How to use a french press coffee maker

by Alex Chapman

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to make a delicious, aromatic cup of coffee, then a french press could be your go-to brewing method. Making coffee with a french press is a full immersion brewing technique, but it takes just a few minutes to do and is very simple. This method allows the use of fresh coffee beans, making it a much tastier choice than instant coffee.

As well as being an effortless way to make fresh coffee, french presses are very easy to clean, too. They are a simple appliance that's made up of just two pieces: the glass canister and a metal top that plunges the coffee.

The first documented evidence of a french press dates back to 1852. Two French men named Mayer and Delforge patented designs of the brewing appliance. The french press wasn't patented in Italy until 1928. So, signs indicate that the French press was created in France.

French presses work by immersing ground coffee in hot water and letting it extract. During this extraction process, the hot water is infused with coffee. After the coffee has finished brewing, a filter is plunged down to push the grounds to the bottom of the canister, and to leave the freshly brewed coffee above, ready to be poured.

French Presses can be used to create many different types of coffee. They're a popular choice for long blacks, but they can also make flat whites and espresso shots. It's possible to make cappuccinos and lattes with a French Press, but the milk will need to be steamed or frothed separately.

While a french press is a very simple way to make a coffee, if you're not sure how to use the appliance, it may seem confusing. Below we've put together some straightforward instructions detailing how to use a french press coffee maker.

A step-by-step guide to making perfect french press coffee

Pre-warm the canister

The temperature of a canister when preparing a coffee with a french press plays a big part in the final taste of the coffee. As you'll see when you get to the step requiring you to heat water, it should be at a specific temperature. If the canister is very cold, this will cause the overall temperature of your brewing coffee to be lower, and in turn, this will affect the taste negatively.

To ensure that the correct temperature is maintained, you can add some hot tap water to the canister and swish it around for about a minute. This act should warm up the canister enough that it won't interact too much with the overall temperature.

Measure and grind coffee beans

A french press allows for a lot of leeway when it comes to the strength of your coffee - you can pretty much choose to use as much coffee as you like, depending on the caffeine content and taste that you desire.

However, if you're looking to make a standard coffee, and are using a 600ml french press, you should use approximately 38 grams of coffee. Using coffee beans that aren't ground will deliver a fresher and stronger taste profile.

Measure out your desired beans and pop them in the grinder until they are a course, even grind. There are different types of grinders available so the technique you use will depend on your type of grinder. For an automatic coffee grinder you'll just need to pour the beans into the grinder and press on. The tools blades should quickly pulverise the coffee beans to a consistency that can be used in your plunger.

Add the ground coffee to the empty french press

When measuring out the coffee beans to grind them, you should have already calculated how much coffee you want to use in the french press. Go ahead and pour the ground coffee into the bottom of the empty (but pre-warmed) french press.

Prepare hot water

Making a coffee with a french press requires only two ingredients; coffee and hot water. To make the coffee, you'll need hot water. However, it's important that the water isn't too hot or it can burn the coffee and create a bitter taste. We recommend heating the water to 200 degrees, which is just under boiling point. However, keep in mind that if the water isn't hot enough, it won't extract the coffee properly, either.

Add the hot water to the french press

If you've calculated the amount of beans to fill the entire french press, then you can go ahead and fill the french press with water until it's about an inch from the top.

Let the coffee infuse

This is the step where the coffee brews. You should put the lid on the french press, however, don't push the plunger down. Let the coffee and water infuse together for about four minutes.

Extract the coffee

After the coffee has brewed for four minutes, you're ready to plunge the grounds so that they're pushed to the bottom of the canister. Steadily push the french press plunger down to the bottom of the canister. Try to ensure that you don't push it too hard, otherwise some of the grounds you are pushing down may be able to escape.

Serve and enjoy

Now you are ready to serve your great french press coffee. Pour it immediately into a mug, if you leave the coffee in the canister it will continue to infuse and may affect the flavour of your cup. As you pour the coffee try and leave a very small amount of water in the bottom, as you want to try and avoid get any ground coffee in the bottom of your cup.

Coffee bean flavour guide for the best cup of coffee

A french press is very versatile, and even flavour of coffee beans can be used in it. However, depending on the type of coffee you're making with your french press, you may want to choose a specific bean. Below, we've made a list of bean flavours that are recommended to be used for specific coffees.

Best coffee bean for a french press long black

Award Winning Buena Vista Coffee Beans

Long Blacks allow for a lot of variety when it comes to coffee beans. Because no other ingredients, like milk or flavoured syrups, are added to this type of coffee, the flavour of the bean is allowed to shine through. For a delicious long black we'd recommend our Award Winning Buena Vista bean, which is a beautiful high altitude micro cropped coffee with hints of peach with spicy undertones.

Best coffee bean for a french press latte

Signature Blend Coffee Beans

When picking a bean for a latte, you should keep in mind that the milk will affect the final taste of the coffee. For this reason, its a good idea to try and choose a bold flavoured bean. Signature Blend coffee beans are grown only for Glasshouse Mountain coffee and are hand-picked from specialty ‘Estate Grown’ Coffee plantations, resulting in a unique and delicious cup of coffee.

Best coffee bean for a french press decaf coffee

La Perla Coffee Beans

If you love the taste of coffee, but prefer to stay away from too much caffeine, then you're probably an avid decaf drinker. It's a reality that there are many more flavour choices on the market when it comes to caffeinated beans, and it can sometimes to tricky to find a delicious decaf bean. Fortunately, we have a delectable decaf coffee bean called La Perla. These beans are have undertones of Dark brown sugar contrasted by hints of lemon.


Why is it hard to press my french press plunger down?

The most common reason that you may be having trouble pressing your plunger down is if the coffee is ground too finely. This happens because the tiny particles clog up the mesh, and don't allow water to flow through freely. If you experience this problem, don't continue to push down hard, as you may damage the mesh. Instead, throw out the coffee and start again with a courser grind.

What grind is best for a french press coffee?

An even and course grind is recommended for a french press coffee. As mentioned above, if the grind is too fine it will block the mesh screen of the plunger and not allow water to flow through.

What happens if I leave a french press to brew for too long?

The coffee in a french press will continue to brew until the coffee is poured into a cup. The recommended time to brew a coffee in a french press is four minutes. If the coffee is left to infuse for too long, there's a good chance that you will end up with a bitter tasting cup of coffee.

Why is there coffee grounds at the bottom of my cup?

The plungers purpose is to separate ground grounds from the brewed coffee. However, this is almost never fool proof. Most people will end up with a very small amount of coffee grounds at the bottom of their mug, which shouldn't be a problem.

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