How to Use a French Press Coffee Maker Like a Pro

While it’s not that difficult to figure it out how to use a French Press, we’re going to arm you with a step-by-step guide to get you plunging like a pro! And, in no time, you’ll be able to go head to head with the barista at your local coffee shop!

Step-by-Step Process of Using a French Press

What you’ll Need…

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Step 1

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Measure out your coffee beans. You can do this by weight or by volume, and the while the French Press is pretty forgiving, since it’s really about personal taste preferences, a general rule of thumb is the 10:1 ratio – 10 grams of water to every 1 gram of coffee.

If you’re measuring by tablespoon, 9-10 tablespoons should work for a 34 ounce 8 cup coffee maker.

Step 2

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Boil your water. Yes, this needs to be done separately. Inconvenient? Maybe. But, it does give you control over the temperature. Once, it’s reached its boiling point, use the 2 minute resting period (between 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit) to go on to Step 3.

Step 3

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Get grinding! A coarse, even, and uniform grind is the goal. This should only take you a couple minutes – perfect timing while the boiling water rests.

Step 4

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Put the coffee grounds into the French Press and then add the hot water. Do this slowly so as not to spill and splatter the very hot water all over the place and consequently onto you.

Step 5

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Stir. This is the part where you want all the grind particles to make contact with the water. Use the wooden spoon to do this so you don’t break any glass carafes – it’s been known to happen.

Step 6

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Put the lid and plunger back onto the carafe to allow for “brewing”. This is where all the insulating magic happens. Don’t plunge just yet. Just sit back and set a timer for 4 minutes. Some say anywhere between 2-6 minutes is good, but again, you’ll figure out how long you want to brew depending on what tastes good and looks great to you.

Step 7

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Plunge! But, be slow and gentle. The pressing technique is what pushes the grinds to the base for oil and flavor extraction – you’re not competing in an iron man strength test here.

About 15-20 pounds of pressure is a good plunge. If you’re not sure what that might feel like, a press down on a bathroom scale might give you an idea!

Step 8

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Drink up and enjoy! Serve immediately so that the coffee doesn’t endure further brewing which can change the flavor profile. Mmm…

What’s the Right Grind for a French Press?

It’s typically a matter of trial and error in figuring out how many beans you need, how tight the grinding setting is, and how coarse of a grind you need. But, it’s really more about achieving a consistent and uniform coarseness for the best cup of French Press coffee.

While the brewing method is important, the grind is ever-more vital! You want a coarse texture that’s similar to kosher salt or sea salt. Something that’s slightly finer than steel cut oats.

While you want grinds that are distinct, you don’t want too large or your brew will turn out weak. Too fine of a grind and you’ll end up with a sludgy mess. Uneven grinds will give you a confusing cup of coffee that’s somewhere in between weak, bitter, vinegar-like, and oily.

It all comes down to the grind! And, some of the best French Press coffee actually come from manual hand crank coffee grinders!

Troubleshooting French Press Coffee

You’re bound to hit a snag or two when brewing up the ideal French Press coffee, so here’s a few tips to troubleshoot some common problems!

Plunging

If the plunge is difficult and it requires a lot of pressure, the grind is too fine – try a coarser grind next time. If the plunge is way too easy and sinks to the base rather quickly, the grind is too coarse – try a finer grind next time.

Weak Coffee

This could be due to a too coarse grind where the hot water couldn’t extract the oils efficiently from the large particles or a too fine grind where you didn’t use enough beans. Also, remember that the ideal steeping time is about 4 minutes, so you may want to try a slighty longer steeping time if you like the current coarseness or a 3 minute grind if you like it slightly finer.

Very Strong Coffee

Welcome to French Press! If you’re transitioning from drip coffee, you mightn’t yet be accustomed to the rich and bold flavors of French Press coffee. You might also want to play around with the coarseness and amount of beans you’re using to find the right strength for you.

Too Bitter or Sludgy

You may have a too fine grind that brewed too quickly. Try a coarser grind next time.

Inconsistent Grind

You know what they say, “Practice makes perfect!” And, this is absolutely true of getting an even and consistent grind. However, a burr coffee grinder is the best option if you want high-quality grind consistency – just a suggestion.

Happy Coffee Making!

Here are the instructions for using a French Press again in a handy infographic:

Infographic showing how to use a french press coffee maker

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