How to Brew French Press Coffee

How to Brew French Press Coffee Like a Pro

September 07, 2020

Practical, portable and requiring no paper filters nor electricity, it’s no wonder that the French press is so popular among coffee lovers!

This classic brewer, famous for its iconic design and robust taste, has definitely stood the test of time and is now one of the best coffee brewing methods.

However, not everyone actually knows how to brew French press coffee correctly. Check out our simple explanation to avoid the most common mistakes. 

How to brew French press coffee the right way

Making coffee with a French press

Use the correct ratio

Regardless of the size of your French press, start with the standard 1:15 ratio, using a gram of coffee for every 15 grams of water. Too strong for you? Try 1:16, 1:17, and so on. If you’re on a quest for a stronger and bolder taste, you can go as low as 1:12.

Avoid boiling water

One of the most common mistakes when brewing with a French press—and many other methods—is to scorch coffee grounds by pouring boiling water onto them, and then wondering why the coffee tastes so… burnt.

Aim between 195 and 205°F instead. Slightly colder water will result in a weaker brew, whilst a little hotter will taste stronger.

Pro tip: to keep your coffee hot for longer, fill your French press with boiling water for around a minute before brewing. This also lets the water cool down slightly if you haven’t got a variable-temperature kettle or a thermometer.

Pour the water (not like that!)

Wanna brew like a pro? Then let your freshly-ground coffee bloom, releasing the trapped CO2 that would otherwise compromise extraction: pour just enough water to cover your grounds, stir them, and wait 30 seconds before adding the rest.

Let it steep 

4 minutes is the recommended time, but, if you want your coffee to be a bit weaker, you can wait a little less, or, if you need a stronger kick, slightly longer. However, don’t mess with this variable too much: you could end up with a sour under-extracted coffee or an over-extracted burnt mess!

Press the plunger all the way down and serve it

Don’t let your coffee sit in the French press: once you’ve pressed the plunger, just pour it. If you’re not planning on drinking it all in one go, we recommend decanting it into a separate container. This will avoid a bitter, over-extracted flavor, and let’s be honest: you’ll definitely impress your guests!

Clean it properly

We know: it’s tempting to just give it a quick rinse, but doing so will result in a clogged-up filter and a spoiled taste. If you want to brew French press the right way, you also need to maintain it! Rinse it with hot soapy water after each use, plunging up and down, and disassemble the plunger for a weekly deeper clean.

What coffee is good for French press?

How to make French press coffee

For French press, you should use coarse or medium-coarse grounds. Unlike manual pour overs or automatic drippers, it relies on immersion brewing, with the grounds and water being in contact for longer: a wider surface area of your grounds helps slow down extraction.

Encountering too much resistance when plunging means that your grounds are too fine; not enough, too coarse. Grind size is something that you can easily experiment with if you grind your own beans. However, if you prefer buying pre-ground coffee, you can still influence extraction by tweaking the variables that we mentioned earlier (ratio, temperature, time).

Now that you know how to brew French press coffee like a pro, get ready to become the designated barista in your household or group of friends!

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