In this modern tech era, the thought of using equipment that has no buttons, knobs, or LED read outs seems like a dated idea. But for those who don't know, learning how to use a French Press to make coffee is one of the easiest and best ways to achieve the perfect cup of coffee. The french press looks simple yet elegant and is nothing more than just glass and stainless steel. A noticeable lack of cords to plug in or buttons to push is no reason to fret! Making perfect french press coffee takes little time to learn using these steps.
It's worth noting that the French Press method is ideal for coffee that's robust and full-bodied. Because this method involves the full immersion of coffee grounds in water, it provides a lot more contact than other brew methods. This most often results in a much deeper and fuller cup of coffee.
Using a French Press to Make Coffee:
Step 1: The Equipment
Step 2: Preparation
Once the equipment is gathered start by grinding whole bean to a medium size, or approximately the texture of very small bread crumbs. The real secret to making excellent French Press coffee is using the right size grind. Overly coarse grinds will clog the filter and overly fine grinds will pass through it. Aiming for a medium grind with uniformity will give you the best results when using a French Press to make coffee. Along these lines, having a solid coffee grinder will literally reinvent your coffee experience, in a very good way. (tip: if you don't have a grinder but happen to have a blender, check out our article on using the Vitamix blender to grind coffee beans.)
Once you've ground your beans down to size, fill the electric kettle just over half with water, set on high to boil. While waiting for the kettle to boil, put the freshly ground coffee into the french press. It may take some trial and error to find that perfect brew strength but the general ratio is 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water. If the first attempts are not to taste, adjust the amount of coffee added. The more coffee grounds added, the stronger the coffee. You can aim for ½ to ¾ an inch depending how much coffee you're making as a starting point and adjust from there. Getting the correct amount of coffee in a french press will become second nature after a few successful attempts. Remember, when learning to use a French Press to make coffee, you're able to manually tweak so many different variables from grind size and water quantity to brew time and temperature adjustments.
Step 3: Water and Wait
Once the water boils, unplug the electric kettle. Allow a minute or so for the water to cool. It's best to use water that's slightly cooler than boiling. Next, carefully and evenly pour the water over the grounds until the carafe. An even pour is critical because it ensures a uniform distribution of water over all the beans. Before covering the French Press, take about 30 – 45 seconds to gently stir the water and grounds together (chopsticks work very well since metal silverware can scratch or damage the glass.) Cover the French Press and walk away for 3-4 minutes while the coffee brews.
Step 4: Plunge and Pour
For the final step, take the plunger and push down firmly but slowly. The plunger should push down with medium resistance until the mesh sits on top of the grounds. Serve coffee immediately. Follow these steps, adjust to taste, and the perfect cup of french press will soon be at hand.
Tips on French Press Coffee
- Once the coffee is done, you'll want to decant it immediately. Otherwise, it will be over-extracted and ruin the flavor.
- Make sure you don't push the plunger all the way to the bottom. Doing so will perturb the coffee grounds and cause them to start floating all over the place.
- There are other French Press schools of thought that suggest waiting an additional 5 minutes before pouring your coffee. Yes, that's a significant amount of extra wait time but the additional extraction time will make for a much more flavorful and potent cup. Whether this method is better or worse is of course subject to personal preferences.
The mechanics of the equipment are straightforward. Learning how to use a French Press to make coffee is an art that's easy to learn but takes a long time to truly master. We recommend experimenting with the bean quantity and brew times to achieve the perfect taste! As we mentioned earlier, Bodum has been credited with inventing the modern-day French Press. If you're looking to get a high quality French Press that won't break the bank, check out Bodum French Presses. If you any of our readers have some suggestions on improving the art of making French Press coffee, we'd love to hear from you.
James Hoffman French Press Method
Coffee expert James Hoffman offers an alternative way of making a French Press which has gained amazing traction within the coffee community. It takes a tad longer but the extra patience pays off. The biggest difference in the Hoffman French Press method is that you allow the coffee to sit in the French Press longer (8-9 minutes). That may seem extreme for some but it makes for a totally different and arguably better coffee experience. He recommends using a medium grind also suggests using a ratio of 30 grams of coffee / 500 grams of water.