How to Use a French Press: The Easiest 5-Step Process

Updated: November 17, 2021 by Owen Richardson

how to use a French press

There is nothing better than starting your day with a nice cup of coffee that will keep you awake for most of the day. For some, the best coffee comes from an actual coffee machine, but for others, it is better to be more involved in the coffee brewing process. If you belong to this second group, then learning how to use a French press could be the best thing for you!

French presses are a great way to brew a cup of coffee within minutes. You might think that brewing coffee with the press involves some complicated method, but it does not. In fact, it is very simple to make coffee using the French press as long as you know the steps you need to follow!

I want to use this guide to tell you everything that you need to know before using a French press for the first time. If you follow my advice closely, I am sure you will fall in love with the press and will forget all about other coffee machines. So if this appeals to you, get ready, and let’s get right into the detailed guide!

What is a French Press?

Before I tell you all about how you can use the French press to brew coffee, I want to take a minute to explain what this press is. This will come in handy for those who are still looking for a good coffee maker to try out.

A French press, also called a coffee press or coffee plunger, is a type of coffee brewing device that you can use to make a pot of coffee. It needs a few parts so that it can operate – a carafe, a frame, a handle, a cross plate, a mesh filter, a spiral plate, a lid, a rod, and the most crucial element: the plunger. Depending on the press you decide to buy, it can come with fewer or more parts.

French presses are very popular nowadays because they are very easy to use, affordable, available in various shapes and sizes, and make some amazing coffee within minutes. You can also use them for both cold and hot brewing!

How to Use a French Press – Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you know what a French press is and the parts it consists of, I think I can go into the detailed guide on how to use the press to make coffee. The process is very simple and easy, and it only takes a short amount of time. There are a few optional steps that I will mention, but you will find out more about them as you read along!

 

Step 1 – Prepare Your Water

Use clean, fresh, filtered water that you actually like to drink. This goes for any coffee that you brew regardless of brewing method. If you water doesn’t taste good, your coffee won’t taste good either.

As I briefly mentioned before, you can use the French press for both cold and hot brewing. For cold brewing, you should use water that is at room temperature, but for hot brewing, you will need to heat the water before adding it to the press.

The water you use should not be boiling because water that is too hot can damage the press. Boil the water and let it sit and cool down for a bit.

Depending on the size of the carafe your press comes with, you can determine how much water you should heat. You can also think about how many cups you want to brew at that time and let that determine how much water you use.

Step 2 – Grind Your Coffee Beans

This is an optional step that you can skip if you use pre-ground beans. However, I always advise against buying pre-ground beans because they go stale a lot quicker. Also, sometimes you might not get the consistency you are looking for, so it is better to grind them yourself.

How much coffee to add is largely up to you and how strong you want your brew. You can start with 6 to 7 grams of coffee for every 100 mililiters of water. So for an 8-0unce mug, you can add anywhere from 13.8 to 16 grams of coffee.

When it comes to French press coffee, coarsely ground beans is the best choice. They can help you make immaculate coffee, and they generally do not make their way into your cup of coffee. With finely ground beans, you might find that some escape the press and float in your cup.

So get yourself some medium or dark coffee beans, do a medium-coarse to coarse grind on them, and make sure you grind them right before brewing. If you want to save some time, you can also purchase ready-made beans from a quality company.

Step 3 – Preheat Your French Press

You want to start off with a hot French press to help maintain the brewing temperature throughout the brewing process. This is no biggie. Just pour hot water into your French press, wait a few seconds for it to heat up, then pour out the water.

Step 4 – Add Water and Beans

Once you have your beans and water all ready, you can get to the actual brewing. Let’s first talk about the hot brew and what you need to do to get the best results!

For hot brewing: Add coffee and water to your French press carafe.

Stir the ingredients and let them hang out for a while. Then you just have to wait for the magic. This is an exercise in patience, I know, but seriously, step away from the French press and leave it alone for three to five minutes. 

Step 5 – Work the Plunger

After those five minutes, add the plunger and start to press it slowly and with controlled pressure. You should be careful with the plunger – the way you press it can be crucial to the quality of your coffee. So take your time and be careful with it.

What the plunger does is push the grounds towards the bottom of the press, keeping the coffee above it. Once your plunger gets to the bottom, you can start pouring your coffee into a cup.

How to Use a French Press – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 5 – Clean Your French Press

Getting the coffee into your cup does not mean that the process is over. There is one more step that you have to follow and that is the final clean-up. You do not need to thoroughly clean the press every time you use it, but it does need a quick wash.

When you are done brewing, throw out the used ground beans and give the plunger and carafe a thorough rinse with some lukewarm water and dish soap. Then, help them dry off with a towel. That way, they will be ready for another brewing process whenever you need them!

 

FAQs on Making Coffee with a French Press

Now that you have seen the full French press tutorial, I want to share with you a few other tips that I think will come in handy once you start brewing coffee with this device. Go over these questions and the whole French press brewing process will surely become a bit clearer for you!

Does any coffee work with a French press?

Yes, you can essentially use any type of coffee bean to make French press coffee. However, a lot of people who tend to drink French press coffee often say that the best coffee is made with coarsely ground medium or dark roasted beans. This type of bean is generally oilier, which makes the coffee taste a bit better!

However, this can also be connected to personal preferences. If you are new to French press coffee, I advise you to not be afraid to try out different things before you decide which type of coffee beans you like best.

Is there more caffeine in French press coffee?

The answer to this question can vary depending on the type of beans you use as well as the ratio of water and coffee beans that you use when brewing coffee. However, it has been said that French press coffee can be very rich in caffeine. In some cases, it will even have more caffeine than a small espresso shot.

Is it bad to drink French press coffee every day?

You might have heard that French press coffee can sometimes be bad for you. Although it is not necessarily bad to drink this type of coffee every day, French press coffee can cause certain health issues if you consume too much of it.

I recommend that you drink no more than three cups of French press coffee per day. Anything more can cause your cholesterol levels to rise, and it can also cause certain heart issues in the long run.

That’s How You Prepare Delicious French Press Coffee

Well, that is all you need to know on how to use a French press to brew an unforgettable cup of coffee. If you have never had this type of coffee before, do not be afraid to try different roasts and flavors to find your favorite. However, I recommend that you stick to coarsely ground medium or dark roasted beans for the best flavor.

The French press is one of the simplest, most affordable, most convenient coffee-making devices that you will ever come across. I urge you to give it a shot. Let me know in the comments what your experience was like once you try it and if my guide helped you brew an awesome cup of coffee!

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