One of the easiest ways to make coffee at home is using a French press. Unlike a drip coffee maker, French presses don’t need filters, and you don’t have to remember to turn them off before you leave the house. On top of that, they are usually beautifully designed and they can make amazing coffee.
The French press goes by many names around the world: coffee plunger, French press, coffee press. No matter what name it goes by, the French press is a simple coffee maker that anybody can learn to use. It has two parts, the carafe and the lid with plunger. The carafe holds the hot water and coffee while the plunger lid is used to keep heat in and to press the coffee down to the bottom of the pot after brewing.
French presses come in a variety of sizes and materials, and are very easy to use. This article will cover how to make an excellent pot of coffee in one of the simplest coffee making devices available today.
Step 1 – Get Your Coffee Press Ready
Before making a pot of coffee in your French Press, you need to set everything up. First, you will need to make sure that your coffee press is clean and ready to go. After making my pot of coffee in the morning, I often forget to empty out the used grounds from the previous day.
Make sure that your coffee press is clean dumping the spent coffee grounds into the garbage, and thoroughly rinsing the carafe and plunger with water. While you may want to use soap to clean a French Press, don’t. Many people find that using soap to clean a coffee pot makes the coffee taste funny afterwards. If your pot has a buildup of coffee oils inside it, you can clean it off with a vinegar solution and plenty of rinsing.
Step 2 – Measure your coffee
When making coffee using a new method, it can be hard to know how much you need to make a good cup. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to properly measure coffee for your French press.
In my opinion, the best way to measure coffee is by weight. Coffee beans vary in size and shape and that makes it harder to measure them by volume. If you already have a digital kitchen scale, you have all the gear you will need for this step.
So how much coffee do you need? There isn’t one right amount. You can customize how much coffee you put into the press to your taste. Use a beans-to-water weight ratio between 1:10 to 1:20. So, for my 750 mL coffee press, I would need to use between
If you must measure your beans by volume only, measure them after you have ground them. After grinding, the beans are smaller and more regularly shaped, so the amount you measure out won’t vary so much. Most recipes call for 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of ground coffee per 8 ounces (250 mL) of water, but you can adjust amounts to your own taste.
Step 3 – Prepare your water
Using either a stovetop or electric kettle, set some cold, clean water to boil. French press coffee is best when made with water that is right around 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius. That is right below the boiling point. While my kettle has a thermometer inside it, if yours doesn’t, you can measure the water temperature with an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have either of those, usually pulling the boiling water off of the heat for 20 to 30 seconds lets it cool down to the correct temperature.
Step 4 – Grind your coffee
Everybody knows that freshly ground beans make the best coffee. French press coffee is no exception. To make a good French press, you will want relatively even coffee grounds that are not so small that they can get through the mesh on the plunger. If you have a burr grinder with a coarse setting, this is a perfect time to use it. However, you will still be able to get acceptable results with a blade grinder.
While you are heating your water, grind the coffee beans so that they are still fairly coarse. Aim for something a little coarser than drip coffee grounds. It’s okay if it is very coarse, because your coffee is going to steep for a little while. Once they are ground, add the beans to the bottom of your French press carafe.
Step 5 – Pour the water over the coffee
Here is where the magic happens! Once your water has cooled to 93 degrees Celcius, start pouring it very gently over the freshly ground coffee in your press. By pouring gently, you can make sure that all of your coffee gets wet and that it does not clump on top of your pot. After you have wetted the grounds, pour the rest of the water into the carafe until it is full.
If your coffee does clump at the top of your French press, don’t worry. You can break up the clumps by stirring the coffee with a spoon. If your French press is made of glass or plastic, try using a wooden spoon or a chopstick to stir. Tapping a metal spoon against the sides of the carafe can cause it to chip or crack.
Step 6 – Waiting…
Immediately after you have filled up your French press and made sure that all the coffee was wet, put the plunger lid on top. This will stop your coffee from getting cold while it is brewing. Make sure the plunger stays up for now; you don’t want to press all the coffee down before it is ready!
There are no hard and fast rules about how long to wait before you can plunge your coffee. Personally, I prefer to wait 3 minutes from the time the lid goes on the coffee. However, I can tell you from experience that letting the coffee sit for longer doesn’t ruin it, though it can get pretty strong.
When you think you’ve waited long enough, gently depress the plunger on the lid. Your pot of coffee is ready.