The 9 Steps – To A Perfect French Press

Have you ever seen those funky cylinders that all the “cool” kids are using these days?  Well that my friend is a French Press.  French Presses are a apparatus to brew coffee in the cylinder with the coffee grounds inside the unit itself.  There’s a plunger that forces the beans downward to filer out the grounds once the coffee has steeped to your liking.  But let’s get into some more detail.

Step One: Water

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Before you bring a pot of water to boil take a step back and let’s look at the science.  Well science can be boring, so instead consider this.  If the water you’re using is boiling it’s going to be way too hot to drink and it can even destroy some of the flavor of the coffee.  So what you’ll want to do is heat water to a par or under boil to use in your french press.

The quality of water maybe of some importance as well.  Water from a well based tap may not be perfect for your coffee as the minerals in the water may change the flavor or consistency of the coffee itself.  I personally like to use distilled water for my coffee.  The absence of minerals and any additional contaminants offers a perfect base for any coffee.  Additionally, water from a tap or faucet is aerated and this causes dissolved gasses (like oxygen and such) to be prevalent in your coffee which can alter the taste as well.  And when it comes to brewing a more perfect cup the better the water you use, the better the coffee produced.

As a bonus tip you may want to warm up your french press with a quick splash of hot water before brewing your coffee.

Step Two: Grind Your Beans

I recently wrote a post about a fantastic grinder that would work perfectly with any french press.  And when it comes to your coffee, freshly grinding your coffee before brewing is easily 15 times better than pre-ground coffee.  Sure this is an opinion, but I challenge you to find a better pre-ground coffee – Game On!

Burr grinders like the one I wrote about earlier are perfect for enhancing your over all experience.  For a french press a coarser grind maybe optimal as some french presses may not be able to strain out the finer coffee particles.  The finer the grain the stronger the coffee you will produce.  So if you like a more mellow coffee use a coarser grind would be optimal.  You can also control the body of your coffee with the amount of time you steep your coffee.  But be careful not to over steep your coffee as you may run the risk of making an overly bitter cup.

Step Three: Measure

In general for a balanced cup you will want to add 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per 1 cup of coffee.  This is pretty close to the coffee golden ratio and ultimately depends on your tastes.  The more grounds you use the stronger the coffee will generally be and Visa Versa.  The folks at Black Bear Roastery has a handy chart for the nerdier folks out there – like myself!

Step Four: Time To Brew

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After you’ve placed your beans into your awesome french press you’re going to want to pour your hot water evenly over your ground coffee.  Ensure that you saturate all your grounds so that the hot water can reach all of your grounds evenly.  You may also want to stir the water and grounds up a bit to agitate the grounds a bit.  Be careful with what you stir your coffee with.  If you’re usually a typical french press the sides are most likely glass.  And when using a metal spoon you may cause cracks or micro cracks in your unit.  Use a wooden spoon or even chopsticks maybe a great option for stirring your coffee.

Next you’re going to want to cover your french press with it’s top or lid (yes that thing with the plunger filter looking thing) and move onto the next step.  This is the part that usually gets me excited.  The aroma and anticipation can be really exciting!


Step Five: Steep & Wait

Here’s where all the magic happens.  You’re going to want to steep your coffee for about 4 minutes.  If you have a smaller than normal french press unit less time maybe acceptable.  There’s also room for a judgement call as your personal coffee preference may dictate a longer or shorter steep time.  A general rule of thumb is that a longer steep will produce a stronger, fuller bodied coffee and shorter steep time will produce something more light bodied.  I usually like to steep up to 10 minutes for a very dark full bodied coffee that hasn’t cooled too much and is perfect for sipping right away.

Step Six: Plunge!

During the steeping process your plunger should remain higher in the device.  This is to allow the coffee to steep properly.  Once you’ve hit your preferred steeping time you can now plunge downward.  Be sure to keep a even slow pressure on the plunger.  The faster you push down on the plunger the more free grounds may get loose in your coffee.  And if you’re anything like me than you’re going to want to keep as many of those free grounds out of the finished product.

Step Seven: Pour & Sip

With the plunger down and your coffee perfect as can be pour that delicious liquid into your favorite mug and enjoy!


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