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How to Use a French Press Coffee Maker

Written by: John Beans | Last Updated on April 17, 2021

If you want to know how to use a French press correctly, then you are in the right place.

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.

How to Make French Press Coffee

The design of the French press coffee maker 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. We show you how to make French press coffee below.

How to Make French Press Coffee

1.  Boil water.

2.  Grind the beans and add the ground coffee to the French press. Shake gently to smooth out the coffee layer.

3.  Place the French press on the scale and zero the scale.

4.  Set a timer for 5 minutes, start the timer, and gently pour water into the French press until the scale reads 400 grams.

5.  After 1 minute, stir the contents with a spoon 10 times. Place the plunger on top, but don't lower it.

6.  After another 4 minutes, lower the plunger.

7.  Your drink is ready. It should be poured into cups immediately to prevent further extraction.

Tips

Don't lower the piston too quickly! It's important to do this carefully. Otherwise, you might shake the coffee a lot and the balance of tastes will be disturbed. The output will be bitter, undrinkable coffee.

Grind size: Coarse

Brew ratio: 1:16

Extraction time: 5 min

What you need:

  • Coffee grinder
  • Scales and timer
  • French Press coffee maker
  • The kettle
  • Freshly roasted coffee
  • Clean filtered water

Step-by-step instructions:

1. Heat the water. 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.

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.

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

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

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

3. You need to rinse the French press coffee maker with hot water to warm it up to the optimum temperature.

4. Add coffee to the French press. Use the "correct" (most common) dosage and brewing time, without significant deviations from the recommendations. The optimal dose of coffee for a standard 350 ml (12 fl oz) French press is 21 grams (0.74 oz).

The coffee-to-water ratio of ground coffee beans weight to the weight of the finished coffee is 1:17, i.e., 57 grams (2 oz) of coffee 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 coffee grounds by eye, because the slightest deviation in proportions can significantly affect the result. It is best to weigh the coffee grounds on a scale in 0.1-gram increments each time you use a French press.

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

6. After 4 minutes, 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).

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.

7. When the timer goes off, gently lower the plunger to the bottom of the French press and immediately pour the coffee into cups. Be careful! Don't press down too hard or you may splash yourself with boiling water. Press down with a safe, steady pressure.

8. Immediately transfer the drink to your cup or another container to stop extraction. You cannot leave the coffee in the French press or it will over-extract and become too strong.

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 of coffee at once.

The Team That Worked On This Blog Post

Patty-Cramer-Editor-Coffee-Consultant-at-MyFriendsCoffee

Editor & Coffee Consultant

Patty Cramer

I'm the coffee consultant at MyFriendsCoffee. I've been in the coffee business for over 21 years and still have a passion for coffee. My most important skill is that I know how to organize work processes.

John Beans Editor & Founder

Resident Editor-in-Chief

John Beans

I’m the resident Editor-in-Chief of MyFriendsCoffee. For more than 5 years I tried a large variety of coffees from different brands and master 7 ways to brew coffee and am not going to stop there. I switched my first coffee maker with a professional espresso machine and now my kitchen is filled with various coffee equipment.

Tessa Dixon – Beginner Barista & Content Creator

BArista

Tessa Dixon

I was born in Seattle, and this city has a strong connection to coffee culture, so it's no wonder I decided to become a barista! I’ve learned many ways of making coffee and now I know how to make any coffee delicious.

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