Home Food & Drink Guide to French Press Coffee

Guide to French Press Coffee

by Bill Sweeney
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Are you looking for more information on French Press Coffee? It’s a great method for brewing coffee, and you’ve come to the right place! You can spend thousands of dollars on high-tech, specialty coffee machines. But you don’t have to.

The French press is a simple, inexpensive coffee maker that delivers a high-quality brew. They don’t require electricity, so you can take them anywhere. You can even find insulated, unbreakable French presses that are great for camping. Nothing beats boiling water over the fire and making gourmet coffee when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

French Press Coffee

Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels

What Is a French Press

The French press is a cylindrical container with a mesh plunger. To over simplify, you put in the coffee grounds and hot water then push the grinds down with the plunger. But where did the French press come from?

The first patent for a plunger coffee maker is from two Frenchmen in 1852. But this device did not quite work like the presses we have today.

In 1929, Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta patented a device similar to today’s French press. Several years later, the same Italian company added the spring around the mesh filter that helped keep the disks sealed to the side, keeping the coffee grounds down.

How Does It Work?

Even though the French press is low tech, it produces a delicious, full bodied brew. With this method, you actually steep the coffee grinds.

The mesh screens are a key component. As you press the plunger down, the water swirls through the grounds and filter, taking the flavor and leaving the spent grounds. The filter then keeps the grinds on the bottom as you pour, keeping them out of your cup.

The better French presses use multiple screens and have metal discs to keep them together. Because this method does not use paper filters, you extract the most oils. The oils are what give coffee that rich flavor and enticing aroma. The lid is important to keep the heat in while the coffee is brewing.

Best Coffee for French Press

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

How to Make French Press Coffee

The main thing to know about the French press is that you use a coarse grind. With a regular or fine grind, the coffee would over-extract and become bitter. Also, a finer grind would slip through the mesh filter and end up in the cup. A mouthful of coffee grinds is not pleasant.

When grinding, it’s best to use a burr grinder. These give a uniform grind compared to blade grinders. This delivers even extraction and minimizes stray grounds slipping past the filter.

Steps to Great Coffee

  1. Preheat the carafe with hot water.
  2. Place the grinds in the carafe.
  3. Pour just enough hot water in to cover the grounds. Let it soak for about 30 seconds. This will allow the coffee to bloom.
  4. Slowly pour the remaining water into the carafe in a circular motion. Gently place the lid on the carafe but do not press down on the plunger.
  5. Have the coffee to steep about 4 minutes. Next, gently press the plunger down until the filter reaches the bottom of the carafe.
  6. Pour and enjoy!

The French Press Widget

The ratio of grounds to water is critical for all methods of brewing coffee. And it’s different for every brewing method and grind size. For the French press, you want about one part coffee to 15 parts water. For stronger coffee, use about one part coffee to 12 parts water.

To take the guess work out, you can use this handy French Press Widget. It will calculate the ratio of coffee and water for any amount of finished brew that you want. It then walks you though the steps.

The widget includes lots of tips to perfect your technique and consistently make great tasting French press coffee. It also has a timer to help you get the proper bloom and steep time.

French Press

Best Coffee for French Press

No matter how well you follow these steps, if you start with the wrong coffee you won’t like the results. You need the best coffee for French Press.

First, we strongly suggest that you start with whole bean coffee. Besides the freshness issue, most pre-ground coffee will be too fine. However, you will find some coarse pre-ground coffees

The second thing is to start with a specialty-grade coffee. Of course, which origin or blend you get is up to you.

Many prefer a medium to dark roast. Darker roasts work especially well for the French press. This brewing method reduces the bitterness that dark roasts can have with other brew methods. My personal favorite for the French press is a Sumatran coffee, but it’s not for everyone.

French Press Coffee

Photo by Georgi Petrov from Pexels

Keep It Clean

Here’s one more important tip… Be sure to keep your French press clean. Most filters will easily unscrew so you can take it apart and wash all the oils out. Built up oils will ruin the taste of your coffee quicker than anything.

As long as you follow these guidelines, you will create pot after pot of satisfying French press coffee. Happy Brewing!

Guide to French Press Coffee was last modified: March 8th, 2021 by Bill Sweeney

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Alexandria Allison March 11, 2021 - 3:41 PM

I’ve always wanted to get a French press but never knew if it was worth it. Really loved this post, so informative and it’s made me want to go out and buy one 🙂

Tracy Isidore March 11, 2021 - 4:23 PM

I LOVE my French press! It comes in handy when we are camping and I need my morning coffee, lol. Great article, I learned new things about taking care of it and the right coffee to use!

Sandra Ward March 12, 2021 - 7:07 AM

French Presses are amazing. Have you tried using them to make teas as well? I grow my own coneflowers for making tea this way.

Emily Fata March 12, 2021 - 10:21 AM

This was a really interesting read! Thanks so much for sharing all of this great information.

Neely Moldovan March 12, 2021 - 12:34 PM

Oh I love authentic french press coffee! One of my favorite gifts was our coffee press.

Neha March 14, 2021 - 2:27 PM

I absolutely adore french press coffee but never gave it a go myself. Thanks for sharing this detailed guide.

Steven Morrissette March 14, 2021 - 7:41 PM

You have just convinced me to buy a french press it does look easy and much more delicious a coffee.

Ntensibe Edgar March 15, 2021 - 5:46 AM

Aaahhhh….thank you for educating me about the French Press. It’s quite a lot here I didn’t know about!


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