French Press
The Best Coffee at Home:
Using a French Press

With all the fancy, techno-filled coffee machines on the market, people tend to forget that the simplest way is usually the best. On the other hand, people can also be intimidated by the "old ways'.

Let's get one thing straight; The French Press isn't rocket science. The French press, also called the cafetiere or coffee press, is a cylinder-shaped beaker (usually glass, but often plastic or steel) with a plunger. The piston of the plunger is made of mesh, allowing liquid to flow through it but not the larger coffee grounds.

With some coffee-brewing methods, the amount of brewed coffee you're trying to make and the grind size of your beans will affect how quickly the water will flow through the coffee—and how long your total brew time will be. This is true for drip brewing, pourover, and even espresso.

Take a look below at the 6 easy steps in making a delicious cup of coffee using a French Press.

 

  1. Start with a very coarse grind; maybe the coarsest setting on your grinder. Take note of your grind size so you can make adjustments later; grind a little finer next time if your brew was weak, a bit coarser if your tasting a lot of over-extracted flavors.

    HOW MUCH: While there is a maximum amount your French Press will make, there really isn't a minimum. A good coffee-to-water ratio is between 60-70 grams of coffee per liter of water. Decide how much brewed coffee you want to make and weigh out the right amount of coffee.

  2. Get your clean (filtered if you need it) brew water ready. With French Press, you're good to pour your water right off the boil unless you have an insulated or double-walled press, in which case you should wait about 30 seconds off of boil. If you are brewing dark-roasted coffee or decaf, it's better with water that has been cooled a bit.

  3. Start your clock and add your water. Some people like to add a little water, stir, and and the rest. It really doesn't matter. The important part is what you do after you add the water. You should give your coffee and water mix a gentle stir about 30 to 45 seconds in. You'll know you're good to put the lid on and move on to the next step when most of the coffee has sunk and isn't floating anymore.

  4. This next part may be different than what you've previously heard but stick with us here: Shoot for a target brew time between 6 and 8 minutes. Sure you could brew for 3 to 4 minutes but to get the best flavor results, you'd be grinding your coffee a lot finer, and you wouldn't be getting the most out of using your French Press.

  5. When you're ready to stop your brewing, it's time to plunge. French Press is a nice, slow, gentle brew. One great way to ruin that niceness is to violently agitate your coffee grounds, accelerating extraction right at the end when your coffee has already given up the good stuff and the bitter and astringent negative flavors are threatening to take over. Plunge gently. If you feel the plunger start to get tight, back it up an inch or two and resume plunging. Once you get to the bottom, you're done!

  6. If you've plunged your bed down night and tight, there isn't a lot of brewing that will happen from this point on, but it's still ideal to pour off your entire beverage right after plunging to truly stop the brewing process.