How to Brew Coffee in a French Press: The Ultimate Guide

Not many know that the French Press is the best secret in the coffee industry. Inexpensive as it is, it is still the best way to enjoy the flavor profile of a particular cup of coffee. However, coffee is fragile and most people unintentionally damage the beans during the brewing process. But with this step by step guide, you can noticeably enhance the flavor of your morning cup of coffee.

However, with this handy step by step guide you can do more than just brew great coffee: you will become the ‘go-to coffee expert’ for your friends and family. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

Step 1: Use Filtered Water For Better Coffee

Fill your kettle with filtered water and turn it on. This batch of water won’t be used for the coffee itself, but to preheat the French Press. Most people pour their boiling water into a cold french press, which cools the temperature down and out of the ideal brewing temperature range of 180-200 degrees.

Since 98% of your finished cup of coffee will be comprised of water, using filtered water is the easiest way to improve the flavor of your coffee. After all, you want to taste the subtle flavors and notes of your coffee, not the local water system.
Click here for a Hotel Coffee Survival Guide

Step 2:

Measure out your coffee using this chart. The general ratio is 1 tbsp. tablespoon per cup (4 oz.). Most people have an 8 cup French Press, which works out to 66 grams (8 tablespoons).

3 Cup4 Cup8 Cup12 Cup
385 g water500 g water975 g water1475 g water
26 g coffee34 g coffee66 g coffee100 g coffee

Step 3:

Once the kettle boils, pour water into French Press to preheat it. You can also use this water to preheat your mug(s) and spoons, since that will prevent further temperature loss later on. Refill the kettle and turn it on.

Step 4: Grinding Coffee

baratza virtuoso grinder, how to brew french press coffee
The Baratza Virtuoso Grinder

This is the most expensive step if you want to have a truly premium cup of coffee. When grinding coffee you want to end up with grounds that are large and uniform in size. Burr Grinders are the preferred way to prepare your grinds because they pulverize the beans between two ‘burrs’, or plates. This creates a uniform size.

David Latourell of Intelligentsia Coffee recommends that you spend at least $150-200 for a quality grinder. The difference between high and low quality? The plates: high quality Burr Grinders have one flat plate and one cone shaped, which will grind the beans slowly and evenly. Flat grinders (which go for as cheap as $40) do it rapidly, which introduces heat that breaks down precious flavor particles in the beans.

David adds that investing in a burr grinder is “single biggest improvement” a person can make towards a better brew experience. He recommends the Baratza Virtuoso , at around $199 a pop. Fortunately it’s the most expensive thing from here on out.

Blade Grinders are the cheapest option, but also the one that destroys most of the flavor. Instead of getting uniform coffee bean particles for maximum extraction, you get a mixture of small and large coffee particles, as well as heat introduced that breaks down the particles.

Tip: If you must use a Blade Grinder, grind for 8-12 seconds. This will give you a coarse grind and minimize the amount of heat damage.

Step 5:

Empty the water that’s been heating the French Press and place the freshly ground coffee in.

Tip:Make sure that immediately after grinding you place the beans in the french press. If you smell coffee, that is flavors escaping. Grounds can become completely stale when exposed to air in just 20 minutes.

Step 6:

Pour the freshly boiled water into the French Press. Pour in a circular motion making sure to wet all the grounds.

Pour until the water is at the bottom of the French Press’ pour spout.

Step 7:

Set Timer For 4 Minutes

Step 8:

After 4 minutes, break the crust with a spoon and skim the remaining floating grounds off the top. This will make for a cleaner tasting coffee.
Tip: When you break the crust with your preheated spoon, lean down and smell the coffee. This is the most potent aroma you will get and will help you evaluate the aroma.

Step 9:

Slowly press the plunger down. The flavor particles have become especially sensitive after being in the water, and a harsh plunge can cause important flavor particles to break apart.

Step 10: Empty the French Press and Serve

There you have it! Enjoy your favorite cup of coffee. Continue Your Coffee Journey by Learning Coffee Hacks, little tricks you can use to enjoy better coffee more often. Or you can learn about how coffee has shaped history.

This brewing method will help you unleash the maximum potential of your coffee beans. But all coffee beans are not made equal. Check out my guide to the Best of the Best Kona coffee beans, including what their classifications and roasting methods mean for the beans’ flavor profile.