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Essential Tips for Brewing the Best French Press Coffee

If you like coffee, you might make French press pretty regularly. You probably think you know everything there is to making a French press, right? But, are you making it exactly the way you should be, and getting the maximum flavor from your coffee? Are you guilty of stirring up those coffee grinds, and making your coffee bitter? Well, here's your French press how to!

French Press Coffee

Photo by BigStock

How to Make French Press Coffee

Coffee in a French press is rich and wonderful when done correctly. So before you take the plunge, read our tips to ensure you're making the best French press coffee there is.

1. The right water

Always use filtered water, which has fewer impurities and means less competition for the true flavor of the coffee to come through.

2. It's all about the grounds

Always use coarse ground coffee. The grounds should not stick together. Freshly ground coffee is best. If you do use store-bought ground coffee make sure that is coarse ground.

3. Start off hot

Begin by preheating the French press and the mugs with just boiled water to ensure the coffee stays at a consistent temperature. This is an important step, because if you want to make a French press correctly, it's going to take more time than you think and you want that coffee to stay hot as it brews.

4. The correct ratio

How much coffee should you use in a French press? Naturally it depends on personal taste and the strength of the coffee. But for a 32-ounce French press, go with a half cup of course coffee grounds to start -- and then adjust to taste. Or try two heaping tablespoons per eight ounces of water. 

5. Temperature matters

Heat the water to 195 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit. It's best to boil the water in a kettle, take off the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds before pouring.

6. Give it room

Pour boiled water into the French press making sure all the coffee grounds are saturated.  Leave at least ½ to ¾ of an inch of room between the carafe’s rim and top of the grounds/water to give it room to swell.

7. You gotta let it bloom

How long should you steep coffee in a French press? Let the coffee grounds soak for 4 minutes to allow the coffee to bloom -- and leave the top off the carafe as it blooms. You'll notice the grounds swell and expand -- CO2 is being released which means more of the coffee flavor gets extracted into the water. If you don't let it bloom, you'll miss out on all that flavor.

8. Put down that spoon

Resist the temptation to stir as this will increase the extraction rate which results in bitter coffee. Once 4 minutes is up, replace the lid and gently push down on the plunger.

9. Patience, grasshopper

Wait a few seconds to let any fine particles settle down to the bottom before pouring into warmed mugs.

 

Need a refresher? Watch this video that shows you step-by-step how to use a French press:

Any Questions, Coffee Lovers?

Can you make espresso in a French press? One key difference between espresso and French pressed coffee is the grind. With espresso, the grind is very fine. When you squeeze them in your hand, they'll stick together. For the French press, you use a coarse grind, which prevents the tiny grinds from slipping through the plunger's screen. Now, in a pinch, of course you can use coffee ground for espresso in your French press. Just allow extra time for any slip-through fine grains to settle on the bottom or the coffee may taste gritty. Also, coffee beans destined for espresso machines are roasted dark for robust flavor so adjust your measurements accordingly.

How do you make cold brew coffee in a French Press? A French press is a terrific tool for making cold brew coffee. To see how to do it, check out How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Drinks.

Can you use a French press to make tea? Yes, easy! A French press is a genius way to make tea, specifically loose-leaf tea. Just add the tea leaves as you normally would to a tea pot with the same amount of boiled water. Let the tea seep, as usual. And then do the plunge! For more, including the best way to make different types of tea, check out How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea.


Related: Have you taken sides in the battle between French press coffee vs pour-over coffee? For a purely partisan look at the pour-over method, check out The Pour-Over Coffee Method That Makes the Best Coffee.


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About Vicky McDonald

Always looking for more cheese! I love to bake, potter about the garden, and drink lemony gin & tonics in the sun. I also blog at stasty.com.