How to Use A French Press

A French press is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make coffee. It's not difficult, but you do need to understand some nuances of the method.

This material will be a good basis for your future independent experiments. After all, you can find the optimal dosage, brewing time, and other variables empirically.

We suggest you watch the following video, in which coffee guru James Hoffman explains his method of making French press coffee.

Preparation

The design of the French press is simple - a glass flask with a handle, and a plunger connected to the lid that also has a steel mesh filter on the other end.

Brewing coffee in a French press is easy, but making delicious coffee in a French press is harder. The final result is influenced by several factors:

  1. The coffee must be fresh (no more than 2 months past its roasting date). Stale coffee will not produce a delicious, aromatic drink.

  2. You need a good burr grinder. To extract coffee correctly in a French press, a very even grind is required. You can't achieve an even grind with a blade grinder. When brewing with a French press, you can grind to any consistency between that of granulated sugar and that of coarse sea salt

  3. Use water with a mineralization of about 100 mg/L. The TDS (total dissolved solids) of water plays a huge role in the preparation of any coffee drink, and the French press is no exception. Any strange flavors in water can have a significant impact on the taste of the resulting coffee.

  4. Use the "correct" (most common) dosage and brewing time, without significant deviations from the recommendations.

Brewing

French Press

Brew Time: 10 Min

Yield: 3 Cups

Instructions

What You Need


• Pure hot water at 198-203°F (92-95°C)

• Coffee grinder (grind size - coarse, like granulated sugar)

• Scales and timer 

• French Press

• The kettle

• Freshly roasted coffee beans

1. Heat the water. Turn off the kettle before the water starts boiling, or boil the water and let the water cool for a couple of minutes.


2. Grind the coffee. You can vary the grind to your liking. It's best not to use too small of a grind, or the coffee may over-extract.


3. Add coffee to the French Press.


4. Pour in the required amount of water from the kettle. Don't put the lid on the French Press. Wait 3-4 minutes.


5. After 4 minutes, stir the coffee with a spoon. Cover with the lid, but do not lower the plunger. Leave for another 5-6 minutes.


6. Slowly lower the plunger.  If you don't need to use much force to lower the plunger, you've used too fine a grind. Be careful! Don't press down too hard or you may splash yourself with boiling water. Press down with a safe, steady pressure.


7. Immediately transfer the drink to your cup or another container to stop extraction.

Grinding and Dosage

The best grind for a French press is coarse, which is larger than sea salt.

The optimal dose of coffee for a standard 350 ml (12 fl oz) French press is 21 grams (0.74 oz).

The ratio of ground coffee weight to the weight of the finished coffee is 1:17, i.e., 57 grams (2 oz) of grounds per 1 liter (33 fl oz) of water. To determine the dosage for each specific case, you just need to calculate the proportions. For example, a half liter (17 fl oz) drink will require 28 grams (1 oz) of coffee.

You should not measure the grounds by eye, because the slightest deviation in proportions can significantly affect the result. It is best to weigh the grounds on a scale in 0.1-gram increments each time you make coffee in the French press.

Water Temperature

The optimum water temperature for making coffee in a French press is 203°F (95°C).

To achieve this temperature, you either need to bring the water to a boil and then cool it down after, or stop heating it before it's boiling, when it's at the right temperature. A good water thermometer will be helpful.

Extraction

First, you need to rinse the French press with hot water to warm it up to the optimum temperature. Then pour the ground coffee into the French press and add 350 ml (12 fl oz) of water. Set your timer for around 4 minutes, and start it right away.

When the timer goes off, stir the coffee with a plastic or wooden spatula, cover the French press with a lid without lowering the plunger, and leave for 5-6 minutes (set this amount on your timer).

When the timer goes off, gently lower the plunger to the bottom of the French press and immediately pour the coffee into cups. You cannot leave the coffee in the French press or it will over-extract and become too strong.

Recommendation: for more even extraction, after stirring, lower the plunger just far enough so that the particles are in the water, not on top of the filter. After 3 to 4 minutes, fully lower the plunger and pour the coffee into cups.

As the coffee cools, the taste will change. Some varieties are very interesting in their changing tastes, so don't rush to drink the whole cup at once.