Cold Press Coffee – What Is It And How Do I Make It?
What can you do when the weather is just too hot for you to rationalize drinking hot coffee on a blistering hot day, but you NEED your coffee? Although hot weather doesn’t seem to stop many of us from getting in that line and ordering some deep black joe, as sweat trickles down our temples, there is another option which you may not have tried…and you should!
Cold press coffee is a delicious cold coffee drink where you might want to grab a comfortable lounge chair on your friend’s deck somewhere, because this drink is refreshing and cold, while still being…well, coffee!
It is so simple to prepare but must be done the day ahead. Yes, the WAIT is the kicker here, but you will find it to be well worth it.
Here is a video by our friends at La Colombe Coffee which shows just how simple it is to make, and distinguishes it from the similarly cold (but oh so different to taste) iced coffee.
What’s The Difference Between Cold Press & Iced Coffee?
One main thing to take away from this video is that – again – cold press coffee is not iced coffee. Just to run it by you quickly here, cold press is where you prepare your coffee in the same way as you would with a French Press, except with room temperature water. On the other hand, iced coffee is where you pour hot coffee over ice. They are two different drinks, and they taste a lot different. Many people complain that iced coffee doesn’t have the same appeal, and, really, it doesn’t. For instance, cold press coffee is usually left in the fridge overnight to work its infusion magic. Iced coffee is just coffee poured on ice. Very different from the get-go!
Cold Press AKA Cold Brew?
Ah, so just when we thought we were out of the woods with the confusion over the name of cold press coffee and what it is exactly, we run right into…cold brew coffee! Watch this relatively quick video and we’ll catch you on the flipside to explain a little bit more.
Now, if that video didn’t make you want to run right out and prepare some cold brew…err…cold press…err…wait, what’s it called again? You may be wondering, what is the difference between cold press and cold brew coffee? They both involve a really long infusion time of…well, in the case of this video, Mike Cooper from over at Jamie Oliver’s Drink Tube goes with 24 hours rather than the previous 12 we’d mentioned. So let’s say between 12-24 hours. You will have to try this yourself.
Anyway, cold press coffee is just like cold brew coffee, except for one thing lacking that you may have noticed in the video above. That being, there was NO PRESS. That’s right, Mike didn’t use a French Press to make his cold brew coffee, but he did use a sieve and some filter paper to get a double filtered brew that gave him that smooth taste he was after.
You may be wondering, is there really any significant difference between cold press and cold brew coffee? Is it going to taste any different if you don’t use a press or if you do? What if you just pour the coffee through a filter like Mike did, as opposed to pressing it?
Cold Press Coffee Tips
This leads us to our next couple of points here, which is to say that you shouldn’t worry too much about if you’re making “cold brew” or “cold press” coffee, technically. Why? Because you’ve got bigger fish to fry first!
We’re talking about things like the water. If you watched the above video, Mike mentions that the water needs to be filtered when you go about making your cold brew coffee.
This is true regardless of whether you have a French Press to work with or not. The water needs to taste good, or, if it doesn’t, your coffee won’t taste good. So grab yourself a Brita filter, a bottle of filtered whatever, or do whatever you must to make sure you’re starting out with good water! This might seem obvious, but we think too many people blame the coffee for tasting bad when its actually their water that doesn’t taste very good in the first place.
Always Grind Fresh
The matter of grinding your coffee beans yourself was also mentioned in the above video, but he didn’t place too much emphasis on it. Of course, if you look at the name of this website, we are a bit obsessed with grinders, and we think that if you’re going to go to all the trouble of making cold press coffee, you will want to take every opportunity to make your coffee taste amazing. Isn’t that the point, after all? Therefore, you must invest in a good coffee grinder if you want to take advantage of all the potential flavour that is locked away in your beans. A good grinder can release that flavour. Maybe you already have this angle covered, but if you don’t, you should at least think about it. Cold press coffee is all about taking the time to do things right, and a grinder will surely help with that. You’ll want to get a grinder that can do a good course grinder, which means you’ll either need a high quality burr grinder, or a decent manual grinder for the job.
More For Later
Ok, now that we’ve established a few things, such as what cold press coffee is (hopefully we’ve established this by now), and how you need good water and preferably fresh ground coffee (not instant) to make your French Press, we can talk more about some of the benefits of cold press coffee.
One of those benefits is that you can make a whole lot of it, and if you have something with a seal on it you can keep it in your fridge for weeks and have delicious cold press coffee whenever you like. Part of the beauty of cold press coffee is that it is simple to make, simple to store, and tastes phenomenal, due to the fact that you let the coffee infuse for so long before serving. This gives the coffee that magical taste that you won’t get from iced coffee.
One other question that arises is do you need to initially refrigerate the coffee before its ready to serve. You may have noticed in the video with Mike Cooper that he just leaves it on the counter with a cloth over it for 24 hours. Basically, it comes down to whether the thing you’re using to contain the coffee is big enough to fit in your fridge. Also, you may want the coffee to be at a colder temperature right away, as opposed to having to infuse it and THEN store to to chill it out a bit. These are things you can play around with, but whether the coffee is stored in the fridge or on your counter overnight – both options are ok. Oh, and you will want to store it in something other than the French Press you made it in. Something like a jar with a rubber seal works well.
Cold Press Coffee – Quick Stats
- INCREDIBLY EASY TO PREPARE
- USE COLD FILTERED WATER
- COARSE GROUNDS
- STEEP BETWEEN 12-24 HOURS IN THE FRIDGE
- A GLASS CONTAINER LIKE A MASON JAR WITH A LID FOR STORAGE
- USE SOME SORT OF FILTER I.E. SIEVE OR CHEESE CLOTH OR AN OLD SHIRT OR A NUT BAG FOR COLD BREW, USE A FRENCH PRESS FOR COLD PRESS
- 3:1 RATIO OF WATER TO COFFEE
- NOT BITTER BUT SWEET – LESS ACIDITY
- SATURATING THE FLAVORS FROM CAFFEINE AND LEAVING BEHIND THE UNMENTIONABLES
- MAYBE ADD CREAM OR POUR OVER ICE
- SMOOTH TASTING
- HIGHLIGHTS VARIOUS BLENDS AND THEIR UNIQUE FLAVORS
- GREAT AFTER A MEAL TO SIP WITH DESSERT
Ratio Of Water To Coffee
The ratio of coffee grounds to water is subjective and depends on personal taste. A good place to start is to grind 3/4 cup beans for 4 cups of cold water—the size of a 32-ounce French press (like this Kona model here). You can double—with 1.5 cups beans for 8 cups water—or even triple the quantities depending on the size of your container. Next, grind the beans very coarsely. We mean it. A smaller grind will result in cloudy coffee.
Cold Press Coffee In A Jiff (+ 24 Hours)
- Put the grounds in the French Press and pour the water over.
- Put the lid on and place in fridge for 24 hours.
- The lid keeps the food odors out.
- Take it out and plunge the French Press as you would normally.
- Drink up with ice and/or cream or store in fridge up to 2 weeks and enjoy a little every day.
Cold water will react differently with the coffee grinds, and since the coffee never actually touches hot water, it creates a different chemical and flavour profile, resulting in higher caffeine (!!!) and lower acidity.
Less acid gives the coffee a sweeter taste.
Cold water extracts the flavors out of the grounds and leaves the bitter compounds behind.
It might take longer than if you use hot water but it is worth the wait.
When hot water is used, it will cook the grounds as the brew is steeping, and the chemical compounds in the coffee will change and not for the better.
Keep the lid on it while storing it in the fridge.
Takes more coffee to make it, but nothing is wasted.
Smooth cup highlights various blends nicely, and their flavors.
Add a little cream and you have a great post meal option.
Cold Press According To Jamie O.
Here’s what Jamie Oliver has to say about it:
“Cold press coffee is not the same as cold coffee offered at large coffee chains, with their creams and syrups and whipped cream. They must be hiding something.
Cold press coffee is more refined.
Cold press coffee takes time to make.
Cold coffee is standard coffee poured over ice and sells cheaply at the corporate chain stores, and tastes bitter. I think it sells for around $1. You get what you pay for.
Cold press coffee is special! This black cold brew, after steeping in the fridge for a day, is poured over ice and sipped through a straw from a clear plastic cup – subtly sweet, rich in immense flavor, but not overwhelming.
It might even taste better from your favorite coffee cup.
Cold press coffee is not watery, and everything great about coffee is in the cup, with an amazing new coffee taste just for you.”
The Last Word
Hopefully, you’ll find that cold press coffee is to your liking. As the summer months arrive, and the weather heats up, and all that jazz – sometimes you might appreciate something a little different. Cold press coffee might just do the trick for you!
Wanna Get Crazy?
The Yama Drip Tower is monstrous and expensive and not necessary for home use unless you have tons of cash to burn – but damn, is it ever cool!
The Toddy system is the elite cold-brew tool for this method. The Toddy system is ugly, affordable, simple but produces superb results.
Or you can use the Cafetiere (French Press) and its pressing down with the plunger after the brew has sat for a day. This contraption limits you as to how much you can make and how effective the steel filter in it is.
COLD BREW COFFEE RECIPE
Step 1. Set your coffee grinder to its most coarse setting, and check a little of its output before doing the full grind. You are looking for roughly the same consistency as breadcrumbs. Any finer than that and you might get a cloudy brew.
Step 2. It is important to remember the magic ratio. Remember what we said – “A good place to start is to grind 3/4 cup beans for 4 cups of cold water”. Sterilize a large mason jar with a lid or any glass container. That just means pour boiling water into the glass container and let it sit to dry on its own.
The container should be at room temperature before adding the cold water and the coffee grounds. Stir gently until well mixed and then cover and leave to steep for 24 hours in the fridge.
When brewed (steeped is a tea term), strain into a large bowl through a sieve to remove the larger grounds. Discard these (ideally into compost), and then, tucking a few sheets of paper towel into the cleaned sieve, strain back into the jar.
If it still seems to have grounds in it, strain it again but next time, keep the grounds coarser. If the taste is way too rich for you, change the ratio to more water and less coffee. Practice will make it perfect!
Serve with ice, cream, sweetener or just drink the cold pressed coffee black.