When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, you can’t go wrong with a French Press. 

It may take a bit longer than your average drip coffee maker, but the rich, complex flavor is well worth the wait. I still use my Bunn for that first morning maintenance kick, but ever since I tried my hand at making coffee with a French Press, also called, simply, a coffee press, I slow life down a bit and take the time for a really good cup of coffee. 

If you’ve recently picked one up and you want the details on how to use a french press, then read on to learn a little bit about it, how you can get the most out of it, and how to keep it clean to make sure your coffee tastes great every day.

What is a French Press?

A French Press, also known as a coffee press, is a manual mechanism for brewing coffee that uses a glass container or “beaker” with a metal filter and plunger. It is just one of several methods of making coffee. Tips: Start with high-quality dark roast coffee. Grind at a medium setting. Use fresh, cold, filtered water that is heated but not to boiling. 

It’s not as simple as throwing your coffee grounds into a basket and getting a fast drip coffee for you. But after a few tries, you’ll be hooked on the complex aroma and layered flavor of French Press coffee.

With the French Press, you’ll be more in control of how the coffee turns out because you’ll have to measure the ingredients, grind the coffee grounds, press the plunger, and brew the coffee yourself. 

The most important component in a French Press is the beaker that’s used to steep the coffee grounds with hot water. Then you have the lid with a plunger and metal filters attached to it. These are quite simple to put together and allow you to brew the most aromatic cup of coffee you’ve had in a while.

The filters make sure the coffee grounds stay separated from the liquid coffee but let some fine particles pass through to add a much-needed richness to the flavor. 

How to Use a French Press

It’s true that using a French press isn’t as simple as throwing a few ingredients into a coffee pot and letting it handle everything for you. But if you’re a good-coffee lover and want to learn how to make the best cup of coffee at home, then give the French Press a try.

Take a look at the following step-by-step guide:

Coffee

  • Start with high-quality coffee beans or a medium-grind of any roast.
  • Measure out the ground coffee. The amount of coffee you use depends on the size of your French Press and how much coffee you wish to make at one time. Because a coffee press isn’t an insulated carafe and doesn’t include a heating element, it can cool quickly in the beaker.
  • Use a coffee grinder to grind the beans before adding them to the beaker.
  • For a moderately strong cup of coffee-press coffee, convert coffee beans to ground coffee (U.S. measurements):

1 8-oz cup: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee

1 12-oz mug: 3 tablespoons of ground coffee

1 16-oz travel mug:  4 tablespoons of ground coffee 

Water

  • Heat the water until it’s almost boiling. Check the water temperature using a thermometer and make sure it’s around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Adding Water to Coffee Grounds

  • Add a small amount of hot water to the coffee grounds (make sure it covers them).
  • Stir them together until the mixture starts looking muddy and then wait for about 30 seconds.
  • Pour the rest of the water and stir once more.

Steeping

  • Put the lid on top of the beaker and let the coffee grounds soak in the water for 3 to 4 minutes.

Pressing the Plunger

  • After the time has passed, press the plunger down slowly. If you notice that the plunger doesn’t show a lot of resistance, then your coffee grounds are too fine. You need to grind your coffee grounds just enough so they’re a little bit coarser.
  • Let the coffee rest in the beaker for a couple of minutes to enhance the flavor before pouring it out. 

You need to pick the right kind of coffee beans if you wish to make a rich and sophisticated cup of coffee with your French Press. 

Most people use the French Press to brew a medium or dark roast because it helps reduce some of that unwelcome bitterness. If you want your coffee to have a dark and smoky flavor, then you should try the French Roast Sumatran.

The earthy mouth-feel and toasty aroma complement each other perfectly. You can try it black or add a little bit of sugar and cream to it if the flavor’s too strong for you.

How Long Should You Steep Coffee in a French Press?

If you’ve been making coffee for a while and you’re quite the expert at it, then you know that steeping plays an important role in making the perfect cup of coffee. 

It’s quite surprising how the simple act of letting the coffee beans sit in almost-boiling water can make such a huge difference. It helps bring out the flavor from the coffee grounds, gives your coffee just the right texture, and makes it smell heavenly.

You need to know the ideal time for steeping. Letting it steep for longer can make it taste really bitter. For medium-grind coffee, it’s advised to steep it for three to four minutes in a French Press. You can take a little bit longer if you want your coffee to be a little bitter.

What You Need

  • Sponge or a bottle brush

  • Dish soap

  • Spatula

  • Vinegar or baking soda (optional)

Steps

Quick Clean

  • Let your French Press cool down first before deciding to clean it.
  • Use a spatula to remove any leftover coffee grounds and throw them in the garbage can.
  • Add water and pour a few drops of liquid soap then move the plunger up and down till bubbles start to form.
  • Get rid of the soapy water and repeat the step above until the water gets visibly cleaner.
  • Scrub the plunger with a Sponge or a bottle brush.

Deep Clean

  • To do a deeper clean, follow the steps above and then disassemble the plunger.
  • Add a little bit of water to baking soda until it gets pasty and scrub every piece separately with it using a sponge, then rinse it properly. 
  • If you’ve run out of baking soda, then using a mixture of vinegar and water will also do the trick.
  • Let every individual piece dry before putting them back together.  

Things to Note:

  • Don’t use a metal spoon to get rid of the coffee grounds or you’ll break the glass.
  • Throwing the coffee grounds into the sink will clog it.

Conclusion

If you understand the ins and outs of a French Press, then you’ll quickly learn how to brew the most delicious cup of coffee within a matter of days. 

You just need to grind the coffee beans so they’re not too fine or too coarse, add the right measurements of both the coffee grounds and the hot water to the beaker, and use a timer to avoid over-extraction. Finding the perfect grind takes time and practice. Just keep tweaking and experimenting until you find the perfect mixture for you. 

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About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

Renee' Groskreutz

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