Cold Brew Coffee with a French Press

coffee beans, up closeI drink a lot of coffee but as with most drinks, my tastes run to cold far more than to hot. A latte, a cup of tea, even a glass of orange juice, I’m far more likely to throw a handful of ice cubes in the cup than have it steaming hot. At my local coffee hangouts, they know I’m the guy who gets “light ice” with my beverages, even on a freezing cold day, then adds some later as I get halfway through the drink. I don’t even need to ask any more!

Anyone who drinks iced coffee knows, however, that tossing ice cubes in a steaming cup of coffee accomplishes exactly one thing: it dilutes the bejeesus out of the drink and if you don’t start with an uber-strong brew, makes it so watery that it’s like coffee tinged water. Not a good strategy.

In the last few years we’ve see the rise of what’s called cold brew, coffee that’s already been brewed and chilled, so you can make iced coffee by tossing in a few cubes and not worry about dilution. Full strength coffee and the bonus is that by having it slow brew you also cut the acidity (the bitter edge to a lot of hot coffees and espresso).

And the gourmet cold brew comes with a hefty price tag too, bottles in the supermarket that offer you 10oz of some amazing brew for a mere $3-4/bottle. Yikes. Instead, I decided I’d try to make my own with a french press I have for loose herbal tea concoctions and some ground coffee from my favorite coffee shop, Amante Uptown, in Boulder, Colorado. I initially was going to use a ratio suggested online of 1/3 cup ground coffee to 1 1/2 cups of water:

french press cold brew coffee

Not a lot of moving parts, so it’s not rocket science, right?

First step is to dump the coffee into the french press, then add water and stir. When I did, though, I felt it was way too little water and doubled the amount, making it 1/3 ground coffee to 3 cups of water. And the result looked, well, a bit sludgy:

ground coffee floating on water, french press, cold brew

That’s okay, it’s the job of the french press to get rid of all the sediment and coffee grounds. For that to work, however, make sure that you extend the push filter all the way so that when you put it on top of the press that the pole will be as far up as possible.

Then figure out how to get it to fit in your fridge and let it sit for 12-24 hours:

french press, cold brew, in fridge, brewing coffee

The cool thing is that if you get the lighting just right, you can get some pretty trippy views on your brewing coffee, like this extreme closeup:

cold brew coffee brewing, extreme close up

Pretty much at this point my daughter’s looking over at me taking that kind of photo, rolling her eyes and thinking “what the living dinglebots is Dad doing now???” but that’s life with a blogger, right?

The longer you let it brew, the more mellow the taste, but I couldn’t wait, so maybe 8 hours after I started this concoction I pulled it out and was ready to give it a try:

cold brew ready to dispense coffee

At this point simply push down on the french press filter, slowly and evenly, so that it pushes all the grounds and sediment to the bottom, leaving beautiful cold brewed coffee on the top portion of the glass carafe.

And it’s ready to pour!

cold brew coffee from a french press, how to make it

I added a splash (well, okay, two or three splashes) of half and half, a few ice cubes and ya know what? Quite a delicious cup of iced cold brew coffee! And certainly quite easy to make if you plan ahead.

Next time, however, I’ll make it a bit stronger, maybe 1/2 cup of coffee to the 3 cups of water.

But that’s it. If you try it yourself, let me know how it works out for you!

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