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One day, Austin walked by my cube and told me that I had some pretty cool food related gadgets. All I had were a salad oil dispenser, a cool looking jar of tea leaves, and a french press. You’d be amazed at the number of people who have never heard of nor seen a french press (you Aussies and Kiwis know them as ‘coffee plungers’). It’s just a dandy apparatus that lets you make coffee on the fly. So, to all you office folk out there- instead of spending ~$1.50 on a cup of coffee each day, spend $20-40 and invest in a quality french press. I promise it’ll make crappy coffee taste good too.

This is what a french press looks like…

What is a french press? Why use one?

A french press is a pitcher-like apparatus that has this plunger with mesh on the bottom. It basically allows you to brew coffee with a pot of boiling water and ground coffee. Because the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the water, the resulting coffee captures more of the coffee flavor and essential oils. You can also adjust the strength of the coffee by adjust the amount of coffee grinds that you use.

What type of ground coffee do I need?

A french press requires a coarser grind of coffee than your traditional drip brew coffee filter. It’s typically the first setting on a grinder. A course grind will help prevent the “sludge” that builds up upon brewing.

How long should I brew?

For coarse grinds, typically 5-6 minutes and for more fine grinds, 2-3 minutes. Just remember, the finer the grind, the faster the brewing time. You don’t want to over brew or else the coffee will become “spoiled.” In this case, you’ll over extract the coffee and it’ll turn bitter. However, some people actually like this. The coffee is best within 10 minutes of brewing.

What are the advantages of a french press?

A french press just makes a better quality cup of coffee. It’s also cheap considering all you need is boiling water and you don’t have to worry about buying filters. If you work in an office that has those Poland Spring water dispensers with both the red and the blue nozzles, you can make coffee within minutes. Just be sure to use the red nozzle for the hot water.

What are the drawbacks to a french press?

Most brews leave this trail of sediment in the last few sips. It’s sorta like the way sand sticks to the bottom of a bucket even after you empty out the water. When it builds up, it turns sludgy. Yuck.

Still, quality of french pressed coffee > experience of sludge.


You must be wondering, “Why is she telling me all this?” Because this is how you should make your coffee ice cream. With a french press! Let me tell you, it’s the most intense coffee ice cream ever.

For those of you who don’t have a press, another option is to boil the grinds in a saucepan and then strain out the ground beans. That’s a bit of a hassle though.

ice cream quad
How did this recipe come about? I wanted to experiment around because most recipes out there are way too sweet and not intense enough for me flavor wise. Many also require you to brew the coffee and milk mixture for at least an hour. I wanted something that’d shock me with a flavor adrenaline, sort of like Starbuck’s Colombian Coffee Ice Cream, while taking the same amount of time to make the custard base as other ice creams. Since many recipes call for shots of espresso or instant coffee, I figured- If I rely on a french press to make a good cup of joe in the morning, why shouldn’t I rely on it for a good quart of coffee ice cream?

intense coffee ice cream

So, I took out my favorite ice cream book- The Perfect Scoop– and started adapted the recipe. I tossed out a yolk, cut down on the sugar, and added some things here and there. Pretty soon, it didn’t even really look like the original recipe.

The ice cream turned out perfectly. Its flavor was really concentrated in coffee and not sweet at all. I think what really contributes to the intensity is none other than… COCOA POWDER! Chocolate and coffee just complement each other so well.  The greatest part about this recipe is how it totally cuts down the brewing time to just a few minutes.

It also made for some great scooping as it’s creamy and soft, even after letting it sit in the freezer for a couple of days.


So at 8:00am, I did the photoshoot (for the photos that you see in this post) and by 8:20am, I was sitting at the dining room table, making an affogado for myself (ice cream in hot coffee). I mean, someone’s gotta eat the ice cream in the photographs, right??

French Pressed Coffee Ice Cream
Inspired by David Lebovitz


  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 scoop of finely ground coffee (2 tablespoons)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, divided in half
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder


(Makes 1 quart)

In a saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt, and half of the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Leave it to simmer. On the side, prepare your french press by scooping in 2 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee beans. Once the mixture on the stove begins to simmer, pour it into the french press. Let it brew for a good 5-6 minutes.

For those of you that don’t have a french press, you can do this all in the saucepan. So place the ground coffee in with the milk-cream mixture and let it steep until the mixture is warm and just begins to bubble. Then, strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into another bowl. Strain again into the same saucepan. Discard the grinds.

After the steepage, return the freshly brewed coffee-milk-cream mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a separate large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Once the coffee mixture becomes hot, temper the yolks by slowly pouring the mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Return the egg-coffee mixture to the saucepan over medium high heat.

Cook the mixture, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. At this time, add in the vanilla extract and the cocoa powder. Make sure the cocoa powder is fine or else it will clump up. You can also add the cocoa powder before you strain it into the cold cream to make sure it dissolves.

Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.