DIY French Press Cacao Nib Cold Brew (Hey Summer, You’re Welcome)

I want to punch hot days in the face, so let me focus on the positive and sip some cucumber water while I prepare a new batch of cold brew (and fantasize a little less on relocating to Iceland). Repeat after me: Deep breaths. Sunglasses. Shaded Patios.Deep breaths. Sunglasses. Shaded Patios. Deep breaths. Sunglasses. Shaded Patios. Cacao nib cold brew.

Cold brew has become one of the savings graces of warmer days in my life, and it’s ridiculously easy to make at home. You’re essentially extracting the coffee into more of a concentrate (which is why you’ll typically see cold brew priced higher than a cup of coffee). The method I use comes from Cook’s illustrated’s Dan Souza, and is available on the website of America’s Test Kitchen. As if you could have any doubts now.  I’ve combined a couple of steps (or maybe, I just can’t count), based on how I’ve been making at home the past two summers, and throw in the addition of rich cacao nibs, ripped off from my dear from Tom (who rules!)

Get ready.

DIY Cacao Nib Cold Brew, credited to Dan Souza

Step 1: Get your French Press, coffee and cacao nibs ready. Dan recommends a medium roast for the best flavor. I’m currently using the 34 ounce (just over 4 cups’ worth) Upphetta press from IKEA (well, until it breaks).

My not-so-secret about cold brew is that I will use nearly any beans floating around. I like to think of it as roasters playing nice.

Step 2: Why, it’s time to grind. Take very, very slightly less beans than you’d normally use for your French Press, as per the directions, plus 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs, grind, and add to your coffeemaker.

Note: Use common sense – if your French Press is twice the size of mine, you may want to double the nibs, etc. If you can’t find cacao nibs, just make cold brew! The cacao nibs add a nice, very sligh,t cocoa-noted depth to the finished product (my coffee snob alert is in full effect now).

Break out the french press.

Step 3: Simply add the typical amount of water for your French Press, and let the mix sit for 10 whole minutes.

10 minutes later.

Step 4: After 10 minutes, as per Dan, stir it just once. Have I thanked Dan yet? Thanks, man!


It should look like this by now.

More patience. And cacti.

Step 5: Cover your press with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 24+ hours. As per Dan’s advice, and as so many of my coffee-obsessed Portland friends will tell you, 24 hours really is totally fine. And maybe I’m missing something, but I haven’t detected any eyerolls.

24 hours later.

You’re doing it!

Time to press.

Step 6: You’re so almost there! Just strain your concoction – I simply use the actual French Press, but you could do a second strain with a coffee filter over something sturdy – but if you own a French Press like me, there’s a great chance you don’t  have coffee filters around. Makes sense.


I guess summer isn’t that horrible.

Jess in the present is now thanking Jess from the past.

Step 7: Dilute! Drink!

Personally, I keep the concentrate as-is in a jar in the fridge until I want a glass. Dan recommends a 1:1 ratio of concentrate to water. Now, I quite enjoy coconut creamer and often skip the water altogether, depending on how dark the particular roast I’m using is.

Dark agave is my sweetener of choice here, though I’ve yet to try Dan’s suggestion of a pinch of kosher salt. I’m down.

Repeat, repeat.

Do keep this in mind: Cold brew also goes fantastically into chilled cocktails, cake batters, chocolate truffles and frosting, etc.

And coconut creamer + vanilla + cold brew (which replaces the coffee liqueur) is that much closer to a non-alcoholic White Russian, anyhow. 

If you’re looking for some stellar, locally roasted coffee from the Portland area, I recommend Coava, Happy CupHeart, Water Ave., and of course, Stumptown. When on a tighter budget, I opt for Trader Joe’s Fair Trader-certified coffees (though I think it’s disappointing for such a powerful company, they aren’t exclusively fair or direct trade, but I digress). 



  1. Ooohhh this sounsds awesome. I didn’t realize exactly HOW concentrated cold press is. No wonder it makes me feel insane. How do you think cacao powder would work, or unground nibs? I don’t have a grinder but I WANT DIS.

    1. Ooo, I’ve give it a go with actual nibs (and get a coffee grinder !!!!!!!) vs. cocoa powder.
      For whatever reason (the crappy cold press?) my cold brew is SLIGHTLY less alteting vs. those I get around town !

  2. Ok I’m going to be dumb…you use cold water, right? It’s called cold-press for that reason? My cocoa nibs have been waiting for this!

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