How To Use A French Press

Cafetière. Coffee Press. Coffee Plunger. Press Pot. No matter what name you choose to call it, the french press is one of the simplest ways to make coffee. First patented in 1929, the french press continues to be as convenient and environmentally friendly as it ever was.

If you are like me back when I was first introduced to french presses, and you have no idea how to use one, this handy guide will help step you through the quick and easy process. With just a few additional tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the perfect brew each and every time!



What You Need

Below you will find the items necessary to make coffee in a french press. How much water and coffee you need will depend on the amount of coffee you plan to make, the capacity of your french press and the strength of flavor you desire. We will get into some basic guidelines a little later, but you can and should tinker around with your measurements to learn what your ideal brew is. I actually think that’s part of the fun!

  • French press
  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Hot water
  • Mug/coffee cup
  • Long spoon – for stirring
  • Tablespoon – for measuring
  • Creamer (optional)
  • Sweetener (optional)
  • Additional flavorings (optional)


Directions & Tips

1 Heat The Water.

This step couldn’t get any easier. Whether you have a hot water dispenser or need to boil some water on the stove, the first thing you will want to do is ensure that you have some hot water handy. I love heating water in an electric kettle and have found that it is the perfect compliment to my french press.

The ideal water temperature for french press brewing is approximately 92-96 degrees Fahrenheit. No thermometer? No problem. Allow your water to boil and sit just long enough to stop bubbling—that should be the sweet spot. Just below the point of boiling is perfect.

Tip! Filtered water is highly recommended when making coffee or tea. Unfiltered water can contain many flavor-distorting impurities, which can greatly alter the taste of your brew.



2 Measure & Add The Coffee.

This part is a bit experimental. The very best thing to do when you are discovering your ideal brew is to try one measurement and tinker with it until you get just the right strength you are looking for. When attempting to measure your own coffee, take into consideration the coffee roast you’re using and the water capacity of your french press. Light roast coffee has a delicate flavor, so you might need to use a bit extra to get a more flavorful brew. Dark roast coffee already has a strong and robust flavor, so you may not need to add nearly as much of it to your french press.

Just as a rule of thumb, a bold brew is achieved by using 1 level tablespoon of medium roast coffee per every 4-6 oz of water used. I personally find this to be entirely too strong for my own liking, especially since I don’t tend to use the mildest of roasts. This being considered, I use 3 to 3.5 tablespoons of medium roast coffee with 34 oz of water. I have found this to be my ideal measurement because it is full-bodied without being too strong.

Tip! Always use coarse ground coffee when you are brewing in a french press. Its filter may become clogged if the coffee is too finely ground, which can prevent you from being able to press the plunger down.

Tip! You can buy bags of prepackaged coarse ground coffee at the store or grind your own from whole beans. If you are grinding your own and want to know just how coarse to make it, shoot for grounds that are similar in size to grains of kosher salt. If your grind is powdery or dissolves as soon as it hits water, it is way too fine. You want grounds that are just large enough to ensure that they can’t pass through or slip around your french press filter.



3 Add Water, Stir & Wait.

Once you’ve placed just the right amount of coffee into your french press, fill it up with the boiled water. Use a long spoon to stir the grounds, ensuring that nothing remains settled at the bottom of the canister.

Gently place the top onto the french press. Do not push the plunger down yet. If your specific french press allows you to spin the top and obstruct the spout opening, do so now. This will ensure that the steam stays inside of the canister instead of escaping through the spout. Allow your coffee to sit and brew for 4 minutes.

Tip! If you have a french press with a glass beaker like mine, always try to use plastic spoons to stir your grounds with. Metal spoons can scratch, chip or damage the glass. However, stainless steel coffee presses are perfectly safe to use with metal spoons.



4 Press It All Down.

After 4 minutes, it is time to press down the plunger. While holding the lid of the french press in place, gently press on the plunger until it hits the bottom of the canister where the coffee grounds have collected. There is no need to press hard; we just want to get the coffee grounds out of the way.

Tip! If you feel any resistance at all while pressing the plunger—Stop! Never attempt to force the plunger if it becomes stuck. Just remove it, stir your coffee, clear any visible obstructions from the filter and try once more. Placing excessive force upon the plunger can lead to damage or injury, so be careful 🙂



5 Pour & Enjoy!

If you closed off your pouring spout before brewing, go ahead and open the spout again. Grab your favorite cup or mug and pour yourself some coffee. You can add creamer, sweetener or additional flavorings/syrups if you wish.


And that’s that! Super easy, huh? Now you know how to make a great cup of coffee with a french press. Looking for a new french press, but don’t know which one to pick? I highly recommend checking out those made by Bodum. They carry a good selection of sizes and styles to match every taste and budget. If you’re interested in learning more about the one I purchased from them, be sure to check out my ‘Chambord’ review. ’Til next time…stay golden!



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