How to Use a French Press Coffee Maker: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

10 min read DEC 20, 2022

Coffee brewing methods have kept evolving since time immemorial. There are various coffee brewing methods to guarantee one gets the best cup of Joe at any time.

A French press coffee maker includes one of the most commonly used methods worldwide. Although using a French press coffee maker might be the most popular brewing method, most people do it all wrong.

However, if you equip yourself with the rules on using this technique, it proves to be one of the easiest. If you are considering buying this device, we will teach you how to make French Press Coffee.

If you want to use a French press coffee maker, keep reading this article. Before you go into the process of making delicious coffee using this coffee maker, let's look at its history and features.

History of the French Press Coffee Maker

This coffee maker originated in France in the rudimentary form of the modern coffee press design. It had a metal screen/ cheesecloth fitted to a rod. Users would then press this on a pot of hot water with coffee grounds.

Over the years, this old coffee-making device has undergone modifications in the USA and France to come up with the French press coffee maker of our modern times.

Features of the French Press Coffee Maker

  • Cylindrical carafe- This serves as the pot for holding the water where the coffee gets brewed. We may also refer to it as the beaker part of the coffee machine.

  • The plunger- The plunger gets inserted into the carafe during coffee brewing. It keeps the carafe's contents in close contact to guarantee delicious coffee.

  • The filter- This coffee maker comes with a filter screen built over the carafe’s opening. It helps get the best coffee. In addition, the filter allows you not to worry about using filter paper. Since the coffee goes directly into the boiled water, you don't have to use a paper filter.

  • The base- often, press coffee makers come with a base to hold the beaker in place. This base comes in an insulating material that doesn’t lose heat to the environment. This way, your coffee remains hot for longer.

  • The press handle- a press comes with a handle that allows you to pour out your coffee quickly. It also has an insulation material to keep the drink warmer by not losing heat to the surrounding. The handle holding the hot glass beaker also helps you avoid burning your hand.  

How Does a Coffee Press Work?

The coffee press consists of a beaker, handle, base, filter, and plunger.

The beaker holds the coffee grounds and the hot water to brew french press coffee. The handle helps you in pouring out the coffee. The plunger pushes inward to keep the coffee grounds in contact with the water to allow for perfect brewing. The base and handle will guarantee that you don’t get burned or burn the surface the beaker sits on while preparing the beverage.  

This process allows immersion brewing, guaranteeing you flavorful coffee.

How to Use a French Press Coffee Maker- 11 Simple Steps

The first step in learning how to brew the best French press coffee is to understand how to use this coffee maker. For this process, you will require the following:

  • A French press
  • Measuring cup and a tablespoon
  • Boiling water
  • Coarse ground coffee
  • Fine ground coffee
  • A water thermometer
  • Kettle
  • A stirring spoon

Brewing Procedure

1. Clean your French press thoroughly.

Thorough cleaning involves dissembling the device and cleaning all parts. This practice guarantees you fresh coffee every time you choose to have some.  

2. Preheat your French press.

Preheating the coffee maker gives it the warmth required to keep your coffee hot for longer. The water temperature will not drop when you start brewing your coffee since the machine's temperature and the water temperature even out.

To do this effectively, add hot water to your press and swirl it. Keep churning until you feel the beaker warm, and discard the water.

3. Weigh the coffee grounds.

This process will require measuring your required coffee grounds using a kitchen weighing machine or a measuring cup. When measuring, take note of the coffee press size and the amount of coffee you need. You might grind enough coffee for one cup of coffee to six cups depending on the size of the press.

Also, use a burr coffee grinder to get freshly ground coffee from whole beans. With a coffee grinder, you grind your own beans that give you a stronger coffee. The ground size also determines the taste of your coffee.

A burr grinder gives varying grind sizes depending on what you need. You may opt for coarsely ground coffee to make lighter coffee.

Medium-coarse grind and freshly ground coffee result in a strong cup of coffee. We recommend preparing coffee beans instead of pre-ground coffee from the store if you enjoy fresh and strong coffee.

4. Measure the water.

After you have your desired coffee size, the next step will be measuring your water. The French press ratio depends on how much coffee you need. Two cups of coffee require two cups of hot water and about one to two tablespoons of ground coffee.

You might also use the French press ratio of 1:15, where one part of coffee goes with 15 parts of water. You will also need a thermometer to measure the water temperature. The best coffee comes when the water has a temperature range of 195-205 degrees F. you need to heat water using a stovetop, gooseneck kettle, or modern electric kettle to reach this temperature. 

5. Pour your ground coffee into the press.

Since you have your coffee measured, add coffee grounds to the French press.

6. Follow this step by pouring the hot water into the beaker.

You should pour all the water over the already-ground coffee.

7. Using a wooden spoon, stir your mixture until the coffee is completely immersed in hot water.

A wooden spoon doesn't absorb the water temperature, thus guaranteeing the heat stays intact. It also doesn't scrub the inside of your French press beaker hence maintaining quality.

8. Place the lid on and start your timer.

The lid with the plunger and filter insulates the inside press contents as the brewing takes place. This process defines the French press brewing technique. The lead maintains the inside heat guaranteeing flavorful coffee.

This brewing lasts for at least four minutes or more, depending on your preference. If it takes longer, the coffee might be stronger, and if it takes shorter, you get lighter coffee.

9. Press the plunger down.

After your desired wait time is over, push the plunger downwards to the bottom. During this process, you get to gauge your grind sizes. The coffee grounds were finely ground if the plunger experiences too much resistance going down.

The coffee grounds prove coarse if you don't experience enough resistance. Ensure the plunger goes down to avoid brewing the coffee to over-extraction.

10. The last step will be to decant your coffee.

The bottom coffee tends to be over-extracted, allowing you to enjoy the great coffee on top after decanting.

11. Enjoy

So, pour on a cup and enjoy your perfect French press coffee in the comfort of your home or office.

Does the Quality of Your Coffee Press Matter?

You need to invest in the best French press coffee maker. Quality and tasty coffee come from quality french presses. A cheap coffee press might not come with quality features, thus not maintaining the needed heat to brew coffee.

So, yes, the quality of the coffee press matters in bringing you the best brewed coffee. In addition, a quality item lasts longer and saves you money and time.

What Types of French Press Coffee Makers Can You Settle For?

  • The small French Press- This one serves if you have a few people drinking coffee often. Brewing coffee with this device targets people using three to four cups at one brewing exercise.

  • The large French Press- The large-sized press targets a group of coffee lovers. It produces eight to twelve cups of coffee in one batch.

  • Metal French Press- This one comes in a metal beaker to hold the coffee instead of glass. Making french press coffee in cold regions with this machine proves easy. Some come with a metal filter. The metal mesh filter lets you get the best-brewed coffee after pouring.

  •  The Electric French Press- If you don't want the struggle of heating the water separately and then adding it to the ground coffee in the coffee press, this will be your lifesaver. It heats the water, keeps it hot, and brews the coffee. In addition, it keeps the coffee warm for longer and hence is effective. However, we recommend you decant the drink to avoid taking the over-extracted bitter coffee at the bottom.

10 French Press Tips Guaranteeing a Great Coffee Brewing Experiences

A few tips for playing the cards right will grant you the sweetest cup of coffee. As much as we find the French press ideal and time-saving in making great coffee, you must follow a few brewing tips. Here, we share tips to help you get the best from your French press device.

1. Never use pre-ground coffee but start brewing with fresh coffee beans.

After grinding, they bring out the freshest aroma and flavor to your coffee.

2. Ensure that you grind your coffee beans during the brewing process.

Don’t grind them earlier, or they might start losing their quality. If you grind your coffee beans immediately before brewing, it preserves your coffee's taste.

3. Invest in the proper grind to use on your coffee beans.

To achieve uniform ground coffee, use a burr coffee grinder instead of a blade grinder. This way, you won’t have coarse and fine particles in your coffee.

4. Play around with the ratios until you get your preferred taste.

The preferred press ratio stands at 1:15. However, try different ratios to find the balance that suits you best. Some people prefer concentrated coffee to light coffee, while others prefer vice versa.

5. Check on your water quality.

Sometimes, your coffee quality and grind size might be perfect, but you still end up with poor-quality press coffee. We might trace the outcome to poor-quality water. If you want to enjoy delicious coffee, use good quality fresh water. Although most people use distilled water, it shouldn't be so. Coffee requires mineral-rich fresh water and not distilled or osmosis-reversed water.

6. Watch your water temperature.

A thermometer helps you keep the ideal temperature for a coffee press. This temperature ranges from 195-205 degrees F. In cases where you don’t have a thermometer, boiling water and letting it cool for one to two minutes sets the correct temperature.   

7. Ensure you preheat your press.

This step helps maintain the press and water temperature longer.

8. Leave your coffee to brew for four minutes.

If you use coarse-ground coffee, let it brew longer. The fine ground should brew for a shorter time. Four minutes go for medium ground coffee.

9. Transfer your coffee to a thermal carafe after brewing.

Transferring helps with decanting and preventing you from drinking bitter coffee when it over-stays in the press.

10. Finally, always wash your coffee press after brewing coffee.

Sometimes, your cup of joe may develop a stale taste. To avoid this bad taste in future coffee beverages, clean the press immediately after brewing your coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get the best results from my French press?

The best coffee from a coffee press comes when you use the best grind size for your ground coffee. You should also time your brewing process correctly. The medium-ground coffee goes for four minutes. Finer coffee grounds for less time while course for a longer time.

Before pressing the plunger, how long do you wait for the coffee to sit?

You should wait for up to four minutes

How do I make coffee with a French press?

You need to grind your coffee beans, preheat the press, pour water and ground coffee into the press, stir, wait about four minutes, and press.

Can you use regular ground coffee in a French press?

Regular ground coffee works best in a drip machine than in a coffee press.

Take Away

So, you now know how to use a French press coffee maker to make a great cup of coffee. By incorporating the stepwise procedure and the tips on making great coffee using the French press machine, you will turn out to be the best coffee brewer. Coffee brewing keeps evolving, and getting a French press will be a milestone in personal coffee brewing advancement. So, why not go try it out?

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