The French Press Method: A Powerfully Simple Guide to a Full-Bodied Brew

It's probably easier to revive the dead than make all coffee lovers agree on which method produces the best brew. Some swear by their Chemex, others by their Moka Pot. Some claim it's espresso, while others would bet all they have on a Yama glass tower ice-drip brew.

No matter. If you're being honest, you don't care about which method makes the best brew as much as which method brews the coffee for you. There's a way you can find out. Get your favourite coffee, say the best Geisha coffee from Panama, and brew it in different ways until you find the version you like best.

To aid you in this vital quest, we have prepared this guide on brewing coffee using the French press.

Step-by-Step French Press Brewing Guide

Follow these steps to brew coffee on the French Press.

1. Boil water.

This needs no explanation. Do exactly what it says.

2. Preheat the French press carafe.

Fill the French press carafe with boiling water. Put the plunger assembly on top of the press and push the plunger down. Leave for now.

3. Grind the coffee beans.

While the carafe is preheating, grind the coffee beans.

You can use an electric or a hand coffee grinder. It doesn't matter as long as you use a good-quality one. You want a grinder that grinds coffee evenly.

Keep the setting to coarse. Ideally, the coffee particles must be 1mm in size, so they would look and feel like coarse sea salt or caster sugar.

4. Put the coffee grounds inside the carafe.

Empty the carafe of the hot water, and put the freshly ground coffee inside.

5. Pre-infuse the coffee grounds.

Get some hot water — this should be somewhere around 90-93 degrees Celsius — and pour it gradually into the carafe until all coffee grounds are immersed in water. Wait for 30 seconds, then gently stir the mixture.

6. Steep the coffee.

Take the remaining hot water and slowly add it to the coffee and water mixture in the carafe. Scrape any coffee that forms a crust on the walls of the jar. Close the carafe using the plunger assembly, then lower the plunger very gently until it just touches the water and seals the carafe.

Let the coffee steep for four minutes.

7. Press.

In one smooth, uninterrupted motion, slowly and delicately push the plunger to the bottom of the carafe.

8. Pour.

Lift the French press, incline, and pour the coffee into your cup. Do not pour out everything; leave around 30mL of the brew in the jar. This will help prevent the formation of sludge at the bottom of the carafe.

9. Enjoy!

And there you have it — your full-bodied French press brew. Enjoy!

Tips on Brewing the Best French Press Coffee

As you can see, it's pretty easy to make French press coffee. Clean-up should be more complicated than brewing.

However, just following the above procedures might leave you underwhelmed. Follow these tips to make better French press coffee.

1. Water

Use fresh, filtered water.

2. Water temperature

Use boiling water for preheating. However, for brewing, use water that's around 90 to 93 degrees Celsius.

For precision, use a thermometer. If you don't want to bother, remove it from the fire once the water boils and wait for 40 to 45 seconds before using.

3. Coffee-to-water ratio

This will depend on your taste. Start with a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio. That's one part coffee to 15 parts water. For instance, if you're using 20 grams of coffee, use 300 grams of water.

When you first saturate the coffee grounds with hot water during the pre-infusion stage, use a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio. That means pre-infusing 20 grams of coffee with 40 grams of water.

Changing the coffee-to-water ratio is one of the most effective ways to tweak your output. If you want more robust, intense flavours, use more coffee and less water.

4. Steeping

A steeping time of three to five minutes is ideal for French press brewing. How short or long you steep your coffee will impact your brew's success.

For instance, if you're brewing dark roast coffee, steeping for a full five minutes might give you over-extracted, overpoweringly bitter coffee. Likewise, a steeping time of three minutes might not be enough time to extract the flavours from a light roast coffee.

5. Pouring

When pouring your coffee, be careful to keep your hand steady. You do not want to shake the carafe, which might disturb the grounds at the bottom of the jar.

Take the Plunge!

The French press is an immersion type of coffee extraction method. As such, it can give you a full body and great, bold flavours. It's undoubtedly a brewing method you'd do well to learn and master.

Find single-origin speciality coffee to use with your French press. Shop now.


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