How To Make French Press Coffee (Step-By-Step Guide)

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I drink a lot of coffee. In fact, I’m pretty sure that without coffee life wouldn’t be worth living. Over the years I have tinkered with all sorts of different coffee makers, from automatic drip brewers, pour-over, Moka pots, espresso machines, and the French Press. As great as all of the other brewing methods are the French Press has always had a special place in my heart. It was one of the first coffee makers I used when I transitioned away from push-button brewers, and it is here where my love of coffee began.

So if you have got on the French Press pot bandwagon and have just purchased a new press pot, I bet you’re wondering how to make French Press coffee. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking for some tips to make your daily brew that little bit better then this article is for you.

French Press Brewing At A Glance

What You Need

  • 8- cup good quality French Press.
  • 56g (8 tablespoons) of fresh whole coffee.
  • Hot water just off the boil (about 205°F).
  • Coffee grinder (burr grinder recommended).
  • Wooden spoon.
  • Coffee scale.
  • Coffee mug.
  • Timer (recommended).

End Result

  • Total brew time: 4:00.
  • Yield: 8 cups (1L).
  • Cup Characteristics: Heavy and robust.

French Press Brewing Instructions

Brewing with a French Press is super simple, to be honest, its probably one of the easiest, most forgiving, and least expensive ways to brew great tasting coffee at home. Follow my below step-by-step guide on how to use a French Press.

Step 1: Boil Your Water

Gooseneck kettle on a stove-top

Turn on your kettle and heat your water to 205 degrees by bringing it up to a boil and letting it stand for 30 seconds. Even though I’m using a gooseneck style kettle, no fancy kettle is needed for the French Press and a regular whistling tea kettle is perfectly fine.

Step 2: Weigh Out And Grind Your Whole Coffee

Coffee being weighed on a scale

Different French Press Coffee Ratio

French Press Size3-Cup4-Cup8-Cup
Coffee17 grams (2-3 tbsp)27 grams (4-5 tbsp)54 grams (8-10 tbsp)
Water275 mL, plus additional for pre-heating.430 mL, plus additional for pre-heating.860 mL, plus additional for pre-heating.

Weigh out 56 grams of whole bean coffee (about 8-10 tablespoons) and set your coffee grinder to a coarse setting. The ground coffee needs to be as coarse as breadcrumbs so try and aim for that consistency when grinding. (Take a look at our coffee grind chart)

Coarsely ground coffee in a glass jar

Step 3: Pre-Heat Your French Press

Pre-heat and rinse French Press

By now your Kettle should have boiled. With your hot water give your French Press a rinse, this helps to maintain the temperature of the French Press while brewing. Pour away rinse water once done.

Step 4: Add Your Coffee And Some Water

Adding ground coffee to French Press

Pouring hot water into the French Press over coffee grounds

Steeping coffee grounds inside of the French press

Time: 0:00

Have your timer and hot water nearby. Add your coffee grounds to the French Press and start to pour in your hot water. As soon as you start to pour start your timer. Stop pouring when you reach roughly halfway up the French Press.

Step 5: Gently Stir

Stirring coffee inside of the French Press

Time: 1:00

When your timer reads 1-minute take a wooden spoon (or as I have used the AeroPress spatula) and start to break through the top layer (the crust). Give your French Press coffee a good stir. The goal here is to get all of the coffee submerged with water.

Step 6: Add More Water

Adding more water and filling up the pot

With the timer still ticking away fill the French Press with water to the top. Place the plunger on the top but do not push down just yet.

Step 7: Press Down The Plunger

Pressing down on the plunger

Time: 4:00

When your timer read 4-minutes, it’s time to push down the plunger. Using both hands, one to hold the French Press and the other on the plunger, slowly begin to push down. Don’t push down too fast, try and apply firm but moderate pressure as you push.

Step 8: Serve And Enjoy

Serving coffee from the French Press

You’re done! If you are drinking the coffee straight away pour into your coffee mugs, otherwise pour into a decanter straight away to stop avoid over-extraction (If the coffee sits on the grounds too long, it will continue to extract, and you will find that your coffee becomes bitter.

French Press Brewing Tips

Always make sure that your French Press is clean before you brew coffee in it. Most of the mesh filter will unscrew so you can get rid of any old coffee grounds. If you leave these stale grounds inside the filter there is a good chance that your coffee will taste bitter.

As with all brewing methods I strongly recommend that you start off by using whole coffee beans and grind just before you brew. If you grind your coffee too early (storing your coffee already ground), you will find that the coffee will lose almost all of the compounds that give it such delightful flavors and aromas.

French press brewing step by step

Troubleshooting

  • Coffee Tastes Weak: Most likely your coffee grind is simply too coarse nest time try grinding the coffee a little bit finer (remember to aim for a consistency like breadcrumbs). Also, make sure that you are steeping the coffee for 3-4 minutes.
  • Coffee Tastes Bitter: If your coffee is tasting bitter the chances are that you have ground your coffee too fine. Next time you brew opt for a coarser grind. Also its worth mentioning that if you are using a dark roast, make sure the coffee is fresh and also try to lower the brewing temperature to around 195 F.
  • Coffee Taste Too Strong: Try to reduce the steep time to 3 minutes. Once brewed don’t let the coffee sit inside of the carafe, pour into a decanter if it’s not going to be drunk straight away.
  • Gritty/Thick Sediment At The Bottom Of Your Mug: Either your coffee grind is too fine and the grounds are passing through the mesh plunger filter or there is a problem with your filter not forming a tight seal inside of the glass carafe.
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Mark Morphew

Mark Morphew

Mark is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and the guy behind the coffee blog Bean Ground. You'll almost always find him in a caffeine-induced rant talking about coffee! Mark has been active in the catering and hospitality industry for many years and is a proud member of the Speciality Coffee Association. Discover more about Mark here.
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