Coffee is such a staple in so many lives across the world. Don’t you think that it’s time you start paying attention to the quality of your coffee, and more importantly, how it’s brewed? Believe it or not, how you brew your coffee can affect the overall flavor almost as much as the quality of the coffee itself. The French press has been around for a long time, but the coffee it makes is still some of the best. But, if you're wondering, "How do I use a French press?" Don't worry! Today, we're going to walk you through it!

What Is A French Press?

french press
Rachel Brenner / Unsplash

A French press is a simple device that brews coffee. It consists of a cylindrical vessel, usually glass, a metal stand, and a metal plunger with a fine mesh strainer on it. The entire process as a whole seems somewhat crude. There’s no electricity, no fancy pods, no paper filters, it’s just water and coffee.

There are a few reasons people tend to agree that the French press is the way to go when it comes to making coffee. If you typically brew with a drip coffee machine that uses a paper filter, that filter doesn’t just remove the coffee grounds, it also strips out some of the oils that help give the coffee it's blissful flavor. The exposure time the coffee receives also differs from a traditional drip coffee maker or single cup coffee maker. In those cases, the water passes through the coffee relatively quickly. In a French press, the water has more time to mingle with the coffee, allowing for more flavor to be extracted from the beans.

French Press Brewing

coffee beans

The first thing you’ll need is some coffee, the fresher the roast, the better. More importantly, the type of grind on the coffee is key to French press success! Look for a coffee that has a coarse grind. Some stores let you grind your own coffee on site. If you're able, we recommend, changing the grind setting to a coarser grind. That's where the magic happens.

You can still make coffee in a French press with a finer grind, however, it could be more challenging to press down in the French press and or you may end up having more coffee particulates in your finished brew.

Having a personal coffee grinder at home is the most convenient option as well as the best, as coffee begins to lose flavor after you grind it. A burr-style grinder will give you the most consistent grind. But, they can be pricey, however, options such as the Cuisinart DBM-8 are a perfect example of affordable, high-quality burr-style coffee grinders.

If you’d still like to grind your own coffee beans on a budget while at home, a whirling blade grinder will suffice, however, they can be a bit touchy and it’s very hard to get a consistent grind. The Bodum Bistro blade grinder is an excellent entry level coffee grinder that will take your coffee bar to the next level. Once you have some fresh, coarsely ground coffee, and a French press, it’s time to get to brewing.

How To Use A French Press

french press

While it may appear to be a complicated apparatus only fit for trained baristas to handle, the French press is actually quite easy to use, and like many things in this world, you can adjust how you brew to your tastes.

  • First you’ll want to weigh out some coffee. If you have a gram scale, weigh out 30 grams of coffee beans for every 16 ounces of water your French press holds. French presses typically hold between 16 and 32 ounces of coffee. For a full, 32 ounce French press, plan on using four to five scoops of ground coffee. If you weigh it out and grind it, simply pour all the coffee in from the grinder.
  • Remove the plunger / lid from the French press and add the coarsely ground coffee beans to the bottom of the press. Heat water in a gooseneck kettle or teapot to a temperature of 195 degrees. If you happen to heat the water to boiling, remove the water from heat for about a minute before pouring into the French press, to reduce the temperature to an ideal level.
  • Start by pouring just enough water for it to rise up to or just above the coffee grounds. This is called letting the coffee bloom. Wait for 30 seconds, then stir gently.
  • Finish pouring the rest of the water and wait for four minutes. After the four minutes is up, affix the top plunger and begin pressing down. If the plunger drops quickly and easily, the grind was too coarse. On the other hand, if it’s very difficult to press, the grind was too fine. There should be some resistance in the pressing, but it shouldn’t hurt your palm to press. Once the plunger reaches its limit or compresses the grinds completely, your coffee is ready to pour and enjoy.

Adjusting Your French Press Brewing Methods To Your Taste

coffee grinder

Everyone has their best ways to make coffee. When brewing with a French press, you have the ability to make slight adjustments to the brewing process in order to accommodate your coffee preferences.

For a stronger brew you can adjust how many scoops of coffee you add, how hot the water is, and how long you allow the coffee to steep before pressing. The longer you let your beans steep, the stronger and more bitter the end result will be. Use less coffee or a shorter steeping time for a milder coffee flavor.

Another wonderful thing about the French press is that you can use it to make cold brew coffee or even cold brew coffee concentrate. After you’ve mastered the art of brewing coffee in a French Press, order some freshly roasted coffee from signature producers. You’ll open up a whole new world of caffeinated bliss that you never knew was there.

If you love coffee, but have never tried using a French press, upgrade your coffee game by brewing your java in a French press today. You'll never look back!

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