7 Easy steps to make perfect coffee with a French Press

How to Make Coffee with a French Press

Many people shy away from the idea of manual coffee methods because of the extra steps required to get a good cup.

Of course, those who have tried these manual methods usually fall in love with them for the perfect customization that doesn’t come with the automated methods. The important thing to remember is that coffee making is actually a science, and if you leave it up to a machine to control the variables, you’re probably sacrificing quality for convenience and consistency.

Use these tricks to get a great coffee from your manual french press

Matt
Master Reviewer

For those looking to get an amazing cup of coffee every time they use their French press, we’ve compiled some tricks to explain how to make Coffee with a French Press.

1. Preheat the glass.

Run hot water through the beaker before you start. This isn’t an exact science – you just want the inside of the glass to be warmer than room temperature, so that your coffee doesn’t chill too much while it’s still brewing. You may choose to run the water over the outside, although there’s no real benefit to doing it this way – presoaking your grounds is rarely a bad idea, and in fact, it’s one of the steps necessary in optimal pressed coffee making.

2. Boil the water… Almost.

Use warm water to heat the french press

You want your water to reach about 200 degrees Fahrenheit – or maybe slightly higher, as it will cool between where you heat it and where it turns into coffee. If you haven’t used hot enough water to preheat your beaker, it can cool even more. It’s not going to stay at a constant temperature no matter what you do, and using boiling water. Boiling water will over-extract the coffee and make it bitter – not to mention it will probably heat your plunger too much to be useful.

3. Measure (and grind) your coffee.

Measure then Grind your coffee

Measure then Grind your coffee

While your water is heating, you’ll want to measure your coffee. The general rule is to start with one part coffee to every ten parts water. You’ll need to adjust it based on your preferences, and probably vary it based on the roast and the type of beans. While using freshly-ground coffee is always preferred, it’s not exactly a requirement – just make sure you’re using good, high-quality coffee. The care you put into it is directly related to the beverage that comes out when you’re done.

4. Pour half your water.

Half fill french press

This step is a bit easier if you’re making a full beaker of coffee, as you can estimate half a beaker-full easier than you can estimate half of 400 mL. (This is, of course, assuming that you’re using 400 mL of water!) You want to let the grounds presoak for about 30 seconds. Then, you’ll want to gently stir to break up the “crust” that has formed at the top of the water. At this point, the coffee will have a frothy surface, and fresher beans may have bloomed a fair amount. This is generally a good thing.

5. Pour in the rest of the water and add the lid – but do not plunge!

After about 30 seconds, you’ll want to add the rest of your hot water, and place the lid on top. Make sure you don’t plunge your coffee yet – even though it will continue to brew after plunged, it won’t be able to fully saturate the beans, and your coffee will be weak. Generally, estimating the time your coffee needs to steep is pretty good, but if you want it to be “perfect”, use a timer – three to five minutes is all it takes. Most people set a timer for four minutes and then plunge when it goes off. (This doesn’t include your pre-soaking time.)

6. Immediately pour into another (insulated) container.

This is an area that’s been debated. Coffee that’s left to continue brewing in a French press will cool, and will continue steeping. For those who like cooler, stronger coffee, or who will be adding hot water into their cup when they drink it, this may not be an issue, as long as you’re using high-quality beans. Generally, though, you shouldn’t brew more than you’ll be drinking within the next 20 minutes – many experts agree that the coffee is “spoiled” at this point.

7. Thoroughly wash your press, including the filters and plunger.

Any time you’re dealing with loose, not-paper-filtered coffee, you’re going to want to clean it immediately after use. Unlike most other coffee makers, though, a French press will usually be dishwasher safe (on the top shelf), although cleaning it is easy enough that most people won’t bother with the dishwasher. Generally, a rinse with hot water will be sufficient, but if your grounds were too fine, you may need to scrub the filter mesh with a soft rag or sponge. Never scrub your filter with an abrasive cleaner or with harsh chemicals – hot water and occasional dish soap is more than enough.

matt@mycoffeecupisempty.com