The French press is one of the most popular coffee brewing methods in the world. However, many people use it in the wrong way. This leads to increased bitterness or reduced flavour in the resulting drink. In fact, it is quite simple to make coffee with this tool if you follow some important rules. Read on to learn how to make consistently tasty French press coffee every day.
What You'll Learn Today
- How does a French press work?
- Benefits of using a French press
- Before you start: select a suitable French press
- How to make French press coffee
- What is the right water to ground ratio for French press coffee?
- How long should you steep French press coffee?
- Should you decant?
- Useful tips when making French press coffee
- The bottom line
How does a French press work?
A French press is a coffee pot with a glass cylinder and flat filter connected to a long handle on the lid. It is a manual brewing method. This means that you have to do everything without an electronic device, from measuring and grinding the coffee to timing the brew or pressing the plunger.
However, it is very simple to make French press coffee. The main part of a French press is the breaker in which you put in hot water and coffee grounds. There is no need for paper filters because the beans can be directly soaked in boiled water.
All you need to do is to put coffee grounds into the breaker and let them be submerged in hot water. The whole process can take anywhere between 4 and 6 minutes.
An important thing to know about the French press is that it can be challenging to clean. However, you still need to disassemble and clean it regularly to prevent residues from affecting the tastes of your coffee.
Benefits of using a French press
Compared to other brewing methods like dripping, flexibility is one of the biggest advantages that a French press can offer. You can make one or more cups of coffee, depending on the needed amount.
Users can even use the machine for different sizes and types of coffee grounds, vary the steeping time, adjust the water temperature, and change other important variables. Therefore, many people find French press a great way to enhance their coffee experience.
Another important benefit of a French press is that the machine can retain most of the natural oils and flavour substances from the grounds. Without a filter, these elements will not be filtered out. This gives the drink its finest taste and flavour.
If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee in the campsite or when travelling, then a French press can be a simple solution. Most models come with portable and compact designs. You can put them in a bag and bring it anywhere to brew coffee.
Before you start: select a suitable French press
Just like other home appliances, French presses are available in a variety of options. If you go for a crappy and cheap machine, it is going to be a hard time to brew a good cup of coffee. Also, you might even spend more money to replace it after a few months.
For this reason, it is better to select a high-quality model from a reliable brand. In general, you have the following French press options to choose from:
- An electric French press: Great for lazy people or those who do not have much time. This machine can automatically boil the water, brew the grounds, and keep your drink warm.
- A metal French press: Crafted from durable metal, it can last longer. Also, this type can retain heat much better than a glass model, making it a good option for cold regions.
- A small French press: Serve 3 to 4 cups of coffee. It is ideal for those you often have a few friends come over
- A large French press: Serve 8 to 10 cups. This type is designed for parties and family gatherings
How to make French press coffee
It can be a bit challenging for beginners to brew coffee with a French press. But when you have mastered the technique, everything will be a piece of cake. Below are several simple steps to follow and make your own cup of coffee:
Step 1: Measure the beans
To make sure you can brew the right amount of coffee, it is advisable to measure the beans precisely. For 3 or 4 cups, around 950 millilitres, you can use a measuring cup to prepare 50 grams of coffee. The standard size of most French presses is 950 millilitres, but you could brew fewer if necessary. If you only want to make a single service, then around 15 grams of coffee is enough.
Step 2: Grind coffee
After measuring the coffee, put it into a grinder. Try to grind the beans coarsely until they look like salt. To maximize the flavour and taste, it is advisable to grind just before you start brewing, ideally within 10 to 20 minutes. This can prevent the oxidation and loss of flavour components.
As a rule of thumb, coarse grounds create a stronger taste, while finer grounds create a weaker taste. The decision depends on your personal taste. Make sure to note the grinder setting so that you would adjust it later if you are not satisfied with the brewing results.
Step 3: Heat the water
To brew 950 millilitres of coffee, you need to prepare the same amount of water, which is equivalent to 4 cups. Heat the water in a stovetop or electric kettle until it reaches around 90 degrees. Remove the kettle from the heat and let it cool down for 30 to 60 seconds before brewing.
You could use tap water for French press coffee. Nevertheless, make sure to check it first. If it tastes bad, then go for bottled or filtered water instead.
Step 4: Set up the French press
Check the French press to make sure the plunger part, which pushes the coffee to the bottom to extract the flavour into the boiled water, operates properly. Next, remove the plunger and lid, then put the grounds into the tool.
French presses often come with a plastic or glass pot. It is better to choose a glass product because a plastic unit could affect the overall taste of the drink.
Step 5: Fill the French press
Once the water has cooled down, pour it to the coffee grounds inside the press. Nevertheless, avoid adding all of them at the same time. Instead, only fill the press halfway and let the mixture sit for around 60 seconds.
Step 6: Stir
After 60 seconds, the grounds tend to become floated on the top to create a thick layer. Stir the water and coffee mixture thoroughly with a spoon to break up this layer. It is easier to apply an up and down motion so that the water and coffee can be mixed well.
Step 7: Add more boiled water
After stirring the mixture, pour the remaining hot water into the French press. Stir slowly with a circular motion during this process to ensure all of the coffee is properly soaked.
Step 8: Steep
Put the lid on and wait from 3 to 4 minutes for the coffee to steep. The exact duration depends on the type of coffee you choose. Make sure to read the instructions on the label and adjust the time to meet your personal tastes.
Step 9: Press the filter
After the steeping time, it’s time to press the filter. Do this gently until the part reaches the bottom. Avoid pushing on too hard because it would lead to over-extraction and create a bitter taste. When you feel resistance, move the press back a bit and plunge again.
Step 10: Pour and serve
After pressing down the filter, now your drink is ready.
The result is a richly aromatic coffee. The metal filter of a French press allows natural oils of the coffee to reach the cup. These substances can add a lot of flavour and aroma to the brew. Also, some microscopic grounds will be added to create a full-bodied drink.
Pour the coffee into a cup and enjoy.
Do not worry if you notice some grounds in the cup. It is almost impossible to avoid it because there are tiny particles that can go through the filter and reach the bottom of the cup. This is totally normal. Just wait a few minutes for the residue to settle before drinking your brewed coffee.
What is the right water to ground ratio for French press coffee?
There is no one-size-fits-all water to ground ratio for French press coffee. Depending on your preferences and tastes, there is a variety of options to brew.
The rule of thumb is to use a 15:1 ratio of water to coffee. This means you need to add 15 grams or 1 cup of water for every 1 gram or 3 tablespoons of coffee grounds. For many people, this ratio can create a weak taste. But it is a good base to start and adjust until you find the right match.
How long should you steep French press coffee?
In most cases, a duration of 3 to 4 minutes is enough to steep French coffee. It allows the oils and flavour substances inside the grounds to be fully extracted and create an average strength cup of coffee.
In case you want a lighter taste, then try to reduce the steeping time a little bit. In contrast, increase the steeping time if you love a stronger drink. Nevertheless, avoid steeping too much because over-extraction can lead to extreme bitterness and high caffeine content.
Should you decant?
Even when you have pushed down the plunger to complete the brewing process, keep in mind that coffee grounds are still inside. If you pour all of the coffee into the cup, then you are done. Nevertheless, if you want to leave the coffee there and drink it later, then probably you will enjoy a really bitter taste.
So, avoid allowing the coffee plunger to sit for many hours before drinking. Instead, you should decant it by pouring the leftover into a container before it becomes colder and bitter. By doing this, you can keep the coffee hot and tasty.
Useful tips when making French press coffee
Below are some helpful tips to help you brew a better cup of coffee each time. Understanding them can help avoid several common mistakes, especially when you are beginners.
Grind coffee beans coarsely
Having the right grind coffee beans is an important factor when brewing French press coffee. Ideally, you want to choose coarse grounds with the same size as salt. If they are too coarse, the beans can go through the filter and build up on the bottom of the cup. On the other hands, if the grounds are too fine, it would lead to over-extraction and bitterness.
Use freshly ground beans
If possible, you should grind the beans before brewing. This can prevent oxidation from affecting natural oils and flavour substances in the coffee. If you are looking for a grinder, then go for a burr rather than an electric machine. A burr grinder is able to deliver a coarse setting, which is perfect for French press coffee.
Heat rather than boil water
The right water temperature for French press coffee should be around 90 to 95 degrees. This range is great for flavour extraction of the beans. Some modern kettles come with a built-in thermometer for this purpose. Otherwise, you can easily measure with a kitchen thermometer.
Avoid boiling the water because high heat can evaporate or even damage taste and aroma substances in the beans. In case you have boiled it, then make sure to let the water cool down in 30 to 60 seconds.
The bottom line
Coffee enthusiasts usually consider a French press the best way to brew coffee. In addition to the simplicity, this method allows all the proteins and natural oils in the beans to stay in your resulting drink. As a result, the taste is rich and indulgent. Try it now if you have never had French press coffee. The pleasure of a tasty cup will definitely make your effort worthwhile.