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How to Use a French Press

By Robert Parsons October 2, 2020

It may come as a surprise, but French Pressed Coffee isn’t actually French! 

In fact, the French Press was first patented over 80 years ago in Italy and its classic composition has held strong through to this very day – a true testament to its solid design.

Within this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to use a French Press to make quality, rich and delicious coffee every single time.

Why Coffee Lovers Choose French Press

French Press is loved by coffee-drinkers for more than its ability to produce lovely, classic flavors. In fact, it’s widely used due to the fact that it doesn’t require fancy (and expensive) equipment, paper filters or any electricity for brewing. At minimum, all you need to brew french press beverages is ground coffee beans, hot water, and a French Press.

Of course, using a french press with a few additional tools, like a burr grinder, can really increase your overall beverage quality. Once the whole coffee beans are ground, the oxidation process begins and they start to lose flavor. That’s why grinding your own beans, as opposed to buying pre-ground versions, is the best option if your goal is real quality.

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How Does a French Press Actually Work?

If you’re wondering “how does a french press work?”, you’re not alone. At first sight, it’s not really obvious.

Basically, coffee grounds and hot water are steeped within the beaker component of a French Press. Then, using the plunger, a metal filter gets pressed to the beaker’s bottom, which effectively separates the ground beans from the liquid that’ll eventually fill your morning mug. What’s great about the filter is that it lets natural coffee bean oils and fine particles pass through to the liquid, which gives your beverage a thick body.

What You’ll Need

As you’re learning how to use a french press coffee maker, you’ll be delighted to know that you’ll only need a few items. Some are required and others are optional. We’ve listed these for you below:

Minimum Required

  • – Coffee
  • – Hot Water
  • – Thermometer
  • – French Press
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Optional (but recommended)

  • – Burr Grinder
  • – Timer
  • – Scale

 

The French Press Ratio 

As with any brew type, a certain proportion of coffee to water must be followed for the ideal, high-quality cup. The french press coffee ratio you’ll need will depend on how strong you like your morning cups. 

The strong recipes are ideal for adding sugar, milk or other condiments. The mild recipes, on the other hand, are better for allowing finer flavors to shine through when drinking it black. 

When you’re determining how much coffee to use for french press deliciousness, you can use the information below as a reference for your ratios. Keep in mind, these measurements are for producing 3 cups (12oz).

Mild

Coffee – 3 Tbsp

Water – 10oz

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Medium

Coffee – 4 Tbsp

Water –  10oz

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Strong

Coffee – 5 Tbsp

Water 10oz

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Step-by-Step Instructions:

Alas, we’ve come to the best part. The steps below will teach you how to french press coffee. We’re ready if you’re ready – so let’s begin!

Step 1: Heat Water

In your journey of learning how to make french press coffee, always remember this – heating the water will take the most time. This is why you’ll want to do this part first. 

The optimal water temperature for brewing for french press is 195 to 205°F. However, if you don’t have a thermometer to measure the temperature, you can let the water come to a full boil. 

Step 2: Measure and Grind

Next, you’ll want to measure your coffee. Remember, the amount you need depends on how strong you want the outcome to be. For best results, measure your coffee with scale and grind your beans at a coarse setting right before you intend to brew.

Step 3: Preheat French Press (Optional)

Although there’s not a whole lot of evidence that this impacts the way your coffee tastes, it’s frequently recommended to “warm up” your french press before using it.

Once your water is heated, simply pour it into the beaker about ¼ of the way, place the lid, and press the plunger all the way to the bottom. For a few seconds, swirl the water around within so that any old coffee particles come loose. 

Then, take off the top and pour out the water.

If ever you become the teacher and are demonstrating how to french press, be sure to share with your student that this step is optional, but recommended for making french-pressed coffee.

Step 4: Combine Hot Water and Ground Coffee

At this point, you can grab your scale, timer and a stirring spoon.

Simply pour your ground beans into your beaker and gently shake to even out the grounds. 

On the scale, place your beaker and pour in the hot water until the scale reaches your desired number according to the french press coffee ratio you’ve decided on.

Step 5: Stir and Steep

For a few seconds, stir the water and coffee to make sure all the grounds are wet.

Place your beaker top and make sure your plunger is pulled all the way up. Set your timer for 3 minutes and 30 seconds and leave your coffee to steep.

Step 6: Handle the Crust

Once the steeping is done, you’ll notice a layer of coffee grounds on the surface that form a type of crust. Depending on how you handle this crust-like layer, your final texture and taste outcome will change.

For a result that’s full-bodied, break up the crust gently using a spoon and stir it for a couple seconds. If you’re aiming for a lighter bodied coffee, scoop the crust out and throw it away.

Step 7: Add Top Back Onto the Beaker

When you’re practicing and learning how to make coffee in a french press, you’ll come to love how satisfying this step is to do.

Add your top back onto the beaker. Then, gently, press your plunger until it touches the bottom of the beaker. 

You’ll love how this part feels. Note, however, that if the plunger hits the beaker’s bottom with barely any resistance, your ground coffee beans are too coarse. On the other hand, if you have difficulty pressing the plunger, the grind is most likely too fine. 

Once you plunger is at the bottom, you are done! Simply pour your delicious coffee from your French Press into your mug and enjoy its rich flavors!