This will be the only guide you need on how to use a French press. In fact I’m hoping that this how to use a French press coffee maker guide will not be interminably long as using a thermal coffee press or other type of French coffee press is really quite simple. I’d argue that French press coffee is in fact one of the simplest ways to enjoy a really good cup of coffee. French pressed coffee is also one of the cheapest ways to brew coffee and one of the most versatile ways of brewing coffee. It works well with expensive coffee like 100 Kona coffee beans as well as your run of the mill Brazilian coffee beans. I also quite like the French press to brew espresso coffee beans if I’m in the mood for a robust and strong coffee drink.
Items needed for how to use a French press
Before we learn how to use a French press, we are going to need a few items. If you don’t have them already, just follow the links provided to pick them up at Amazon. To the left is an image of the stainless steel French press, my personal favorite. Check it out by clicking here. I like a stainless steel coffee press because they don’t break as easily as the glass beaker coffee press. They are also usually insulated and keep your French pressed coffee warmer longer. However, they are more expensive and you can see my recommended glass beaker French press by clicking here. Expect to pay anywhere from about $30 to $100 or so for a decent French coffee press. Now remember, this is really just a once in a lifetime expense so it is worthwhile not cheaping out on this purchase. Bodum coffee makers are practically synonymous with the French press and are recommended as well. The glass beaker coffee press that you can see by clicking the link above is a Bodum French press coffee maker.
I’ve had my stainless steel coffee press for a few years and I still haven’t had to change the screen of the mesh filter attached to the plunger. But the filter is likely the only element of the French press parts you’ll need to change unless you break the glass beaker and that is why I recommend stainless steel.
You will also need a couple of other things in order to learn how to use a French press. A coffee measuring spoon – this can be a regular tablespoon. I prefer a silver coffee spoon, but you can use anything as long as you keep it consistent. You’ll also need coffee of course, and set the coffee grind to coarse. I like Lavazza Blu if you’re curious, but the idea here is to experiment with different coffees. Brewing coffee with a French press gives you a deeper and more complex flavor profile because of the coffee oils that are not trapped by a paper filter and thus make it into the coffee beverage. Lastly, you’ll need water and a kettle to boil the water. My preference is for distilled water as it is completely odorless and tasteless and thus doesn’t interfere with any of the coffee flavor profile. Remember, your coffee is 95% or so made up of water. However, you can use any water really as long as it is potable and pretty decent. For us lucky ones in the Western World, that’s tap water.
Now as I mentioned before, how to make coffee with a French press is quite simple. There are really on 3 steps. At least, I’ll try and limit it to 3 steps. Now before we get there, I want to give you a few tips to make this a great experience if you are trying to learn how to use a French press for the first time.
If you’re grinding your coffee beans at the supermarket or with a home burr grinder, you want them at the coarsest setting possible. This is because you want to limit the amount of sediment that seeps through the French press filter and into your coffee. So coarse coffee grounds keep your coffee relatively sediment free.
After the water has come to a boil turn the kettle off or remove it from the stove and let it sit for 15 to 20 seconds. This is a small thing, but pouring boiling water onto coffee grounds can burn them ever so slightly and extract a little bitterness from the beans. Allowing the water to just come off the boil will help extract the best flavor without risk of any bitterness.
Wash your stainless coffee press before first use and after each use to keep it clean and to allow each new batch of beans to be unencumbered by the previous coffee oils. Your French press instructions will show you how to do this. It is very easy and you could probably figure it out even without instructions.
Okay here we go. Let’s learn how to use a French press.
3 steps on how to use a French press
Remove the plunger unit which has attached to it the mesh filter. Add ground coffee to the beaker. I like to use about 2 tablespoons per mug of coffee (that’s about 12 to 16 ounces), but adjust this to taste and you’ll come up with the perfect amount of ground coffee for your enjoyment.
Add the just off boiling water from the kettle to the beaker of the French press which has the ground coffee already in it. Fill to within a couple of inches of the top. I like to gently stir the ground coffee and water mixture so that all the coffee grounds are wet. Replace the plunger unit but DO NOT push the plunger all the way down. The mesh filter should be resting just on top of the coffee and water level with the plunger’s rod sticking way out of the top of the French press’ lid.
Set the timer for 4 minutes and let it count down. You can adjust this a couple of minutes either side depending on stronger coffee (longer time) or weaker coffee (shorter time). However, after about 15 minutes or so, the coffee beans will start to impart bitterness into the coffee, so it is best to brew fresh French press coffee each time you want to enjoy it. Or decant any remaining French press coffee after about 10 minutes and warm it up when you are ready to enjoy it. After the 4 minutes are up, press the plunger down, which pushes the plunger filter all the way to within an inch or so of the bottom of the French press. It also drags the coffee grounds to the bottom too and out of the way. You can now enjoy your yummy French press coffee.
That my friends is how to use a French press to enjoy the rich aromatic flavor of French press coffee. Tell me what you think. I think you’ll be hard pressed to suggest that French press coffee isn’t amongst the best coffee you’ve ever had. Am I right?