A Guide to the Perfect French Press

Justin Goldstein • February 07, 2021 • 3 min read

French Press With Silver Handle

What is French Press?

French Press is one of the simplest brew methods out there. Compared to others that require pricey equipment, to get started, you only need a French Press, ground coffee, hot water and a spoon. You can buy a good press for about $20, so you can be up and running without breaking the bank. The beauty of this immersion method is the inherent simplicity. Once you figure out the right coffee to water ratio, water temp and brew time, you are good to go.

Things to Know Before You Start to Brew Coffee

While there is no type of coffee that is universally preferred for French Press, I personally like medium to dark roasts for this method. Given the resulting cup is full bodied and rich with flavor, French Press can reduce bitterness and increase the sweetness of some of these more developed roast profiles.

Since French Press uses a built-in mesh screen rather than paper filters, most of the oils in the coffee remain intact throughout the process, giving it excellent flavor and complexity. With the metal screen, however, you should use a coarse grind to ensure sediment and smaller particles don’t make their way into your cup. Try to avoid pre-ground store coffee as this will likely be far too fine for this method. If you have a grinder at home that is always preferred, or go to your local coffee shop, buy a bag and ask them to grind it coarse specifically for French Press.

5 Steps to Make the Perfect French Press

  1. Warm the Press

Start by rinsing out your French Press with hot water. This step will help ensure the brewing temperature will be stable throughout the process. You do this to avoid putting your hot water into a cold press which would immediately cool the water down upon contact. Once you’ve heated up the press, discard the hot water before moving to the next step.

  1. Add Coffee

To start, we recommend using about 8 Tablespoons (56g) of coffee to brew an entire batch (assuming a standard 34 oz. capacity French Press). Ideally, you’ll grind your coffee right before brewing to a course size that resembles breadcrumbs. If using pre-ground coffee, it should still mirror this coarseness.

  1. Add Water

Now it’s time to add hot water (~200℉). Start by filling the press halfway and let it sit for 1 minute. At that point, give it a good stir with your spoon, breaking the crust on top, before adding the remaining hot water to fill your French Press.  

  1. Put the Top on and Let it Sit

Once the water is filled to the top, place the lid back on - without pushing down - and let it sit for the next 3-7 minutes (4-8 minutes total brew time). The brew time is variable and dependent on the coffee you use and flavor profile you are looking for. If you happen to use a finer ground coffee, your brew time will be shorter, while coarser grinds will take more time to develop. Play with this step a bit to get your brewed coffee just right.

  1. Press and Enjoy

Once you’ve reached your desired brew time, press the screen firmly down until you hit the bottom and then begin to pour. If you are not drinking the coffee immediately, move it to an insulated carafe rather than letting it sit to avoid over extraction and temperature loss.

Most importantly, this is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor! May I suggest a croissant with your coffee?