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How To Brew Coffee In A French Press
When you add the water, the coffee will float to the top like a head on beer. This is called, in the coffee world, the "crust". You want the coffee swimming happily in the water, not floating on top. That's what the second stir is for. Not all coffees will create a big crust. Some high-altitude beans release very little air and the grounds are heavier, so you won't see an exaggerated crust.
- Grind for a French coffee press:
If you're grinding your own coffee, grind it to slightly coarser than you use for paper filters. This helps the water flow through unimpeded and makes it easier to press the plunger down when brewing is done. Note that most reference material or labeled settings on a grinder will show coffee press grinds to be enormous. This is to prevent clogging in the screen, but people go way overboard. When you grind too coarse, the brewing is uneven on the grins because they will, despite your best equipment and efforts, be of diverse sizes. When you grind smaller, the brew time is more uniform and shorter, so the coffee does not cool down anywhere near as much.
- Measure 1 scoop or rounded tablespoon per 6 ounces of water, or just eyeball it:
French presses come with a scoop, which is generally a little larger than a tablespoon, so it might be best as a level measure for the scoop. Most coffees work fine with one scoop or rounded tablespoon per 6 ounce serving. However, we have found that you can eyeball a French press pretty consistently by putting a llittle less than 1/2 of an inch (about the width of an average fingernail) of coffee grounds on the bottom of the chamber. This works because larger French presses are also wider. Try this with your press to see if it works; if it does, it will save you some time and cleanup. Just go for the same height each time.
- Add hot water (the most flavorful brew is usually obtained at 195 degrees F, which is about the point where water creates small bubbles in a kettle but has not come to a boil), stir, wait 20 seconds, and stir again. When you add the water, the coffee will float to the top like a head on beer. This is called, in the coffee world, the "crust". You want the coffee swimming happily in the water, not floating on top. That's what the second stir is for. Not all coffees will create a big crust. Some high-altitude beans release very little air and the grounds are heavier, so you won't see an exaggerated crust.
- Wait 2-3 minutes if you use our grind recommendation, or 4-5 minutes if you use a coarse grind (or however long you prefer):
Some like a longer brew. It's up to you. We suggest setting a timer if you're busy getting the whole family ready in the morning, so you don't get distracted and come back 20 minutes later to a French press full of cold jet fuel.
- Press the plunger down SLOWLY:
Don't make our mistake. Our first time with a French press, we pushed down so hard, a hot jet of coffee squirted out and arched fifteen feet across the kitchen, through the doorway, and into the living room. It was embarrassing. Press slowly, and straight down, not at an angle, and point the spout away from anything or anybody that might not appreciate a mistake.
- having trouble? Pull the plunger UP half an inch and gently swirl the French press to stir up the coffee inside, so the coffee grounds aren't all jammed up against the plunger.