How to Use a French Press

Home Ec ladies,

Do you know anything about making coffee with a French Press?

I am not a coffee-drinker, but some caffeine addicts are staying with
me this weekend, and I would like to provide them with a nice way to
wake up in the morning.

My French Press came with instructions on how to make coffee, but it
didn’t come with instructions on how to make GOOD coffee.

Trying to Impress

P.S. – Of course, I’m making sure I start right by buying fair trade,
organic coffee. 🙂

Heather says:

Good beans are only the first step in making great coffee. You’ll also need good tasting water. If your city or well water is on the funky side, you’re only going to brew funky coffee. Use bottled or filtered water, if necessary.

To use a French press you’ll need about 4* oz of boiling water for every cup of coffee you plan on serving. When the water is boiling remove it from the heat and grind the beans. As the pot uses a screen to separate the grounds from the brew, you’ll need a coarse grind, unless you enjoy gritty coffee. 300px-french_press.jpg

The key to good coffee when using a French press it to not “over extract” the beans as this produces a bitter flavor. Make sure you have at least one rounded tablespoon of grounds per cup of coffee (4oz)* and do not steep for more than the recommended time check your instructions but a full pot should take about four minutes. Also any coffee still in the pot after twenty minutes is considered old and should be discarded.

Enjoy your coffee

-Tip- If you prefer your coffee on the weaker side add hot water or milk after brewing, do not skimp on the grounds.

*Some disagree and say that a “cup” of coffee should be 60z, in that case use two level tablespoons of grounds.

(Photo Credit Leland)


  1. Daniel on August 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Great article, Heather. One tip I have is to buy a metal French press if at all possible. They’re more expensive up-front but will last much longer– glass will always break at one point or another!

  2. Keter on September 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I pour the resulting coffee out of the press immediately into a thermal carafe. If you simply can’t abide any dregs (fine powder from the grind) left at the bottom of your cup, put a coffee filter in a strainer over the top of the carafe and pour the coffee through that. Yes, it will also take out the crèma, but that is a personal decision…when I have guests, I ask what their preference is. If their answer resembles “French press? Is that like eXpresso?” I assume they want it filtered. ;o)

  3. Margo on September 8, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Fascinating, Candace! My husband always insisted on stirring his French press after he poured in the hot water. Now that I know the reason, I’ll dampen the grounds first AND stir after I pour in the hot water. THanks!

  4. Candace on September 7, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Two recommendations: If you wet the freshly ground coffee with cold water and stir it well before adding the hot water, it helps to keep the coffee from scorching with the sudden addition of hot water. I think it sort of allows the surface of the coffee to sort of warm up slowly.

    Also, if you stir the pot of coffee one minute after the addition of the hot water, this helps create a better crèma, which is the golden foam which should top a truly good cup of coffee. The crèma acts as a “cap” to help retain the aroma and flavor of the coffee. Any natural sugar or protein that was in the fresh coffee is contained in the crèma, so the more, the better!

    Hope this helps!

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