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Can you make cold brew coffee in a French press?

Posted by Ananya S on

During what will forever be known to us in the Beancraft office as The Cold Brew Pot Drought of 2021, we have been forced to get creative to get our cold brew fix.

With Hario Cold Brew pots out of stock, it occurred to us that the French press has a similar enough structure to a cold brew pot that it might yield serviceable cold brew coffee.

Think about what happens in a cold brew pot. The ground coffee is suspended in a basket which is then submerged in water. 15 hours later, the water has extracted deliciousness out of those beans, and you have yourself some cold brew coffee.

But if it’s as simple as immersing coffee in water and letting time and cold do the rest, could you not achieve the same result with a French press? Add coffee, pour in cold water and stick it in the fridge. Then, 15 or so hours later, push down the plunger and pour yourself a cup.

Simple enough, right? That’s exactly what we did.

Of course, an experiment like this would require willing participants to blindly taste test, and an observer to brew the coffee and record results. The rest of the Beancraft team were kind enough to volunteer as guinea pigs. Rest assured they were not privy to the setup or the brewing so their answers were free from bias.

Embracing my new role as field researcher, I made some cold brew coffee in a Bodum Chambord French press and using the same recipe, made some cold brew in the 500ml Hario pot to act as the control. 

Grind size French press
Coffee Heritage blend
Quantity of coffee 40g
Quantity of water 500ml
Duration of brewing 15h

 

Each setup used the same coffee blend, grind size, quantities of coffee and water, and brewing duration — ceteris paribus and all that. The idea is to change only one variable at a time, otherwise you won’t be able to definitively attribute a difference in the final result to a specific factor. Remember, the variable we're changing here is the brewing method and nothing else. 


Find the results below.

Elle
Guessed wrong ❌ 
Verdict: They both taste the same.
Rod
Guessed right 
Verdict: Original cold brew is nicer, less bold, more subtle on the palate. It would be lovely with milk.
Anee
Guessed right 
Verdict: Original cold brew is sweeter. This is because of how it is immersed — suspended in the middle of the water rather than allowed to settle to the bottom as in the French press.

 

In conclusion, yes, you can certainly make cold brew coffee in a French press. A better question would be: should you? We personally wouldn't, unless we’re really craving cold brew and don’t have a cold brew pot on hand.

But we also wouldn't judge you too harshly if you did, because 1: cold brew pots won’t be in stock until August, and 2: the French press method wasn’t bad at all, just different.

There isn’t just one way of consuming coffee, and it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.

If you’ve been following along at home and find yourself with little to do, I highly encourage you to give the people around you unlabelled cups of mystery coffee to taste test.

See if you get the same results as we did, or simply think of it as a trust exercise. Who knows, you might even like French press cold brew better than OG cold brew. Either way, let us know what you think.

 

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