The french press is an easy and inexpensive way to achieve a full flavored cup of coffee with body. Read more to learn how to use a French Press.
French Press Basics
The French Press, also known as a press pot, consists of a glass or plastic beaker as well as a mesh plunger assembly. French presses come in various sizes; I have one for just myself and a larger one that I use when I have company over. If you are interested, all you need to get started is a basic french press such as the Bodum Chambord French Press.
The french press works by immersion. You will basically steep the coffee grounds in water and then press down on the plunger. The plunger will push the grounds to the bottom of the pot and allow you to pour out the coffee. You can also brew tea this way.
French pressed coffee blends the characteristics of particular beans a bit more compared to other coffee methods. This is due to the coffee grounds being fully immersed in water for several minutes. The result is a heavier tasting cup that has body, since there is no paper filter to remove small sediments and oils.
- The french press is one of the easiest coffee methods to use.
- French pressed coffee has body and is great for bold-coffee lovers.
- French presses are relatively inexpensive.
- French presses require specific parameters. You must use a specific grind and a specific extraction time.
- The coffee made from a french press can be sometimes described as muddy, as the immersion dulls specific traits.
- French pressed coffee will leave a bit of sediment in the bottom of your cup.
How to Prepare French Pressed Coffee
Brewing french press coffee requires an extraction time of 3-4 minutes, and a coarse grind. Be sure to stick around while your coffee brews, or else you will have a very bitter and unpleasant cup. The grind size is also very important, and is best acquired using a burr grinder. You can read more about the basics of grinding coffee in my article: The Burr Grinder: A Short Guide.
When you are ready to begin, follow the steps below.
- First, measure how much coffee and water you will need. You may wish to bookmark my post on coffee to water ratios for easy reference. If you don’t have a scale, you can start with a heaping tablespoon of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. Be sure to use filtered water.
- Boil your water and grind your coffee. The recommended grind will consist of coarse and relatively even sized particles.
- Add your coffee grounds to the bottom of the press. Shake the press a bit to level out the grounds.
- Pour filtered water that is just off boiling (around 195F) and let steep for 4 minutes. Try to saturate all the grounds quickly. Replace the lid but do not press down the plunger, let it remain above the level of the floating coffee grounds. This allows the press to retain heat.
- After a minute has elapsed, stir the contents of the press. This will ensure that all the grounds are saturated for best extraction.
- When finished steeping, press the plunger down slowly (stop when the plunger is almost at the bottom) and pour the coffee into a cup or a server. Do not push the plunger all the way down! Some sediment will settle to the bottom of your cup; this is normal. Enjoy your french pressed cup!
Cleaning the Press
Before you drink your newly french pressed coffee, you should establish the habit of cleaning out the press directly after each use. You don’t want to forget about it and have to clean it days later. To clean the press, follow these steps:
- Remove the lid and plunger assembly and set aside.
- Fill the press with a small amount of water, and then swirl the grounds and water enough to lift them off of the bottom and dump them into the trash.
- Fill the press with hot water, rinse off your plunger assembly, and place back in the press.
- Press the plunger up and down several times while the press is filled with water. This will remove debris from the filter and scrub the sides of the pot.
- Rinse components and set aside to dry.
This sounds complicated, but it can be done in under a minute. The french press is very easy to clean, especially right after brewing while everything is still hot.
French Press Variations
One of the nice things about the french press is that it is available in many different variations. Please note that different manufacturers advertise using different size “cups”. For example, Bodum defines a cup of coffee as 4 ounces. A normal sized coffee mug will typically hold 8-10 ounces. When selecting a french press, keep this in mind.
- A good example of a basic french press is the Bodum Chambord French Press. This is a great entry due to its cost, simplicity, and traditional design. You can select from multiple sizes.
- The press that I currently use is a Bodum Columbia Thermal Insulated Press Pot. This press is a bit more expensive because it is constructed of stainless steel and is vacuum insulated. Also, the plunger assembly is better designed and easier to clean. This press will maintain optimal brewing temperature for the duration of the extraction and is very durable due to its metal construction.
- The Espro French Press uses a double filter assembly and claims to give you the cleanest possible french pressed brew. I have not tried this yet, but I plan on purchasing one soon. The Espro comes in glass, copper, and stainless steel variations, and it is quite nice to look at.
If you are interested in an inexpensive, bold coffee brewing option, look no further than the French Press. French pressed coffee is difficult to get wrong and is a very consistent way of brewing coffee, assuming you stick around and use the correct grind.
French pressed coffee is very different from other types of coffee in that it develops more body and averages out the taste profile a bit more. Overall, it’s a great and easy experience, and the end result is well worth it.
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