How To Make French Press Coffee: 10 Steps To The Perfect Cup (Ratios, Tools & Tips)

Here is everything you need to know about how to make French press coffee at home like a pro!

how to make french press coffee

I’ve been experimenting with French press coffee for years. Like a lot of coffee enthusiasts, it was my introduction to home brewing because of how easy and versatile it is. 

By following a few simple guidelines you can make a consistently great cup of coffee and start your day right. Brewing French press coffee can be fun!

There are a few different ways to brew French press coffee online and if you’re new to the coffee world it can be quite confusing. You may have followed other guides and found your coffee was too weak or too strong.

Keep reading to find out how to make the best French press coffee every time.

How Does A French Press Work?

Using a French press is not as complicated as it may look, it is made up of 2 main components: the beaker and the plunger.

The beaker is usually made of glass and its purpose is to hold the coffee while it steeps. The plunger has a metal filter mesh that is used to press down on the coffee grinds. Its purpose is to separate the solids from the liquid, so there’s no need to mess around with paper filters.

French Press Coffee To Water Ratio

French Press Coffee - French Press Coffee To Water Ratio

Getting your measurements correct for a French press brew can be frustrating so we’ve put together a table to give you a starting point. As a rule of thumb, you should follow a 15:1 ratio which means for every 1 gram of coffee you should have 15 grams of water.

This ratio can be adjusted if you prefer it stronger or milder as per the table below. Try it and see what works for you. Stronger recipes are good for adding milk and sugar, while milder recipes are best to drink black to savor the flavors.

French Press SizeNumber of CupsDesired StrengthCoffee AmountWater Amount
3 Cup – 12oz1.5Mild
18g (3tbsp)
23g (4tbsp)
30g (5tbsp)
9oz (275ml)
4 Cup – 17oz3Mild
20g (4tbsp)
27g (5tbsp)
34g (6tbsp)
14oz (430ml)
8 Cup – 34oz4Mild
55g (9tbsp)
68g (11tbsp)
89g (14tbsp)
29oz (860ml)

Check out this coffee to water ratio calculator for easy troubleshooting and custom adjustments.

What You’ll Need

French Press Coffee - What You Need

Step By Step: How To Make French Press Coffee

Step 1 – Boil Water

Start by boiling your water, ensure you are using fresh, filtered water to reduce the mineral content. Water with a high mineral content can change the taste of your coffee. A water temperature of 195-205°F is ideal. If you don’t have a thermometer, once water is at a boil let it sit for 30 seconds.

Step 2 – Grind Your Beans

Whilst your water is boiling, weigh out your coffee beans using a scale as per your French press size or the amount you want. See the coffee-to-water ratio chart above. Use 15 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee as a general rule, this can be adjusted to your tastes.

Remember to zero your scale once your empty container is on top. Weighing your beans is crucial for troubleshooting later on so don’t forget this step!

Once you have weighed your beans, you will need to grind them using a burr grinder. Aim for a coarse to medium-coarse grind. It should have the consistency of kosher salt. If you are using pre-ground beans you can skip this step.

Step 3 – Preheat Your French Press

Once your water is boiled, preheat your French press by filling it one-quarter full with hot water and press the plunger down. Give the hot water a swirl around inside for 5-10 seconds, then pour out.

Step 4 – Add Coffee

Pour your ground coffee into the French press and give it a shake to create a flat, even bed of coffee.

Step 5 – Add Water

Start pouring your water in a circular motion to wet all of the coffee grounds, until half full. Then let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds.

Blooming causes the grounds to degas (release carbon dioxide), which pushes the water away. We bloom coffee to get rid of the sour taste and to allow the water to react with the coffee to extract its flavors better.

Step 6 – Stir

Stir the crust that forms at the top with a spoon after your timer has reached the 30-second mark to help the coffee sink to the bottom.

Step 7 – Add More Water

Pour water until it reaches the top of the press, ensure you don’t overfill. Add the lid to your French press and bring the plunger down slightly so it is resting on the surface of the liquid. Let the coffee steep for 4 minutes.

Tip - Fill the water with the French press on a scale to get your 15:1 ratio

Step 8 – Plunge

Once your timer has hit the 4-minute mark, push the plunger down slowly to filter the grounds. A grind that is too fine will take a lot of effort to push down, a grind that is too coarse will provide little to no resistance.

Tip - before plunging for a full-bodied brew use a spoon to break up the crust gently. For a light body, use a spoon to scoop the crust off and discard it before plunging. 

Step 9 – Pour

how to make french press coffee

Pour yourself a cup and decant the rest of the coffee immediately to avoid over-extraction

Tip - To prevent excess sediment in your thermal carafe or beaker avoid pouring out every last drop of coffee.

Step 10 – Enjoy

Pro Tips For The Perfect French Press Coffee

French Press Coffee - Pro Tips
  • Always use good quality beans. Light or medium roast beans provide a better flavor, dark roasts are more acidic. Lighter roasts also have more caffeine and are better for long extraction methods.
  • Use a burr grinder or a local coffee shop to grind your beans to avoid uneven grounds as this can lead to bitterness from over-extraction.
  • Most people underestimate how important water quality is. Using fresh, filtered water will allow you to taste the full flavors of your beans.
  • Boiling water can scorch coffee beans and be detrimental to the flavor. Make sure you let hot water cool for 30 seconds or so before pouring it into your French press.
  • For a stronger coffee add more coffee grounds and adjust your 15:1 ratio.
  • Make sure your French press is cleaned after every use. Old coffee stuck in the filter can give a bitter taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best French Press Grind Size?

The ideal French press grind size is somewhere between coarse and medium-coarse. It should have the consistency of kosher salt. Here’s an article we’ve written on why grind size matters.

Coffee grinds need to be coarse enough so that they don’t pass through the metal press mesh. This prevents a silty and bitter cup of coffee.

What Are The Best Coffee Beans For A French Press?

This comes down to your personal preference. As a general rule, medium roasts are the way to go. They are more flavorful, with higher caffeine content, and are better for longer extraction methods. Darker roasts give off a more acidic taste.

To learn more about which coffee beans to pick, check out our article on The 4 Different Types Of Coffee Beans & Everything You Need To Know.

What To Do Next?

Well there you have it, now you know how to use a French press and make delicious coffee every time! The French press is an extremely versatile tool that you can use to brew a load of different coffee beverages.

It doesn’t require too much tinkering and it allows you to taste the full flavor profiles of your beans.

Some other factors that can impact your brew quality are your beans and grind settings. Be sure to check our other guides for the top picks and how to ensure you’re maximizing the flavor of your beans.

For more information, check out our guide on which coffee beans you should pick.

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