cold brew, like hot brew, can be made to preference. Several cold brew coffee ratios are out there, but over time I’ve found what I like best. This is something you can play with and adjust, but my best cold brew coffee ratio is:
one part coffee to four parts water
OR: 1/4 cup (70 grams/2.5 ounces) ground coffee to 1 cup (205 grams/7.2 ounces) water
This ratio produces a homemade cold brew coffee concentrate which then can be used to make my cold brew iced coffee recipe. This cold brew concentrate can be cut with water, or milk du jour and sweetener of choice or enjoy it straight.
One More Way to Cold Brew Coffee
After sharing my cold brew coffee in a French press method on Instagram, I received DM’s and picture shares (thank you!). Everyone’s making cold brew in their French Press, except ONE! My friend showed me her new DIY brewing, no-waste system she found on Amazon. I was so impressed with her system I knew I had to share it as part of my DIY Cold Brew Coffee post.
It’s a 1 or 2 quart mason jar with a fitted stainless steel infuser that sets inside the mason jar! My friend told me this has changed the way she drinks coffee!
I don’t plan on ordering since I already have a system that works for me. But if you’re looking for one, this is the cold brew system on Amazon (affiliate link).
Variations for Flavored Cold Brew Coffee
There are many ways to enjoy cold brew. Here are some favorites:
- Stir in your favorite milk du jour for a cold brew iced coffee. I use homemade cashew milk.
- Stir in egg nog (need I say more)?
- Use maple syrup or simple syrup to sweeten your cold brew. How about an infused orange simple syrup?
- Add a tsp of vanilla extract for an iced vanilla cold brew latte.
- Add 1/4 tsp of almond extract for an iced almond cold brew latte (almond extract can be strong, so adjust to taste).
- Pour cold brew over ice cream for a cold brew affogato – OMG (!!)
- Make cold brew ice cubes so your cold brew doesn’t get watered down.
- Spike it with a coffee liqueur like Frangelico or Bailey’s and make a cold brew “holiday” coffee!
Let’s Review – General Rules of the Cold Brew Concentrate Road
- Use your French press or a coffee filter to brew your cold brew.
- Use the cold brew ratio of one part ground coffee to four parts water – remember 1/4 C coffee grounds to 1 C water.
- Grind dark roast coffee beans coarse using a commercial coffee grinder at the grocery store or a burr grinder at home. The coarser the better.
- In fact, there’s no need to stir the coffee after pouring the water over the grounds. The flavor will be extracted as long as the grounds are in contact with water.
- Steep the grounds at room temperature for about 12 hours (some say up to 24 hours – play with the time!).
Cold Brew Coffee Resources
If you’re looking to set up a home cold brew system, here are some resources to get you started (these are affiliate links):
- Your Favorite Coffee Beans – look for bulk, organic, shade grown, locally roasted if possible, dark roast, and Swiss water decaffeinated coffee if needed. Mukilteo Coffee Roasters is my favorite brand (it’s local to where I live too!).
- Burr Grinder – to grind beans at home
- French Press
- Spouted Glass Cup
- 1 Quart Mason Jar
- Paper Coffee Filters or a reusable Basket Filter
- Fine Strainer
More Coffee Recipes to Love
- Vegan Mocha Shake
- Mamaw’s Holiday Coffee
- Homemade Thai Iced Coffee – by Kitchen Confidante
- Chocolate Almond Coffee Smoothie – by Floating Kitchen
- DIY Turkish Coffee – by FoolProof Living
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
- 3/4 C (70g) Coarse Ground Coffee
- 3 C (610g) Water room temperature or cold
French Press Method:
- Coarsely grind the coffee.
- In the French press container add the coffee grounds and pour filtered water over the grounds. Lid the French press and gently press the plunger slightly, just to submerge the grounds so they are all below the surface of the water - yet still at the top of the press. No need to stir.Set at room temperature over night or for about 12 hours.
- After about 12 hours, use the plunger to s l o w l y press the grounds through the water.
- Discard coffee grounds in your compost bin or garden and transfer the cold brew to a mason jar or glass carafe.
Strainer and Coffee Filter Method:
- Coarsely grind the coffee.
- In a one quart (or one Liter) container add the coffee grounds and pour filtered water over the grounds. Gently, using the back of a spoon, submerge the grounds just so they are all below the surface of the water. No need to stir.Lid the container and set at room temperature over night or for about 12 hours.
- After about 12 hours, set a fine mesh strainer over a spouted container and insert a coffee filter. You can use a nut bag here or a reusable stainless steel filter for no waste if you like (see resources above). Give the coffee a stir, then pour the coffee and grounds into the filter allowing the filter to capture the grounds and strain into the spouted container. Use a spatula if needed to gently press the coffee through the strainer. If using a paper filter, be careful here as it can easily tear. You may need to double up.
- Discard the filter and coffee grounds in your compost bin or garden/flower beds and transfer the cold brew to a mason jar or glass carafe.
- Store the cold brew coffee for up to three days in the refrigerator.
For an Iced Cold Brew Latte:
- Enjoy cold brew over ice. Cut it with water or milk of choice (I like homemade cashew) and sweeten it with maple or simple syrup (see notes to DIY) if desired to taste. See "elevate your cold brew" in the blog post for more ideas!