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The Perfect French Press Coffee

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

The French press is one of the easiest, most inexpensive ways to brew a great cup of coffee. It’s a forgiving method that works for all sorts of coffee beans and roasts, and you don’t need lots of extra equipment. It’s the ideal tool for your coffee - morning, noon or night!

What is a French press?

The French press is a small pitcher with a plunger that’s used to brew coffee and other drinks. Despite the name, the French press is actually Italian: it was patented by an Italian designer in 1929. Other names for this coffee brewing tool include coffee press, coffee plunger, or cafetière. It’s most often used for brewed coffee, but the French press also makes tea, cold brew, espresso, and more.

Pros and cons to the method

There are lots of advantages to using this coffee tool. The major pros to making French press coffee:

  • It’s an inexpensive way to make a great cup of brewed coffee.

  • The method is forgiving and works for many different beans and roasts.

  • You don’t need lots of extra accessories like filters or food scales, and there’s an easy to remember coffee ratio.

  • The method isn’t overly sensitive to coffee grind. While you’ll need to dial it in, some variation in the ground size won’t affect the end product.

A con to the French press?

Flavor preference. Coffee connoisseurs tend to prefer the pour over coffee method for extracting the best flavor from the coffee bean. We tend to agree, so pour over coffee with a Chemex is our go-to morning method (2 pots a day!). But now that we’ve dialed in our method, the French press is a close second.

How much coffee? The French press coffee ratio:

Here’s a simple formula to memorize about French press coffee so you can make it anytime, anywhere. How much coffee for a French press?

  • The best French press coffee ratio is 1:13 coffee to water, or approximately 1 gram coffee for every 13 grams water. You can adjust this to taste, but it should make a great cup of coffee with dark, medium, or light roast coffee. An even easier way to think about it?

  • Use 1 cup ground coffee and 4 cups water. That’s 1 part ground beans to 4 parts water, no matter what size of French press coffee maker you’re using.

How to make French press coffee:

This coffee method is extremely forgiving. The basic steps? Add the coffee, wait for 5 minutes, and plunge. Here’s what to do:

  1. Grind the coffee: Grind 70 grams (1 cup) coffee beans to a medium grind. The size of grind is important: if it’s too fine it can create sediment; if it’s too coarse it’s not flavorful enough.

  2. Heat the water: Heat 4 cups water to hot but not boiling (200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit) using an electric kettle, or bring it to a boil on the stovetop and then let it sit for 1 minute to decrease in temperature.

  3. Add coffee grounds: Add the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot.

  4. Let coffee bloom for 1 minute: Add hot water to the height of the coffee and stir with a spoon. Set a timer and wait for 1 minute.

  5. Add water and brew 4 minutes: Fill the French press to the top (just below the spout) and stir again. Set a timer and wait for 4 minutes.

  6. Plunge: Place the lid on the French press and slowly press the plunger all the way down. Serve immediately. (Tip: If the plunger is hard to press, use a more coarse grind of coffee the next time. If it presses very easily, make the coffee grounds a bit finer.)

What else can you make in a French press?

The French press is great for brewed coffee, but it works for many other things: espresso, tea, and more!



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