How To Make The Best French Press Coffee – Instructions, Ratio And Tips

The French Press is one of the most affordable and easiest ways to make coffee at home. The most common and classical way to make coffee with the French Press is super simple. It takes 4 steps, add coffee ground and hot water, wait for 4 minutes, press down the plunger and enjoy! However, many people fail to get a great cup of coffee comparing with other brewing methods.

There’s nothing wrong with this classical coffee maker existing for more than 100 years. It can produce great tasting coffee with the proper technique. Let’s find it out!

What You Need to Make A French Press Coffee? 

Essential tools for making French Press Coffee

  • Hot water
  • Coffee
  • French Press coffee maker

Better with these for optimal result

a french press

Things You Need To Know Before You Make French Press Coffee

French Press Coffee Ratio

How much coffee should you use for French Press? Generally, the coffee to water ratio is 1:15. In other words, you add 1 gram of coffee and 15 grams of water. It won’t go wrong between this range. If it tastes too strong, adjust the coffee to water ratio to 1:17. You can change the balance that tastes best for you.

Water Temperature

According to NCA’s brewing guide [1], the perfect temperature for brewing coffee is 195-205 degrees F (Or 90-95 degrees C).

You can boil the water and let it sit for 1-minute if you don’t have a thermometer at home. It’s approximately 205 degrees F, so usually, the hot water is ready after grinding the beans.

Ground coarseness

Just use the medium to medium-coarse grind size you use to pour over or filter coffee. It’s as big as the regular sand or coarser salt. No clues? Check out the coffee grind size here.

When it comes to French Press, people often recommend medium-coarse or even coarser. So it can reduce the sediment in the cup, but coarse grind also causes a few problems.

1. It isn’t easy to extra the coffee properly and ends up with an under-extracted and thin flavor.

2. It’s difficult to get even size grounds if you use the coarse setting for many grinders. Uniform particle size is important when making French Press coffee because the coffee grounds are steeped with the water for a long time. The small particles will get over-extracted and get bitter, while the large ones will be under-extracted. You will have an inconsistent taste.

Normally a good burr coffee grinder can get relatively uniform grounds for medium fineness, while a blade grinder produces inconsistently ground coffee for the press.

level the coffee in French Press

You can adjust the grind setting after a couple of times. If it tastes too bitter and too strong, try a little bit finer. If the coffee is too watery and week, then it might be too coarse.

Brewing Time:

Instead of the 4 minutes in the classical brewing method, it takes about 10 minutes using this technique. So it requires more patience.

What Is The Best Coffee For French Press?

First thing first, freshly ground coffee. It’s always great to grind the whole bean right before brewing French press is suitable for medium or dark roast coffee.

Do You Need A Scale?

Better with a scale to make things easier. Each time you brew coffee, you can measure the ratio of coffee and water, so you can consistently get high quality coffee or easily make an adjustment based on the previous ratio.

How to Use A French Press – A Step by Step Guide

Now you know everything you need. In this guide, I’ll use 20 grams of coffee, using Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee Maker. Any other French Press makers work similarly.

The coffee to water ratio: 1:15, 20 grams of coffee (1 cup), 300 grams of water

Filtered Water: 195-205 degrees F

Ground size: Medium

Brew time: About 10 minutes

9 Steps to Make Coffee Using A French Press

Time Needed: 10 minutes.

Here is the step by step guide to make great coffee with French Press.

  1. Preheat French Press

    Warm up the French Press by adding the hot water. It’s good to warm up the carafe and the French Press coffee maker to maintain a more stable brewing temperature. (Except for cold brew).
    About 30 seconds later or before you start brewing, discard the water.
    preheat the french press

  2. Weigh the coffee bean

    While you are preheating the press pot, weigh the fresh coffee beans on a scale. In this guide, we will consider 20 grams of coffee grounds to make 300 grams of coffee.
    weigh 20g of coffee for fp

  3. Grind the coffee beans

    Put the coffee beans in your grinder, use the medium grind settings. Pour the coffee grounds into the beaker of the French Press.
    baratza encore 20 grind setting

  4. Bloom the coffee and stir it

    Add about 1/3 of the total amount of water to the coffee grounds, as long as it’s enough to soak the grounds at the bottom. Then use the spoon to stir it gently. Let the carbon dioxide release and more evenly mix the coffee and water.
    And start the timer.
    stir and bloom

  5. Add the rest of the water and wait for 4 minutes

    Add the rest of the water until you hit the total amount (300 grams), give it another gentle stir.  
    add the rest water to french press pot

    Now you can put the lid on to trap the heat but don’t press the plunger down. Just let the French Press sit for 4 minutes quietly. Wait and be patient.

  6. Stir the crust on top

    After 4 minutes, use a spoon to stir the curst on top lightly. After string, you’ll see them falling to the bottom. Then scoop off the white foam and floating crusts on the top of the coffee.
    skim the curst on top

  7. Let the coffee brew for another 6 – 8 minutes

    During this time, the other floating bits will gradually fall down to the bottom of the glass pot. Let the ground settle down at the bottom of the French Press. After 6 minutes, your coffee is almost ready.

    Once they’re at the bottom of the French Press, the extraction rate slows down, so this doesn’t over-extracted as quickly as you might think.
    particles-falling

  8. Don’t press the plunger

    You can press the plunger down a little bit gently, but don’t push it all the way down. You don’t want to agitate the grounds settling down at the bottom. Just put it on the surface of the coffee, use it as a strainer. It can filter the bigger pieces when you pour out the coffee.

    gently pour the coffee to a mug

  9. Gently pour the coffee into the cup or carafe

    Don’t pour the coffee too quickly, you will disturb the grounds at the bottom and let the sediment will get into your cup. Just pour it gently and slowly into your cup. If you make more than 1 cup, gently decant it to a carafe. Enjoy the great coffee made by French Press.  
    coffee in a mug

Now you know how to use a French Press following this step by step guide. It sounds wired, no pressing for the French Press coffee. However, using this method, you won’t get a cup of sludgy coffee. It takes longer but it is worth the waiting. Since this is probably the best taste you ever have from a French Press. That’s one of the fun things about coffee brewing, there is always more than one way to make coffee. Just try different ways to make French Press coffee that’s best for you.

General Mistakes To Avoid

No matter what technique you like to use a French Press, you should avoid a few mistakes.

1. The coffee grounds are too coarse

Medium grind setting is just suitable for French Press, or you can go a little bit coarser than the fineness that you use for pour-over or drip coffee.

You don’t have to grind coarse for French Press. You’ll have thin and under-extracted coffee if the grounds are too coarse. The bigger the particles are, the harder to extract the coffee. On the contrary, the coffee will taste bitter, and it’s challenging to get a cleaner coffee if the grounds are too fine.

2. Press the plunger down too aggressively.

Although it’s unnecessary to press the filter following the guides above, if you follow the traditional way, you need to press the plunger after 4 minutes. Too many people just push it all the way down too quickly, which will disturb the grounds and let the sediment into the coffee.  

3. Pour out the coffee too quickly

I understand that you just can’t wait to take a sip of the coffee, but don’t pour out the coffee too quickly. Instead, pour them out slowly and gently to avoid agitating the coffee ground at the bottom.

4. Pour every drop into the cup

The last 10% coffee in the beaker is usually very silty since there are inevitably some fines during the grinding. Just don’t pour all the coffee from the French Press into the cup.

last 10% of coffee

Other FAQ about French Press

How Does A French Press Work?

Using a French Press is one kind of immersion brewing method. Normally you just need to add the coffee and water, wait for a few minutes, press the plunger down, then you can enjoy the coffee.

The French Press is a very straightforward coffee maker. The main part is the beaker. A base and handle prevent you from burning yourself by the hot surface after adding the hot water. Usually, they are made out of stainless steel or plastic. And a plunger, which connects the lid and the filter. Some filters have a few layers to block the sediments.

french press filter
It’s a very convenient way to make coffee at home. And the price for a French Press is very affordable.

How To Choose The Right French Press

Unlike choosing a burr grinder or an espresso maker, it’s much easier to select a French Press. It’s one of the cheapest coffee makers. You usually just need to figure out the capacity and choose the materials and look that you preferred.

Up to 4 cups: 12 oz – 17 oz (350ml – 500ml)
5-8 cups: 24 oz – 34 oz (700ml-1000ml)
9 cups or more: 51 oz (1000ml)

The beaker is normally made of glass, and the base and handle can be stainless steel and plastic. When it comes to the filter, some French Press coffee makers have 4 filter screens or even more. And you also need to consider if it is dishwasher safe.

Of course, higher-quality French Press lasts longer than the cheapest one.

How Long To Steep French Press?

The standard brew time is about 4 minutes. But normally, it’s not enough for most people, especially when you use a coarser grind. The steeping time is closely relevant to the ground coffee size. 6-10 minutes will be just great if you use the medium or medium-coarse.

Using the technique mentioned above, it can take 10 minutes or more. When to decant your coffee depends on how much sediment you want in your final cup. The longer you wait before decanting, the less sediment you’ll have in your final cup. It’s not going to be over-extracted in a few more minutes since when the coffee grounds are at the bottom, the extract rate will slow down a lot. But you don’t want to leave the coffee with the grounds for more than an hour.

How To Clean The French Press?

After drinking the great coffee from a French Press, what’s the fastest way to clean it? If you have a sieve in your kitchen, add some water to the French Press, pour the water out with the leftover grounds to the sieve, let it dry and dump the grounds in your garbage bin. Add some water with a little bit of dish soap, move the plunger up and down a few times to clean out the coffee oil. Then wash it out, and your French Press will be ready for brewing another great cup of coffee.

Reference:

[1] https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee

Other Manual Brewing Methods: