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How to Use Your French Press—Plus 5 Tips for Better Tasting Coffee

One of the greatest things about French press coffee is its rich, thick body. Learn how to make a perfect cup of coffee of French press coffee with these step-by-step instructions. Plus, get insider tips on how to trouble-shoot common brewing problems.

8 min read

When it comes to brewing coffee, everyone has their favorite way to do it. Different methods bring out different flavors and results from the beans; some results are oilier, some are stronger.

When done correctly, a French press coffee results in a rich, bold-bodied brew that’s as delicious black as it is with a splash of cream, a bit of spice or even a note of sweetness. (We’re not going to tell you how to enjoy your cup of joe, we’re just here to help you make it better.)

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Why Make a French Press Coffee?

The reason French press coffee has such fantastic mouthfeel is the metal mesh filter lets more coffee oils into the finished drink; that texture and deep flavor is also enhanced by the fact that the coffee grounds are completely submerged in the brewing water for the entire length of the process, which allows for a slower and more even extraction compared to brewing a pour-over coffee or drip coffee.

French Press Coffee Directions

1. Grind your beans. When brewing French press, it’s important that you use a coarse grind from a burr grinder; if the one you use is too fine, the grounds can get through the plunger’s mesh filter. Nobody wants a mouthful of gritty coffee grounds.

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2. Add ground beans to the base of your French press.

3. Heat water to 195-205 °F. We like to use an Adjustable Temperature Kettle—that way you get the perfect temp for your brew.

4. Add water to your French press.

5. Stir the grounds.

6. Place plunger and lid on top to retain the heat. Wait four minutes. Time is of the essence when you’re French pressing! Too little time and your coffee will turn out watery.

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7. Press the plunger down and pour yourself a cup!

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5 Tips to Make a Better Tasting a French Press Coffee

There are a few basics to brewing better tasting coffee. Use each of these tips when making a French press coffee to perfect and troubleshoot until you’ve mastered the steps for a perfect brew.

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How To Clean Your French Press

Oils begin secreting from your coffee beans the moment they leave the roaster, and these oils can build up into a noticeable residue of leftover oils on your grinder and coffee equipment, affecting the flavor of any fresh batch you brew. Here’s exactly how (and how often) to clean your coffee equipment.

The Best Coffee Beans for French Press

Start by selecting the right type of bean for your French press—darker roasts tend to win for this style of coffee. Then note that the freshness of your beans will impact the flavor in your freshly pressed cup of joe. Coffee can technically “go bad” by losing its flavor if not stored properly—store your coffee in a container with UV-light blocking technology.

The Best Grind Size for French Press

While coffee-to-water ratio is important in any brewing method, the type of bean you select and the size of your coffee grinds are the most significant elements you can control in French press brewing. If your coffee seems strong enough but tastes bitter, adjust the grind size on your conical burr grinder to a bit coarser. If your coffee seems strong enough but tastes sour or astringent, try to make the grind size a little finer—but not so fine that it can pass through the metal filter! The mesh on a French Press can’t capture as much sediment as a paper filter, so too fine a grind will leave you with mud in your mug. (Too fine a grind will also cause the plunger to get stuck when you push it at the end of the brew.)

The Best Coffee-to-Water Ratio for French Press

More coffee grounds will give you a stronger cup of French press, while less will lighten the flavor up. Just remember that if you over- or under-do it, you’ll also change your extraction rate: If there’s too much water and not enough coffee, you’ll over extract unpleasant flavors from the grounds. If there’s too much coffee, the water won’t be able to extract everything you want. (While weight is always the most precise way to brew, coffee scoops are also convenient and great: Just be sure to be consistent with your scoops. If you have a precision scale, anywhere from 1.5 to 2 grams of coffee per ounce of water is a good place to start.)

How Long To Steep a French Press Coffee

If you’ve got a lot going on in the morning and don’t want to fuss over your coffee brewing, a French press might be just the method for you. It’s also a great option for brewing a great-tasting coffee at work since it’s relatively forgiving. The slow, steeping method of brewing is one you can set and forget—at least for a few minutes. A standard kitchen timer is all you need. Set the timer for four minutes and start it as soon as you begin pouring water onto your coffee grounds. Once you’ve added all your water, put the top on the pot and push the plunger just enough to make sure the grounds are all submerged under the water. While the coffee infusion is doing its magic, you can pay attention to your morning eggs or that urgent office email. When the timer beeps, just push the plunger and pour! If you go a minute over time, it probably won’t make a noticeable difference, but try not to plunge too soon. Resist the urge!

Once you have your French press technique perfected, why not try your hand at a tasty coffee cocktail? Plus, try making your own iced coffee or one of these delicious coffee-flavored frozen desserts.


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