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6 Tips to Make the Best Coffee From Your French Press

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The French press is one of the simplest coffee-brewing methods. It is also excellent at drawing out a coffee’s oils, capturing flavors and aromas from the beans. Whether you’re a French press aficionado or considering switching to a press from a drip coffee maker, here are a few tips for getting the most out of this brew method.

1. Use a Coarse Grind

French presses fully immerse grinds in water for four minutes, providing a lot more contact between the water and grounds than other brew methods. (In comparison, espresso is usually brewed within 30 seconds.)

To compensate for the lengthy brew time and immersion, you should use a coarse grind when making coffee with a French press.
2. Weigh Your Coffee and Water

The most accurate way to measure coffee and water is by weighing it. Coffees have different densities. For instance, African coffees tend to be denser than South American coffees. Because beans’ densities vary, a volume measurement will not be as accurate as a weight measurement. The only way to ensure you always have the correct coffee-to-water ratio is by weighing out coffee each time you grind it.

The coffee-to-water ratio should be between 1:16 and 1:18. Check out this handy table for common cup sizes!

3. Wet the Grinds Firstmake great coffee with french press

Instead of immediately filling up the French press once your water is hot, wet the grinds first
and let them stand for 30 seconds. This will allow the coffee to bloom, and give any carbon dioxide that’s in the grinds time to escape so it doesn’t sour your brewed coffee. After the grounds have been damp for 30 seconds, pour the rest of the water.

 

IMG_45734. Stir 1 Minute In

Often, all of the grounds will rise to the top and not be fully immersed in the water.

If the grounds rise to the top of the press, give them a good stir 1 minute into the brewing process.

 

This will direct them back down into the water.

5. Brew for 4 Minutes

French presses should be brewed for 4 minutes. This is the total time from when water hits the coffee. You can use your phone, a kitchen timer or a coffee scale that has a timer to time out 4 minutes.

french press6. Plunge and Pour

Once your coffee is brewed, press down the plunger. It’s ready to be enjoyed. If you won’t be drinking all of it right away, pour the remainder into a thermal carafe to prevent over-extraction. Sip & Enjoy!

 

Want to improve your coffee? Check out this article about extraction, and tips to make better coffee!

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • rose nickelson

    This is some really good tips about making a delicious cup of coffee. I like the that yo gave very specific instructions about how to use a french press correctly. I like that you said to stir the grind for one minute if the rise. It seems like it would be a really fun thing to take a coffee making class that way I can find the best ways to make coffee. http://www.chpsoh.com.au/ShortCourses?RecurringEventID=31

  • allisondbl

    Hello Scott!

    Appreciate the article and I’m a Driftaway subscriber. The below question has been bugging me for a while and every article I read – yours included ;)) – doesn’t make clear what the TOTAL brewing time should be so I figured it was time to ask for clarification!

    You say that one should “wet the grinds … and let them stand for 30 seconds …” and then if the grinds rise to the top – and in the hundreds of French presses I’ve made they ALWAYS rise – one should “give them a good stir 1 minute into the brewing process …”

    You close by saying – as virtually every other coffee professional concurs – that “French presses should be brewed for 4 minutes.” But you DON’T say if what you mean is a TOTAL of 5 minutes 30 seconds with timers at 30 seconds, then 60 seconds, then an ADDITIONAL 4 minutes, OR if what you need are timers at 30 seconds, then 60 seconds THEN TWO MINUTES THIRTY SECONDS.

    Yes I totally get that this query is ubergeek, but if one cares enough to know the timing and use a timer so as not to over or underexpress the volatiles/phenolic acids etc., then that almost 50% discrepancy will make a difference.

    I REALLY want to know this as I have to fight hard enough against – filtered – New Jersey water to get good drinkable coffee as it is!

    Thanks!

    Alley

    • Suyog

      Alley – Good catch – it should be 4 minutes of total contact time with water, so start the timer the minute you pour hot water in! Let me know how it works out! (And sorry for the late response!)

      • allisondbl

        Thanks for the get back. I’ve been going with 4.45 basically so close but I’m still not sure how to just “wet” the grinds for that 45 seconds; I always end up with ’em afloat! ;)

        • https://driftaway.coffee Driftaway Coffee

          Hi there! Having them afloat is OK. The key is to ensure that they are all wet so that they can release the CO2 gas that has a bitter taste, without making too much coffee. A little bit of extra water won’t make much of a difference!