How to Make French Press Coffee

Anybody that loves coffee should learn and know how to make coffee in a French press. These devices are one of the oldest methods of brewing coffee, and many purists argue it is the only way to brew many types and varieties of coffee. Java-based coffee shops such as Starbucks, Dazbog and more have given a rebirth to the popularity and use of presses.

What is a French Press?

A French Press used to Brew CoffeeThe beauty of the press lies in its simplicity. Think of a tall, narrow glass pitcher – or more of a carafe some would say, and inside there is a mesh screen attached to a plunger that lets the user push the screen up or down within the carafe. The screen maintains a seal while the plunger rises and falls, keeping coffee grinds firmly in one part of the pitcher.

The man concept of the French press is that you fill your container with almost-boiling water, then you pour in your freshly roasted, just-ground coffee into the water. Some coffees call for a different brewing time, but generally it takes about three minutes for the beans to release the optimum amount of flavor and oils.

Making Coffee in your French Press

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The instructional video above will guide you through the steps of making perfect French Press coffee. The barista has years of experience with all things java-related, and there are additional written instructions and tips below for making the perfectly-pressed cup of coffee.

Make sure your equipment is clean and ready:
Dirty Coffee Press Screen and PlungerCoffees release a good amount of oil and solids, which can leave residue on your presses, perculators and other machines. Always make sure you start your next cup with a squeaky-clean interior. Unfortunately, pour water through it, even if it’s boiling, isn’t enough. Break out the sponges and mild soaps for this one, and be sure to rinse it thoroughly of all cleaning products before you put it back into use. This all seems like extra effort (and it is), however people underestimate how leftover coffee from yesterday can alter the flavor of today’s cup.

Boil Your Water Separately
Boiling water on the stoveOn top of a good, tightly-sealed press, you’ll need a clean, small pot of saucepan that will let you boil water. The key is to get water that is *just* under the boiling point, so the second you start seeing bubbles forming at the bottom of your pan that’s the best time to remove it from heat. Somewhere between 190 and 200 degrees F is the best temperature for French Press Coffee. Once you’ve gotten your water up to this level, set the pan aside and let it cool down for about sixty seconds. Setting it aside to cool down will give you just the right amount of time needed to grind the beans in preparation for the final steps.

Grind Fresh Coffee Beans for your Press
Fresh Coffee BeansYou have boiling water – you’re halfway there! While your water is resting for that one minute we discussed above, set your coffee in your grinder and make sure you select the option for a coarse grind. We recommend a burr ginder, as it produces a more consistent grind size over a cheaper, though less-optimal, blade grinder.

The coarse grind is important here, so don’t forget to get something heavier than your typical drip-grind. This is because you don’t want your grinds to be small enough to penetrate the screen of your press. This would allow grinds to make their way into your finished cup – which you do not want (trust me…)

Place your Coffee in the Press
Pouring Coffee Grinds into the PressThere’s always an argument as to how much coffee you should use for every ounce of water. The basic rule of thumb is about one tablespoon of coffee for every 3-4 ounces of water. (Hint: If you plan on making iced coffee you should brew a stronger blend, as the ice will soon melt and dilute the drink.

Now the magic begins; pour your grinds into the hot water. Be mindful not to press the plunger down at this point – you’ll need to let the mixture steep and soak for a while. Wait for about sixty seconds, then, using a utensil that isn’t metallic in any way, swirl the beans from the bottom up so they distribute evenly in the carafe.

Don’t press it down just yet, even though you’re anxious to start drinking. Wait 2 to 3 more minutes, then place your lid on top and push the plunger down very, very slowly. There’s no reason to rush this process, as it will compromise the quality of your cup. After you have compressed the grounds to the bottom of the pot, you should plan on serving the coffee within seconds of the final press.

Serve The Coffee without Waiting
Pouring French Press CoffeeA French Press is for brewing and serving coffee – it is not for storing coffee or letting it sit for another cup down the road. The issue here is that the grinds will continue to release their flavor and oils as long as they sit in the pot. This will produce a much more bitter product that won’t represent the essence of the coffee as well as it should. If waiting to consume your french-pressed java, store it in a Thermos or other heat-retaining container. Never reheat or over-brew coffee.

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