How to Brew Coffee Using a French Press

If you enjoy a truly fresh cup of coffee, you will want to give French press brewing a try. Although using a French press may seem confusing and even a bit complicated at first, we promise you, it’s really quite simple. To remove all mystery from the process, we’ve put together this helpful article to teach you how to brew coffee using a French press.

Assembling Your French Press

Before you can brew your coffee, you’ll need to have your French press put together properly. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check out our How to Assemble a French Press article for complete instructions. In a few quick steps you’ll have your French press ready to go, even if you’ve never used one before and find all those pieces baffling.

Once your French press is assembled, you’ll be ready to gather up the few supplies you’ll need.

What You’ll Need

Besides your French press, you’ll need ground coffee and boiling water. Any regular-grind, pre-ground bag of coffee will work just fine in your French press. However, if you grind your own coffee beans, you’ll want to create a coarser grind for your French press than you would for a drip coffee maker. A coarse grind will brew up a flavorful cup of coffee while leaving behind less sediment in the press that could potentially end up in your coffee cup.

To boil your water, you will need either a tea kettle or pan to heat on the stove top or an electric kettle. Either method works great. In a bind, you can heat your water to boiling in a glass container in the microwave. The microwave tends to give water a “flat” taste, though, so we don’t recommend it unless no other option is available.

You’ll also need a tablespoon for measuring your ground coffee as well as something with which to stir that’s long enough to reach the bottom of the French press. Many French press brewers, like the one pictured for this article, conveniently include a long-handled coffee measuring scoop that also serves as a stirrer. If your French press didn’t come with one, a regular measuring tablespoon will work just fine for scooping your coffee. And any long-handled spoon or heat-resistant spatula will work for stirring. Even a butter knife can make an effective stirrer if you don’t have anything else handy. Just be sure whatever you use is heat-resistant and long enough to reach to the bottom of the French press.

Measuring

There are a lot of variables to take into consideration when measuring the “right amount” of coffee and water for your French press. As a general guideline, however, you can start by using one tablespoon of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This should provide you with a flavorful cup of coffee that is neither too weak nor too strong. From this baseline, you can adjust the amount of coffee and/or water you use according to your tastes.

A few of the factors that may affect the amount of ground coffee you use in your French press include:

    • The type and strength of the roast coffee you are using
    • How strong you like your finished cup of brewed coffee
    • The overall volume of coffee you are brewing
    • How coarsely the roast coffee is ground

Each time any of these conditions change, you may find you need to adjust the amount of ground coffee and/or water used to make your “perfect cup” of French press brewed coffee. Whenever in doubt, thought, using the “1 Tablespoon Ground Coffee Per 6 Ounces of Water” guide is a good place to start. By adding a bit more ground coffee for a stronger brew or a little less for a milder finished beverage, you should find your ideal measurements quite easily within a couple brewing cycles.

Brewing

Now that you have your French press assembled, your supplies gathered, and know how much ground coffee and water to measure out, let’s get brewing!

First, measure the amount of water you want to use. You can do this easily by using the mug or mugs you’ll be serving from as your guides. Fill the mugs with clean, cool water and pour the water into your teapot or electric kettle. Begin heating the water, continuing until it reaches a full boil.

While the water heats up, remove the lid and attached plunger assembly from your French press and set it aside. Measure your coffee, and put the desired amount of fresh grounds directly into the French press beaker (container). If you’re using a bag of pre-ground coffee, seal up the bag right away to keep it fresh.Coffee Grounds Added to French Press Beaker

Once your water boils, remove it from the heat. Wait 15 – 30 seconds to let the boiling subside. Then slowly pour the hot water directly over the coffee grounds in the French press beaker. Continue pouring until you’ve added all the water you boiled and the coffee grounds are saturated.

Gently stir the coffee grounds for about 10 seconds until the surface of the coffee in the press turns a lighter brown and looks “milky” and/or slightly foamy. This is called the “bloom,” and it lets you know all your coffee grounds are saturated and the brewing has begun.stirring coffee grounds in french press

Place the lid securely back on your French press, being sure to keep the filters resting above the surface of the brewing coffee. french press brewingSet a timer for four minutes. Leave your French press undisturbed until the timer goes off to allow the coffee to brew.

Filtering

After four minutes, your coffee will be brewed and ready to drink. Before you pour, however, you will want to maximize the filtration of your French press. To do this, slowly push the knob on the rod down towards the lid of the French press as far as it will go. The filtering “plunger” inside the press will push any loose coffee grounds on the sides of the beaker to the bottom of the press and will hold all the grounds while you pour.french press filtering

Although the mesh filters will strain the brewed coffee as it is decanted into your coffee cup, some finer sediment may not be contained. To keep from getting this sediment in your drinking cup, do not pour all the brewed coffee out of the French press. By leaving some of the liquid behind, you also leave the finer sediment behind, ensuring you receive a crisp, clear cup of coffee.french press filtering detail

Enjoying

Now that you see how easy it is to brew coffee using a French press, we hope you’ll give the process a try. For many coffee lovers, it’s the preferred brewing method, and for good reason. French press brewing provides a fast but controlled method for indulging in the freshest, most robust coffee cup after cup. Once you give it a try, you may not want to brew your coffee any other way!mug of coffee

Perfecting

For some extra guidance, be sure to  check out the article French Press Tips and Tricks to discover nine easy ways to improve your French Press coffee.

Have you tried French press brewing? If so, what did you think? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments or questions below. Thanks!

10 Comments

  1. Dianne

    This is great! I finally know how to use the French press properly thanks to your article here. Great tip to warm the press first. I shall start my experimenting to get the perfect cup of brewed coff over the Christmas. I have some lovely ground coffee beans at the ready. Happy days! 

    • Cheri

      I’m glad you found the information helpful, Dianne. Brewing in your French Press will surely highlight the taste of those lovely ground coffee beans you have…and it’s also an impressive way to make coffee for any holiday guests you might have as it truly seems extra-special to most people. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

  2. Clement

    Thanks for this amazing comment, This article is straight forward and easy to comprehend, thou am not a big lover of coffee but is also a good feeling to learn things in a new way. The steps for making  French press Coffee are well explaned here and I can’t wait to try it out. Is filtration necessary in coffee French press preparation.

    • Cheri

      Thank you for your comment, Clement. I’m glad the article inspires you to give coffee brewed in a French Press a try. I’m not sure I understand your question about filtration. If you are referring to the water used, then, yes, I always recommend the best-quality, filtered water be used so that the flavor of the coffee is not marred by any chemical flavors in the water, such as chlorine. If you are referring to filtering the coffee, the plunger in the French Press has mesh filters on it that separate the coffee from the grounds when you pour the brewed beverage into your cup or mug. I hope those answers are helpful. Thanks for visiting!

  3. AnxietyPanda

    Oh my gosh, I’ve been doing it wrong my entire life! Thank you for the enlightenment and showing the correct way.My French Coffee press have been standing on the shelf collecting dust for me to clean, pretty much since I got it. Tried it twice, both times got gulps full of sediment. In retrospect, this is because I used extremely fine ground coffee…. not sure why I thought the filter would be able to handle that. Perhaps because it works fine in the filter coffee machine?Now I know to use coarser ground beans for the French coffee press. I’m off to the shop immediately to get coffee!I’m looking forward to trying this again 😀

    • Cheri

      I’m so very glad this article was helpful to you! I have to admit that my French Press sat on the shelf for far too long as well. Then I made the effort to learn to use it, and I’ve been hooked on it ever since! I hope this time around you will enjoy the outcome. To have the best French Press experience, you might also want to check out my French Press Tips and Tricks article…it covers all the little things I had to learn the hard way to make better coffee in my press. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you’ll let me know how it goes. 

  4. Hugo

    Thanks for your article on How to brew coffee with a French Press.  It caught my attention because my son was an expert in brewing his own cup of coffee with one of these machines.  He tried to sell me on the quality of the end product, but I’m not sure he succeeded.  Even though I could always taste the freshness in his samples, I went back to my old Mr. Coffee machine after my son moved out.  Seeing the information on my screen brought back memories, and made me wish to give it a try after all this years.

    Thanks again for the information you present.

    • Cheri

      I’m glad the article brought up some fond memories for you, Hugo. I’m also glad you’ve had the opportunity to taste coffee prepared in a French Press, as I do think it provides a lovely experience. That said, it is a bit more time-consuming process that many people simply won’t find feasible or enjoyable if their mornings are very busy times for them. If that is your situation but you’re interested in trying the French Press Coffee Experience again, I would recommend brewing with the French Press on mornings when you have more time to truly savor the outcome. Thank you for commenting! 

  5. Darci

    Such an informative article! I have been a little intimidated by the French Press, admittedly, but I didn’t realize how simple it actually was to use! I was wondering, I saw that you gave very helpful info on measuring, but is there a difference in overall taste between the French Press and drip coffee maker? Does the French Press produce a stronger cup of coffee?

    -Darci

    • Cheri

      Darci I have to laugh because I put off trying a French Press for a long time because I, too, found it intimidating. I’m not sure why that misconception persists, but it is, indeed, a rather simple process. It has been a long time since I used a drip coffee maker, actually, but I would have to say (from memory), that, yes, I think the French Press produces a bolder taste, which means you might find you’re using less coffee to brew with a French Press, thereby saving you money down the line. Thank you for commenting!

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