The French press (a.k.a. press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger, cafetière) is a simple device capable of making great-tasting coffee. The keys to a clean, well-extracted cup are a coarser grind, a longer brew time, and a slow, steady plunge. Let's dive in.
Clean Hot Water
Something To Stir With
Grind size is critical when using a French press. A coarser size is necessary to keep unwanted sediment and sludge out of the cup. Uniformity is necessary for an even extraction across the extended brew time. A good burr grinder will get you there.
Presses are often measured in Tasse(T), a French measurement for a coffee cup. 1T ≈ 120mL ≈ 4 fl oz
7.5 g coffee / 1 T water
30 g / 4 T
60 g / 8 T
90 g / 12 T
1 tbsp coffee / 4 oz water
4 tbsp / 16 oz
8 tbsp / 32 oz
12 tbsp / 48 oz
- Bring water to 205˚F, or about 30 seconds off a boil.
- Grind coffee while water is heating.
- Pour some hot water into empty French press to warm it up. Discard water into mug to warm that up, too.
- Add ground coffee to the press.
- Start timer and slowly add correct amount of water. Be sure to keep the water level low enough to allow room for the top and plunger.
- Give it a quick stir to thoroughly mix and place the lid on top with the plunger up (trap the heat).
- After about 5'00", remove lid and give another brief stir.
- Replace lid and begin to slowly plunge the filter. The total brew time should be about 6'00".
- Let the brewed coffee sit undisturbed for a minute or two to allow any additional sediment to settle.
- Serve it up.
Although simple in execution, the French press brew method requires careful attention to detail to obtain the best flavor. Many recipes will suggest a brew time closer to 4 minutes. However, the coarse grind required for a cleaner cup requires an extended infusion to achieve correct extraction. This method closely resembles the practice of coffee cupping wherein the coffee grounds are in direct contact with water for up to 30 minutes. Don't be afraid to let it sit.