How to use a French press
Read coffee expert Celeste Wong's guide to making the perfect French press coffee at home, including best equipment to use and insider barista tips
Want to know how to use a French press? Read our guide from coffee expert Celeste Wong below, then check out how to use an AeroPress, how to make pour over coffee, and how to use a moka pot. Looking for artisan beans to make your French press coffee? Try Celeste's tried-and-tested list of the best coffee beans.
French press is a quick, no-fuss brew method that anyone can do, at small or larger volumes, relatively quickly.
This brew method is perfect for people who are in a hurry, or like filter coffee with more of a full mouth-feel. It’s also an elegant and tidy way to brew coffee and only takes about four minutes to make, with little coffee knowledge or technique.
There are a few different styles of French presses available. The most commonly seen French press is probably the elegant glass-based beaker with metal top. You can also get ceramic or metal French presses: these are less fragile than glass models and retain heat well
What do you need to make a French press coffee?
- A French press – try this stylish French press (£38, Royal Doulton) or BODUM double walled French press (£22, Amazon)
- Coffee cup
- Coarse ground coffee (texture of sea salt) – pick from my favorite coffee beans and grind with these tried-and-tested coffee grinders
How to make French press coffee
- Place the French press on a flat surface and remove the plunger. Boil your water.
- Preheat the French press to get the best out of your cup. Pour in hot water, then discard after about 30 seconds.
- Add 20g of medium to coarsely ground coffee (for 1 cup) or 24 grams of coffee if you like it extra strong.
- Set your timer to 3.5 minutes and start. Add a small amount of off-the-boil water to the French press – about 150ml.
- Use a spoon to stir the coffee grounds evenly. This makes sure all the coffee is saturated – this process is called blooming, where the ground coffee can release its CO2 gases (improving the flavour of the final drink). This step should take about 30 seconds.
- Steadily add the rest of the water until it reaches approximately 300ml.
- Put the lid on to retain the heat and push the mesh filter down until it touches the surface of the coffee.
- When the 3.5 minutes is up, slowly and gently (so not to agitate the finer grinds too much) start to push the plunger down almost to the bottom.
- Leave it for 30 seconds more to let the fine grinds settle a little
- Then slowly decant the coffee into your favourite cup!
Top tops for French press coffee
- This method also gives room to use darker roasted coffees for a bolder taste. So do explore!
- When pressing the coffee, the resistance should be smooth. If it’s too high, your coffee might be too fine (and vice versa).
- Ideally you want your water to be just off the boil, around 93-96C. Using a thermometer or temperature-controlled kettle lets you set the temperature exactly, but if using a regular kettle, boil the water and open the lid for about 30 seconds to a minute to let it cool down before using.
- As a general rule, a good coffee ratio to use for French press method is 1:15 (one part coffee to 15 parts water). So to calculate, divide the volume of the French press (or desired end volume) by 15 to give you the coffee dose. For example, if you are using a large 8 cup French press that holds about 1 litre:
1000ml /15 = 66.6 grams of ground coffee
450ml / 15 = 30 grams of ground coffee
300ml / 15 = 20 grams of ground coffee
Experiment with adjusting the ratio using more or less coffee to find the strength you like.