The French Press has been around a long time since it was was invented in - you guessed it – France, in the mid-1800s. Since then it has remained a reliable way to make delicious coffee, but many are still wondering how to make French press coffee.
It's easy to see why so many people fall in love with the cafetière. The French press is a coffee maker that produces an ‘immersion brewed’ beverage rather than one that's drip brewed, enabling the coffee to infuse for longer and giving a rich, earthy taste. They're easy to store, portable and come in many styles. You can even take your French press with you for weekends away, safe in the knowledge that your favorite morning pick-me-up will taste as good as ever.
Here’s how to make French press coffee to make sure you get a supreme tasting brew, from buying the right gear to getting your measurements just so.
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1. Choose the French press that’s right for you
Take some time to find the French press that will suit you and your home the best.
Glass carafes (the main chamber of the press) are very popular and no doubt stylish, but they are the most fragile. Metal is more robust and will stand the test of time a little longer.
Also consider the climate in your area. If you live somewhere cool, you may want to choose a metal or ceramic carafe as they retain heat for longer too - take the Sterling Pro as a great example of a French press coffee maker with a metal carafe.
Size is also important. Will you be sharing your best brew with many others or is it just you and a loved one or two? Small French presses serve three to four cups and large ones accommodate eight to twelve. The Bodum Chambourd is a popular choice and comes in both sizes.
Do remember that ‘cup’ size is sometimes smaller than you might expect. In this guide, we will take you through brewing with 200ml servings.
2. Get the right type of coffee grounds
With so many amazing coffees at our fingertips today, take some time to read the descriptions and choose the flavor that appeals to you. Good coffees will show their strength on the packet (as well as the type of coffee maker they're best suited to), helping to guide you towards the one that will suit your palate the best.
What is essential though, is the grind of the coffee. For the French press, the grind of the bean needs to be medium to coarse for optimum performance. If it’s too coarse, it can block the filter. Likewise, if it’s been over-milled, the very fine granules can slip though the filter and muddy your brew. What you can be sure of though, is that you’ll have complete control with the French press to achieve the taste that you love.
3. Gather your equipment
Making French press coffee is a straightforward process, but you’ll need a few utensils to hand before you start.
As well as your French press and coffee grounds, seek out a measuring cup, a measuring tablespoon, a stirring spoon, a thermometer (this is optional) and of course some near-boiling water!
4. Preheat your French press
To ensure a consistent brew temperature and help keep your coffee hot for longer, pre-heat the French press by swilling some boiling water in the carafe. You can also do the same with your cup.
5. Measure your grounds
Next, measure out your ground coffee using the tablespoon. A good rule of thumb is to use one heaped tablespoon (7-8 grams) per 200ml cup of water. Add this to the French press.
6. Heat the water to the correct temperature
Boil the right amount of water (200ml per cup) and allow to cool for one minute. The ideal temperature of the water is between 90-96 degrees. So if you have a thermometer, take a reading to check your water is not going to scald the coffee grounds.
Once the water has cooled, add the 200ml water to the carafe in one smooth pour and stir. Now leave the coffee to steep for 4 minutes.
7. Plunge and serve
Once the coffee has brewed, push the plunger down - exerting a steady pressure - through the coffee to separate the grounds from the liquid.
Your coffee is now ready to enjoy the way you like it!
8. How to clean a French press coffee maker
The French press is relatively low maintenance, particularly compared with electronic coffee makers. But it's still important to wash it properly between uses to keep your coffee tasting fresh, rather than just swilling it through with water.
Use a gentle detergent and give the beaker and plunger a thorough wash after using and allow to dry completely before storing.
Do the dirty work with our guide on how to clean a coffee maker, or find the best Cuisinart coffee maker for you. To learn how to make coffee in different ways, check out our guides on how to make espresso, how to make pour over coffee and how to make cold brew coffee.