The best-kept secret of the French press: cold brew coffee

Whether staying up late mandated my love of caffeine or vice versa, I've become hooked on coffee of all forms. My hands-down favorite until a few months ago was the caffè macchiato - not to be confused with the highly commercialized latte macchiato you see in places like Starbucks. But then I got a French press, tasted two new forms of unfiltered coffee, and was in love.

Hot coffee made with a French press is a delightful mélange of drip coffee and espresso: it roughly has the texture and caffeine content of the drip coffee but also develops a crema-like sediment because the mesh filter captures more of the coffee's oils.

To prepare such unfiltered hot coffee, you stir together the same number of tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee beans as cups of hot (never boiling, as you will burn the coffee) filtered or spring water in the French press, wait roughly three to five minutes, plunge the mesh filter the bottom, and enjoy. You can easily produce this form of unfiltered coffee without a fancy-schmancy French press, too: prepare the coffee in a large glass jar or pitcher, then strain through a fine mesh colander.

Unfortunately, hot French press coffee "expires" after about five minutes left with the beans in the press and like most hot coffees, becomes undesirable even if promptly poured into a mug about fifteen minutes later.

But, alas! An even more intriguing coffee variety easily prepared via French press, cold brew coffee, can rescue us in these departments and more. In addition to having the rich thickness of the hot French press coffee, cold brew coffee is surprisingly less bitter and has a great deal less acidity. This forces different facets, notably the softer background notes such as chocolate or molasses, of the beans used into the foreground: despite growing up to love dark roasts like a true Chicagoan, I find that I really enjoy the subtleties of a lighter "breakfast blend" coffee more via the cold-brewing process.

While the uncommon flavor of cold brew coffee is enticing on its own, cold brew coffee possesses another unique quality as far as types of coffee are concerned: cold brew coffee is just as good immediately following preparation as after a week in the fridge. Definitely wins points with me solely on the basis of its providing me a quality coffee option if I have only a minute before I need to be out the door, and yes, this means that even the girl who previously swore that iced coffee was a mortal sin enjoys this drink both hot and cold.

Cold brew coffee



  1. In a jar, stir together the coffee and 4 eight-ounce cups of water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or for twelve hours.
  2. Strain through a mesh filter. (If you really don't like the slightly thicker texture, you can strain through something even finer, such as a cheesecloth.)
  3. In a large glass, mix roughly equal parts coffee concentrate and water to taste. For a richer taste, add milk instead of water. The coffee can be heated, poured over ice, or drank at roughly room temperature.

Yields 32 ounces of delicious, cold brew coffee.


  1. I've always found it slightly confusing that the standard cup of coffee is 6 ounces, while a standard cup of liquid is 8 ounces, so I included the definition of a cup I was using. Also, the quality of any coffee is largely variable based on quality of the water used.