Step by step guide on how to use a French press coffee maker

How to Perfectly Make French Press Coffee

Ever craved for a cuppa joe that would make you do the moonwalk right in your kitchen in the wake of that heavenly taste? Ever wanted to experience aroma so intense you could just slice it up and serve it as an entrée? Then it’s time you sampled the magic that is French Press coffee!

In this age of modern coffee makers with so much tech built into them you’d think you’re in a NASA facility, it’s easy to forget the charming simplicity that comes with machines like the French Press. They’re actually less of machines and more of little, lovable helpers that work tirelessly to thrill your taste buds every single morning. And all this effort pays off!

Thanks to the coffee grounds steeping directly in the hot water, and without the brew passing through any oil-absorbing paper filters, you get a taste that is full bodied, smooth, and full of rich flavor. But for you to brew coffee so astoundingly good your life will flash before your eyes, there are a couple of things you need to master.

Three Keys For Making Perfect French Press

3 tips for using a french press

1. The Grind

This is arguably the central pillar to perfect coffee press java. Get this wrong and you’ll never know what paradise in a cup tastes like; and that would be a total tragedy. So what grind makes a French Press all giggly, you ask? A pretty coarse one, that’s what. If it’s too fine you’ll end up with a bitter, over-extracted brew and a whole lot of sediment in your cup. Or what we call a-perfect-way-to-amplify-that-already-miserable-Monday-morning.

For you to achieve that consistently coarse grind, you’ll have to invest in a good burr grinder. Yes, you could buy pre-ground coffee at your local roaster. And yes, you could try your hand at a cheap blade grinder and hysterically wave it around as you try and get just the right grind.

But to ensure your coffee is perfectly fresh, get amazingly uniform results, and ward off Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s best to go out and buy a stellar piece of equipment like the Smart Grinder Pro by the folks over at Breville. A good grinder and a Press go hand-in-hand like an Aeropress and a coffee snob.

2. The Temperature

To brilliantly tease out those ethereal flavors, you must ensure you’re working with just the right temperature. Heat the water too much and you end up over-extracting your beans; do the opposite and you end up with weak tasting brew.

Now, if you have a kettle that records temperature or a handy kitchen thermometer, firstly, congratulations, we admire your commitment. Secondly, get the temperature reading of you water to 205F before yanking it away from the heat source. 

Note: If at all you don’t have a thermometer or are just too cool for school, simply get your water to boiling point then let it sit for about 30 seconds; that should get it to around the 205F mark.

3. The Measurements

The coffee-water ratio when it comes to French Press is a bit of a hot-button issue. But ultimately, it comes down to your personal taste. There are some that like the flavor nice and balanced, and some that like it so strong you can see the caffeine throwing gang signs.

But a good place to start is with 8 ounces of water for every 20 grams or so of coffee, which translates to about one tablespoon. Again, feel free to tweak this ratio to coincide with your preferences; no one’s holding a gun to your head. At least we hope so.

How to Make French Press Coffee

Ingredients Required for Perfect French Press

13 Steps for Using Your French Press


Boil Your Water

Place your water into that trusty kettle and give it a good boil. Remember, if you can get a temperature read-out, look out for 205 F; that’s the magic number.


Inspect Your Press

Any old grounds that might be stuck in the plunger apparatus will inevitably mess up with your brew. So ensure everything is spic and span. If so, pat yourself on the back. 


Warm It Up

Get a bit of hot water from the kettle, pour it into the carafe, place the lid, press down on the plunger, and give everything a nice swirl. This works to warm up the equipment so that the temperature of your brew isn’t compromised. Pour out the water after a couple of seconds.


Weigh Your Beans

Depending on just how much caffeine you want to binge on, whip out your kitchen scale and weigh those beans that drive you wild. A medium to dark roast works best for French Press. If you’re using pre-ground coffee, skip to step 6 or maybe weigh random objects in the kitchen just for fun. Again, start with 20 grams of coffee for 8 ounces of water.


Get Your Grind On

Take out that cherished burr grinder and opt for the coarsest setting. If at all the java turns out a bit weak, try grinding it a bit finer next time. If using a blade grinder, use short, sharp pulses.


Pour Your Grounds

Add the grounds into the carafe and give it a nice shake to ensure they’ve settled flat at the bottom.


Add The Water

Unless you’re The Flash, by this time the water should have reached boiling point. Ensure it’s at 205 F by using a thermometer or letting it sit for about 30 seconds. Now, carefully pour it on the coffee grounds until the carafe is about a third full.


Let It Bloom

This is crucial at allowing the grounds to release their trapped gases and make your joe that much richer. So take out your timer and patiently wait for 45 seconds as you pretend to read the morning paper.


Stir It Up

At the 45-second mark, a crust should have formed above the brew. So take out your plastic or wooden spoon and stir for about 5 seconds. Stay away from metal as it can create microscopic cracks in your glass carafe and major cracks in your bank account later on.


Top It Up

Top the carafe with the rest of the hot water and fit the lid with the plunger pulled up completely.


Reset Your Timer

Restart that timer that was stuck on 45 seconds and wait until it hits 4 minutes. This might be the time to make annoying phone calls to people at 6 a.m.


Time To Plunge

Once the 4-minute steep time has elapsed, slowly press down the plunger, trying to agitate the brew as least as possible. Pressing slowly for about 15 seconds will effectively filter out most of the grounds. Combine that with a double screen filter and you end up with some pretty clear-looking brew.


Serve & Enjoy

Serve as soon as possible as the coffee might get bitter the longer it sits on the grounds. If you plan on drinking it later, it’s wise to decant it into a thermos or a different carafe.

Pro Tips For Using Your French Press

  • Warm your coffee mugs as well to greater cozy-up your drinking experience.
  • Use filtered water to increase your chances of whipping up some logic-defying brew.
  • Wet the grounds with a few drops of cold water before pouring the hot water on them.

Final Thoughts

That’s how easy it all is! Once you get a hang of it, you’ll be brewing cups of taste bud-tantalizing java without even thinking about it. Yes, a French Press might involve a bit more work than that fancy drip machine, but that’s half the fun! Somehow, knowing that you did the heating, grinding, and filtering yourself makes everything a bit smoother, richer and heavenlier.

Happy Brewing!

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