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The Ultimate Guide to French Press Coffee

Andrew Pautler

French Press coffee

Brew Specs

Grind Coarse
Brew Ratio 1:12
Water Temp 195 - 205° F (91 -96 ° C)
Total Brew Time 04:00

The French Press is clearly one of the most popular pieces of coffee brewing equipment around. But why is that? What are the advantages? And how do you make really good French Press coffee?

This guide contains all of the answers to those questions, along with some unusual uses for your French Press that you may not even have thought of. Let’s take a look at why the French Press is one of the best brewing methods around.

The Advantages of French Press Coffee

There are several advantages to French Press coffee when compared to other brewing methods:

  • It’s cost-effective to buy. A French Press is considerably less expensive than other coffee brewers.
  • You have more control over the taste. You control the brewing time and water temperature (as you would with a gooseneck kettle). Therefore, you can play with these variables easily to achieve your preferred taste.
  • The flavor is deeper. When you use a paper filter with other brewing methods, some of the oils inside the coffee bean are trapped in the filter. The coffee bean oils are what give the coffee its rich taste – so the more of those oils in your brew, the deeper the flavor you’ll achieve.
  • It’s great for traveling. You can take your French Press with you anywhere, as it’s light and easy to use. Hot water, coffee grounds, and you’re all set.
Adding coffee grounds to French Press
Adding coffee grounds to the French Press brewer

How to Brew Excellent French Press Coffee

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to brew French Press coffee in less than five minutes

  1. Preheat your French Press

    Preheat brewer and the plunger with hot water while you grind your coffee (for about 30 seconds). Pour out the hot water.

  2. Grind your coffee coarsely

    Add your ground coffee to the French Press (making sure the grounds are evenly distributed).

  3. Pour half of your water over coffee grounds

    Pour half of your total hot water (200° F / 93.3° C) in a circular motion over the grounds and ensure that all the grounds are submerged.

  4. Let your coffee bloom

    Let the coffee rest in the water for about 30 seconds.

  5. Slowly add remaining water

    Add the rest of the water into the French Press. Put on the lid and slowly lower the plunger until the mesh only just touches the surface of the water.

  6. Brew coffee

    Set a timer to 4 minutes to allow your coffee to brew.

  7. Filter the coffee

    Bring the plunger down slowly. Immediately decant your coffee into another container so that it doesn’t brew too long (it will get over extracted and taste bitter).

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Find the Right French Press for You

Troubleshooting Guide

If your coffee doesn’t taste as it should, here are some possible reasons why:

  • Water quality. If your water doesn’t taste good on its own, it won’t taste good in your coffee. Use the purest water you can get or use Third Wave Water or another product to help optimize your water for coffee.
  • Brewing temperature. Make sure your water temperature is within the 195° F to 205° F (90.6° C to 96° C) range. Water that is not hot enough will not extract the coffee properly. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can still reach the ideal water temperature by boiling your water and letting it sit for 30 seconds. At ~30 seconds off boil, it should be the perfect temperature for brewing.
  • Grind size. You’ll want a coarser grind for your French Press than for a drip coffee maker. Fine grinds make for bitter-tasting coffee, and too coarse grinds make for weak coffee. Either grind it yourself or use a local coffee grinder and tell your brewing with a French Press. For best results, get a high-quality burr grinder—nothing beats freshly ground coffee.
  • Master the slow press. For a cleaner cup of coffee (without too much sediment), take 30 seconds to press down on the plunge—yes, that’s how slow you’ll want to go.
  • Get the dosage right. A basic rule of thumb is to use one rounded tablespoon of ground coffee for each 4-ounce cup. You can then adjust up or down to your liking. You should always use a scale for the most accurate results though.
Brewing French Press coffee

Other Uses for Your French Press

The French Press can be used for more than just making coffee too. Here are some uses for your French Press that you might not have thought of:

  • Rehydrate dried foods
  • Juice berries
  • Mix drinks
  • Rinse grains

Questions About French Press Coffee

Who invented French Press coffee?

The first official patent for the French Press belonged to Italians, Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta, in 1929. That said, the earliest legend around the French Press is French. A Frenchman was preparing his daily coffee in the 1850s. While boiling the water for his coffee, he realized he’d forgotten to put in the coffee. Once he added the coffee grounds, they rose to the surface of the water and he wanted to save the grounds for later. He fitted a metal screen over the pot and used a stick to press down on the grounds. When he discovered how good the resulting coffee tasted, the rest, as they say, is history.

Is a French Press worth it?

It may be more time-consuming to use a French Press, but yes, it is definitely worth the effort compared to a standard drip machine!

What size French Press should I buy?

When you see a “4 cup French Press,” don’t be fooled into thinking it will make you three cups of coffee. The cup size is based on smaller European cups (4 ounces), not on our American mug-sized coffees (8 to 10 ounces).
Here are some rough guidelines:
– A 3 cup French Press will yield about 12 ounces of coffee, which serves one mug with a bit leftover.
– An 8 cup French Press will make 34 ounces, which can fill up 3 mugs.
– A 12 cup French Press will make 51 ounces or about 5 mugs.

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French Press coffee

Easy French Press Recipe

The French Press is one of the most approachable and popular ways to brew coffee. This recipe shows an easy way to get started brewing with a French Press.
Prep Time 2 mins
Brew Time 4 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine French
Servings 2 servings

Equipment

  • French Press coffee brewer

Ingredients
  

  • 32 g coffee ground coarsely
  • 400 g hot water 200° F (93.3° C)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your French Press with hot water (for about 30 seconds). Dump out the hot water.
  • Coarsely grind 32 grams of coffee and add it to the French Press making sure the grounds are evenly distributed
  • Pour 200g of 200° F water (93.3° C) in a circular motion over the grounds and ensure that all the grounds are submerged.
  • Let your coffee bloom (rest in the water) for about 30 seconds.
  • Add remaining 200g of the water into the French Press.
  • Put on the lid and slowly lower the plunger until the mesh only just touches the surface of the water.
  • Set a timer to 4 minutes to allow your coffee to brew.
  • Bring the plunger down slowly over 30 seconds.
  • Immediately pour your coffee into a mug or other container so that it does not brew too long and get over-extracted (making it taste bitter).

Notes

This recipe works for any size brew. You can scale it up or down as long as you maintain the 1:12 coffee to water ratio.
Keyword coffee, french press

Free Download

Download the free, printable coffee brew guide cheatsheet

  • Quick reference for ratios, water temp & brew times
  • 8 brew methods including chemex, V60, aeropress & more
  • Serving sizes and tips for each brew method
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