Have you tasted that rich press pot coffee that’s left you craving for more? Does the whole idea of how to use French press scare you a little?
Do you have little experience with making your own coffee and don’t know where to begin? Luckily for you, I’ve compiled an extensive guide on how to make coffee with French press (yes, we’ll also talk about how much coffee for 12 cups, cold brew French press, is french press coffee bad for you, and more).
It’s not as scary as it looks. There’s nothing too fancy or mysterious about it (almost nothing, apart from one tiny detail)! Ready to learn how to make the best french press coffee?
Let’s get to it!
Oh, if your old coffee machine breaks down, the French press is also an excellent way to make coffee without a coffee machine!
Are you ready to brew your own deliciously rich coffee every morning?
- What is a French press?
- How to make coffee with French press?
- What’s the French press coffee to water ratio?
- French press sizes: which one is for you?
- French press coffee grind: what type of coffee should I use?
- Different types of French press coffee maker
- Cold brew French press: how to?
- How to clean your French press?
- Tips on how to use a French Press
- What is the best French press?
- Why French press coffee is bad for you?
- Is French press coffee stronger than espresso?
- How not to make a bitter coffee?
- What kind of coffee do you need for a French press?
- How much coffee do I put in an 8 cup French press?
- Can you make French press coffee with cold water?
- French press VS Pour over
- French press VS Drip coffee
- French press VS Moka pot coffee
- French press v Aeropress coffee
- What is the best grinder to use for French Press?
- How to use a French press: a recap
What is a French press?
Coffee in Europe may date back to the 16th century, but the French press maker does not. And you know that’s the fun part about it? The French press isn’t actually French! As many good and quality-coffee related things, this one as well was made by the hands of two Italians back in the late 30s!
Yes, it was Attilio Calimani and Paolini Ugo that invented and patented this device. Over the years, the French press device has seen various variations of the original design, but it hasn’t changed much. And it’s not only used for coffee; many use it to brew tea with it as well!
The modern version of the French press coffee maker consists of the following parts:
- Narrow cylindrical beaker also called a carafe
This part is most commonly made of borosilicate glass, which is a special material that’s resistant to temperature change. It’s extremely useful but also a bit unfortunate. The temperature won’t shatter it, but it can break in the dishwasher. In any case, try not to drop it or you’ll stay coffeeless and alone!
Another possible material is plastic. I tend to stay away from this one as far as I can. Still, the plastic is normally made from a durable type of plastic (styrene-acrylonitrile or SAN) that is resistant to temperatures. Another important thing is that the plastic carafe should be BPA-free. After all, BPA can have negative effects on your health so you want to avoid it when brewing your coffee.
Stainless steel is another possible material for the skeleton of your carafe. It’s pricier but quite handy. It doesn’t break, it can keep your coffee warm for hours, and there are some color options to choose from as well!
Last but not least, ceramic or stoneware is another option for a beaker. It’s not as common but very beautiful! These are resistant to temperature, but not resistant to breaking!
- A lid (plastic or metal)
- A plunger with a mesh filter (stainless steel or nylon)
Have a look at step-by-step instructions below of how to make French press coffee!
How to make coffee with French press?
The process of making coffee in a French press is pretty straightforward. It includes some grinding, measuring, and pouring. There’s also an additional waiting time when you want the coffee to steep to bring out the most flavor possible.
It takes a little to master the brewing process and to make a perfect cup of coffee, but as with most things, practice makes perfect!
How does a French press coffee maker work?
Step 1: prepare the coffee
Grind your coffee beans with a burr grinder to get a coarsely ground coffee. Measure the amount of coffee you want. For a more specific coffee-water ratio, see the table below.
Step 2: rinse the beaker
Step 3: add the coffee and water
Boil the water and let it cool down slightly before you pour it into the beaker. The ideal temperature should be around 200 degrees F.
Put the ground coffee into the beaker. Pour a small amount of water over the grounds, enough just to cover them. Stir the concoction of black mud and wait for 30 seconds. In other words, let your coffee bloom.
Step 4: add the remaining water
Pour the remaining water into the beaker, filling it up. Stir again.
Wait for another 4 to 5 minutes to allow coffee to steep. The longer you wait, the stronger the brew you’ll make.
Step 5: press the plunger
Place the lid with the plunger on the beaker and press the plunger gently as far as it goes.
Step 6: pour the coffee!
Step 7: enjoy!
Confused? See the video below on how to make it!
What’s the French press coffee to water ratio?
There isn’t one single perfect ratio to make French press coffee. You don’t need to learn by heart an exact table with specific amounts of coffee and water. It all depends on your preference in taste, the strength of coffee, a variation of coffee, roasts, and a number of other factors.
The only real thing you have to pay attention to is to make good coffee and not a bad-tasting brew.
There are certainly recommended ratios between coffee and water. Have a look at this conversion chart for more detailed information.
The standard would be 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. But it all depends on you.
There are a few online calculators that can help you set the ratio but you’ll have to test and try until you find the ideal amount of coffee for your taste. I’ve used this calculator to set the approximate ratios for various cups and levels of strength.
In any case, French press coffee is strong so start with a smaller amount and build up as you go!
|Press Pot Size||Ground coffee (grams)||Water (ounces)||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.)||46||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|
- The ratio used for mild coffee: 18:1
- The ratio used for average coffee: 16:1
- The ratio used for the strongest coffee: 14:1
French press sizes: which one is for you?
There are different sizes of press pots available. Choose the one that best suits your needs; the smallest if you make a cup just for yourself, or the largest if you’re trying to please a crowd. See below for more ideas on sizes, but on average, they hold between 3 to 12 cups.
French press coffee grind: what type of coffee should I use?
The quality of the coffee is important no matter what type of machine you’re using. For the best experience, buy whole coffee beans and grind them fresh as you go.
I wouldn’t recommend using pre-ground coffee in this case, as the machine requires a more coarsely 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 burr grinder to get the consistency of kosher salt for the ground coffee. That way you’ll get the right consistency with as much flavor as possible!
Also, you can use any type of bean, but the ones that work best are medium or dark-roasted beans. These have a higher amount of oils that make the brew extra beautiful!
What do you need for a French press coffee?
- A French press (obviously)
- Measuring cup
- Measuring tablespoons (or a scale to weight the coffee)
- Coffee grounds
- Stirring spoon
- Clean coffee cups
- A kettle for water (optional)
Different types of French press coffee maker
There are a few different sizes of a French coffee maker. Some are excellent for making a single cup of coffee, others will make much more!
The standard size is between 4 to 8 cups. No, I’m not talking about that huge mug of Monday coffee when you need all the power of this world to start the week again. Cups are smaller than mugs and they normally contain 4 oz of coffee (about 120 ml).
The typical size makes about 3 to 4 cups of coffee. This is a perfect model for those who are not extreme coffeeholics and only need a boost a few times a day.
It’s excellent for one or two servings and the best part about it is that you’ll always make fresh coffee.
Do you want to entertain more than just yourself? Go for a larger French press coffee maker.
For those of you who love making larger amounts of coffee, this is the model to go for! It’ll satisfy a crowd since it normally makes about 8 to 12 cups of coffee!
This model is wasted on smaller crowds though; your coffee will end up stale; you might even end up wasting a large part of the batch!
For those who are a bit on the clumsier side or those who are more practical, this metal French press coffee maker is for you!
Choose the size that fits your lifestyle and coffee habits best! After all, these are less likely (or unlikely at all) to break. They hold heat very well, but be careful when dealing with it; you can burn if you’re not too careful.
These may not be as nice-looking as the glass models, but hey, the tastes differ!
- The electric French press
Don’t have time to romantically make lazy Sunday brew? Let the electric French press do the work for you because it does it all!
This beauty heats the water, brews the coffee and keeps it warm after it’s prepared.
The only thing to consider is to decant the coffee after it’s ready. This is, after all, an electric machine and it can fail you with time. If that’s happened before, make sure to check this guide on how to make coffee without a coffee maker!
A popular choice for many French press coffee lovers, Bodum Chambord press comes in different sizes and different parts. You can choose between 3, 8, and 12 cups! The beaker is normally glass and other parts are made with stainless steel.
Still, some types include plastic parts, which I can’t seem to like at all. Apart from that, it’s a classic coffee maker that in some cases contains unbreakable glass!
Cold brew French press: how to?
Not a fan of a hot cup of coffee? That’s quite alright, you can make a cold brew French press coffee as well! This is a great option for hot summer months whether you want to serve it with ice cream or use older coffee that’s been sitting in your cupboard for too long.
- Measure coffee and add it to the beaker
- Pour over the room-temperature water and stir
- Put on the lid and plunger without pressing the plunger down
- Let the coffee sit in the water for at least 12 hours, best overnight. You can leave it somewhere on the kitchen counter at room temperature. During the summer months, I prefer to put it in the fridge.
- After the long wait, press down the plunger slowly and gently.
- That’s it! Your fresh cold brew French coffee is ready to enjoy!
Cold brew French press ratio
When making cold brew, you’ll need more coffee than for hot brew. The ratio is pretty straightforward: double the amount of coffee you use for a hot brew.
Again, it’s a test-and-try kind of thing. If you see the brew is too strong, use less and vice versa. A common ratio is a 1-part coffee: 7- part water but it’s difficult to be completely accurate since it all depends on your preferences, the coffee beans, and the size of the press pot.
How to clean your French press?
You don’t want to brew coffee in a smelly beaker that’s still slick with leftover oil from your Wednesday’s coffee heist, do you? After all, the quality of your coffee also greatly depends on the cleanliness of the carafe!
Dirty coffee makers cause disgusting coffee!
Luckily for all of us (even the laziest ones), press pot is very simple to disassemble and clean. You’ll reap great success with cleanliness if you have a mesh strainer on hand!
Before you begin: don’t remove the leftover coffee grounds with your hands and don’t flush them down your skin. They can clog it, trust me (not proud to admit the stupidity, but hey, happens to the best). Throw them in the waste. Use them in a face scrub. Put them into your compost. Seriously, anywhere but your sink. Anywhere that works!
To clean your French press, there are a few ways, but I found this one to be the easiest. All you have to do is to fill the beaker halfway with warm water. Swish the water around a few times then dispose of the leftovers.
Then, add warm water and some soap into the press pot. Put the plunger back on and pump it a few times. By pressing and releasing the plunger, you’ll clean the French press much more effectively than you would by using your hands.
Rinse the beaker well and it’s all clean and shiny, and prepared to use again!
Alternatively, you can also place your French press into the dishwasher; most of them are dishwasher safe. Still, you may risk the breaking of the beaker in there. I run it through for occasional deep cleanse, but the method up there is still my favorite to keep the pot clean!
Tips on how to use a French Press
For more details on how to make coffee with French press, I decided to gather a few very common questions and answer them here. These may help to clear up some of the confusion when it comes to French press coffee, how to use it, and a little something about the cold press coffee.
Feel free to comment below if you have any more questions about how to use a French press!
What is the best French press?
There are more than just a few different options when it comes to the best French press coffee maker. What’s your budget? What size are you looking for? Do you want stainless steel or glass beaker?
The options are endless! That’s why, before you buy anything, decide on the type you want. It’ll make the search much easier!
Why French press coffee is bad for you?
French press coffee may taste delicious but the rumor has it that this type of coffee may not be the best for your health.
But! Before you go panicking and throwing out your coffee and French press through the window, hold on one second! These potential negative effects of press pot coffee are not going to harm you if you keep the coffee intake within the levels of normal. By normal, I mean 4 cups a day max! Forget about the excessive, all-out coffee festival that you attend every morning in your kitchen!
Anyway, let’s have a look at how too much French press can be bad for you!
- Your fetus don’t want it
In order to prevent issues during pregnancy, for the love of your unborn child, keep off cocaine! Sorry, caffeine. I meant to say caffeine.
A WebMD report found out that going coffee-crazy while pregnant, can increase the likelihood of stillbirth:
Compared with women who did not drink any coffee, women who drank four to seven cups a day had an 80% increased risk of stillbirth, and women who drank eight or more cups a day a 300% increased risk,” write researcher Kirsten Wisborg, of the perinatal epidemiological research unit at Aarhus University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark, and colleagues.
In other words, keep coffee intake down. Throw out your French press, keep it on lockdown, substitute it with another coffee maker that makes less coffee with less caffeine.
- Smile with your lips sealed
Your daily coffee intake may stain your teeth. The acids in the coffee make tooth enamel softer, giving you a higher risk of teeth-staining. While coffee doesn’t stain teeth as badly as tea (who would have known, huh), it may still impact the wideness of your smile and your shiny white teeth.
There’s no actual research that would confirm press pot coffee staining your teeth specifically. All coffee can do it and the brew doesn’t matter. After drinking coffee, swish some water around your mouth to remove some of the compounds!
- Your heart can only handle so much
The oil in French press coffee contains a compound cafestol, which is a very potent agent that elevates cholesterol levels. In case you wanted to know if French press coffee raises cholesterol levels, the answer is, sadly, yes.
According to this study, 5 cups of press pot coffee a day over a period of four weeks can increase your cholesterol levels from 6 to 8 percent! What’s more, studies show that oil can cause cardiovascular problems, heart disease, and liver problems.
The best way to avoid this is to drink filtered coffee. After all, Harvard says that
If you choose to drink unfiltered, pressed coffee, Dr. Rimm recommends that you keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, to make sure your LDL levels don’t rise over time. And keep your pressed coffee habit in check: stick to no more than four cups per day. You should also limit your intake of filtered coffee to no more than five cups per day.
The oils in your coffee make the brew taste better, but (as with all things) don’t overdo it. If you’re a drop-dead serious coffee drinker that eats 5 cups for breakfast, consider using a paper filter or a ceramic/glass brewer to reduce cafestol amounts in your coffee cup.
A tip that I got recently on this matter might be useful for some of you:
After you pour a bit of water to the grounds, the coffee blooms. Remove the foam from the coffee before pressing it! It might help, it might not. I don’t drink as much French press, so I can’t tell you for sure, but it’s worth giving it a shot!
Another alternative option is to just not to care but that’s all up to you.
Is French press coffee stronger than espresso?
According to the research that the Roasty Coffee did when comparing these types of coffee, espresso isn’t as loaded with caffeine as press pot coffee:
Due to its concentration, espresso contains more caffeine per unit volume than most other coffee beverages. That’s 77mg per 1.5 ounce shot. However, French press coffee contains a jitter-inducing 107.5mg per 8-ounce cup. This actually makes a cup of French press coffee more caffeine-rich than one small shot of espresso.
How not to make a bitter coffee?
With a few simple tips, you can easily improve the quality of your brew. Maybe not everyone minds bitter coffee but I know many do. Here’s how to make coffee less bitter:
- 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 French press
- Don’t let coffee sit in the press more than necessary. Serve it immediately; the longer it sits in there, the more bitter it becomes.
What kind of coffee do you need for a French press?
As mentioned before, it’s best to use medium-coarse ground coffee. Ideally, you should go for medium to dark- roasted coffee beans. These contain a lot of natural oils and make the coffee much richer, smoother, and more fragrant!
How much coffee do I put in an 8 cup French press?
The ratios all depend on your preference for coffee, but in general, this is how it goes:
3 cup press – 1 cup coffee
8 cup press – 3.5 cups coffee
12 cup press – 5.4 cups coffee
Can you make French press coffee with cold water?
Yes, you absolutely can. Have a look above, to the Cold Brew French Press coffee: how to paragraph.
French press VS Pour over
They may seem the same thing, but they’re not. A French press makes bolder, stronger, and more flavorful coffee. Pour over can bring out those hidden notes of coffee you won’t easily produce elsewhere, but the coffee isn’t as strong and bold.
The cleaning process is much easier with the pour over, it’s also much faster. While the brewing time may be about the same, you’ll also need similar preparation before your brew (boil the water, grind the coffee, prepare the terrain). You can easily please a crowd with both of these brewers.
One’s a bit more flexible, other is perfect for lazy weekends. Read for more details on the comparison of these brewers here.
French press VS Drip coffee
It all depends on what you’re looking for. French press coffee is stronger, with a more powerful coffee taste, but the drip coffee machine is easier to use. The coffee is smoother, but it lacks the strength of coffee. It’s definitely lighter than press pot coffee.
When it comes to cleaning the machines and preparing the brew, they’re more or less the same. But, if you want to enjoy warm coffee over a longer period of time, the drip machine would be your primary choice. While fresh brew always tastes better, it all depends on your preference and time available to get luxurious about that perfect cup.
Overall, you have more control over the kind of brew you want with a press pot. If you’re not too fussy and don’t want to contemplate the how, when, and what of your coffee, go for drip! If you can’t decide on which one to choose, read a detailed comparison of the two brewing methods here.
French press VS Moka pot coffee
Moka pot functions in a similar way as the pressure cookers. Let me break that down for you: the steam pressure (from the lowest part of the pot) pushes the coffee to the top part. The coffee is rich, fragrant, and pretty intense, but not as intense as the press pot.
French press coffee is heavy and rich in flavor, but it’s more time-consuming than moka pot. It takes less time, skill, patience, ceremony, and process to make coffee using moka pot. It’s easy to clean it and you’re free to use pre-ground coffee with it.
Moka pot is my (obvious) choice, just because I have some room for experimentation, but it’s easy to use even when I’m in a hurry.
French press v Aeropress coffee
If you’re looking for a shorter brew time, go for Aeropress. If you want a stronger, fuller coffee, go for French press.
Aeropress comes with a smaller learning curve that makes a strong brew, similar to espresso. The brewing time is shorter than with press pot, but you only have room to make one size coffee, where the French press comes in various sizes. The same goes for the material; Aeropress is plastic, whereas the French press is made of different materials you can choose to your preference (plastic, stainless steel, glass, ceramic).
Which one to choose? That’s completely up to you! Aeropress can become your new travel companion because it’s more practical, but press pot can make more satisfying cups of coffee you can easily share with a crowd.
What is the best grinder to use for French Press?
There are many solid grinders available to make that great brew with freshly ground coffee, but if you’re making press pot coffee, you need a grinder that will make a coarsely ground coffee.
Make sure that the grinder you’re buying is a burr grinder.
How to use a French press: a recap
There’s excellent quality coffee to be made in a press pot. There are a few negatives that I’m not too keen about. First of all, the tasting and learning curve. It’s easy to brew a watery coffee or a powerful one that would make horses walk on water easily. This learning curve is not my favorite but it pays up once you’ve figured out the ratio. The coffee is rich, caffeine-loaded (if so desired), and it tastes amazing!
Still, if you’re in a hurry, all the temperature-measuring and time-checking is too much to bother. But then it’s very low-maintenance, easy to clean, and much cheaper than serious drip machines that don’t necessarily always make coffee as good as this!
If you’re a real coffee lover, give French press a try. In case you hate it completely, pass it on, give it to someone else. If you’re stubborn like me, you’ll be using it years to come, improving your brewing skills and enjoying the cup, moderated for your taste only!