How To Make Coffee With a French Press

How To Make Coffee With a French Press

​Do you enjoy a strong and savory cup of coffee? Are you willing to learn a new, cheap, and easy skill? Whether you’re a common user of French Press brewing or a newcomer, this guide will have some pro tips you can use to brew better coffee. French Pressed Coffee is the perfect, low-maintenance brew method for those lazy Sunday mornings. When done correctly, it produces a smooth, delicious cup of coffee. While there are a million ways to make coffee, French Pressed Coffee is one of the easiest (and cheaper) ways to make a great cup of Joe. So look no further. The ultimate guide how to make coffee with a french press is here.

Why Should I Buy a French Press Brewer?

This is one of the most common questions. Many people believe French press makes the best coffee. The main concern for most coffee drinkers is flavor. Coffee has many natural oils that preserve it's natural and unique flavors. When you use an automatic coffee maker, such as a drip brewer, these oils are absorbed into the paper filters and the manufactured plastics that make up the machine. After time and many uses, the oils stick to the inner workings of the machine and create a nasty residue that can stale and will ruin your coffee with a leftover flavor. This usually never happens in the French Press. Pressing or "plunging" instead of dripping through paper filters will help the oils wash away easily, leaving little to no residue. And unlike a traditional coffee pot, your coffee doesn’t burn while it is being kept warm.

What is a French Press?  

The origins of the French Press are not completely known, but documents suggest that the earliest versions of the brewer came from, of course, France. The first design for this style of brewer was patented in 1852 by the Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge. It did not create a seal inside the carafe so it was not like the one we know and use today. The first patent of a French press that resembles today's style was patented by the Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929.

The French Press is a very simple coffee brewer that is usually made up of two parts: a carafe for holding the coffee and water, and a rod with a metal filter attached to the bottom. By definition, a carafe is "a wide-mouthed glass or metal bottle with a lip or spout, for holding and serving beverages" [source: dictionary.com]. When the filter is placed over the coffee and plunged down, you can pour out the liquid while filtering it at the same time. The Basics of French Press Coffee The instructions in this tutorial will make 32 ounces, a widely-used size of French press that makes about four servings. But what if you want more or less? Below is a general guide to proportions by volume. Note: coffee beans are to be measured before grinding begins.

  • ​1 serving — 1 cup water (8 fluid ounces) — 2 tablespoons coffee beans
  • ​2 servings — 2 cups water (16 fluid ounces) — 1/4 cup coffee beans
  • ​4 servings — 4 cups water (32 fluid ounces) — 1/2 cup coffee beans
  • ​8 servings — 8 cups water (64 fluid ounces) — 1 cup coffee beans

Assuming you’ve read this far, you now understand that French press brewing is very different than a traditional brewing system. Here's what you'll need:

  • ​4-cup French press brewer
  • ​Coffee grinder
  • ​1/2 cup freshly-roasted coffee beans
  • ​4 cups cold water  

You'll start by by warming the French press and grinding your coffee beans. Again, this specific tutorial will make 32 ounces. If you're making more or less than 32 ounces, refer to the coffee proportions chart listed above. Grind 1/2 cup of your beans on the coarsest setting in the grinder. Your coffee grounds should be rough, but still evenly-sized, with not a lot of fine grit. It is VERY important that you don't grind your coffee too fine.

So what’s the correct grind size? It should be quite coarse. If the grind is too fine, the water will extract the coffee too fast. This is not an issue with some other full immersion brewers, but the French press' metal mesh filter lets fine coffee grounds through, therefore your brew will have too much grit in the cup. Stumptown describes the most fitting size and shape as "breadcrumbs". With that being said, now it's time to pour the coffee grounds into your French press. Check out Endicott's coffee grinding chart for visual assistance on how your perfect coffee grounds should look.

Next, measure 4 cups of water. Heat the water on a stovetop to boiling, then remove from the heat for 1 minute. To make sure your water is at the ideal temperature, you may use a thermometer. The water should be heated to about 195°F, just below boiling temperature. When the water has reached the preferred temperature, pour it into the brewer. Stir vigorously for about 30 seconds in an up and down motion. Let it steep for 4 minutes. This will create a strong brew. However, if you would like it weaker or maybe even stronger, steep for either a shorter or longer time.

The final step is to use the plunger. When you have finished letting it seep, immediately press the plunger slowly all the way to the bottom. Drink the coffee immediately. If you prefer not to drink it just yet, do not leave it in the French press, where it will continue to sit on the grounds and get bitter. Pour into an insulated container, such as a thermal carafe to keep it hot, which you can purchase from Amazon by clicking the link below.

Pro Tips for French Press Perfection  

 The steps above should result in a delicious cup of coffee. However, the French Press may leave a bitter taste in your mouth if it is not brewed correctly. Here's a few tips from "crema.co" to avoid bitterness:

  • ​Be sure to use good coffee. Buy high quality whole bean coffee and grind it just before use.
  • ​Bitterness may be a result of leaving the coffee in contact with the grounds after it’s done brewing, so we recommend you drink the coffee immediately.
  • ​Uneven grinding is also a common cause of bitterness. Fine pieces of ground coffee extract faster than larger pieces. Try using a burr grinder, if you aren’t already, or changing the burrs on your grinder as they may be getting old.
  • ​Water that is too hot can scorch the coffee and cause it to be bitter. The ideal temperature is around 195°F, which, as mentioned above, is the result bringing the water to a boil and letting it sit for 1 minute.
  • ​Old coffee stuck in the filter will pass on unpleasant bitterness if the French Press has been used before; we recommend cleaning your brewer before or after each use.

Another common issue is "why won't my plunger push down?", although this may not actually be a problem. Since you’re plunging down a filter, there’s always a possibility that the grounds will simply just get in the way. A simple way to solve this problem is to lift up on the filter a bit, then continue to press it down. If this simple fix doesn’t resolve your problem, you may have used a grind setting that was too fine. Try coarsening it up next time so that the grounds are less likely to get trapped in the holes of the filter.

Cleaning Your French Press

When it’s all said and done and you’ve had a few sips of your precious coffee, it’s time to clean your brewer. My personal method is to tap the filter rod on the edge of a trash can, disposing any attached grounds into the trash. Then, give the French press carafe a good shake, turn it upside down, and shake a little more over the trash can. You may also dump all of the grounds into a strainer to dispose of them. It all depends on where you are and what may be accessible. 

There are bound to be a few leftover coffee grounds after shaking. To get rid of these, just wash them down the drain with plenty of water. While soap isn’t really necessary after every brew, I suggest a more thorough cleaning by hand using soap and warm water every few weeks. When you rinse, be sure to use plenty of warm water to get all the soap off the filter and the carafe. Coffee made with leftover soap does not taste the best. Please check out the video below to get a visual tutorial on how to properly clean your French press.

What are the Benefits of French Press Coffee?

  According to FrenchPressCoffee.com, experts have studied the health benefits of coffee for the cardiovascular system and neurological system. The French Press allows raw grounds to be in direct contact with the water, instead of dripping through a paper filter. This allows the essential oils of the coffee to diffuse throughout the water, instead of being trapped inside a paper filter. As a result, more of the good antioxidants and nutrients end up in your coffee, instead of just flavor.

Coffee contains methylpyridinium, a powerful compound that has been shown to lower the chances of certain cancers in areas such as oral, pharyngeal and esophageal. Now you have even more of a reason to love your French Press coffee. If that doesn't make you want to break out your brewer right now and start brewing, maybe this next health benefit will! Did you know that coffee also contains lipophilic antioxidants and chlorogenic acid lactones? The long term effects that these surprising ingredients have on the neurological system is the power to help decrease the risk of Parkinson’s disease and even dementia, significantly.

French Press coffee drinkers praise this method of brewing because of it's superior taste and quality, especially when made with an even, coarse blend.

 What Kinds of Presses are Available?

French Presses are traditionally made from glass. While glass is great because it allows you to witness the process of brewing beautiful coffee, it is best to only use glass presses for single servings or when you are serving the coffee immediately. This is because glass cools very quickly and will allow your coffee to get cold. For French Press coffee that stays hot longer, I would recommend the best of all French Presses, the Freiling. Not only will your coffee stay hot with this double walled, thermal design, but it will do so in style. To can purchase the Freiling from Amazon.com for a low price, just click the link below.

Now that you're a professional French press coffee maker, we hope to hear from you about your experiences with this tutorial! Feel free to leave any questions and comments you may have! Thank you for letting us guide you through your new coffee brewing journey and we hope to hear from you soon.

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