A French press, also known as a press pot or coffee plunger, will make some of the best coffee outside of an Italian café. Although it is extremely simple to use, the different components can intimidate people. Learn how to use it and be on your way to the ultimate cup of Joe.
At first blush an automatic drip coffeemaker may seem easier to use than a French press, but both methods actually take the same amount of time, and the French press doesn’t require filters. Once you learn how to properly use it, you’ll be making coffee in your French press every morning.
Step 1: Get coffee
For the best cup of coffee, it all starts with the best beans. This isn’t necessarily the most expensive coffee — it’s whatever you most enjoy.
If you favor coffee from a local or chain coffee shop, see if you can purchase your coffee there. For a bigger selection, head to a specialty coffee store where you’ll be able to choose from a variety of sources and types.
Step 2: Grind it
Once you have your beans, you need to grind them. If possible, don’t use store-bought, pre-ground coffee since it will be too fine and will result in a lot of sediment in your cup.
If purchasing your beans at a coffee shop they will likely be able to grind it for you, and will do it so that it is optimized for a French press.
If you grind it at home, use a burr grinder if possible so the grains are even, and grind it so that it is medium to course.
Step 3: Measure it
The amount of coffee will depend on the size of your French press, as well as how strong you like your coffee. A good rule of thumb is to use about 1 tablespoon of ground coffee for every 4 ounces of water. A standard size French press is typically about 34 ounces (although they come in various sizes), in which case you should use about 8 tablespoons of ground coffee.
Try making it this way the first time, and if it is too strong or too weak, adjust it accordingly the next time you make coffee.
Step 4: Add water
Fill a teapot or electric kettle with water and bring it to a boil. Just as it starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the grounds in a circular motion.
Fill it about one third of the way and stop (this helps prevent the glass from breaking and also allows time for the coffee to bloom or expand slightly. After a few seconds, continue adding the water until it reaches about 1 inch from the top (there might be a fill line somewhere on the pot).
Step 5: Steep, stir and press
Wait 1 minute (a timer is very helpful in this case) and then stir with a spoon. Wait another 3 minutes, and insert the plunger (the lid of the French pot), making sure that the lip of the pot lines up to the spout on the top.
Press the plunger down all the way with slow, steady force, until it is as far as it will go.
Step 6: Pour and enjoy
Pour your freshly made French press coffee into your favorite mug, add milk, sugar, cream, or whatever you like and enjoy!
French press coffee is really best fresh, but if you’re not going to enjoy it immediately, it’s best to transfer the coffee to an insulated carafe or coffee pot (if it is left in the French press it can become bitter very quickly).