Making gourmet coffee at home should involve a great deal of experimentation.
Try out a range of different brewing methods and see which ones are keepers and which ones you don’t think are worth the time.
If you’re thinking of getting back to basics with a classic artisanal method that needs no expensive equipment and just 5 minutes of your time, you’re in luck today. We’ll show you how to use a French press coffee maker to get rich and full-bodied coffee in minutes flat without anything more than an inexpensive cafetiere.
All you’ll need is a classic glass carafe and 5 minutes of hands-free brewing.
As with all brewing methods, grinding your own beans is not mandatory but pays enormous dividends. You’ll get coffee that tastes fresher and more delicate by grinding your own at home. Don’t be intimidated by the process. Give it a try!
So, we’ll get right down to business with a detailed guide on making coffee with this rewarding and extremely versatile brewing method.
Making French Press Coffee The Easy Way
Firstly, you’ll need some basic gear. You don’t need to spend much and the scale is optional.
- French press
- Coffee beans
- Filtered water
Now, here’s how to get great French press coffee in just 5 minutes without spending a fortune…
- Grind your beans directly before brewing
- Preheat your French press
- Weigh your coffee grounds
- Measure and heat the water
- Add coffee grinds and hot water
- Replace lid and start timer
- Plunge slowly
- Decant your carafe
- Serve and clean carafe
1) Grind your beans directly before brewing
Coffee beans oxidize and degrade quickly. If you buy pre-ground coffee, it’s already well past its best before it even reaches you.
Instead, invest in a manual or electric grinder and blitz your beans directly before brewing.
For French press coffee, shoot for a coarse grind. You might see many grind sizes quoted from medium through to medium-coarse and coarse. For the purposes of simplicity, we keep the grind coarse here at BestCoffee. As always, you should tweak this if it doesn’t work for you.
Refer to our detailed guide on grinding coffee for the French press right here.
If you want to explore grind sizes in more detail, explore our comprehensive guide.
2) Preheat your French press
Preheating the vessel is a crucial preliminary step with many brewing methods. The aim of preheating is to reduce fluctuation in brew temperature.
Grab your French press and add some hot water. Swirl the water around until the carafe feels warm to the touch. Discard the water.
Not only will you mitigate swings in temperature when you’re brewing, you’ll also ensure your coffee stays hotter for longer.
3) Weigh your coffee grounds
Using a digital scale to weigh your coffee grounds is far smarter than trying to gauge it by scoop or by eye. Refer to our guide to coffee scales if you’re stuck for ideas.
Here’s how much ground coffee you need for a variety of French press sizes:
- 3-cup carafe: Mild (22g), medium (30g), strong (35g)
- 4-cup carafe: Mild (31g), medium (42g), strong (50g)
- 6-cup carafe: Mild (44g), medium (59g), strong (71g)
- 12-cup carafe: Mild (94g), medium (126g), strong (151g)
As with all aspects of making coffee, don’t feel you need to stick to any hard-and-fast rules when you’re brewing with a French press. Use the above weights as guidelines to work from. Dial things in until you have the brew to your exact liking. Replicating this then becomes straightforward.
4) Measure and heat the water
You should use roughly 1 part coffee for every 15 parts of water. Again, feel free to fine-tune this ratio to your taste.
If you’re looking for absolute accuracy, weigh your water just like you did your coffee grounds. Use that 1:15 ratio and adjust from there.
Heat water to between 195F and 205F.
If you don’t have a thermometer, boil the kettle and leave it to sit for 30 seconds before pouring. This should yield water within the above temperature band.
5) Add coffee grinds and hot water
Pop your coffee grounds into the preheated French press.
Add the requisite amount of water as above.
Stir the coffee once briskly to make sure that all the grounds are completely immersed in the water. Resist the temptation to stir and agitate further.
6) Replace lid and start timer
Now it’s time to pop the lid on your French press and set a countdown timer for 5 minutes.
You’ll see suggested times of anywhere from 3 ½ minutes to 6 minutes but here at LaMano, we feel 5 minutes is the ideal sweet spot. Experiment with timings until you find what works best for you and your palate.
6) Plunge slowly
After 5 minutes, slowly press down on the plunger. Make certain you push this all the way down or your coffee will continue to brew until it’s over-extracted.
The plunging process will also indicate whether or not you got the grind size right. If you find too much resistance when you plunge, your grinds are too fine. If, on the other hand, there’s no resistance at all, your grinds are too coarse. Adjust accordingly.
7) Decant your carafe
The longer your coffee remains in the French press, the more extracted it becomes to the point of bitterness. This is why it’s futile to buy a huge 12-cup press if you only plan to drink it yourself.
Unless, that is, you decant the contents. We’d recommend doing this as soon as you’ve plunged.
8) Serve and clean carafe
Serve your coffee the way you like it and clean your press thoroughly after each use. As with all coffee equipment, keeping on top of maintenance and clean-up ensures you never have too much work to do.
All you need to do is rinse your carafe with some hot soapy water and leave to dry thoroughly and naturally.
Make certain all grounds and debris are rinsed out and you’re good to go.
If you want to get hands-on with your coffee brewing but you don’t want to learn a complicated brewing method like pour-over, the French press is the time-honored alternative.
For inspiration on the best French press coffee makers, check out our guide just here.
One of the key attractions of using a classic carafe is how you can yield coffee just like you’d buy at the coffee shop without lifting a finger and without needing any expensive machinery to achieve it. Get back to basics!
We’d also suggest you bookmark BestCoffee before you head off. We’ve got a busy summer planned with more informative guides on making coffee using a range of techniques. We try to cater for all experience levels here.
So, pop back soon and let us know how you get on making French press coffee. It’s one of our personal favorites here at BestCoffee!