How to Make Amazing Cold Brew Iced Coffee with a French Press and an Ice Cube Tray

A Mason jar full of milky iced coffee against a burgundy background.

My love of cold brew iced coffee is comparable to say, my love of listening to Nick Drake while walking around at dusk: that is to say, immense, deep, and neverending. I like to drink it black and unsweetened, although I’ve never turned down an iced coffee that’s had a drop or two of cream added. As a freelance writer in the summertime I go through an embarrassing amount of iced coffee and when I add it all up it seems crazy that I’m not making my own. I started making cold brew iced coffee in my French press instead and I have to say, I think it’s even better than what my local coffee shop is selling. What makes it so delicious? The ice cubes! I make two batches of coffee, one hot and one cold brew, and then fill ice cube trays up with the hot coffee for the following day. No watery iced coffee endings anymore, the entire experience is as loaded with caffeine as it could possibly be. Cold brew iced coffee needs at least 12 hours to sit so I’ve been making everything the night before – waking up has never been this hopped up and amazing!

for the coffee ice cubes:

Make coffee as you normally would using a French press and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze for future use in iced coffee. If the coffee on coffee component makes you leery and you enjoy milky coffee these cubes can be piled high in a glass and topped with the milk of your choice (this works really well for iced coffee on the go).

for the cold brew iced coffee:

The trick with cold brew coffee is to grind the beans coarsely, the flavour will be fabulous and you won’t have to worry about grounds floating around after you lower the press. Use about 3 times more coffee than you normally would, this will leave you with strong coffee that can be diluted with water or dairy. Cover the coffee grinds with filtered cold water, stir gently, and cover with plastic wrap before transferring to the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours. Since the coffee is being extracted in cold water the finished product won’t have strong acidity and bitter notes but it will have plenty of caffeine. Plunge the coffee as usual and pour over the coffee ice cubes, leaving room to dilute with with water or the dairy/non-dairy of your choice.

*If you like to sweeten your cold brew coffee it’s a good idea to keep some simple syrup made with either sugar or honey hanging around. Simple syrup will sweeten your coffee uniformly and will taste much better than regular cold brew with sugar sitting undissolved at the bottom of your glass.

A Mason jar filled with iced coffee and coffee ice cubes sitting on the book Alligator Pie by Dennis Leery.

Oh weird, yet ANOTHER 4AD artist I’m obsessed with (add it to the list: Belly, Tanya Donelly, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Grimes, Blonde Redhead, Lush, Camera Obscura, Ultra Vivid Scene, Deerhunter – it’s like someone made a record label just for me).

Daughter – Numbers

The Elysian Room on Fifth Avenue

Photo taken by Ian Linkletter

I like to think of the Elysian Room on Fifth Avenue as a haven for introverts for several reasons; the overall tone of the small coffee shop is intimate, the staff don’t ask you questions you know they’ve asked the last fifteen customers (in fact, if you enjoy overly chatty baristas I would give this place a miss – I happen to appreciate sincerity so I like the real conversations that come into natural fruition over the course of several visits), the menu is very small, and the attention to fine detail is obvious.

Photo taken by Ian Linkletter

The first time I went to the Elysian Room it was merely circumstantial: Ian and I had moved to Vancouver a week earlier, it was a Friday night and we had just been to Kits Beach to watch the dogs at the dog park. I suggested we get coffee and Ian found the closest coffee shop to our apartment (and by close I mean half a block, a blessing and a curse once I started to find all other coffee lacklustre.) Once we’re in the shop I order my coffee and Ian gets excited about the Elysian Room’s Clover coffee machine – here is an instructional video on the whole process and why it’s special. He explained to me how Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had bought the entire Clover manufacturing company so Starbucks would have a monopoly over this type of coffee brewing (although I can’t say I’ve ever had to wait any longer than 10 seconds for a black coffee at Starbucks, the Clover method takes a couple of minutes per cup.)

I can assure you that the few minutes of waiting is entirely worth it, every single cup of coffee I have drank over the past year has been amazing. I mean that literally without any hint of hyperbole, the Elysian Room serves the best coffee that I’ve ever had the good fortune to come across. Suddenly coffee doesn’t taste like opaque coffee, the flavours begin to come through individually and I can definitely tell the difference between the blends that they’re currently selling. I have always loved dark roast coffee above all others, that is until I tried the always medium roast blends being offered here; the coffee I pick has that burnt taste but it’s always more delicate, a golden caramel burnt flavour instead of acrid burnt.

And the other beverages? Although those types of drinks have never been my cup of tea I have tried their mochas and lattes several times, all delicious to me because they weren’t ever sweet. Even their hot chocolates tastes more of cocoa than of the hockey rink hot chocolate that many coffee shops sell, although I would be less inclined to drink the hot chocolate at the Elysian Room with a self-made red Twizzlers straw than I would be watching my sister play hockey 13 years ago. To stay true to the theme of my blog I can happily attest that I have spent many coffee outings listening to Boards of Canada, Cat Power, and The Clientele to name but a few bands that I listen to on heavy rotation at home (and when I don’t recognize the music it’s almost always very lovely.) In short, the outstanding coffee, quiet ambiance, and attention to detail – I also love their dish sets, a combination of Pyrex flasks and streamlined 1960s infleunced coffee cups and saucers – make this my favourite coffee shop in Vancouver and so far, my entire life.

The Clientele – House on Fire

The Elysian Room on Fifth Avenue is located at 1778 W. 5th Ave. and on the web at: