How to make French Press Coffee

how to brew french press

The French Press is, in my opinion, one of the simplest and most consistent way to make coffee at home, no matter your skill or experience. It was also the recommended method for easy home brewing by the awesome (and knowledgeable) people at Stumptown Coffee.

The French Press is known for its strong dosage of caffeine. But don't worry, the uptake in caffeine does not mean that the coffee tastes stronger. French Press coffees offer a rich and bold tasting brew. The coffee is usually made without a paper filter, allowing more coffee oils into your cup and creating a delicious drink.

The French Press brews a murky cup of coffee with a little sediment. It's normal! If you do find the sediment to bother you, you can cut out a paper filter to use on your French Press (see the trick here) or you can find a French Press like those offered by Espro. They have a double micro filter which removes any grit from the final cup.

Equipment and Ingredients:

  • 1 French Press
  • Coffee Beans!
  • Hot Water
  • (Optional) Scale
  • (Optional) Grinder

One thing everyone agrees upon is that the grinding your beans right before using them offers a fresher and more pronounced taste. If you have a grinder at home, use it. A coffee scale will also help you obtained a surprisingly more precise measure. Depending on how the beans were roasted, two coffee beans of the same size can differ on weight by 50%! 

Ratio:

I always use a ratio of 1:16. For every gram of coffee, I pour 16ml of water. This isn't exact science, it might vary on beans, personal taste, and the recipe. It is, however, a widely used starting point.

If you don't have a scale, you can use the table below to estimate the weight based on tablespoons.

french press ratio

Table by Espro

Preparation:

1. Measure the amount of beans required and grind them coarsely. They should look like breadcrumbs. 

french press grind size

Breadcrumby size

2. Boil water. If you have a kettle with temperature setting, set the temperature between 94°C and 96°C (200°F to 204°F). If you're boiling, allow the water to cool down for one minute before using it.

3. Warm up your French Press with hot water. This will help provide a more stable and lasting temperature for the grounds to brew in. Flush out the hot water before putting the coffee grounds in.

preheat french press container

Hot, hot, hot

4. Add the coffee grounds and pour the predetermined amount of water (based on your ratio). Try to get all the grounds covered in water.

 brewing french press

There's something special about seeing your coffee be made through the glass

5. Stir. This is a small extra step that will ensure that all the grounds are properly wet. Use a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the glass. Sometimes when your coffee beans are fresh, the coffee will bloom (where it seems like the coffee is bubbling up, but it's actually releasing some trapped CO2 from the roasting process). In this case, wait 20 seconds, stir and then add the cap.

stirring french press  

"Patience you must have, my young padawan" - Yoda

6. Wait. Four minutes is the golden number here. I start the timer as I soon as I start pouring water. Including the time I spend pouring and the stirring, I'm putting the lid on when there is about 3:20 minutes left.

 phone time french press

Finally putting this app to good use

7. Push down. Once the time is over, you can start pushing down on the lever. It should feel like you're applying 2kg of pressure. If the pushing becomes too hard, briefly pull up (to clear the filter) and resume pushing down. The push should take between 15 and 45 seconds.

french press coffee

Fun fact: the French Press is called a coffee plunger in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

8. Enjoy! I usually pour a cup right away and then let the coffee cool down for a minute or two before having a sip. The next best thing? I like to throw it in my reusable mug and head for work.

french press in travel mug

The hardest part, not making a mess

Trouble shooting and pro tips:

Making coffee is part art, part science and part personal taste. Here are a few quick tips to help adjust your next batch of French Press.

Coffee is too weak: Your grind might be too coarse. You might also want to increase your ratio and add more coffee (try something like 1:15 or 1:14)

Coffee is too strong: Think of grinding your beans a little coarser. You might want to reduce the amount of coffee (try something like 1:17 or 1:18)

Coffee is bitter: The coffee is most likely over extracted. Raise grind size and reduce time.


Like French Press coffee? Check out our guide to brewing a batch of delicious cold brew coffee. Click here.