How to Make Perfect French Press Coffee (Step by Step Guide)

Interested in learning how to make coffee in a French press? Or, maybe you’ve been using a French press for years and want to fine-tune your technique. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

A rudimentary French press brewing method has been around since the mid-19th century. It was two Italians, Calimani and Moneta, who patented the first modern-day French press in 1929.

Coffee lovers favor the French press because of the richly flavored coffee that results from this brewing method. It’s the go-to coffee brewing method in many households.

Skip the big, space-hogging drip coffeemaker and invest in a burr grinder and a sophisticated French press pot. You’ll love the luxury of freshly ground beans steeped in perfect-temperature water in your French press. Enjoy!

Recipe Instructions

French press coffee fans love the rich taste derived from this brewing method. As the coarsely ground coffee steeps in hot water, maximum flavor and oils are extracted from the ground beans.

What You’ll Need

  • 4-cup French press pot to make 2 mugs of coffee
  • Manual or electric burr grinder
  • 27 grams or 5 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee
  • 400 grams or 1.75 cups of hot water (205° F or 96° C)
  • Digital kitchen timer
  • Long-handled wooden spoon

Read on to learn more about the equipment we used.

Instructions

  • Grind your beans and measure the amount of ground coffee that you’ll need
  • Put the ground coffee into your French press pot
  • Add hot water to cover the ground coffee
  • Wait 30 seconds
  • Stir
  • Add remaining hot water to fill the pot
  • Stir
  • Put the top on the pot
  • Wait 4 minutes
  • Push the plunger down to trap coffee grounds below the filter
  • Pour and enjoy!

Read on for detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Ingredients

French press coffee lovers use medium or dark roast coffee beans for best flavor. The key to making French press coffee is to use a medium-to-coarse grind.

Most pre-ground coffee is too fine for a French press. Grounds will pass through the filter screen, and you’ll end up with sediment in the bottom of your cup.

Find medium or dark roast coffee beans that you like and grind them to a medium-coarse texture at home. Alternatively, you can purchase coarsely ground coffee especially for French press.

We recommend these 3 coffees available on amazon.

  • French Press Specialty Coffee made by Primos Coffee Co.

This medium roast coffee is pre-ground with a coarse texture. The coarse grind makes it suitable for brewing in a French press. It comes in a 12-ounce bag.

  • French Roast by San Francisco Bay Coffee,

You’ll need to grind this whole-bean coffee at home. Experiment with a medium-to-coarse grind to suit your taste. It comes in a 2-pound (32-ounce) size.

  • Medium Roast, Whole Bean Coffee by Peak Performance

Enjoy a coffee with low acidity? Try this medium roast, organic coffee. Peak Performance states that their coffee is healthier than most because the beans are grown at a high altitude in the Guatemalan Highlands and therefore contain more antioxidants.

Equipment We Used

For French press coffee, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Kitchen scale for weighing your coffee beans, or a measuring spoon
  • A manual or electric coffee bean grinder (preferably a burr grinder)
  • Kettle or electric boiling pot for water
  • Digital kitchen timer
  • Long-handled wooden spoon
  • French press coffeemaker

We recommend these excellent pieces of equipment:

  • Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons by Ostrichy

These two measuring spoons are specially made for measuring dry ingredients (such as coffee beans). They are marked as 1-and-2 tablespoons as well as in milliliters (metric measurements).

  • Etekcity Digital Food Kitchen Scales

You might prefer weighing your coffee beans to get the right coffee/water ratio in your French press coffee. We recommend this attractive stainless-steel kitchen scale with a removable bowl. It shows weight in both grams and ounces.

  • OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The stainless-steel, conical burrs in this grinder deliver a consistent, uniform grind. You can fine-tune your grind size with 15 available selections. With an automatic timer and one-touch convenience, this grinder by OXO is an excellent choice. Enjoy maximum flavor from freshly ground beans in your French press.

  • Digital Kitchen Timer (2 Pack) by Antonki

Get the best results from your French press with a precise wait-time. Use this handy, battery-powered timer with a back stand and a loud alarm to let you know when your coffee is ready. (Battery included).

  • Long-handled Wooden Spoons by Steso Kitchen

In the brewing process, you will stir your coffee twice. After adding only enough hot water to saturate the grounds, you’ll wait 30 seconds and then stir with a wooden spoon. Next, you’ll add the remainder of your hot water and stir again before allowing the 4-minute steeping time before you press the plunger down. Because you’re working with a hot liquid in a tall cylinder (your French press pot), you will want to stir with a long-handled wooden spoon. This 3-pack of wooden spoons from Steso Kitchen features 15.7-inch long spoons.

  • HadinEEon Variable Temperature Electric Kettle

You can heat up to 2 liters of water in this glass electric kettle with blue LED light. It features a 12-hour keep-warm function and automatic shut-off for protection from boiling dry. Select your desired water temperature for tea or coffee.

  • Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker 18/10 Bonus Stainless Steel Screen (1000ML)

One of the reasons people like French press coffee-brewing is because the French press pots are so attractive. This Secura press features a sophisticated, sleek design that will look fabulous in your kitchen. It’s made of quality materials and offers a bonus of extra filter screens for your use.

Step-by-Step Guide 

Step 1: Pre-warm your French press pot –

Pour hot water into your French press pot, filling it almost to the top. Let it sit while you continue with the subsequent steps.

Step 2: Grind your coffee beans –

Use a manual or electric burr grinder to produce a medium-coarse grind.

Step 3: Measure your ground coffee –

As a general rule, you’ll need 3 tablespoons or 42.9 grams of ground coffee for every 1 cup (8 ounces or 240 ml) of water.

Step 4: Empty hot water from the pot –

Pour out the hot water that you used for pre-warming your pot. You might want to pour it into your coffee mug for pre-warming.

Step 5: Add ground coffee –

Pour your measured amount of ground coffee into the French press pot.

Step 6: Add hot water, wait, then stir –

Add only enough hot water (about 205° F or 96° C) to your pot to fully cover your coffee grounds. If your water came to a rolling boil, let it cool slightly until the rolling action settles down.

Wait 30 seconds for your ground coffee to be saturated with water. Use a kitchen timer for accuracy. Then, stir your coffee with a long-handled wooden spoon.

Step 7: Add the remaining hot water and stir –

Add more hot water (about 205° F or 96° C) to fill your French press pot or to make your desired amount of coffee. Stir again with your wooden spoon. Put the top on your pot, but do not push down the plunger, yet.

Step 8: Wait 4 minutes, then press –

Here’s where you should use your kitchen timer again. Wait 4 minutes. Then, slowly press the plunger down to trap coffee grounds below the filter in the bottom of the pot.

Step 9: Pour and enjoy!

Pour your coffee into your pre-warmed mug and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • Use a medium-coarse grind. If your ground coffee is too coarse, it can clog the filter in the plunger. If it’s too fine, particles will get through the filter, and you’ll have sediment in your cup.
  • Don’t pour boiling water into your pot. If your water comes to a rolling boil, let the temperature back off just a bit to about 194°-205° F (90°-96° C).
  • Pre-warm your French press pot so that the water does not cool down immediately.
  • Stir twice. Stir once after covering the grounds with water and letting them sit for 30 seconds. Stir again after you’ve filled the pot with your remaining hot water.
  • Adjust your coffee-to-water ratio to suit your taste. While 1:15 is typical, you might be more pleased with a 1:17 or 1:18 ratio of coffee to water.

Coffee to Water Ratio for French Press

For French press coffee, the coffee-to-water ratio is generally 1:15 to 1:18. The larger number represents parts water. So, it’s one-part ground coffee to x parts water.

Baristas recommend adding about 3 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 1 cup (8 ounces) of water.

You might weigh and measure your ingredients in the metric system. Here’s how liquid ounces and tablespoons convert to milliliters and grams: An 8-ounce cup of water = 240 milliliters. One tablespoon of ground coffee = 14.3 grams.

Therefore, you might add 42.9 grams of coffee to every 240 milliliters of water. This will be the equivalent of 3 tablespoons of ground coffee per one cup (8 ounces) of water.

If you’re making a whole pot of coffee, think of it this way: 4 cups (8 ounces each) = about 1 liter of water. Add 12 tablespoons or 171.6 grams of ground coffee for every 4 cups or 1 liter of water.

To make your calculations easier, use a handy calculator like the Helect Compact.

  • Helect Compact Calculator H1007

This is a small, portable, handheld calculator that lets you solve math problems in a hurry. It performs standard functions. With its compact design, you can keep the Helect calculator close at hand anywhere you go.

French Press Coffee Type 

What type of coffee should you brew in your French press? It’s really up to you. You can use any type of coffee that suits your personal taste.

Many coffee lovers enjoy brewing a dark roast with intense flavor in their French press. Others prefer a lighter roast, perhaps one with fruity tones.

Look for a coffee bean that is described as “smooth and full-bodied” or “rich and complex.” These types of coffee will deliver excellent flavor.

Many coffee lovers also look for non-GMO and organic coffees, too. These choices depend on your personal preference.

The main objective is to use fresh beans that you grind immediately before brewing. Pre-ground coffee will not give you maximum flavor from a French press. Have fun experimenting to find your favorite type of fresh beans for French press coffee.

French Press Coffee Flavor 

The French press method of brewing ensures maximum flavor from your chosen coffee beans. Here are the reasons why French press coffee delivers such rich flavor.

  • Flavor derives from oils in the fresh, coarsely ground beans.
  • The French press brewing method allows full saturation and flavor extraction from the beans.
  •  A paper filter is not used, so oils are not soaked up by paper.
  • The 4-minute wait time allows steeping time for your coffee to develop full flavor.

Health Benefits of French Press Coffee

When something is so enjoyable and tastes as good as French press coffee, we tend to think: “O.K. This must be bad for me, right?” Well . . . not really. You’ll be happy to know that researchers have found some health benefits of French press coffee.

  • French press coffee is high in antioxidants.
  • French press coffee is high in caffeine which has been shown to provide health benefits.
  • Studies show caffeine might protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Caffeine aids in mental focus and concentration.
  • Over time, caffeine helps to prevent the slowing of cognitive function as we age.
  • Studies show a link between caffeine consumption and decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Drinking coffee has been linked to decreased risk of experiencing depression.

French Press Coffee Nutrition

You might be wondering about the nutritional value of French press coffee. A cup (8 ounces) of black coffee brewed in a French press provides the following nutritional values:

  • Calories = 2
  • Fat = 0
  • Cholesterol = 0
  • Salt = 0
  • Sugar = 0
  • Protein = 0
  • Vitamins = 0
  • Potassium = 116 mg

Of course, if you add sugar and milk or cream to your coffee, you will alter its nutritional content.

French Press FAQ

  1. What is the perfect grind size for French press?
    Answer: A medium-to-coarse grind size is best for French press.
  2. What kind of grinder is best for French press?
    Answer: Use a burr grinder with conical or flat burrs made from ceramic or stainless steel. You can find burr grinders that operate manually, or you can use an electric burr grinder.
  3. What is the best coffee to use in a French press?
    Answer: Most French press users enjoy a medium-to-dark roast with bold flavor, but you can use whatever coffee you like. This really depends on your personal preference.
  4. Can I use regular coffee in a French press?
    Answer: Yes. Purchase whole-bean coffee and grind it at home immediately before brewing. This is better than pre-ground coffee. If you do buy pre-ground coffee, however, be sure to get a medium-to-coarse grind.
  5. How much caffeine is in a cup (8 oz) of French press coffee?
    Answer: Reports on the amount of caffeine in a cup of French press coffee vary. The type of coffee and the steeping time have an effect. There are approximately 85-110 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup of French press coffee.

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