How to make coffee with a french press

Making coffee with a french press is very simple, and also very easy to repeat over and over. But also if you don’t do it the right way it can easily be screwed up. Some people say they don’t like it but all they’ve had is poorly brewed french press coffee. But actually when you get it right it makes a delicious coffee with even a slight chocolatey flavor. It doesn’t matter if you have to try it a few times before you get it right, trust me, its worth it!!!

In my case it took me more than a few times, (I guess I was a little stubborn and wanted to repeat what that tutorial said expecting for it to magically come out better). But as I tweaked some things I ended up knowing exactly how to make coffee with a french press that is perfect for me.

One of the questions I’ve been asked a lot is the amount of coffee to be used, and while I do think that it is one of the most crucial aspects, all of them have an influence on the others. So let me talk about them before I actually go into the step by step process…

  1. The amount of coffee – Which more precisely is the water to coffee ratio. This is probably the thing that makes french press a simpler method than a pour over. Because once you have your ideal recipe, if you want to make more cups or fewer cups, you can easily adjust the amount of coffee and water, using the same ratio. I personally like to use a ratio of 16 to 1, which means 1 gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water. When I use my 3-cup french press I use 18 grams of coffee and 290 grams of water.
  2. The type of grind – For a french press the type of grind that is usually recommended is a coarse grind. A finer grind could lead to over extraction, and a coarser grind may lead to under extraction. But also it has to be coarse because you don’t want it to pass through the mesh filter that is on the press.
  3. Time – Once you have mixed your coffee with the water, the extraction starts, and you want to give it enough time to fully extract all the good stuff but not so long that it extracts the bitterness of the coffee.
  4. Temperature – The higher the temperature the faster it will extract, so if you vary the temperature you might want to vary the time as well. It is recommended to use water that is not quite boiling, so a good idea is to let it boil and take it out of the flame for a couple of minutes, that will do the trick.

How to get it done

Remember, this is how I like the coffee so I will explain and at the end I’ll give you some tips on how to perfect it if there is something else that you might like.

I’m going to explain for a small size french press with is for 3 cups. So you will need…

  • 18 gr of coffee, ground to a coarse size.
  • 290 gr of water, this should be enough to fill the french press but if you have a scale to weight it on while you pour it, it will be much better.
  • Kettle
  • Spoon
  • Timer
  • Of course a french press

Step 1

Grab your french press steadily and pull the plunger out. At this moment you might want to rinse your base with hot water to get it pre-warmed.

French press set up

Step 2

Pour the coffee grinds in it, and then the water. If you don’t have a scale, then pour it to the level as in the picture. As soon as you start to pour in the water, start your timer. We are going to let it steep for 4 minutes.

Full French Press

Step 3

Mix the grinds and water with the spoon to make sure they are all saturated, and then put the cap back in without pushing the plunger down.

Mix French Press

Step 4

Once your timer hits 4 minutes, start pushing the plunger down slowly, until it stops, this should take about 15 seconds. Now you can serve and enjoy. Always serve immediately, because if you leave the coffee in the press. It will keep extracting bitterness out of the coffee.

Serve French Press

How to tweak your results

Of course the results may vary a bit depending on different things like the type of bean, the roast, or even the altitude (In high altitudes boiling water is not as hot). So you might find in your coffee one of the following “imperfections” but here I guide you on how to correct each one if it happens.

If your coffee is too bitter it means that it was over extracted, so the next time you can try either using a coarser grind, less temperature on the water or less time. All this will help to extract a bit less. Another thing you can try is using more coffee this way the water would get saturated quicker, but it will make your coffee stronger so if strength is good go with the other options.

If your coffee is too acid and lacks of aftertaste it means that it was under extracted, so here you could try the opposite, probably your grind was too coarse and you want to go down a bit, or give it more time, of course if you are already brewing with boiling water you won’t be able to make it hotter.

If you want it either stronger or lighter the answer might seem pretty obvious, “use more or less coffee” and in fact it is. But you must keep in mind that using more coffee with the same amount of water can lead to under extraction, and using less coffee can lead to over extraction, so after changing this you might need a bit of the first two solutions. This is why I think that the amount of coffee is crucial because when you change it, it is likely you will need to change something else.

NEVER EVER EVER!!!! Leave the coffee in the press after plunging always serve right away. This is the mistake that I have seen mostly, and thanks to which I have heard lot of “Oh I’ve tried french press and don’t like it” It gets bitter, and undrinkable.



Try it out!!

Trust me it’s worth it!!! When I got it right after a few tries, I couldn’t even believe how much it changed comparing to my first attempts. So go ahead try brewing with your french press and if there are any questions please let me know, I’ll be happy to help.

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