How to Make the Perfect French Press at Home

The French press, also called the cafetiere, coffee press or coffee plunger, is the perfect brew method for lazy weekends. It is a cylinder-shaped glass (or sometimes plastic or steel) beaker with a plunger. The piston of the plunger is made of mesh, which allows liquid to flow through, but not the coffee grounds.

If done right, this humble coffee press can produce a great, creamy, full-bodied cup of coffee. Because the coffee grounds are immersed directly in the hot water during brewing, the French press has the ability to capture the full array of flavours and aromas that coffee beans have locked inside them. This makes it totally worth it to wake up a few minutes earlier to make.

Ready to brew the best coffee you’ve ever tasted? Follow this guide to brew the perfect French press every time.

What you will need:

  • French press
  • Coffee grinder
  • Goof quality, fresh coffee beans
  • Clean, good tasting water, just off boil
  • A chopstick or wooden spoon for stirring
  • Kitchen timer
  • And something to drink out of, say for instance … a cup

French Press Coffee Ratio

When it comes to the ideal coffee-to-water ratio, it depends how strong you want your brew. A good rule of thumb is to use about 2 tablespoon of coffee for every 1 cup of water. Experiment from there to find the ratio that works best for your taste.

Preparing the French Press

Preheat your press with hot water, including the plunger, and then pour the hot water into your cup. This allows your coffee to stay warmer for longer.

Bringing the water to the right temperature

Using too hot water can scorch the coffee and make it taste too bitter, while using water that is not hot enough will make your coffee tasteless. The best way to achieve the perfect temperature is to bring the water to a boil and then letting it cool off for about 30 seconds.

Grinding your beans

You would want to grind your coffee beans just before brewing. This ensures that your coffee is fresh and the flavours and aromas gets released in the press and not get oxidised by the air.

Make sure you don’t grind your beans too finely, as this can pass through the filter in the press and into your cup. You would want to do a coarse grind, something in between the size of kosher salt and bread crumbs.

Adding water to your press

Take the pre-heated plunger and add the coffee grounds to it. Pour about a third of the water over and set the timer to 4 minutes. Let the coffee sit for 30 seconds, after which you can give it a gentle stir with a chopstick or the back-end of a wooden spoon – to break up any little coffee clumps that may exist. This makes sure that all of the grounds are thoroughly wet with water so you get a robust brew. Evenly pour the rest of the water over and place the lid on your press with the plunger pulled up all the way and wait.

Taking the plunge

Wait until your timer reads 4 minutes, and then slowly push the plunger all the way down. You don’t want to press too fast, you might crack the glass.

Pouring your coffee

Immediately pour yourself a cup of coffee. Freshly-brewed coffee should never sit around, but should be enjoyed as soon as possible. Leaving the coffee too long will result in your coffee to become over-extracted, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. If you have any left-over, pour it into a thermos, to keep warm until later. Or next time brew only what you plan to drink.

Now sit back and relax as you enjoy your hot cup of homemade French press coffee.

A few final notes:

Although the above steps should produce a deliciously brewed cup of coffee, there are times that it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Here are a few tips to avoid bitterness:

The beans matter

Using high quality, fresh beans really does matter when you are brewing coffee. You get what you pay for. I would suggest that you try different beans, different roasters, and different types of roasts. Once you find something you like, stick with it.

Clean your press after each use

Old coffee grounds stuck in the filter will cause some unpleasant tastes; make sure you thoroughly clean your French press after each use.

Store coffee in an airtight container

You should keep only a week’s worth of coffee in an airtight, opaque container at room temperature to protect it against the staling effects of oxidation, heat, light, and moisture. Whole beans will keep fresh up to four weeks in the container, but ground coffee only a week or two.


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