Coffee made with a French press is amazing, which is why I decided to write a beginner’s guide on how to brew coffee with a French press. Are you interested in home brewing coffee? Then you are in the right place.
In this article, I will go over what a French press is, everything you are going to need to start with the brewing guide, and after that, you’ll know exactly how to brew amazing coffee and how to properly clean your French press.
Are you ready to learn some cool stuff? Then grab some coffee, and start reading away!
What is a French press?
If you clicked on this article, you probably know a thing or two about the French press. But there is so much more to tell about this amazing coffee brewer. Let me start by saying that this was the first coffee brewer that I bought.
Because of this, the French press has a special place in my heart. The French press has been around for some time now. Just like the Moka pot, it was an Italian that patented the French press:
A French press, also known as a cafetière, press pot, coffee press, or coffee plunger, is a coffee brewing device, although it can also be used for other tasks. In 1923 Ugo Paolini, an Italian, lodged patent documents relating to a tomato juice separator, and he developed the idea of making a coffee pot with a press action and a filter.Wikipedia
But how does French press coffee taste? What is a French press made of? All these questions and more will be answered down below:
How does French press coffee taste?
French press coffee has a full-bodied flavor profile. This means that the coffee tastes really full. But that is not the only characteristic that the French press coffee has to offer, the coffee tastes sweet and well-balanced as well.
Coffee that is brewed with the French press has a unique taste to it. Not in a bad way, but you can really notice the difference when tasting coffees made with different brewing techniques.
If you ask me, French press coffee tastes strong in a unique way and cannot be compared to any other brewing techniques out there. This is why I highly recommend you giving this brewing technique a try, so you can taste the wonderful flavors the French press has to offer.
Which sizes and versions of the French press are there?
There are lots of French press designs you can buy, all with different materials and in different sizes as well. I have these Bialetti French presses, which have a nice glass design that I really like:
But you can also buy stainless steel versions, which look super clean as well. I own an 8 cups (1.89 l) version of the French press, as well as a 1.5 cups (0.35 l) version.
The size of the French press depends on how much coffee you would like to brew at once. I use the 1.5 cups (0.35 l) version when I want to brew 2 normal cups of coffee, or just one big cup of coffee when I really need it.
Using a bigger version, like the 8 cups (1.89 l) comes in really handy when you’re expecting some people to come over and you would like to brew some amazing coffee for them.
If you are interested in buying a French press, I can highly recommend the one I’ve been using for quite some time now. You can check it out by clicking here, this will take you to Amazon where you can check it out for yourself.
French press equipment list
Before we get into the brewing guide part of this article, I would like to go over the equipment list. This list consists of things you are going to need to collect before brewing some amazing coffee. You’ll need the following:
- A French press
- Fresh coffee beans
- A coffee grinder (only if you are going to use whole coffee beans)
- Kettle with boiling water
This is all the equipment you need when using the brewing guide a little further down. But before we get into that, I want to explain a few things which can make a big difference when brewing coffee at home using the French press:
Which coffee beans are best used?
The first, and probably the most important thing; are great coffee beans. You’ll want to buy the freshest coffee beans you can find from your local store or coffee roaster.
Great coffee beans equal great coffee, the fresher the coffee beans are, the better your coffee will taste. Let me explain why this is:
After the coffee beans have been roasted to the desired roast, they are completely cooled down before getting packaged and shipped out. It may take a while before you can buy these coffee beans in your local store, because of the transit time.
Coffee beans start to lose flavor the minute they come out of the coffee roastery, this is why I can recommend buying your coffee beans from a local coffee roaster. This way, you can make sure you get amazing fresh coffee beans.
Now onto the best part of buying your coffee beans locally: you can always ask for small batches of coffee beans, so you can taste the different coffees and make an informed decision on which coffee roast you like best.
When I brew coffee using the French press, I tend to use medium roasted coffee beans. These coffee beans are great in flavor, but not super overpowering like a dark roast can sometimes be. These medium roasted coffee beans look like this:
You might even like a light roast or dark roast better than a medium roast. The best thing about brewing Your Dream Coffee at home is that you can choose however you want to brew your coffee. Taste as many coffee beans as you can, so you know which coffee beans you love and you’d rather not buy again.
Should you use a coffee grinder?
I do recommend using a coffee grinder. Once you’ve bought those great coffee beans from your local coffee roaster, you’ll want to grind your own coffee beans at home. This keeps your coffee beans even fresher and it will taste even better when you are brewing that coffee.
There are a lot of coffee grinders out there, but the main difference is whether it’s a burr or electric grinder. I wrote an article about the differences between the two, if you’re interested in reading it, I suggest clicking here as it will take you straight to the article.
For this brewing guide, you’ll want to use quite a bit of coffee beans. I made a neat table to show you how much coffee beans you’re going to need:
|The total amount of brewed coffee:||Amount of coffee needed:||Amount of water needed:|
|1 cup (0.24 l)||20 grams||1 cup (0.24 l)|
|2 cups (0.47 l)||40 grams||2 cups (0.47 l)|
|3 cups (0.71 l)||60 grams||3 cups (0.71 l)|
|4 cups (0.95 l)||80 grams||4 cups (0.95 l)|
Most of the time, this ratio of coffee to water is enough to get you an amazing tasting cup of joe, however; if you feel like you’re not satisfied with the taste you can change the ratio to your liking:
- Use more coffee beans to get a stronger tasting cup of coffee
- Use more water to dilute the coffee a bit, if you feel like the coffee tastes too strong. Or you can use less coffee beans.
When experimenting with brewing coffee at home, it’s all about trial and error. Eventually, you’ll find your sweet spot for the different coffee to water ratios of the many coffee brewers out there.
When you start grinding your own coffee beans at home, you’ll want to aim for a coarse grind when brewing French press. Because the coffee will steep with the ground coffee, you don’t want to go too fine. The grind size I use for brewing French press coffee looks like this:
If you don’t want to get a coffee grinder or you don’t feel like using one every time you are going to brew a cup of coffee, you can ask your coffee roaster to grind the coffee beans for you.
You can give your preference on what kind of grind size you would like to receive. If you are planning on brewing French press coffee, you can just ask for a French press coffee grind, they’ll know how to grind your coffee beans.
If you are just starting out with grinding your own coffee beans at home, you can consider buying one bag of pre-ground coffee beans, which has been ground to the French press grind. This way you’ll have an example to which you can adjust your coffee grinder.
French press brewing guide
First, you want to grind your coffee beans for the French press. Once there are a few coffee beans left to grind, boil your water. If you are going to use pre-ground coffee beans, you can skip this step and start boiling your water right away.
Now, add your ground coffee beans to the French press beaker. Once the water has reached its boiling point, set the kettle on the kitchen counter for 30 seconds to bring the temperature of the water down a tiny bit. You want the water to be around 92 °C (or 197 °F) to make the perfect French press coffee:
Start a timer with 5 minutes on the clock. Pour about 1/4 of the total water onto the ground coffee beans, the coffee beans will now start to bloom. Leave the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the water:
After the first 30 seconds have passed, slowly start adding the remaining water until all the water is in the beaker.
Add the plunger to the French press and leave it for the remaining minutes (this is around 4 minutes). In the meantime, you can grab your coffee cups and clean up a bit in the kitchen. Note: add the plunger on top, but don’t press down on it yet:
Once the time has passed and your alarm goes off, press down on your French press plunger. You’ll want to do this slowly. If you press down too hard, you’ll allow small pieces of coffee to get through the sieve and get into your coffee. I usually aim for 30 seconds until I reach the bottom of the beaker:
Now, all there is left to do is pour out that delicious homemade coffee and enjoy it. Down below you’ll find a few steps on how to clean your French press:
How to clean a French press
Brewing coffee is amazing, but do you know what makes it even better? Brewing coffee with clean equipment.
After you’re done with brewing that amazing cup of coffee, remove the plunger from the beaker and rinse it off. Don’t forget to clean the mesh sieve that is attached to the bottom of the plunger.
Small pieces of coffee can be found there, and leaving them behind might give you an off-tasting cup of coffee the next time you decide to brew coffee using your French press.
You can now get rid of the ground coffee beans, and clean the beaker with some hot water as well. I suggest thoroughly cleaning your French press beaker once a week, using some soap as well.
Rinsing the beaker with hot water will be enough for a few brews, but the coffee oils that cling to the inside of your French press will need to go after a few uses. The oils come off easily using some green soap and hot water and maybe giving it a light scrubbing with a soft cleaning brush.
Dry all of your French press components using a clean kitchen towel and put the French press back together. You can now store it for its next use.
When you own a French press with stainless steel, you might want to consider giving the outside of the French press a nice polish, as the dried-up water will give your French press a messy look.
For more information about cleaning your French press, check out my complete guide here!
I hope that after you’ve read this article you’ll get started on this coffee journey with me. I went over the very basics of homebrewing coffee using the French press and gave you many tips on the brewing of coffee, which I hope you’ll have found helpful.
Will you be brewing French press coffee at home anytime soon? Let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!
I would love to see you back on my coffee blog. Down below, there are additional beginner brewing guides if you are interested in exploring the coffee world even further: