French Press Coffee

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Hey coffee lovers!  I thought it would be lovely to round out my coffee tutorials today with my first love.  The place where my coffee-making journey began.  The method I still use at least once a week, especially when pressed (get it?) for time.

Oui.

I’m talking about French press coffee.

I’ve actually had my trusty ol’ Bodum French press (pictured above) for going on 10+ years now.  And let me tell you, it has literally served me well.  I have made literally thousands of cups of coffee with it over the years.  But while they were good from the start, I have to say that they have gotten better over the years as I have learned even more tips and tricks for making a stellar cup of French press coffee.  So if you’re looking to kick up your brew, hopefully this tutorial can provide a few new pointers.  And if you’re brand new to coffee brewing, French press is a perfect place to start.

Alright, let’s get to brewing!

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

I’ve said many times before, and I’ll say it again.  The best place to begin with any kind of coffee is with…good coffee.  As in, good beans.

Buy good ones.  Buy them whole.  And then for French press, grind them immediately before using them to a coarse (not a fine) ground.  They should be about the consistency of breadcrumbs.

(If possible, I highly recommend using a burr grinder, which will produce much more consistently-sized grounds.  The more fine grounds you have in the coffee, the murkier it is.  But that’s also being picky.  Any grinder that gives you the option of a setting for fine or coarse ground will work.)

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Then measure out the amount of coffee you would like to use.  Everyone has different opinions here about their preferred coffee-to-water ratio.  I like to weigh my beans before grinding them, and use 52 grams per 4 cups of water.  (Which equals 8 cups of coffee, because a cup/serving of coffee actually equals 4 ounces or 1/2 cup.  Confusing!)  But if you don’t have a scale, that is the equivalent of about 1/2 cup of (whole) beans before they are ground.  So for different sizes of French presses, that would mean:

  • 8 cup* French press = 4 cups of water = 1/2 cup (52 grams) whole beans
  • 4 cup French press = 2 cups of water = 1/4 cup (26 grams) whole beans
  • 2 cup French press = 1 cup of water = 2 tablespoons (13 grams) whole beans
  • 1 cup French press = 1/2 cup of water = 1 tablespoon (7 grams) whole beans

*Again, don’t get confused by the “cups” thing.  If you purchase a French press that says it’s an 8-cup French press, that means it will hold about 4 cups of water, and thus produce 8 (4-ounce) servings.

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

The first step is to heat your water to boiling.  Once it reaches a boil, pull it off the heat and let it rest for 45 seconds.  (If the water is still boiling, it will be too hot and scorch the beans, resulting in a burnt taste.)  Ideally you want the water to be 195 degrees F, but I never measure.

Add the ground up coffee to the bottom of your French press.  Then use a kettle to pour enough water in to just wet the beans.  (I love my Hario kettle with its thin and aim-able spout, but any kettle or even a measuring cup with a spout will work for pouring the water onto the beans.)  You want all of the beans to be saturated, so if your kettle doesn’t have a pour spout that allows you to aim well, you can give them a quick 3-second stir to disperse the water evenly.

Wait 1 full minute for the coffee to puff up and “bloom”.

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Then, immediately pour in the rest of the water, give the grounds a quick stir, add the lid on top, and let the coffee brew for 3 more minutes.  (So just to be clear, the total brewing time is 4 minutes.)

*Some people prefer to let the coffee brew uncovered in order to let it “bloom” even more.  And others also recommend “skimming” the grounds off the top of the coffee after the 4 minutes have passed, before the next “plunging” step.  I have tried both before and don’t taste a huge difference, but it’s worth a try if you’re curious.

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Once the total 4 minutes are up, gently (not forcefully) push the plunger down until it firmly reaches the bottom.

French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Then immediately pour and serve!

Actually, even if you’re not going to drink the entire batch at once, go ahead and pour the remaining coffee into another thermal container to keep until you’re ready to drink it.  (If the finished coffee sits in there with the beans for too long, it will get stronger and more bitter as it sits.  Not good.)

If you find that the coffee is too strong to your liking, I would recommend using slightly less beans in your coffee-to-water ratio, or brewing the coffee for 30 seconds less.

If you find that the coffee is too weak, then increase your coffee-to-water ratio (or some people swear by a 5- or 6-minute brew time).

If you find that the coffee is too bitter, well, that’s my one complaint about French press.  I still love it, but it definitely seems to be the method that produces some of the most comparably bitter coffee.  If that’s not your thing, I highly recommend trying cold brew and/or pour-over coffee.  Cold brew is virtually bitter free because hot water never touches the beans.  And with pour-over, the hot water goes through the beans quickly.  The brand of coffee you choose may also affect the bitterness or (my least favorite) a “burnt” taste, due to their roasting methods.

All that said, if your inner Goldilocks feels like the coffee is just right, then fantastic.French Press Coffee -- learn how to make perfect French press coffee with this step-by-step tutorial | gimmesomeoven.com #howto

Coffee cheers to you!

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French Press Coffee

Learn how to make perfect French Press Coffee with this easy recipe and tutorial!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (32 grams) good-quality whole coffee beans

Directions:

Heat water in a kettle to boiling. While the water is heating, grind your beans to a very coarse grind. Add the beans to the bottom of a French press.

Once the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and wait for 45 seconds. Pour enough water in the French press to wet the beans. Give them a quick stir, if needed, so that they are all evenly saturated with the water. Wait exactly 1 minute.

Pour in the remainder of the water, then give the coffee yet another quick stir so that the water is evenly dispersed. Cover with a lid and wait 3 minutes. (Thus, the total brewing time will be 4 minutes, including stir time.)

Once time is up, gently press down the plunger until it is nice and tight on the bottom. Pour out the coffee immediately. (And if there is leftover coffee in the French press, pour it out into a different container to store until you’re ready to drink it.)

*Just as a reminder, coffee grinds are not good for garbage disposals.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Supplies:

French Press: Bodum Chambord Coffee Press
Mug: The Everygirl
Kettle: Hario V60 Buono Vida Drip Kettle, 1.2L
Bar Spoon: World Market
Coffee (for anyone in Kansas City who’s interested): Oddly Correct, via Quay Coffee

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61 comments on “French Press Coffee”

  1. Great tutorial! We love French press coffee over here, but rarely take the time to do it. The automatic machine rules my life.

  2. Thanks Ali, I really enjoyed this post!
    Also, loving your mug! :)

  3. I love my French press! I recently switched to using ever morning for my coffee. Great tutorial!

    What do you do with the used coffee grinds? I try my best to clean the press well, but way too much goes into my disposal. Any suggestions or ways to put them to good use?

    • So glad you’re liking French press! And good question — coffee grounds decompose naturally outside. So you can either use them in a compost pile, or you can sprinkle them on soil around your plants. OR, I just Googled and found this article — apparently there are many other uses too. :) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20593892,00.html

  4. My husband bought me a Bodum for my birthday and I am, in a word, obsessed! Best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. But this tutorial is great, I never knew about letting the grounds bloom. Trying it tomorrow morning!

    • I love my Bodum! As I mentioned in the post, mine has also lasted FOREVER. (And I even wash it in the dishwasher and it has never broken – woot!)

      Blooming was definitely one of the tips I picked up over the years. I think it really makes a big difference. Enjoy!!

  5. Also, avoid French Roast if you don’t like the burnt flavor – they basically burn the beans for that roast (in fact, I’d take it a step further and go for medium roasts not dark – I used to always buy dark and then I read something about how it makes the coffee taste burnt, I switched to medium roast and I’ve been SO much happier).

  6. My husband loves french press coffee and I am considering buying him a french press for his birthday in October. This tutorial will really come in handy. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’ve been doing it all wrong!!

  8. Ok I have definitely been doing some things wrong but this helps SO much! I just started grinding my own beans so I’m excited to tweak my process a bit.

    Thanks!

  9. Great tips, Ali! Nothing is better than a good cup of French Press. Oh and I really need that mug (as a 34 yr old single lady, it’s my motto for sure!!). Happy Friday!

    • Exactly!!! It has become my favorite start-the-day mug. A good reminder for business and…heck yes…the single life. :)

      Cheers to not settling!

  10. I had never tried French Press coffee until I read Cleo Coyle’s FRENCH PRESS, a Coffehoue Mystery. It had tips included and made me curious. So I tried and now love my coffee that way. Enjoyed your helpful tips and love your French Press and mug.

  11. I have been curious about French Press for a long time, even though I’m not really a coffee drinker (I just started back having a cup of decaf in the morning and can’t do caffeine). Now that I understand about the number of cups the French press makes, I understand the 12 cup Mr. Coffee I used to have that never made 12 cups…

  12. I’ve tried cold brew coffee before(and absolutely love it!), but never French press… I might have to think about investing in a Bodum, but will have to convince my husband that another coffee device is needed(he doesn’t drink coffee). I use my coffee grounds to make your coffee sugar scrub.

    • Hey Heather! My Bodum has definitely proven to be a good (long-lasting) investment. I really recommend them if you want to try French press.

      And AH! I totally forgot about the coffee scrub! I’m going to link that up. Ha, thanks for the reminder. :)

  13. I love everything about this!

  14. This is helpful!! We just bought a French press a month ago, and are already in love. I appreciate the tips, like letting the boiled water sit for 45 seconds, and then letting the coffee “bloom” in the press before filling with water. I also did NOT know that the used grounds are bad for the garbage disposal….how do YOU clean it out after? We’ve been reliant on the disposal, so this is bad news….

    Thanks!

    • Yes, the “blooming” makes a big difference! (It was new to me a few years ago too.) And yep, bad news bears for the disposal. I empty mine into a jar I keep on hand that I later pour onto the soil near my loft building, since I no longer live in a house with a garden. But you can also compose the leftover grounds.

  15. So when you say 8 cups water in the recipe is that actually 8 legit cups or 8 four ounce cups

    • Eek! I accidentally got the whole “cups” thing switched around. Thanks for catching that — it should read 4 legit cups (which equals eight 4-ounce cups). Sorry about that. I kept getting my numbers switched around with the whole 4-cup/8-cups thing. Thanks, Andrea!

  16. This post makes me want to break out my french press tomorrow morning! It’s been sleeping in the cupboard for far too long. Also, your photography is amazing as usual. Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  20. In order to offset the bitterness, you should sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over the grounds before you pour any water over them.

  21. This is a really helpful post, Ali! I’m going to try these steps with my French press tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to that cup of coffee!

  22. This post just eradicated some repetitive mistakes that I always made when creating french press coffee. Thanks for this post Ali!

  23. I used microwave oven heated water, it just doesn’t work at all… so I gave up using it in my office, now am looking a espresso kettle, or a electric espresso single cup kettle. At the mean time I’m buying my coffee at the coffee shop of my workplace.

    • Ah, as long as the water is boiling and then rests for a bit afterwards, it should work. But a kettle may be easier than the microwave. Good luck!

  24. I wanted to take a minute to say thank you! On our recent trip to Iowa to get married we became obsessed with French Press Coffee. I purchased a Tea Pot and a Grosche French Press. I watched lots of You Tube Videos and read some other blogs but I felt so over whelmed with the whole process. Your Blog about this has taken the mystery out of it and now I am a French Press Queen. I couldn’t let a another French Press Sunday Morning go by without telling you Thanks!!!

  25. Great tips, but I have a question. I had my Bodum for about 3 months until one day when I noticed quite the amount of grounds in my cup after I had pressed and poured. Now I have to use a tiny sieve (I imagine it was meant for tea) when pouring from my french press to my cup. I have no idea what happened and I have tried unscrewing the parts of the plunger to see but there is no hole. any idea? :/

  26. Thanks for this tutorial, Ali!  I registered for a French Press because I know it’s amazing but didn’t know how to use it properly lol…will also be adding a burr grinder to the list! :)  Thank you!!

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  28. I’ve found (thanks to Alton Brown) that adding a bit of salt to the coffee grounds before pouring your water over greatly reduces any bitter taste!

  29. Normally, I wouldn’t comment on a post- but after making the perfect cup of French press coffee I just have to thank you for helping me up my French press game! The coffee to water ratio was perfect for me. Thank you!!

  30. Nice directions I had a great cup of coffee this morning.

  31. Thanks, this was so helpful for beginner like me. :) 

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  33. Wow this was a perfect article for the French press! I just started using my French press and sometimes it’s too light, so this definitely helps me with my troubleshooting! Thank you, Ali!

    • Thanks Chelsea! We’re glad you found this helpful. Enjoy your new French press — it really does make the best cup of coffee! :)

  34. Worked perfectly. No more coffee shops for me and I can have a great cup of coffee anytime.

    Quick question. Does the brand of press really matter functionally? If so, why?

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed this method Kimberley! As far as the brands go, it’s hard to say since we haven’t tried several of them. However, we feel like you can’t go wrong with Bodum. Here’s an article/roundup we like with some good info on different high-rated brands and models though. We hope that helps! :)

  35. Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds, being sure to saturate them all, leaving two inches of space at the top of the carafe. (Note: it’s typically recommended to use about 10 Tbsp of coarse grounds for an 8-cup press.)

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  37. Hi,
    Thanks for this wonderful post,i have learnt some very nice things from this post and surely i will adapt them.
    Could you please tell me that which Coffee Maker you are Using?

    • You’re very welcome, Tracy — we’re glad you found this useful! As for coffee makers, We love the Bodum French Press and this one:

  38. I may try adding the blooming step. We typically just pour in the hot water, stir, and steep for 5 minutes.  

  39. Thank for this easy tutorial! i just love your recipes and blog! so relatable and uncomplicated. THANK You! :)

  40. This is a very helpful article! Thanks for sharing

  41. I need this latte in my life! Especially with cinnamon! So comforting!

  42. Wonderful post, Ali.
    You explained it really well with amazing pictures and video.
    Do you really french press all time? I’m so lazy to make a french press coffee because it’s too slow when compared with my automatic machines.

    Thanks again,
    Dennies

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