Although there are numerous methods for making coffee, the French press is still among the most widely used. For first-time users, though, the exquisite piece of equipment may be intimidating.
Additionally, it may take you several pots to get the hang of it and figure out the perfect coffee-to-water ratio.
Cradling a cup of the rich, intensely flavorful brew that a French press produces is well worth the risk. So learning how to use a French press will help you a lot.
Here are some pointers on coffee ratios, the ideal coffee to use, and how to operate a French press.
Guide on How to Use a French Press
For a milder brew, start with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of coffee beans and 2 cups (16 oz) of water; adjust the proportions and add more coffee if desired.
Remark: Should you be without a coffee grinder, request that the individual in charge of the coffee department at your neighborhood coffee shop or grocery store grind the beans for your French press. A generous 1/4 cup of pre-ground coffee can be used.
Step 1: Prepare the Water
Boil some water in a kettle. While you grind your beans, warm the boiling water in a 4- to 8-cup French coffee press. Bring the kettle back to a boil after adding another two cups of water.
Step 2: Grind Your Beans
Using a coffee grinder set to the coarse setting, grind the beans until they resemble coarse sugar or sand.
Step 3: Prepare Water for Brewing
Step 4: Steep the Grounds
Empty the French press of its heated water. Fill the bottom with the measured coffee. Add one cup of the hot water, cover (do not press), and allow to sit for one minute.
Step 5: Gently Stir and Steep Again
After a minute, use the wooden spoon handle to gently stir to break up the coffee layer on top. Add the final cup of hot water.
Depending on how strong you like your coffee, add another 3 to 4 minutes after placing the French press top on (do not press down). As preferences vary, try different things until you find your ideal goal time.
Step 6: Press the Coffee Grounds
Press the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot by slowly depressing the plunger. As a general rule, your coffee is probably ground too fine if it is extremely difficult to press.
If it drops effortlessly, your grind is most likely too coarse. Somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot of resistance.
Step 7: Serve the Brewed Coffee
Serve coffee immediately with milk and, if desired, sweetener. It is best to transfer the coffee to a thermos or carafe if you plan to wait for a second cup and aren’t sharing the pot.
It will continue to brew in the press and may get overly strong or bitter if you leave it there.
What Grind Size Do I Need to Make French Press Coffee?
Coffee grinds easier for water to dissolve its contents, and one of the main ways to regulate the amount extracted is to change the grind size:
Finer ground coffee is easier for water to access and therefore the process proceeds much faster, as in the case of espresso; coarser ground coffee is best for long and slow brewing methods, like cold brew.
A coarser grind size and a longer steep time—typically four to five minutes—are required for French press.
There are several ways to make a French press, as you’ll see below, but the set-it-and-forget-it method requires coffee grounds that are roughly the size of kosher salt grains.
How to Avoid Over-Extraction
Recall that the coffee and water are still brewing together as long as they are in contact.
After a batch, dumping your coffee grounds into the pot’s bottom will greatly slow down the extraction process.
By removing the majority of the coffee from the water, but the grounds are still saturated there.
Because of this, it’s advisable to empty the French press of all of the coffee after brewing: Serve it right away, or transfer it to an insulated carafe to be consumed later.
Can I Use Pre-Ground Coffee in a French Press?
In a technical sense, sure. However, the majority of store-bought pre-ground coffee beans are ground to a medium grind, which means your coffee will contain coffee grounds.
It’s recommended to use coarsely ground coffee in a French press since it eliminates the need for paper filters, which can lead to excessive sludge or floaters in your cup.
Additionally, a finer grind may cause the plunger’s mesh filter to clog, preventing the plunger from pressing down.
Remember that a press pot is incredibly inexpensive. Of course, you’ll also need a coffee grinder, but one doesn’t have to be pricey. A basic model will work perfectly well.
To make the ideal French press coffee, all you need is an electric water kettle or a stovetop that works.
No other expensive accessories are required. You could even use a cooking pot to bring your water to a boil.