Nothing beats a French press for strong, rich coffee. Automatic coffee makers may be convenient and easy to use, but they often filter out a lot of the coffee flavor and oils that help make coffee taste so great. I am personally a huge fan of French presses because: a) they look nice, b) the coffee tastes more intense, c) I can control the time and temperature, and d) it’s fun to press down on the plunger!

There is something really soothing to be said about using a French press. It’s almost magical to watch the coffee being brewed in the French press as opposed to an automatic coffee maker. My favorite time of day to use the French press is after a long, tough day when I want to relax. It just seems right to have something that seems so simple, yet delicious. I know with the French press coffee maker I use, I consistently receive nice results. So are you ready? Pick up your French press, water, a water heater, a bag of coffee beans/ground coffee and let’s go!

Steps To Using a French Press

  1. Boil the amount of water you want to use. Generally, you should use 1 tablespoon of coffee for every 6 ounces of hot water. Studies have shown that soft and hard water reduce bitterness while distilled water increases bitterness of the coffee. Ideally, the water should be at 90.5-96.1 degrees C (195-205 degrees F). However, if you’re not too nit-picky, simply boiling the water until before it reaches boiling point is fine. If the water is too hot, though, this can result in a more bitter taste.
  1. Pick your coffee. In order to get the best results, you should stick with coarsely ground coffee beans rather than finely ground. This is because finely ground coffee may end up in your coffee, resulting in coffee sediment. Also, it’s easier to press down the plunger later on. If you’re using coffee beans, simply grind the coffee beans in a processor on the coarse setting.
  1. Remove the top of the French press and place the ground coffee into the press. As mentioned, you’ll want to measure your ground coffee using a tablespoon. One tablespoon per six ounces is appropriate.
  1. Adjust spout. Now is a good time to make sure that your pot is facing forward so that you can pour the coffee easily while avoiding spillage.

  1. Pour in the water when it is ready. Using the water you just heated, pour some of it into the French press to cover all of the ground coffee and swirl around the coffee. This will result in a foam on top of the coffee. Then, add in the rest of the water.
  1. Stir. It is best if you stir using a wooden or a plastic spoon rather than a metal spoon because wooden and plastic spoons are much gentler on the bottom of the press. Metal spoons can scratch the bottom of the French press. However, if you only have a metal spoon available, make sure you stir gently.
  1. Place the top back on without pressing down. You should place the top of the French press so that it is just at the top of the press. This way, the coffee can brew without being filtered just yet.
  1. Brew for 4-5 minutes. Normally coarser ground coffee should be brewed at a slightly longer time than finely ground coffee since it takes longer for the water to release the flavors and oils of the larger particles. Thus, around 4 minutes is a good benchmark but it depends on the type of coffee you use. See if the package has specific instructions.
  1. Swirl. Swirl around the French press a little bit to release a bit more of the flavor and mix the coffee around one last time.
  1. Push down on the filter. Care should be taken to push the filter down slowly to avoid any spillage. Also, by pushing slowly it helps make it easier to push the filter down vertically as opposed to at an angle. To keep the press steady, hold onto the handle with one hand.
  1. Wait until the sediment falls back down to the bottom. Waiting for the sediment to fall will help prevent sediment from getting into your cup of coffee.
  1. Pour into a cup. Pretty self explanatory.
  1. Wait for it…wait…Enjoy! Caution, items contained in this cup may be hot so be patient and let the aroma of the coffee take you away before sipping.

A Few Extra Notes

If you have left over coffee, don’t let it sit in the French press as this can make it bitter. Why not give the rest of the coffee to a loved one to enjoy or please your boss with some freshly ground coffee that is superior to the office coffee machine? If there’s no one else around, pour the rest of the coffee into another cup or a thermos to keep the coffee from brewing too long.

French pressCredit: Yongbin

The French press coffee maker is not very difficult to wash. Pour in some warm water, a bit of soap, swirl and dump. Don’t forget to clean the filter as well to avoid left over coffee on it. If you have a dishwasher nearby, depending on the French press coffee maker, you can usually place the French press into the dishwater.

If you find that your French press still has odoring linger from previous coffee brewage (i.e. the ghosts of coffees past), using some baking soda, warm water and a scrub. Mix the baking soda and water in the press and scrub away. This should really help to get rid of any previous coffee smells.

You can also use the French press to make tea. I regularly use it for this purpose since I use tea leaves quite often and adjust the time and amount of tea leaves accordingly, depending on the type of tea.