Experiment: Making cold-brew coffee with a french press

I don’t drink iced coffee. Even during Texas summers when it is humid and over 100 degrees F, I just don’t feel right unless I have hot coffee in the mornings. Call me crazy, but I like savoring a cup and tasting the flavors change as it moves from hot to warm to cooled off. The only instances where I tend to drink iced coffee are if I need to consume a large amount of caffeine in as short a time as possible. Most iced coffees I’ve had have tasted watered-down and have been lacking in flavor complexity. Could cold-brew coffee change my mind?

The process for making cold-brew is pretty easy – grind your beans, add water and stir, let sit, and strain. For this experiment, I decided to use up the bag of Porch Culture El Salvador Finca Santa Emilia that I had on hand, along with some of the bottled water that I usually use in my espresso machine.

I opted to make cold-brew in a french press for easy filtering; recipe here. The recipe calls for coarsely ground coffee, but this article convinced me to try it with a fine grind and steep for 24 hours. You can make cold-brew coffee in as little as 12 hours according to some recipes, but I decided to leave it alone for a full day.

This method of brewing does use a LOT of coffee. In my 34-oz french press, when brewing hot, I’ll usually use around 56 grams of beans. For the cold-brew method, I had to use something like 127 grams!! This worked in my favor this time since I had beans that needed to be used up, but if I wanted to do cold-brew regularly, I could see it becoming an expensive proposition.

Hour 1: I start steeping the grounds and water after a quick stir, then leave the kitchen to go about my evening.

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Hour 4: I walk into the kitchen and it smells like caramel. Is there a dessert hiding somewhere? This must be a happy result of the sugary notes in this particular coffee. Mmmm… Now I’m wondering what would happen if I used a coffee with strong chocolate notes. Next time, perhaps?

Hour 24: Time to press! I sloooowwwlllllyyyy pressed the french press filter down through the very thick mixture. I then carefully poured the coffee through a coffee filter placed in a fine-mesh strainer to catch the grit and sludge. Even so, there was still some sludge in the final product.

Final quantity: Around 16 oz or so of coffee concentrate. If you plan to dilute this into a 1:1 coffee/water ratio, you’ll have 32 oz of coffee, or 2 Starbucks grandes.

Taste test of the final result: I poured some of the concentrate over ice and diluted it with a bit of water. This made a nice strong iced coffee that didn’t taste watered down at all. It smells like chocolate with a hint of lemon. It’s not bitter at all – very smooth and rich tasting. The coffee disappeared from my cup in probably less than 90 seconds. I wasn’t trying to drink it fast; with iced coffee it just… happens!

I am not a super patient person by nature so having to wait 24 hours for what seems like a relatively tiny quantity of coffee doesn’t feel worth it to me, especially since I prefer my coffee hot. But, if I was a fan of iced coffee, I think this is definitely the way to go. It IS time-consuming, but it’s largely hands-off, and the concentrate will keep in the fridge for days. I would probably brew a much bigger batch at one time than could fit in my french press, though. If I’m going to spend 24 hours brewing, I would want more than a couple of days worth of coffee (especially if you’re serving more than one person).

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the REAL reason I chose to make cold-brew coffee: using it as a base for COLD-BREW COFFEE ICE CREAM. Ohhhh yes.

One Reply to “Experiment: Making cold-brew coffee with a french press”

  1. Ice cream. Yes please. Can’t wait!

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