When the weather starts heating up, a piping hot cup of coffee starts to sound less appetizing than it does deep in the heart of winter. As spring and summer kick into gear, many people turn to iced coffee as a refreshing alternative to regular hot coffee. Unfortunately, making iced coffee at home isn’t as straightforward as you might think. If you try to use your standard coffee recipe and just add ice, you’ll probably be disappointed by a watery, flavorless brew. To get the most out of iced coffee, you have to make a few easy changes to your recipe.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to make iced coffee with a French press. This is one of our favorite iced coffee recipes and is no more difficult than making standard French press coffee. You won’t need any special equipment; just a French press, a scale, some coffee, and a grinder if you have one. Let’s begin!
Why French Press?
There are many possible ways to make iced coffee at home, so why should you use a French press? Unlike drip coffee and pour-over, French press coffee is typically full-bodied and robust, making it perfect for iced coffee where it’s easy to make weak, bland brews. We find that using a French press instead of another method gives us a more flavorful cup of iced coffee, all other factors being equal.
Strength vs. Bitterness
One common mistake we see people make—especially when they make iced coffee—is conflating strong coffee and bitter coffee. It is possible to make a strong, powerful cup of coffee that isn’t harsh and bitter if you make a few small adjustments to your recipe.
Adjusting the strength of your coffee is important if you want to make great-tasting iced coffee just like you get at the local coffee shop. Making a stronger cup of coffee is as easy as adding a bit more coffee without changing how much water you use.
Our usual recommendation for French press brewing is to use between a 14:1 and 16:1 water to coffee ratio. That means for every one gram of coffee, you should add between 14 and 16 grams of water. When making iced coffee, we recommend sticking to the lower end of that range or using an even lower ratio like 12:1.
French Press Iced Coffee
- French press
- Kitchen scale
- Coffee grinder
- 30 g your favorite coffee
- 200 g water
- 160 g ice
- Boil the water. Even though we're making iced coffee, we're still going to brew it hot to ensure we get the most flavor possible.
- Weigh 30 g of coffee beans and grind them on a coarse setting. If you regularly make French press coffee, use the same grind setting you normally would for hot coffee.
- Add 160 g of ice to the bottom of your French press. We split the total water content between ice and coffee so that we don't wind up with watery coffee by adding ice at the end.
- Add the coffee to the French press with the ice.
- Pour 60g of near-boiling water over the ice and coffee. This is the bloom phase. Wait for 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, pour the rest of the water up to a total of 200 g. Stir the mixture, ensuring all the coffee grounds are evenly wet.
- Wait another 3 minutes before plunging the coffee slowly with even pressure.
Some Helpful Notes
The key to getting iced coffee right is adding enough ice to cool the coffee but not so much ice that it doesn’t melt during the four-minute steeping period. We chose these values because they work well in our French press, but your mileage may vary depending on your specific French press.
It’s important to keep the total amount of water and ice constant, even if you have to make slight adjustments to get the ice to melt. For example, if you have some ice left after four minutes, use 150 g of ice for the next brew but increase the amount of water to 210 g. You always want the total weight of the ice and water to add to 360 g.
Feel free to use a different ratio if you find 12:1 to be too strong. We think the 12:1 ratio helps make a bold, delicious cup of iced coffee, but it’s more of a guideline than a strict rule to be followed religiously. Experiment with different ratios until you find your favorite.
So, there you have it! If it’s getting warm where you live and you want to try your hand at whipping up some iced coffee at home, give this recipe a shot. It’s surprisingly tricky to get homemade iced coffee right, so hopefully, this guide will put you on the right track and give you a good starting point. Once you’ve made it a few times, try tweaking the coffee to water ratio or changing the breakdown of ice and water to make it your own. Happy brewing!
Featured Image: Anshu A, Unsplash