How to Make French Press Coffee
Jan 27, 2020
There's nothing like the perfect French press coffee to start your morning off on the right foot. Instead of heading to your local cafe, we encourage you to grab a bag of Real Good 100% Arabica whole bean coffee and brew a delicious cup of French press right in your kitchen.
We've put together this helpful guide of French press coffee instructions to teach you how to be your own master barista.
Brewing coffee is a technique that straddles the line between art and science. Whether you're a coffee aficionado or a casual consumer, most coffee drinkers can tell the difference between a bad pour and a finely crafted cup. Though it may seem like magic beans and a little wizardry is involved, we assure you that brewing a great batch of coffee all boils down to the right tools, the right time and the right techniques. To create the perfect French press coffee, you'll need specific supplies, including:
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Of course, a French coffee press is the first tool you'll need to purchase. A French press is a beaker that uses a plunger, lid, and filter to press water into the coffee grounds. No need to invest in an expensive French press at first, a common model found at your local department store will suffice.
A coffee grinder is an essential tool for anyone who wants to try a French press recipe at home. Coffee grinders are available in manual or electric models. Although "automatic" electric grinders will quickly grind a batch of beans, most home brewers prefer a manual grinder so they can precisely control the consistency of the grind. We recommend a manual device with a burr grinder rather than a blade, especially for French press coffee. Burr grinders can produce a uniform grind size more accurately than a blade grinder.
Scale and Measuring Cup
Measuring out the correct French press coffee ratio is a key factor that influences the coffee's taste. You'll need a scale to measure the coffee grounds and a measuring cup to measure the proper amount of water. Using a measuring cup, or spoon, to portion the coffee grounds doesn't work very well since each coffee roast has a different amount of density. This means that the same tablespoon will give you more light roast coffee than dark roast coffee. This is why we recommend a simple digital scale to dose the perfect amount of coffee grounds - regardless of roast level.
French press instructions aren't difficult to follow. However, one misstep that can easily occur is not letting your grounds brew for the correct length of time. Use a timer to ensure your end result doesn't taste over or under-extracted.
Maintaining the correct French press water temperature is an important step that is easy to mess up. By using a thermometer while brewing, you can ensure that you're heating your grounds to the correct temperature.
Water and Beans
Naturally, you can't make any cup of coffee without water and coffee beans. However, we insist you use quality water and coffee whenever possible. While filtered water from your refrigerator or sink will work, it's always nice to have a gallon of purified water on-hand for brewing coffee. You should also choose a batch of quality whole coffee beans that are freshly roasted.
What Is the Right French Press Coffee Ratio?
When brewing coffee in the comfort of your own home, you need to understand how the beans and water come together to create a delightful brew. The brewing process changes for each type of coffee you make, and using the wrong ratio of water to coffee grounds can substantially impact the taste. Some brewers insist on using what's known as the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio suggests that the perfect coffee to water ratio is 17.42 units of water per one unit of coffee.
In simpler terms, you'd pour six ounces of water for every one to two tablespoons of ground coffee you use. Adjusting this can make the coffee taste stronger or weaker. Cafe baristas and home brewers alike each have their own suggestion for the right coffee-to-water ratio — some insist on a 1:17 ratio, while others can go as low as a 1:12 ratio. When it comes to making a French press coffee, we believe that it's in your best interest to learn the proper coffee brewing ratios.
From pour-overs and drip coffee to cold brews and immersion, each type of coffee methodology has a specific coffee-to-water ratio that should be used. For a French press coffee ratio, we recommend nothing higher than a 1:17 ratio and nothing lower than a 1:11 ratio if you're seeking an exceptionally strong and bold taste. To use another immersion ratio, such as 1:8 or 1:5 for cold brew, you can radically change the taste.
Finding your ideal French press coffee ratio takes time. If you're interested in experimenting, we encourage you to brew one cup for each ratio between 1:11 and 1:17. Experiment with different roasts and beans and discover the bold flavors you can unlock with your perfect coffee-to-water ratio.
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What Is the Right French Press Coffee Grind Size?
Knowing the proper coffee-to-water ratio is important, but there's also a key step before this process that has just as much influence on your coffee's taste — grind size. The act of physically grinding the coffee beans is an often overlooked step in the home brewing process. Unfortunately, this missed step significantly impacts the extraction process.
French press water temperature extracts flavor from the coffee grounds over time. Although water temperature and brew time will influence extraction, the grind size and consistency of the coffee beans can also cause over or under-extraction to occur. The size of the grinds has nothing to do with weight or volume. Although you will weigh grams for your coffee-to-water ratio, grind size refers to the particle size.
As you grind your coffee with a manual or electric grinder, you'll change the consistency of the beans. As the beans are ground down into small particles, they can be categorized by seven distinct grind sizes — extra coarse, coarse, medium coarse, medium, medium fine, fine, and super fine. Extra coarse grinds are the size of peppercorns and are used mainly for cold brews while super fine grinds are as light as powdered sugar and are used for Turkish coffee.
Which grind size do you want for your French press coffee? We recommend all French press coffee grind sizes are coarse. Because immersion brewing techniques require longer steeping times for ideal flavor extraction, coarse grinds are ideal. Using an extra coarse grind would require more extraction time, while a medium coarse grind would require less.
How to Make French Press Coffee
Why use a French press for making coffee? One reason using a French press has become so popular is because it's a relatively simple way to brew bold coffee at home. Minimal supplies are required, and learning how to use a French press is not difficult. Once you learn how to French press coffee, you'll be hooked:
1. Gather Your Supplies
For this French press coffee recipe, you'll need a grinder, French press, measuring cup, scale, timer, thermometer, water, and a batch of freshly roasted coffee beans.
2. Determine the Amount of Coffee You'll Brew
Preparation and planning go a long way when you're learning how to French press coffee. Your coffee-to-water ratio will depend on how many cups you want to make, so it's best to choose this amount before you begin grinding. Measure out the total ounces of water and grams of beans you'll need.
3. Grind the Coffee Beans
Depending on the type of grinder you use, there may already be a "coarse" setting that will make it quick and easy. If you're manually grinding the beans, grind until the beans are coarse and uniform in consistency. Because extra coarse grinds are used in immersion brewing more frequently than medium coarse grinds, it's better to grind patiently and aim for larger grinds than smaller particles.
4. Heat the Water and Pour
If you've got your grind down to a science, then feel free to heat your water while you're creating your grind size. However, we often encourage new home brewers to take as much time as they need to grind their beans, so they can immediately pour the heated water into the press when ready. Heat the water to around 195°F, checking it with your thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, boil the water then let it cool for a minute before pouring it into the French press.
5. Let it Bloom
Here's a trick that will make you seem like a master barista. As you pour the first ounces of water over the grounds, you'll notice that the mixture begins to bubble as a frothy foam-like substance grows at the top. This is referred to as a 'bloom' and is essentially the release of gases from the coffee grounds. For an enhanced flavor, let it bloom for 30 to 45 seconds, then continue pouring the rest of the water.
6. Stir the Grounds into the Water
Once you pour the heated water into the grounds, stir the brew thoroughly so that all of the coffee grounds are saturated.
7. Let the Coffee Grounds Steep
Next, you'll need to grab your timer and let the coffee grounds steep. Most brewers suggest steeping these grounds for three to four minutes, though others have suggested between six and eight minutes to achieve an exceptional flavor. Keep in mind that extraction time can be difficult to master, so you may need to experiment with different steeping times. Shoot for three minutes and 30 seconds first, then adjust your time from there based on the bitterness or boldness of the taste.
8. Consider the Crust
As the coffee steeps, the bloom will create a layer on the top of the coffee similar to a crust. You can choose to remove it with a spoon or stir it into the coffee. Keeping it in the coffee will create a bolder, full-bodied flavor, and removing it will give you a lighter flavor.
9. Plunge and Pour
Now that you've finished brewing, you're ready to use the coffee press. Plunge the press all the way down to the bottom of the beaker. Press with a steady hand, being careful not to slam the plunger down. You'll notice that too coarse of a grind will require minimal effort while too fine or a grind will require more effort. This plunge should feel natural as you push it down. Immediately pour the coffee into your cup after you plunge.
10. Enjoy Your Cup and Preserve the Rest
Congratulations, you've just made your first cup of French press coffee. Serve yourself, your family, or your guests and marvel at your masterpiece. Once everyone has a full cup, make sure you pour the excess coffee into a thermos to keep it warm and fresh.
Common Mistakes People Make with French Press Coffee
Let's be honest — brewing a great cup of coffee isn't without its challenges. It's entirely possible to make a great cup of coffee at home, even if you're not a master barista. However, many homebrewers discover that there is a learning curve that requires trial and error. The French press method may seem relatively straightforward, but there are a few easy ways in which you can upset the final taste. We've found that at-home coffee brewers often make these three mistakes:
1. Some Home Brewers Choose the Wrong Size Grind
If you're interested in brewing your own French press coffee at home — or any other coffee — the coffee grind chart is one of the most important resources to know or have on hand. Ranging from an extra coarse grind through a medium grind and finally ending at a super fine grind, the seven specific grind sizes are applicable to certain coffee types. For French press coffee grind, you want a coarse grind with a consistency similar to kosher salt.
2. Others Use the Wrong Coffee-To-Water Ratio
Using the wrong coffee-to-water ratio is another easy mistake to make simply because some home brewers won't take the time to measure out either ingredient. They'll simply grind what they believe is enough beans and fill the French press with water. For a French Press, you'll want a 1:17 ratio for a standard cup and a 1:11 ratio for a stronger brew. Here's a helpful serving size chart for you to reference:
- One serving of regular coffee: 8oz of water | 0.5oz or 13.9g of coffee
- One serving of strong coffee: 8oz of water | 0.7oz or 21.5g of coffee
- Two servings of regular coffee: 16oz of water | 0.9oz or 27.8g of coffee
- Two servings of strong coffee: 16oz of water | 1.5oz or 42.9g of coffee
- Four servings of regular coffee: 32oz of water | 1.9oz or 55.5g of coffee
- Four servings of strong coffee: 32oz of water | 2.9oz or 85.8g of coffee
3. Many Forget to Remove the Coffee at Immediately after It's Finished Brewing
Even if you use the correct French press coffee grind size and the French press coffee ratio of water to grounds, you can still negatively impact the taste by simply leaving the coffee in the French press after it's finished brewing. As it sits in the French press, it'll continue brewing, causing over-extraction, which will lead to a bitter taste. If you happen to brew more coffee than you need at the moment, store it in an insulated cup like a thermos to keep it warm.
Make Really Good French Press Coffee with Real Good Coffee Beans
If you're wondering how to make French press coffee that tastes unbelievable, you'll need to procure the right roast of beans. Let Real Good Coffee Company supply you with our amazing 100% Arabica whole bean coffee. Each two-pound bag of our coffee is freshly roasted in our Seattle roastery and shipped to your doorstep. We offer a Breakfast Blend Light Roast, Donut Shop Medium Roast, Dark French Roast, and an Organic Dark Roast for your brewing pleasure.
Shop our whole bean coffee today and use our French press coffee instructions to brew cup after cup of Real Good Coffee every morning.