French press is a fairly simple and inexpensive way to make a great cup of coffee. Because no paper filter is used, more of the coffee oils end up in the cup, which, in some people’s opinion, results in a better tasting cup of joe.
French Press: Pros & Cons
- More coffee oils in the coffee enhance the flavour
- Not using paper filters is economical and good for the environment
- Can be used to make 1-8 cups of coffee (depending on the size of your press)
- French press leaves a lot of residue in the coffee (the downside of not using a filter), which can be unpleasant in the mouth and leaves a bad aftertaste.
- Can be a pain to clean
- According to some healthy experts, the extra oils in French Press can contribute to high cholesterol
What You’ll Need
A French Press
A good French Press is easy to find and fairly inexpensive. The best know brand is Bodum, who make a range of high quality presses that come in a variety of sizes and colours.
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You’ll Also Need
- Fresh coffee (whole bean is highly recommended)
- A good quality coffee grinder (if using whole bean coffee). You can use a blade grinder, but French Press will benefit greatly from a burr grinder.
- A kettle
- A non-metal stir stick (a chopstick works great)
- A timer (a smartphone works well)
- A scale or measuring spoons
Instructions: How to Make French Press
These instructions make one large cup of coffee. Increase the amount of coffee and water for a larger batch.
1. Prep: Pour roughly 1 cup of hot water into the French press to preheat it. Swish it around a couple of times and then discard the water (or pour it into your mug to preheat that too!).
2. Grind Coffee: Grind 27 grams (about 5 tbsp) of fresh coffee.
- To avoid waste, weigh the beans BEFORE you grind them (if you don’t have a scale, 27 grams is roughly 1/3 of a cup of whole beans, but measuring whole beans isn’t very accurate)
- The beans should be ground quite course; about the consistency of kosher salt
3. Add the Coffee: Pour the coffee grounds into the French Press (make sure you emptied out the water from step one). Give the press a bit of a shake so that the grounds lay somewhat level on the bottom.
4. Prep the Scale: Put the press on the scale and tare it (set the scale to zero)
5. Set the Timer: Set the timer to 4 minutes (this is the extraction time). You want to press start immediately before pouring in the water.
6. Add Half the Water: Pour 200 grams of hot water into the press
- Boiling water will scald your coffee, the temperature of the water should be about 195-205° F/90-96° C. If your kettle doesn’t let you set the water temperature, simply let the water cool for 30-60 sec. after boiling.
- Pour the water in a circular motion, trying to wet all the grounds
- As you pour the water, the grounds will swell and expand, this is called the bloom.
7. Stir: Wait 30 seconds, then give the coffee a quick stir, make sure all the grounds are wet
8. Add More Water: Add another 200 grams of hot water (for a total of 400)
9. Wait: Put the lid on the press (don’t push down the plunger just yet). Let it sit until the remaining time is up.
- The total time the coffee should sit in the water (from when you first poured in water until you press down the plunger) is 4 minutes. If you leave it longer than that, your coffee will start to get bitter.
10. Press: Once the four minutes is up, push the plunger down—slow and steady
11. Pour immediately & enjoy!
- Having a decent brewer (such as a French Press) and using it correctly are important factors in making good coffee. But there are other factors as well; particularly, the freshness of the coffee and the quality of the water. Learn more here.
- Pour the coffee immediately after pressing down the plunger. If you let your coffee sit in the press, it will continue to brew and your coffee will become bitter and over-extracted. If you are not wanting to serve the coffee immediately, pour it into a carafe.
- To make really good French Press, it is important that the grind size is consistent. Because you aren’t using a filter, uneven grinds will result in a lot of sludge and residue in the coffee. For best results, use a burr grinder.
- Some experts recommend against stirring the grinds as it speeds up extraction time. If your coffee seems bitter, experiment with skipping steps 6-7. Instead, pour all the water over the coffee grinds at once and them let sit for four minutes before plunging.
- Keep your press clean. Coffee residue and old grinds caught in the mesh will negatively effect the flavour of your coffee. On some presses, the mesh assembly at the end of the plunger unscrews, which makes it much easier to clean.