How To Use A French Press The RIGHT Way: Tools, Tips, Ratios, Recipe

Are you one of those people who still use the French press the wrong way?

You don’t have to be. In fact, making great coffee with a French press is easier than you think. By following a few simple steps, you’ll be able to brew a delicious French press coffee every day.

Have a look at this step-by-step guide that’ll help you master the process.

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How Does A French Press Work?

French press is pretty straightforward. It is made of three parts:

A beaker or carafe, where you place ground coffee and hot water. The beaker comes with a base and a handle. They make sure you don’t burn yourself on the surface you place the beaker on.

Next, there’s a lid with a filter and a plunger attached. What you have to do is place the lid with the plunger on top of the beaker and slowly push it down when the brew is ready.

What’s great about the Press pot is that you don’t need any paper filters. The coffee is soaked in hot water for a few minutes; this is also known as an immersion brewing method.

How To Brew With A French Press?

Here’s what you need to make French press coffee

Step 1: Heat The Water + Preheat Your Press Pot

As the first step, you have to heat the water. once it boils, pour some of it into your French press to warm it up. Still the water around so that the pot is warm to the touch. This step will let you keep your coffee hotter for longer.

Set the rest of the water aside until it cools down to the ideal temperature, which is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

For best results, use filtered water, if you can.

how to use french press coffee

Step 2: Measure Coffee And Grind It

As you wait for the water to cool, measure and grind your beans. Freshly ground beans will give you the best results; use a god burr grinder for the press pot. Optionally, you can also brew coffee with pre-ground beans and measure the amount of coffee you use with a tablespoon.

The best grind size for the French press is a medium-coarse grind.

How much coffee to use will depend on the size of your French press; see below for the coffee-to-water ratio chart.

Step 3: Check Water Temperature + Measure It

Next, check the water temperature and make sure you’re using the right amount of water. The general ratio is 1:15 – 1-part coffee to 15-part water, but this is more of a guideline. Change the ratio to your taste.

Step 4: Combine Coffee and Hot Water

Place the ground coffee into the Press pot, and pour over hot water; all in one go.

Next, stir the coffee with a spoon real quick to make sure all the grounds are immersed in the water.

Step 5: Place The Lid On And Begin Timing

Now it’s time to place the lid with the plunger on the beaker. This will help to insulate the press, keeping the coffee hot as it steeps.

Ideally, you’ll want to steep the coffee for 4 minutes, but you can easily adjust that according to your taste.

how to brew french pres coffee

Step 6: Push The Plunger Down

After the 4 minutes are up, slowly press down the plunger. Make sure to go all the way to the bottom to stop your coffee from over-extracting.

If you can press the plunger down with minimal pressure, the grounds are too coarse. if there’s too much pressure/resistance, the grounds are too fine.

Step 7: Decant Coffee

Next, you’ll want to decant coffee to prevent it from becoming over-extracted.

Step 8: Serve And Enjoy

How to avoid making bitter coffee?

Here are some steps that can help you avoid brewing bitter coffee:

  • Buy good quality coffee beans, grind them fresh and store them in a dry place
  • Get a good grinder and grind the beans to the ideal consistency
  • Don’t use boiling water; let it cool to 200 degrees before pouring it over ground coffee
  • Regularly clean the brewer (flush it with water after every brew and clean it in-depth once a month)
  • Don’t let coffee sit in the press more than necessary. Serve it immediately; the longer it sits there, the more over-extracted and bitter it becomes.

What’s the right French press Ratio (Coffee to Water Ratio)

There isn’t a single perfect ratio to make French press coffee. The best French press coffee ratio essentially depends on your preferences.

But there is a general rule of thumb: 1-part coffee to 15-part water. This ratio will give you coffee that’s on the weaker side, but you can easily tweak it from here and add a bit more coffee.

For easy ratio calculations, use the calculator below. There’s also a general guideline table below.

Press Pot Size Ground coffee (grams) Water (ounces) Brew Strength
3 cups (12 oz.) 16 10 Mild
3 cups (12 oz.) 18 10 Average
3 cups (12 oz.) 21 10 Strongest
4 cups (17 oz.) 24 15 Mild
4 cups (17 oz.) 27 15 Average
4 cups (17 oz.) 31 15 Strongest
6 cups (24 oz.) 36 22 Mild
6 cups (24 oz.) 40 22 Average
6 cups (24 oz.) 46 22 Strongest
8 cups (34 oz.) 52 32 Mild
8 cups (34 oz.) 59 32 Average
8 cups (34 oz.) 67 32 Strongest
12 cups (51 oz.) 78 48 Mild
12 cups (51 oz.) 88 48 Average
12 cups (51 oz.) 101 48 Strongest

Choose The Right French Press

French press pots come in different sizes. Choose the right one for your needs.

The standard press pot size is between 4 to 8 cups. These cups are smaller than your regular mugs.

  • A small French press brews 3-4 cups of coffee. It’s perfect for one or two servings and the best part about it is that you’ll always make fresh coffee.
  • A large French press brews 8-12 cups of coffee and it’s a perfect solution if you want to please a crowd.
  • Metal French press – this is a durable option that retains heat better than glass.
  • Electric french press – this type heats the water itself, brews the coffee, and keeps it warm after it’s done.

What’s the best coffee for French press?

You can use any type of coffee beans in your press pot. Just make sure they’re coarse-medium or medium grind.

I’d recommend trying medium or dark-roasted beans since these seem to work best and produce the most flavor. After all, these beans have a higher amount of oils that make the brew extra beautiful!

FAQ

What’s the perfect French press coffee grind?

The best grind for the French press is medium-coarse to medium ground coffee. According to Illy,

choose medium, with uniformity and consistency throughout.  Very coarse grinds may clog the filter, while very fine grinds will pass through the filter, muddying the results.

Use a quality burr grinder to get the right consistency and remember that the finer the grounds, the stronger (and over-extracted) the brew. The coarser the grinds, the weaker (under-extracted) the brew.

How much coffee will my French press make?

  • How much coffee for 3 cup/12oz press? 1 cup coffee
  • How much coffee for 8 cup/34oz press pot? 3.5 cups coffee
  • How much coffee for 12 cup/51oz French press? 5.4 cups coffee

How long to brew French press coffee?

The recommended steep time is 3-4 minutes.

If you prefer lighter coffee, steep less. If you prefer stronger coffee, give it a bit more time.

Why is my coffee weak?

The coffee is likely weak because of under-extraction, wrong grind size, or a wrong coffee-water ratio.

Check your grounds – are they medium/medium-coarse? If the grind is too coarse, your coffee will be weak.

Did you let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes?

Did you use too much water and not enough coffee? The general rule is 1:15.

Can you use ground coffee in a French press?

Yes, you can make French press coffee with pre-ground beans.

In fact, there are some great options out there when it comes to quality-pre ground coffee beans. I’d recommend you to always grind your own, but not everyone has time/will for that.

Feel free to use pre-ground coffee, just make sure it’s high-quality, freshly ground. Store it accordingly to preserve its freshness for as long as possible.

How do I clean my French press?

Cleaning the press pot is easy and should be done regularly. It makes a huge difference, but there’s more to it than just rinsing it out.

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6 thoughts on “How To Use A French Press The RIGHT Way: Tools, Tips, Ratios, Recipe”

  1. Some times its a pain in the ass to read what people wrote but this website
    is rattling user pleasant!

    Reply
  2. This is some very helpful stuff. You explain every step very clearly
    Thnx for your effort!

    Reply
    • Thank you for such a lovely comment, I’m thrilled you enjoyed the read!

      Reply
  3. Good article but you need to fix your coffee/water ratio table. For 6 cups (24oz) you have for Mild 46, average 40 and strongest 46. I presume for “mild” it should be 36. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, George, completely missed that one :). Fixed!

      Reply

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