Perfect Your French Press
Coffee fanatics and connoisseurs maintain that French Press coffee is the best way to experience the daily grind. French Press coffee is a very simple way to achieve an extremely rich and robust cup of coffee.
A French Press coffee maker is also known as a "plunger" or a "press pot". In addition to the traditional stand alone models, there also are travel mugs with a press pot built into the mug. All of these products work the same way, the only difference is the look of the container. For more guidance on picking the right French Press for you, check out the article Buying a French Press - Picking the Right One. In addition to the French Press, you will also need a tea kettle to heat the water.
French Press Coffee Setup
While any coffee will work in a French Press, some coffees are more desirable than others. Some coffee drinkers prefer dark roasted coffee with a full body and medium to low acidity. A coarse grind works best for the French Press. This will ensure that the mesh screen will filter the coffee grounds and separate the liquid from the sediments.
French Press Coffee Grounds
The Brewing Process
Measure two level tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. Water selection is another topic entirely, but common sense should prevail: the higher quality the water, the better your coffee will taste. Fill the tea kettle cold water and bring the water to a boil. After the water reaches boil, remove it from the heat source and count off approximately 10-20 seconds. Doing this will allow the water to drop closer to 200F, which is an ideal temperature for brewing French Press coffee. Pour the water directly into the French Press over the coffee grounds.
Put the French Press lid on the pot, but do not depress the plunger yet. Putting the lid on the French Press will ensure that your coffee will retain heat for the appropriate amount of time. Let the coffee steep (leave it alone) for 3 to 4 minutes. This time window is long enough to extract all the positive flavors from the coffee without any bitter or negative flavors extracted.
Coffee Steeping for 3 to 4 minutes.
The coffee grounds will swell during the steeping time. After the appropriate amount of steeping, gently press the French Press plunger down. The mesh filter will push the coffee grounds to the bottom and separate the liquid from the coffee grounds. Pour the coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy!
Coffee Brewing in the French Press
Photos by Ryan Jacobs.
Published: May 1999, Last Modified: March 2012