How To Use a French Press To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Did you know that you can cold brew coffee in a French Press? It’s incredibly simple to make and far less expensive than purchasing it ready to drink at your local grocery store. Before you know it you will be making gourmet coffees at home and saving money too!

Hand pressing down the plunger on a French press full of coffee
Photo by Ann Oliverio

One thing to note is that the french press cold brew concentrate will be stronger than brewed coffee. You will either thin it out with water or make it super-rich with extra non-dairy milk.

It’s perfect for iced coffees since it’s already cold. But you can also just add hot water to it to make yourself a hot cup of cold-brewed coffee. It will still have less acid in it than hot-brewed coffee. Can you believe how simple that was?

Why do people drink cold brew?

It may seem like coffee, is coffee, is coffee, but when you cold brew you get a coffee that has less acid. I’m not a fan of the bright acid flavors that hot coffee has and neither is my stomach lining, but if you love the bright acidic flavors cold brew coffee may not be for you. But makes it better for people with acid reflux.

Many people who have stomach issues with acids are able to drink cold brew coffee. I happen to be one of those. Personally, I love the smooth flavor that’s achieved by cold brewing. Plus it takes less effort than driving to the store.

What goes with cold brew?

My homemade lavender syrup will add some spring into your morning iced coffee and my favorite DIY cardamom vanilla syrup will also have you looking forward to waking up!

Turn yours into a vegan pumpkin spice latte for fall with my pumpkin coconut caramel sauce or with some homemade pumpkin-spice cashew creamer. The caramel has actual pumpkin in it and the creamer has no actual pumpkin – just spices. Or for something more plain try my homemade vanilla nut vegan creamer.

Or keep it simple and just add a little homemade almond milk or oat milk.

Ground coffee in a rainbow wooden scoop
Photo by Ann Oliverio

Do I need a special device to brew cold brew coffee?

The short answer is no. You can make cold brew in French Press Coffee Maker that you might already have hidden in your cabinet, or even in a plain old mason jar

There are a ton of specialty devices that are for cold brew too. I love mine that has a glass pitcher with a metal infuser, Kitchen Aid has a fancy one that’s glass and lives in your fridge, and there’s the original Toddy Maker, but I suggest you try it first what you have on hand.

But the bottom line is you don’t have to spend much if any, money to get started.

Can you make iced coffee with a french press?

Making cold brew in a french press is so easy, you’ll wonder why you ever bought ready made. If you have a French press gathering dust in the cabinet, now you have a new use for it.

Cold brew makes the best iced coffee because you store the concentrate in the fridge. Just pour over ice with your favorite coffee syrups or non-dairy milks, stir and drink.

Is it hard to make cold brew coffee?

Cold brew coffee is ridiculously simple to make. You just mix ground coffee with water, let it sit 24 to 48 hours, then strain the coffee out, and store the concentrate in the fridge.

My recipe uses a French Press or a mason jar and a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag. The only other thing you need is coarse ground coffee, but you can get by with packaged ground coffee.

Cold Brew coffee concentrate pouring into a glass with ice

Photo by Ann Oliverio

What kind of coffee do you need for cold brew coffee concentrate?

You can use any kind of ground coffee but it’s best if you buy whole beans because if you use coarse ground coffee there will be fewer grounds in your final concentrate.

I usually look for what’s on sale, but the beauty of making your own is that you can use your favorite roast or flavored coffee, regular or decaffeinated.

French press cold brew recipe

All you need is a course ground coffee that you love. It could be a light roast or dark roast, flavored or natural, you even get to choose between regular or decaffeinated coffee!

I think this is the best reason to make your own cold brew concentrate over buying it pre-made. Well, that and the fact that it’s a fraction of the cost.

Can you make cold brew in a french press?

Yes you can and it’s just this simple: Add the ground coffee and water to your French press and let it sit 8 to 24 hours. I usually just do 8, but the longer it sits the stronger your concentrate will be.

When the amount of time you want it to steep has passed, you will simply push down the plunger.

That will trap the grounds below the filter. A few grains may pour out with the concentrate, but you can filter it through a fine-mesh strainer if it bothers you. I’m fine with it, or maybe I’m just lazy!

Coffee brewing in a French press

How to make cold brew coffee in a French press:

Fill the base of your French Press halfway with the grounds and then halfway with cold water. Remove the plunger from your French Press and store it in a cool, dark place for 12-15 hours (we use our refrigerator). Then, press the plunger and pour over the ice. If needed, add milk, flavorings, or simple syrup.

Step by step photos of brewing cold brew coffee in a French press
How to make cold brew in a french press

How much coffee to water for cold brew?

The ratio of course ground coffee to water to make your cold brew is subjective. If you want a stronger concentrate you would add more ground coffee, for a weaker one add less.

That’s great, but if this is your very first time making it where should you start? In a 4 cup, 32 ounce, or 1 liter French press add about 3/4 to 1 cup ground coffee to about 4 cups water to start with.

After the first batch you can tailor it to suit your taste.

Does cold brew coffee have more caffeine?

The concentrate certainly does and that’s why you drink it diluted. I’ve seen people drink concentrate straight and if you are sensitive to caffeine I would never try it.

Another great reason to make your own concentrate is you can make your decaf if you don’t do well with caffeine.

Iced cold brew coffee in a glass cup with almond milk surround by a scattering of coffee beans
French press cold brew over ice

Is cold brew coffee stronger than espresso?

It really depends on the type and roast of coffee you use to make your cold brew. While it’s not traditional, you could even cold brew espresso roasted beans that are coarsely ground.

The best part of making your own coffee concentrate is that you can get beans that are your favorite roast and grind them.

Does cold brew coffee have less acid?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee beans in cold or room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours. Because the cold-brew method results in less acidic than standard brewed coffee.

It’s so much easier on your stomach and actually allowed me to start drinking coffee again.

Cold brew coffee pouring over ice

For the best cold brew use coarsely ground coffee

A coarse ground may appear to be chunky, even when you start to add the water. You can stir the ground with a spoon or shake in a mason jar to wet all the grounds.

The course grind helps keep the grounds filtered out of the concentrate and makes it less bitter. The actual grinding process can heat the grounds which adds that bitter flavor from the acids produced.

If you mixed everything together in a mason jar, you will need to strain it through a nut milk bag or a fine-mesh strainer.

Coffee pouring into a white mug

How do I use coffee concentrate?

You can dilute the concentrate with water or your favorite non-dairy milk. You can even add in maple syrup or coffee syrups to make drinks that rival expensive coffeehouse drinks.

How many concentrates should I use per cup?

Well, I have to tell you that’s this is super subjective. I like my coffee with lots and lots of soy milk, so I add about 1/3 concentrate to 2/3 nondairy milk. But I like a little coffee with. my soy milk!

I recommend that you experiment to find your perfect ratio. Also if you like it black just add water until it’s the strength that you like. 

Can I make a hot cup of coffee with refrigerated coffee concentrate?

Just add the concentrate and your liquid of choice to dilute it. Some people use water if they drink theirs black, but I’m team lots of non-dairy milk. To make it iced pour over ice cubes or heat it for a hot coffee.

Cold brew coffee with oat milk in tall glasses
Iced coffee from french press

How long is cold brew concentrate good for?

In the refrigerator it will last for 3 to 4 weeks, that is if it lasts that long. If you are the only coffee drinker, brew a large batch and freeze part in ice cube trays to defrost later. The cubes will last months in the freezer.

Does the concentrate go bad if not refrigerated?

Even though coffee is acidic, it will go bad fast if not stored in the fridge. The awesome thing about cold brew is you can just pop it in the refrigerator while it’s brewing in the French press to make it last even longer.

Can you make an iced cold brew coffee?

If you are into iced coffee, cold brew is amazing served over ice. But if you like your coffee hot, you can heat the cold brew. It’s not like hot brewed coffee and lasts for almost a week in the fridge.

Recipes that use cold brew concentrate

You can drink cold brew coffee as is, or with your favorite non-dairy milk or creamer, hot or iced. But if you’re like me you may want to break out of the coffee box, so here are some of my favorite recipes that use cold brew coffee in them.

Step by Step Cold Brew Coffee from The Easy Vegan Cookbook

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in Your French Press (or Mason Jar)

Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day 6 hours 12 seconds
Total Time: 1 day 6 hours 3 minutes 12 seconds

Coffee concentrate is dirt-cheap, and you get to make it with the roast you like best. The hands-on time to make it is about 5 minutes—maybe 10 if you grind your own beans—and it keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.


  • 1/2 cup course ground coffee (can use more or less to suit your taste)
  • enough water to fill French press or Mason jar


    Add the ground coffee to your French press or Mason jar.

    Carefully place the filter/plunger so that it is just on top of the grounds, keeping them under the water. Let sit overnight up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

    In the morning, gently press down the plunger to push the coffee grounds to the bottom. Pour into your favorite pitcher (with a lid) or mason jar(s) and store in the refrigerator.


This makes a concentrate. You can make this as strong as you want by adding more coffee grounds.

I add in nondairy creamer to dilute mine, but you can also you water if you prefer your coffee black. I use about 1/3 concentrate and 2/3 nondairy milk.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 0Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

Nutrition information is provided from as a close estimate. If you have specific health issues please put the recipe information, including the exact ingredients you use, into the nutritional calculator your Dr. recommends.

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© Kathy Hester
Cuisine: American / Category: Drinks and Syrups

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