French Press Brewed Coffee

How to Use a French Press

Matt Taylor-Gross / French Press from HAY

Total Time:
10 mins

Of all the ways to make a cup of coffee in the morning, the French press might be the most classic, but it can be slightly daunting to approach. Sure, you can switch on the drip coffee machine, carefully weigh out coffee grounds and measure water for the perfect cup of drip coffee, or even use an Aeropress, but nothing looks as good making a cup of joe as the French press. 

The elegant coffee press consists of a glass or plastic beaker fitted with a plunger-like lid which filters the coffee as it gets pressed down. The coffee grounds bloom gently in hot water for a delicious cup of coffee that doesn’t taste burned or over-saturated. While the design is relatively simple compared to automated alternatives, understanding things like the correct ratio of coffee grounds to water, how long to wait before filtering, and how high to fill the carafe are key to successfully using this classic coffee maker. 

How to Use a French Press
One of our favorite french presses, from HAY Design.

Matt Taylor-Gross / French Press from HAY

Like any recipe, using the freshest ingredients will yield a better result. “Fresh, coarsely ground coffee is key,” says Carley Kammerer, executive director at Wildflyer Coffee. Purchasing freshly ground beans from your local coffee roaster or coffee shop is great, and grinding your own at home can be even better. “For a French press, choose a grind setting that’s slightly more coarse than the grind you’d use in your drip brewer,” says Alyza Bohbot James, founder of Minneapolis-based City Girl Coffee Company

Since the French press immerses grounds in hot water as it extracts the brewed coffee, Kammerer likes to bloom grounds in the water for a bit to open up before pushing down the plunger. “[The French Press yields] a more even extraction so you can increase the [bloom] time to pull out bolder flavors for a more rich cup,” she explains. James advises adding water in two parts, letting the grounds bloom in half the water for 30 seconds before adding more. “I wait another four minutes then push the plunger down,” she says. 

Unlike a paper filter fitted into a drip coffee maker, whether that be pour-over or electric, the holes on the mesh French press filter are comparatively larger, allowing more oil from the beans to pass through. This adds flavor and richness to the coffee. 

“The great thing about French press coffee is the French press itself comes in lots of different sizes. So you can enjoy one or two cups on a lazy Sunday morning curled up with a good book, or serve it at brunch with friends and family,” says James. “Not only is it an easy way to prepare coffee (leaving more time for conversation and laughter), a French press produces a cup of coffee with rich flavors that compliment just about any brunch dish.” 


  • 40 grams whole coffee beans

  • 600 grams water (plus more for preheating)


  1. In a burr grinder set to a coarse grind size, grind the coffee beans. Heat the water until it reaches 206° on an instant-read thermometer; alternatively, bring the water to a boil, then let stand for 1 minute.

  2. Pour some of the hot water into the French press to preheat it. Discard the preheating water.

  3. Pour the ground coffee into the French press. Place the French press on a kitchen scale and set the scale to zero. Pour 600 grams of the hot water into the French press, thoroughly saturating the coffee grounds. Let stand for 1 minute. Quickly stir the steeping coffee to break up the cap of grounds floating on top. Cover the French press with its top, without pressing the filter down, and let stand for 3 minutes longer.

  4. Very slowly push the filter down until it is fully depressed. Pour the coffee into cups, leaving the dregs in the French press.

Related Articles