How to Use a French Press

how to use a french press

Let me tell you a little secret! Working as a barista in numerous New York City cafes has made me addicted: addicted to perfectly prepared coffee!

I learned how to use a French Press in my job many years ago, and since then I’ve tried all the French press coffee-making methods there is.

In this article, I’ll explain my favorite methods and give you easy-to-follow instructions that will help you make barista-quality French Press coffee in no time.

What is a french press?

The French Press (also known as a press-plunger pot) is a pot in which the coffee is brewed according to the “full immersion” principle, ie the coffee powder is completely mixed with the water before it is separated by a filter after a certain steeping time.

French Press is perfect for beginners: it is easy to use and only a few tools are required. The easiest method is to add hot water to the ground coffee in the French press, then filter it when it is brewed and enjoy it straight away. In my instructions below, I’ll show you how you can improve your coffee results by incorporating a few additional steps into the preparation. The more time you are willing to invest in the right technique and equipment, the better your French Press coffee will taste.

A little bit about the history of the french press: Contrary to what the name suggests, French Press was actually developed in Italy. The design was patented in 1929 by Milan-based inventor Attilio Calimani and was based on similar models that were widely used throughout Italy and neighboring France until the 1850s. These early models used the same brewing method but were made from simple materials such as metal rods and cheesecloth filters.

How to Make French Press?

how to make french press

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Coffee is brewed in the French Press according to the “full immersion” principle, ie the coffee powder is completely mixed with the water before it is separated by a filter after a certain steeping time. With a French press, really good coffee is very easy to prepare. You can find out how to do this step by step!

Basic Things You Need

Additional Equipment for Advanced Users

QUICK START GUIDE

  1. Weigh or measure the coffee beans in a ratio of 1:15 (coffee to water). Grind the coffee beans into a medium-coarse coffee powder, similar to sea salt flakes.
  2. Put the coffee powder in a preheated French press. Then shake the French Press gently to distribute the coffee powder evenly.
  3. Measure the water in the above ratio (1:15) and then bring it to a boil. If you are using a stove, check with a thermometer.
  4. When the water reaches 95ºC, immediately remove it from the fire and pour it over the coffee.
  5. First put only 1-2 centimeters of hot water on the coffee powder or enough to completely cover the beans.
  6. Set your timer and wait 30 seconds for the coffee grounds to puff up a little.
  7. Then you pour the remaining hot water into the French press.
  8. Then use a non-metallic object and stir the coffee and water well with it.
  9. Put the lid on top, taking care not to press the sieve down yet.
  10. Start your timer when 4:30 minutes have elapsed, scoop off the floating coffee grounds with a spoon and throw them away.
  11. Put the lid back on, then carefully press the strainer down and immediately pour the coffee slowly and evenly into a cup.
  12. If necessary, remove further coffee residues floating above and pour the coffee into a warming cup.

Instructions for Advanced Users

Get Fresh Coffee Beans

Best Coffee Grinders in 2021

Best Coffee Beans for the French Press

Most experts agree that medium and dark roasted coffee beans are the best for the French press, and for good reason: Dark roasted coffee produces more oils during the extraction process, which in turn creates strong caramel and chocolate flavors. Personally, I find these smoky flavors go very well with the creamy texture of French Press coffee.
When it comes to taste preferences, however, there is no right or wrong, so try different roasts until you find your favorite coffee!

Use the Correct Dosage of Coffee Beans

How much coffee you should put in your French press depends on how strong you like your coffee. As a starting point, I always recommend a ratio of 1:15 between coffee and water. This ratio means that for every 15 grams of water you should add 1 gram of coffee.
If you prefer stronger coffee, add a few grams more coffee; for weaker coffee, reduce the dosage. While you can use tablespoons to measure your coffee, weighing the coffee beans will give you a much more accurate and repeatable result. To keep the amount of coffee powder leftover small, you should weigh the beans before grinding.

French Press Size Amount of Water Coffee Weight Cups
S
0.35 l
23 g
1 Cup
M
0.50 l
33 g
2 Cups
L
1.0 l
66 g
4 Cups
XL
1.5 l
100 g
6 Cups

Grind the Coffee Beans

The grind you choose for your French press will determine whether you get a cup of muddy or smooth coffee.
If the coffee powder is ground too finely, it will slip through the filter of the French press and form a bitter coffee “mud”. If it’s too coarse, the coloring and flavoring won’t be extracted quickly enough, and you’ll get a faint, bitter result.

Grind for French Press

Grind your beans to a medium / coarse powder, about the same size as flaked sea salt. If you don’t have a grinder at home, ask your local coffee shop about a grind for the French press. If you are ready to invest more money in making your coffee, I strongly recommend buying a good coffee grinder. These ensure an even grinding result and thus a sweet, perfectly extracted coffee.

Preheat the French Press

To get the same good result every day, I recommend preheating your French press before using it.
To do this, fill the glass pot halfway with boiling water, wait a minute and then pour the water out completely. This step is especially important if you are in an area with particularly cold hours in the morning – heat loss can easily occur due to the outside temperature. Insulated stainless steel French presses are highly recommended here. When you have preheated your French press, you can add the coffee powder and start brewing.

Make Sure the Water Temperature is Ideal

The temperature of the water you use determines the taste result of the coffee beans. Lower water temperatures extract lighter, fruity flavors, while higher temperatures produce a full-bodied, caramel-like result. So that you can predict exactly how your coffee will taste, you should always use a constant temperature.

The ideal water temperature is achieved by waiting 30 seconds after your kettle has boiled, or by heating water on the stove to 95ºC and pouring it out immediately. If possible, use filtered water for brewing to avoid an unpleasant metallic aftertaste that spoils the taste of the coffee.

Figure Out the Perfect Brew Time

Let the Coffee Swell

coffee swell

My favorite step in brewing coffee is letting the ground coffee swell! The term ‘swelling’ refers to the chemical reaction that happens when CO2 (carbon dioxide) is removed from the bean and replaced with H2O (water). As the coffee swells, the carbon can escape from the brew and the result is an even extract that is overall less bitter.

To make your coffee swell, all you have to do is add enough water to soak up the coffee powder. Just a few centimeters of the liquid are enough for this. Set 30 seconds on your timer and wait!

Brew the Coffee in the French Press

Until what time is good to have coffee?

After the coffee has swelled up, add the rest of the water to the pot.

To decide how much water you should now pour into the French press, stick to the ratio 1:15 and make sure to leave some space at the top for the sieve stamp so that you can easily close the lid later.

Gently stir with a non-metallic object until the coffee particles in the upper, more solid layer are incorporated into the liquid and evenly enveloped by water. The best way to keep the brew warm is to put the lid on the French press.

Then let the coffee rest for at least 4 ½ minutes.

Remove the Coffee Froth on Top

coffee froth

After 4½ minutes you will see a thin layer of coffee grounds on top of the brew and bleached foam. To prevent excess coffee grounds from getting into your coffee, you can simply skim it off with a spoon and place it in a bowl.

Press Down on the French Press

Press Down on the French Press Maker

By pressing down the sieve die, most of the small coffee grains are pressed onto the bottom of the glass pot. However, due to the large holes in the sieve, some of them can slip through.

So that these don’t end up in your cup, you should slowly and carefully press down the sieve stamp of the French press.

Pour Into a Cup From the French Press

Pour The Coffee from French Press

There is only one thing you should remember before you have your coffee. Make sure you pour the same way you put the stamp down – slowly and carefully!

In order to avoid too strong an extraction, which leads to a bitter taste of the coffee, you should pour your coffee immediately and transfer coffee residues into a vacuum jug.

You should now have a cup of silky, sweet, full-bodied coffee. This could be the best french press coffee you’ve ever tried.

All that remains is to ENJOY it!

Conclusion

And that was it! These are my best tips for the French Press, which will allow you to make barista-quality coffee from the comfort of your own home.

Taking the time to preheat the French press, letting the coffee swell, and using the correct coffee-water ratio, makes all the difference!

As soon as you have the feeling that you have mastered all of my steps in the instructions inside out, test your own coffee-water ratio and experiment with the brewing times yourself. Preparing coffee should be a pleasure! So no matter how you make your coffee in the French Press, make sure you have fun with it!

FAQ

Most coffee experts agree that medium and dark roasted coffee beans are the best coffee roast for the French press.

Dark roasted beans go well with the soft, full-bodied texture of the French press as they create caramel and chocolate flavors. The best grind for a French press is medium to coarse. If you are making the coffee beans at home, grind them until they are the size of flaky sea salt. If you buy your coffee at the grocery store, look for “Grind for French Press”.

Coffee oil residues and particles can build up in your French press over time, so clean your French press after each use.

Dispose of the coffee leftovers carefully with a non-metallic spatula. Then wash the French Press carefully with warm water, dish soap and a sponge. Remove coffee grounds residues simply by rinsing them with fresh water. For a more thorough cleaning, carefully take the French Press apart and scrub it gently with a baking soda-water paste. Add equal parts of vinegar and warm water to remove hard water residue. Finally, rinse the jug thoroughly with water.

Recent studies suggest that drinking more than 5 cups of unfiltered coffee a day can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol in the blood. This is because the coffee oils go through the French press die during the pressing process.

But let’s be realistic: you probably – like the majority of people – don’t drink that much coffee. But to be on the safe side and to prevent negative side effects, you should limit your consumption of French Press coffee to a maximum of 5 cups per day.

Yes, it’s easy to cold brew in a French press.

Simply grind fresh beans to a coarse powder, place in a French press and combine with filtered water at room temperature. Let it sit in a cool place out of direct sunlight for 12-18 hours and press it through just before serving. This method results in a light coffee with a mild, fruity taste. You can assume that the French press produces more sediments than a traditional cold brew coffee.

If you like a simpler brewing process that requires less equipment, the French Press might be for you.

The French Press French Press brews according to the “full immersion” principle, ie the coffee powder is completely mixed with the water before it is separated by a filter after a certain steeping time. The coffee is easier to prepare here than when brewing with the hand filter. You don’t need a gooseneck kettle and you don’t have to worry about a certain casting technique.

Compared to brewing with the hand filter, which often uses disposable paper filters, the French Press is more environmentally friendly because it is equipped with a built-in metal filter.

Thanks to the coarser filter and the “full immersion” process, French Press coffee can taste more aromatic than the brewed coffee from the hand filter. If you like full-bodied, caramel-like aromas, choose the French Press, for lighter, fruity coffee you should try brewing with the hand filter.

Without a doubt, Bodum makes some of the best French presses on the market. Bodum combines functionality and innovation and is famous for its beautiful French presses made of glass and insulated stainless steel.

The French Press is perhaps the most sustainable coffee maker currently available on the market.

French presses do not require disposable plastic capsules or paper filters. You produce less coffee waste because the grinding process is less demanding. French presses are great value for money as they are often well made and can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Spare parts are easy to find online and the filters last between 6 and 12 months with regular use.

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