How to Use a French Press

Coffee made with a French press is one of the more traditional ways to brew coffee, and produces a wonderfully consistent rich flavor every time. The charm of the French press is that it’s a manual, electricity-free coffee maker that is very quick and delivers an outstanding cup of coffee.

Grosche Madrid Best French Press

Many people swear by the French press and refuse to purchase electronic coffee makers and gadgets and it’s easy to understand why when you drink a perfectly brewed cup from a good French press, made by someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. The problem is, there’s often a learning curve when it comes to mastering the French press. I’ve written this blog post to inform you on how I make coffee with my press, which I believe to be the optimum way.

Step 1 – Ensure that your French press is clean since the last use. Remove the plunger and give it a rinse with hot water, making sure that there are absolutely no old grounds trapped in the filter. I can always tell when somebody has used a press without thoroughly cleaning it first as there is an unmistakable bitter aftertaste to the coffee.

Step 2 – Preheat the press by filling it with hot water. This will help keep your coffee hotter for longer.

Step 3 – Grind your coffee beans (I always use a burr grinder for this.) You don’t want to grind the coffee any sooner because the freshest grounds always contain the maximum amount of flavor. Depending on the capacity of your French press, it’s a good idea to only grind the exact amount of beans you’ll need. This can take some experimentation, and I actually use a scale to measure nowadays for optimum accuracy. Make sure not to grind the beans too fine, as this increases the chance of them getting through the filter.

Step 4 – Pour your freshly ground coffee into the French press.

Step 5 – Fill the French press up about half way with hot water to “bloom” and degas the coffee. Many people neglect to do this – while it’s not essential, there is absolutely no doubt that to release all the flavors and essential oils you should bloom the coffee first. Wait roughly 30 seconds after this step.

Step 6 – Stir the coffee and water in the press for a couple of seconds as you’ll usually find that some of the grinds have coagulated slightly. Then pour in the remaining hot water to the fill line.

Step 7 – Place the lid on the French press (with the plunger pulled up) and allow the coffee to brew for a few minutes. The longer you leave it, the stronger the coffee will be. I usually wait around 3-4 minutes. Do not use the plunger yet as this interferes with the brewing process and will ruin the coffee.

Step 8 – Very slowly and carefully push the plunger down, filtering the coffee and pour immediately for best taste.

Again, this is how I personally use the French press to brew coffee to my own preference. There are indeed variables involved which can be changed to create a different flavor and I suggest that you experiment yourself to find out which way you enjoy it the most. As a general guide however, this is, I believe, a very fine way to enjoy coffee made from a press.


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