The French Press is one of the most affordable and straightforward methods to brew coffee at home. The traditional way to make coffee with the French Press is incredibly simple. It involves just four steps: add coffee grounds and hot water, wait for 4 minutes, press down the plunger, and enjoy!
However, many coffee lovers struggle to get a perfect cup of coffee with French press. There’s nothing wrong with this coffee maker that has been around for over 100 years. With the right technique, it can yield a delicious cup of coffee. Let’s explore how!
What You Need to Make A French Press Coffee?
Essential tools for making French Press Coffee
- Hot water
- French Press coffee maker
Better with these for optimal result
- Burr coffee grinder
- Timer (or use a cellphone instead)
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 for French Press coffee is 1:15. In other words, you add 1 gram of coffee and 15 grams of water. Some might prefer a stronger brew and opt for a 1:12 ratio, while others might want a milder taste and go for a 1:17 ratio. It won’t go wrong within this range. It’s essential to experiment and find the ratio that suits your palate best.
We created a French press coffee ratio calculator for you, so you don’t need to calculate it yourself.
Here is how much coffee you should use
Coffee Scoop: 0.0
We tested, 1 tablespoon is approximately 2 grams of coffee.
1 coffee scoop is approximately 10 grams of coffee, but that may not be accurate depending on the coffee scoop you use. For the best result, a coffee scale is your best friend.
According to NCA’s brewing guide , 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 °F, so usually, the hot water is ready after grinding the beans.
We often adjust the water temperature depending on the roast level:
- Light roast: 92~95 °C (197.6~203°F)
- Medium Roast: 88 ~92 °C (190.4~197.6°F)
- Dark Roast: 85 to 88 °C (185~190.4°F)
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.
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.
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. Here we shared the coffee buying guide and listed our favorite coffee for French press.
Do You Need A Scale?
Once you’ve found your preferred French press brewing ratio, consistency is key. Using a kitchen scale can help ensure you’re getting the exact amount of coffee and water every time, leading to a consistent brew with each cup. It’s also easier to make an adjustment based on the previous ratio. If you don’t have a scale, I explained how many scoops of coffee per cup so you have an idea.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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.
Other FAQ about French Press
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.
It’s a very convenient way to make coffee at home. And the price for a French Press is very affordable.
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.
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.
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.
Other Manual Brewing Methods: