French Press Brewing Guide

16 steps to the best coffee in the world.

Items Needed
  • French Press
  • Fresh-Roasted Coffee
  • Water
  • Spoon or Stirring Stick
  • A Pot or Kettle to Boil Water
  • Timer
  • Coffee Grinder
  • Scale (preferred)
Capacity of French Press 3-Cup 4-Cup 8-Cup

Coffee

2-3 tbsp (17 grams)
4-5 tbsp (27 grams)
8-10 tbsp (54 grams)

Water

275 mL and some additional to pre-heat the French Press
430 mL and some additional to pre-heat the French Press
860 mL and some additional to pre-heat the French Press
Preparation
  • Clean your french press as clean brewing equipment will always make a better cup.
  • For best results use fresh-ground coffee.  The bean traps in flavors and aromas that are released upon grinding.  Grind just before brewing for best results.
Setup your french press, coffee and brewing equipment
Step 1

Prepare your equipment for brewing with your French Press.  Here we have laid out our 8-cup french press, and we’ve gone ahead and pre-measured out 54 grams of beans for the brew.  An electric tea-kettle is easy and efficient and this one we purchased on Amazon for just $19.  The goose neck spout makes pouring easy and precise.

measure out your prescribed amount of water. In this case, 860ml
Step 2

Using the chart above, and a measuring cup, measure out the appropriate amount of water for the number of cups you’d like to brew.

for best results weigh out your desired amount of coffee for your french press
Step 3

Using our chart above for reference, measure out the proper amount of coffee.  Since we’re using an 8 cup press, and desire 8 cups of brewed coffee, we’ll measure out 54 grams of coffee.  While a scale isn’t required, it does make things easy.  If you guess at the amount, it just might not be an ideal amount for the best flavor, though it will most likely be surprisingly good regardless.  This is especially true if you’re using fresh-roasted coffee, and due to the french press’s remarkable brewing capabilities.

boil your water for your coffee
Step 4

Take this moment to get your water boiling.  A goose neck kettle is ideal for pouring either into the french press or the chemex brewing method.  It allows for precise pouring of the water at a measured amount which is particularly important for the Chemex, pour-over method.  Just boil the water (212F) and then let it sit for about 30 seconds to reach an approximate ideal temperature of 202F.

to equalize the temperature of your french press, swish hot water around inside of the empty press
Step 5

Take a small amount of water from your kettle and fill the french press 1/4 full and then press the plunger all the way to the bottom.  The idea here is that we want the press to come fully up to temperature as it makes a better cup, keeps your coffee from cooling down too fast and cleans up the pot a bit.

to equalize the temperature of your french press, swish hot water around inside of the empty press
Step 6

Swish the water around to bring the whole press up to temperature.

For best results weigh out your coffee depending on the size of your french press
Step 7

Just before brewing, grind your previously weighed out coffee with a burr grinder for best results.  Use a coarse grind setting, or the setting just above the auto-drip setting on your grinder; however, if you’re using an inexpensive blade grinder, try and get the grinds around about the size of a sesame seed.  Grinding just before the brew releases aromas and flavors that you just don’t get in pre-ground coffee.  

Pour your fresh ground coffee into your French Press coffee maker
Step 8

Pour the ground coffee into the french press and shake the press to level the grounds.

Pour the remaining half of your water into the french press for the final steep
Step 9 (0 Seconds - 30 Seconds)

This step should take place over the first 30 seconds of brewing.  Pour half of your water over the grounds and start your timer.  As you pour the water, carbon dioxide  (CO2) will be released making a “bubble” of coffee grounds.  This looks a bit like a brownie baking in the oven.  Incidentally, it is good to note that fresh-roasted coffee will produce a heavy release of CO2, but old and stale coffee will not.  This should be your indicator that your coffee is fresh.  Fresh-roasted coffee is profoundly better, and different than old, stale, store coffee which has been sitting in the bag for 6 months when you get it.  This CO2 bubble is called the “bloom”.  If your coffee fails to bloom, then you’re using old and stale coffee.  See our Craft Roasters Directory for a local craft roaster near you who can provide you with fresh-roasted coffee, or alternatively you can roast coffee at home yourself!  Give it a try, you’re taste buds will thank you.

let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds after initially pouring your water in the french press
Step 10 (30 SECONDS)

At 30 seconds, you can see the “bloom” which rises up and forms a crust on the top of the water.

breaking the floating grinds is what is called "breaking the crust" in the french press
Step 11 (30-40 Seconds)

Use a spoon or a stir stick to break up the crust, and stir to mix the grounds evenly in the water

Pour the remaining half of your water into the french press for the final steep
Step 12 (40 Seconds - 50 Seconds)

Pour the remaining water into your press.

replace the top on your french press
Step 13 (50 Seconds)

Replace the plunger back onto the press to trap heat.

let your french press coffee steep for up to 4 minutes
Step 14 (50 seconds- 4 Minutes)

Let the coffee steep for 4 minutes on your timer.  This allows proper brewing time and for maximum extraction of the flavors and aromas into the coffee.

after 4 minutes of steeping your french press coffee, depress the plunger to push the grinds to the bottom
Step 15

At 4 minutes on the timer, depress the plunger to push the grounds down to the bottom, separating the grinds from the coffee.

pour yourself a cup of the best black coffee anywhere.
Step 16

Pour and Enjoy.  For best flavor, and if you’re not going to drink all of your french press coffee right away, you may want to move the coffee to another container so that the brew doesn’t over-extract.  

Author: Shane Lewis

Shane is the founder of the green coffee exporter Old Spanish Main, Ltda. in Bogotá, Colombia, having practiced under the renowned grader & cupper Lelly Espitia. He is a cultivator of a #14 Colombian Cup of Excellence coffee. Shane currently designs & manufactures coffee, cacao & grain roasters with RK Drums.