Cold Brew Coffee Maker vs French Press: Which is Best?

In the quest for the perfect cup of coffee, coffee lovers worldwide often find themselves at a crossroads. The decision? Choosing between a cold brew coffee maker and a french press coffee maker. Both brewing methods have earned a dedicated following among coffee enthusiasts and for good reason.

Understanding the difference between these two brewing methods involves more than just hot water versus cold water. It’s about the distinct flavour profiles they bring out in the coffee beans, the ease of use, the brewing time, and, most importantly, personal preferences. So, let’s embark on the ultimate guide to understanding the differences and similarities between a cold brew coffee maker and a French press.


Cold Brew Coffee Maker

If you’re the kind of coffee lover who craves a smooth and less acidic taste, then the cold brew coffee maker might be your best bet. It’s a favourite cold brewer, especially for those hot summer days when a refreshing iced coffee hits the spot.

The Cold Brewing Process

Unlike hot coffee methods, the cold brewing process involves steeping coarse grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period, typically 12-24 hours. This slow brewing time results in a cold brew coffee concentrate, which is usually diluted with water or milk before serving.

Special Equipment

While you can make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, dedicated cold-brew coffee makers such as the Toddy cold brew system make the process simpler and less messy. These often come with a mesh filter, eliminating the need for a paper filter, and a glass carafe for convenient storage.

Best Cold Brew Makers

Choosing the best cold brew maker depends on your personal needs and preferences. While the Toddy system is a popular choice, there are many different ways to cold brew, and the perfect cold brew maker might vary depending on the ease of use, the coffee-to-water ratio, and your desired flavor profile.

Cold Brew Concentrate

Cold brew concentrate is the result of the cold brew process. It’s a potent brew that’s often diluted with water or milk, producing a less acidic, full-bodied flavor that many coffee lovers find irresistible. It’s the perfect base for an iced coffee or a cold brew recipe.

Cold Brew Recipe

Creating the perfect cold brew coffee at home is surprisingly straightforward. Here’s a simple and easy way to make delicious cold brew coffee concentrate:

  1. Start with a coarse grind of your favorite coffee beans. You’ll need one cup of coffee for every four cups of water.
  2. Place the coffee grounds in the cold brew coffee maker. If you’re using a mason jar, simply add the coffee directly to the jar.
  3. Add four cups of cold or room temperature water. Use a circular motion as you pour to ensure all the coffee grounds are saturated.
  4. Allow the mixture to steep at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The longer you let it brew, the stronger your cold brew concentrate will be.
  5. Once the brewing time is up, strain the coffee through a metal or paper filter. This separates the cold brew concentrate from the coffee grinds.
  6. Dilute the cold brew concentrate with water or milk to taste, and your cold brew is ready to enjoy! Add ice cubes for a refreshing iced coffee.

With this simple cold brew recipe, you’re well on your way to enjoying the less acidic taste and robust flavor that’s the signature of cold brew coffee. Don’t be afraid to experiment – try different types of coffee beans or adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to find your perfect brew.


French Press Coffee Maker

If you’re in search of a full-bodied flavor that highlights the unique characteristics of your coffee beans, the French Press Coffee Maker might just be your method of choice. Quick and user-friendly, it’s a great way for coffee enthusiasts to brew an excellent cup of coffee without special equipment.

French Press Brewing Process

The French Press brewing method requires hot water and a relatively short brewing time compared to cold brew. Typically, you’ll need to steep the coffee grounds in hot water for about 4 to 5 minutes. The coffee then gets separated from the grounds by pressing down a metal filter, hence the name “French press.” This technique leads to a rich, robust flavor as the oils and fine particles from the coffee grounds make their way into your cup.

French Press Coffee Tips

Here are some tips to get the most out of your French Press Coffee Maker. First, always use coarse grind size coffee grounds to prevent the coffee from becoming over-extracted and bitter. Second, preheat the French press with hot water before brewing to maintain the optimal water temperature throughout the brewing process. Lastly, once you’ve plunged, serve the coffee immediately to avoid over-extraction.

Best French Press Coffee Makers

The best French Press Coffee Makers offer a balance between ease of use and brewing quality. Some top picks include models from Bodum, Frieling, and Le Creuset. When choosing a French Press, consider the material (glass or stainless steel), the capacity (number of cups it can make), and how easy it is to clean.

French Press Recipes

The versatility of a French Press coffee maker allows you to experiment with a variety of recipes, right from the comfort of your home. Here are a couple of simple and delicious recipes you can try:

Classic French Press Coffee

  1. Measure out one rounded tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee for every 4 ounces of water.
  2. Preheat your French Press by rinsing it with hot water.
  3. Discard the hot water and add your coffee grounds to the French Press.
  4. Slowly pour the hot water (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit) over the coffee grounds in a circular motion, ensuring all grounds are saturated.
  5. Place the plunger back on the press without pushing it down, and let the coffee brew for 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Gently press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.
  7. Pour and enjoy your hot, full-bodied French Press coffee.

French Press Cold Brew

  1. Add one cup of coarsely ground coffee to the French Press.
  2. Slowly pour four cups of cold or room temperature water over the coffee grounds.
  3. Stir gently to ensure all grounds are saturated and then place the plunger back on the press without pushing it down.
  4. Allow the coffee to steep at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
  5. After the steeping period, gently push down the plunger to separate the grounds from the coffee.
  6. Serve your cold brew over ice, diluted with water or milk to taste.

With these French Press recipes, you can explore the wide variety of flavors and styles this classic brewing method offers. Whether you’re in the mood for a hot, aromatic cup of coffee or a cool, refreshing cold brew, the French Press delivers.


Comparing the Brewing Processes

Although both the cold brew coffee maker and the French press can help you create great coffee, they differ significantly in their brewing processes. Let’s delve into the nuances of grind size and coffee grounds, water temperature and coffee-to-water ratio, and brew time and taste.

Grind Size and Coffee Grounds

Grind size plays a pivotal role in both the cold brew and French press methods. For cold brewing, a coarse grind is essential to prevent over-extraction during the extended brew time. On the other hand, French presses also use a coarse grind, but for a different reason. In this method, the coarse grind prevents the coffee grounds from slipping through the metal filter into the final brew.

Water Temperature and Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Water temperature varies significantly between these two brewing methods. Cold brew coffee makers use room temperature or cold water, lending to a less acidic, smoother cup of coffee. The French press, however, uses hot water, enhancing the extraction of the full-bodied flavor of the coffee grounds. The coffee-to-water ratio is also a variable that affects the strength and flavor of your brew. Typically, a cold brew will use a higher ratio of coffee to water, while a French press coffee leans towards a balanced ratio for optimal extraction.

Brew Time and Taste

The brewing time sets these two brewing methods apart significantly. A cold brew coffee maker involves a lengthy brewing time of 12-24 hours, resulting in a coffee concentrate that is usually diluted. The French press, conversely, has a brewing time of only 4-5 minutes, resulting in a hot, full-bodied, and robust flavor coffee. The taste varies as well. While cold brew coffee is known for its smooth, low acidity profile, the French press provides a rich, complex, and robust flavor profile.

In conclusion, both brewing methods have their unique characteristics, with different ways of bringing out the best in your coffee beans. It’s a matter of personal preferences, whether you prefer a hot, bold cup of coffee from a French press or a smooth, refreshing cold brew.


Flavor and Acidity Differences

While both the cold brew coffee maker and the French press are capable of creating delicious coffee, the flavor and acidity differences between these two methods are significant. Let’s explore these differences, considering cold vs hot brewed coffee, flavor profiles, and acidity levels and health benefits.

Cold vs Hot Brewed Coffee

Cold Brewed Coffee Hot Brewed Coffee (French Press)
Brewing Time 12-24 hours 4-5 minutes
Water Temperature Room temperature or cold water Hot water (195-205 degrees Fahrenheit)
Coffee-to-Water Ratio Higher ratio (more coffee to water) Balanced ratio (equal parts coffee to water)
Flavor Profile Smooth, less acidic, and slightly sweet Full-bodied, robust, and more complex
Best Enjoyed Chilled, over ice Hot, right after brewing

French Press and Cold Brew Flavor Profiles

The French press and cold brew methods produce distinctly different flavor profiles. Cold brew coffee typically has a smooth, mellow, and slightly sweet taste due to its cold brewing process. This method results in a brew that many find less bitter and more forgiving of the coffee beans used. On the other hand, the French press method yields a full-bodied, rich, and bold coffee. The hot water used in this method extracts more flavors and oils from the coffee grounds, resulting in a more complex and layered coffee.

Acidity Levels and Health Benefits

The difference in acidity levels between these two brewing methods is quite significant. Cold brew coffee is known for its lower acidity level, which is beneficial for people with acid reflux or other digestive issues. It also tends to be smoother and less bitter than hot-brewed coffee. Meanwhile, the French press method, due to its hot water extraction, produces a brew with higher acidity. This acidity can contribute to a bright, vibrant cup of coffee and bring out flavor nuances in the coffee beans. However, it’s important to note that these acidity levels can impact people differently, and personal preferences or health needs should guide your choice.


Ease of Use and Personal Taste Preferences

When it comes to brewing coffee at home, the ease of use and ability to customize your brew to your personal taste preferences are key considerations. Both the cold brew coffee maker and the French press have their unique advantages in these aspects. Let’s take a closer look.

Choosing the Right Method

For those who enjoy planning ahead and savor the anticipation of a long brew, a cold brew coffee maker is an excellent choice. The cold brew method requires patience, as the coffee needs to steep for 12-24 hours. However, the result is a rich, smooth, and less acidic coffee concentrate that can be enjoyed over several days. It’s an ideal choice for hot summer days or if you prefer iced coffee.

On the other hand, if you love the ritual of making coffee and want to enjoy a freshly brewed cup in minutes, the French press is a better choice. The French press method requires more immediate attention and a bit of hands-on work, but it delivers a hot, robust, and flavorful coffee in just 4-5 minutes. It’s a fantastic option for those who appreciate the rich and complex flavors that hot water extraction can provide.

Customizing Your Coffee

Both methods offer opportunities for customization. With a cold brew coffee maker, you can adjust the coffee-to-water ratio, brew time, and type of coffee grounds to experiment with flavor and strength. The resulting cold brew concentrate can also be served in different ways: straight for a strong cup, or diluted with milk or water to taste. Add some ice cubes, and you have a refreshing drink for hot days.

The French press also offers flexibility. The size of the coffee grounds, brewing time, and coffee-to-water ratio can all be modified to produce different flavor profiles. There’s also the option of using your French press for brewing loose leaf tea, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen.

In the end, choosing between a cold brew coffee maker and a French press often comes down to personal preferences, your lifestyle, and the flavors you appreciate most in a cup of coffee.



Choosing between a cold brew coffee maker and a French press can be a delightful dilemma for coffee enthusiasts. Each brewing method offers unique advantages and yields distinct flavor profiles. Whether you prefer the smooth, cool refreshment of a cold brew or the hot, robust complexity of a French press brew, both methods cater to your love for great coffee.

Ultimately, the choice between a cold brew coffee maker vs a French press comes down to your personal taste preferences, lifestyle, and coffee-brewing rituals. Perhaps you may find having both in your kitchen offers you the best of both worlds: a refreshing cold brew for those hot summer days and a hot, aromatic French press coffee for a comforting morning ritual.

No matter which method you choose, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and your coffee. So go ahead, experiment, taste, and savor the moment. Happy brewing!


Related Posts: