The Guide to Using a French Press

Full immersion coffee brewing is arguably the only way to get a truly even extraction from the bean.  It makes a cup of coffee that tastes delicious, it takes about the same amount of time that it takes to brew with a drip coffee maker, and you can get a french press for as little as twenty dollars.  But how do you use it?  If you don’t know how to use a french press just follow these step by step instructions and you’ll have everything you need.

  • Before anything else you need to heat water.  Set it up in a kettle on the stove and let it slowly heat – however do not let it boil.  Lots of people boil their water for french press but this will produce an under extracted cup of coffee that tastes a weak and misses out on lots of the flavor notes and nuances of the bean.  Heat the water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grind your coffee beans to a very course grind.  You don’t want the coffee grounds to be too fine or else they will float back up through the wire mesh after you plunge, resulting in coffee grounds in your coffee.  Some coffee grinders have a setting specifically for french press, others don’t.  Just make sure that the grind setting is plenty course and you will be fine.
  • Pour the coffee grounds into the french press and immediately follow them with the hot water.  Set the lid of the french press on top of the pot so heat cannot escape.
  • After about one minute lift the lid and stir the mixture, this will help to get a more even extraction.  The coffee grounds naturally float up creating a foam at the top of the pot.  By stirring this back in it gives the water another chance to soak flavor out of the grounds.
  • After another three to four minutes, plunge the wire mesh down, trapping the coffee grounds below and leaving delicious french press coffee above.  It is now ready to drink.

Once you have some practice using your french press you can start to experiment with the timing.  Some people prefer to let the coffee grounds soak longer, creating a stronger cup of coffee that occasionally has a slightly bitter edge to it.  This depends on personal taste – three to four minutes is considered the standard brew time for a pot of french press coffee.  Just remember, the more course the grind setting, the longer the brew will need to be to get enough flavor from the bean.

Happy Brewing.

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