How to Make French Press Coffee in Three Easy Steps

French press

There are several coffee brewing techniques, but the French press or press pot is one of the quickest, easiest, and most fun ways to brew a cup of strong, flavorful coffee. People who like their coffee fresh and robust should look no further than the French press, but getting the coffee perfect takes more than just a press pot, water, and some coffee grounds. In this guide, we’ll explain how to make French press coffee the best it possibly can be, in just three simple steps. Learn more facts about one of the world’s most popular caffeinated beverages in this coffee crash course.

What You’ll Need

Before we get into how to make French press coffee, you’ll need to make sure you have everything you’ll need in the first place. Then we’ll talk technique.

  • French press
  • Kettle for boiling water
  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee beans
  • Mug

If you don’t have a coffee grinder and you don’t buy whole beans, you can use pre-ground coffee instead, but unless the beans were freshly grounded at your local cafe or grocery store, this isn’t recommended. French press coffee is great because it brings out the bold, fresh flavors of the coffee bean in a way some other brewing methods don’t.

If you’re buying pre-ground, packaged up coffee with the consistency of dried up sand (no offense!), you’re going to be missing a vital element that makes the experience of freshly pressed coffee so great.

Of course, not everyone has access to the best ingredients, so use what you have at your disposal. As long as you have the French press, a way to boil water, and the coffee in some form, you’re technically good to go. If you don’t have time to brew manually, why not learn how to navigate the world of coffee machines? Check out this course on the secrets and techniques of espresso coffee makers.

How to Grind the Beans

While grinding the beans is just one step in the brewing process, it’s important enough to warrant some added emphasis. The French press technique calls for medium to coarse coffee grounds, leaning more on the coarse side. If the coffee grounds are too fine, you’re going to get bitter coffee that has that dusty, dirt-like texture from all the floating particles that have passed through the filter. Gross!

Coarsely ground coffee will be like chunky sand or soil, and should take about 10 seconds through a blade grinder, holding the blender button down in short bursts, to achieve evenly.

(If this is all too complicated, why not stick with tea? It’s easy to make, and it has tons of health benefits. Learn about the different types of teas in this guide.)

French Press Coffee: Step-by-Step

Now, the part of the guide you’ve been waiting for. While the French press method is great, don’t forget about the various other ways to make a cup of coffee. Try them all before you decide which one is for you.

1. Boil the water. While the water’s boiling, grind your coffee beans. The general measurement here is one tablespoon of coffee grounds per for ounces of water. That’s about four tablespoons if you’re using a 16 oz press, and 8 if you’re using a 32 oz press, but you’re free to experiment and get it just right for your tastes. Once the water has boiled, add some into the press and your coffee mug (not too much!), and wait about a minute. This will give the boiling water time to cool and the pot time to warm up.

2. Pour the water out of the French press (and your mug) and add your coffee grounds. Pour the boiled water on top of it, slowly, and fill the pot about halfway, letting all the grounds soak evenly. You want to wet as much of the coffee grounds as possible in this step, and let the coffee bloom. Coffee “bloom” means the grounds are releasing small amounts of gas like carbon dioxide, which is the coffee’s natural chemical reaction to the hot water. Don’t worry – it’s safe, and necessary if you want to extract all that good flavor from the grounds. After a minute, add more water, then put the lid on. Let the water and grounds sit for about 2-4 minutes, depending on your pot size.

3. Slowly (this is important) push the plunger to the bottom. Let the pot sit for another few minutes – and you’re done! A freshly brewed pot of French press coffee.

Interested in brewing more than just coffee? Get started brewing your own beer with this course.