We love the French Press and after scouring the internet, we found there’s still a place for the BEST How-To Guide for the French Press.
Mornings are tough, and even we succumb to drip coffee once in a while, but if you’ve never tried French press brewing, it’s time to take the plunge — literally.
Without gushing like a fangirl, French Press is the king of coffee. It doesn’t matter if you like it a hundred different ways, French press brew is the reference point from which all coffee is judged, and it’s perhaps the only way to enjoy a genuinely custom cup.
For anyone who’s intimidated by any coffee maker other than an automatic drip machine, you’ll appreciate that brewing with a French press takes no more hands-on time than loading your Mr. Coffee. It takes a few minutes to boil the water, but once you get the hang of how long it takes, you can use those extra minutes for something else — there’s no wasted time.
Before you take another sip of sub-par brew — here’s how to make a foolproof cup.
Check out our Handy Infographic
Our detailed steps are below:
Step 1: Clean
While the water’s heating, make sure your press is clean. Just a few old grinds and residual oils from yesterday’s brew can make today’s cup taste bitter. Tap any remaining grounds out in the trash or save them for your compost bin and wash the plunger and carafe with hot soapy water or a dab of baking soda. Rinse it thoroughly to remove any soap residue. The warm wash water even serves as preheating of sorts for the carafe and makes the whole experience more pleasurable.
Step 2: Measure
Using your kitchen scale, measure about 45 grams worth of freshly grounded coffee beans for your 1 liter French Press. Double check your French Press’s capacity. If your press is an unconventional size, just keep the ratio the same (Approximately 11 grams per 4 ozs of water) — it still works.
If you’re tempted to skip the scale in favor of a tablespoon — please don’t. Coffee beans are beautiful, but they’re irregular in size, and when they’re in a spoon or measuring cup, they don’t lay flat. For fun, weight a half cup of beans from a dozen different bags — you’ll be stunned at the difference in weight.
Brewing with a French Press is the easiest way to get a cup of coffee that’s perfect for you, but it’s essential to start off on the right foot. As the old saying goes, you only where you’re going if you know where you’ve been. By having a clear point of reference, you can adjust the number of beans you use until you achieve the brew of your dreams.
Step 3: Grind
Pre-ground coffee can be surprisingly good, but freshly ground beans are unmatched for flavor. If you prefer to use pre-ground, that’s your call. A French Press will make the most of any coffee you put in it, but once you try grinding beans just before brewing, you’ll never look back. The aroma alone is worth the effort.
If you don’t have a grinder yet, choose a good quality hand grinder over an electric model. For the best French press coffee, the consistency of the grind counts, and manual grinders do a better job unless you can afford a better electric burr grinder.
For a French press, a coarse grind is best. Too fine a grind will create muddy sediment in your cup that’s not particularly appealing. When your grounds are ready, pour them into the press and give it a light tap to even them out over the bottom.
Step 4: Add Boiling Water
A water temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for brewing coffee, and once you’ve got the hang of French press brewing, it’s interesting to experiment with temperatures in that range to see how it affects the taste. For today, using boiling water is fine. To keep your ratio perfect, gently pour the water into the carafe exactly to the full mark.
Step 5: Wait Patiently
Once the smell of fresh coffee rises from your press, it will be hard not to plunge it immediately, but it needs to steep for optimal flavor extraction. For light roast, a three to five minute steep is perfect. Dark roast benefits from five. Set a kitchen timer, so the flavor doesn’t overdevelop. If it sits too long, it could be bitter.
Step 6: Plunge and Serve
You did it! It’s time to plunge and enjoy. Go lightly — keep the pressure even as you go and serve it immediately for best flavor. Transfer any leftovers to a separate container — perhaps a thermos or carafe. If it stays in the press, it keeps brewing.
Step 7: Rinse Again
Grounds are easier to remove from both the carafe and plunger when they’re damp. If you don’t have a compost bin, put them in the trash. They tend to clog disposals.
Give your carafe and plunger a thorough washing inside and out and let it air dry. Now you know how to use a French press, and you’ll be ready to practice again tomorrow.
The beauty of brewing with a French press is that once you have the method down, it’s a breeze to adjust the strength of your coffee, as little as a bean at a time if you want to. Because it’s so simple, you’ll quickly learn how variations affect the taste, and ultimately, that’s the first step to a perfect cup every time.
Here are a few well-reviewed French Presses on Amazon to Consider:
Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
Cafe Du Chateau – French Press Coffee Maker
Large French Press Coffee Maker – Vacuum Insulated Stainless