How to Use a French Press to Start Your Day

Upgrade your home-brewed coffee system by learning how to French press coffee.

A fresh cup of coffee is an essential start to many people's day. If you're a coffee fanatic, you likely already have a favorite way to brew your morning cup. Consider trying French press coffee. A French press extracts a richer-tasting cup of coffee than an automatic drip coffee (which can also be great if brewed properly). Plus, it's a fairly quick method that produces more coffee at once compared to making a single cup of pour-over. For anyone trying to elevate your home coffee experience, knowing how to French press coffee is a great place to start. Prepare to feel like a barista in your own kitchen by using these methods for brewing French press, including how much coffee to use and the best coffee grind for your French press.

woman pouring french press
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How to Make French Press Coffee

It's not a hard process to make French press coffee, but it's important to follow some essential steps to avoid a bitter, murky cup. For reference, these instructions are for an 8-cup French press ($42, Amazon). Adjust the measurements to the amount you want or the size of your pot.

Step 1: Boil Water

Whether making coffee or tea, it's important to use freshly-boiled, filtered water. Any kettle will work, but a gooseneck kettle with a long spout is ideal for making French press or pour-over coffee because it controls the flow of water better and avoids spillage. Boil enough water to fill the pot, in this case, 32 ounces.

French press water temperature: The ideal temperature for making French press is 195°F, which is slightly below boiling temperature (212°F). There are some pour-over kettles with a built-in thermometer, but you can easily prepare your water without them. Simply bring your water to a boil, then let it stand off the heat for one minute to bring the temperature down. Brewing your coffee at this slightly cooler temperature prevents scalding the beans, which can cause the flavor to become bitter.

Step 2: Measure and Grind Coffee

While the water is heating, it's time to prepare the coffee beans. For the freshest taste, start with whole bean coffee and grind it to a coarse consistency using a burr grinder. The main benefit of using a burr grinder is that it uses two grooved surfaces to grind the coffee to a more uniform result rather than blade grinders that just spin and chop.

How much coffee for a French press: The amount of coffee can be adjusted to your taste, but a coffee to water ratio of 1:12 is a good starting point. Because most coffee connoisseurs measure in grams, that would mean for every gram of coffee, you'll need 12 grams of water. If the taste is too strong for you, bump it up to a 1:14 or 1:15 ratio. This is where a coffee scale comes in super handy. If you don't have a scale, go with 1 to 2 Tbsp. of coffee water per cup (which is considered a 4 oz. serving of coffee). This would be about ½ cup of coffee beans for the 32 oz. pot.

Step 3: "Bloom" the Coffee

Place the ground coffee in your empty French press on a scale (if you have one) and tare it to zero. Gently swirl enough hot water to fully saturate the grounds in the bottom of your cup. Give it a stir with a chopstick or spoon and let it sit for 30 seconds. This is called the bloom stage of coffee, which helps release carbon dioxide, producing a better flavor.]

Step 4: Brew the French Press Coffee

Add the rest of the water to your French press. Set the plunger on top (but don't plunge it just yet!) and brew the coffee for four minutes. That four minutes is key here. Stay close by to watch the timer on your scale, ask Alexa to remind you, whatever you need to not forget. Once the time is up, take the French press off the scale and gently press the plunger.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you have any extra water in the kettle, pour it into your mug to allow the mug to "pre-heat" and therefore keep your coffee warmer longer. Just don't forget to dump it before pouring in your freshly-brewed French press coffee!

That's it! You now know how to use a French press. Because the grounds are still at the bottom, the coffee can continue to brew and become bitter. For the best taste, serve right away. Grab your favorite mug and enjoy a steaming cup.

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