An introduction to
What is French Press?
The French Press extraction method, also known as a "cafetière", is an immersion brew method using a cylindrical vessel and a piston-like filter, or plunger, to prevent steeped grounds from entering your cup.
While the French Press method is pretty straightforward, there are a few tricks to avoiding over-extracted muddy coffee as is archetypal of the French Press. With the right dose, technique, and some unconventional uses of the filter-piston, a French Press can combine the simplicity of a Batch Brew with crisp flavors normally showcased by a V60. So, let's get to it.
For the French Press brew method, you will require the following:
- 1 French Press
- 1 Coffee Grinder
- 1 Coffee Scale
- 40g of Whole Bean Coffee
- 500g of Filtered Water
Average Brew Time: ~4 mins
Measure, or dose-out, your coffee : water ratio.
For the French Press method, we recommend using a 1:12 ratio of coffee to water. You can adjust this up and down depending on your coffee, your vessel and your personal taste. To start, we recommend 40g of coffee to 500g of water.
Set the water to boil in your kettle.
Starting this process now saves you time while preparing the grounds, but also allows the water to cool slightly after boiling, since we want the water to be around 195-205°F when we pour it over the coffee.
Get to the grind.
For the French Press method, we want to aim for a coarse grind, comparable to Kosher salt.
Since French Press is an immersion brew method, a coarse grind helps prevent over-extraction of the coffee and reduces the sediment that makes coffee muddy and bitter. Try to make the grind as consistent as possible to get an even extraction of flavor from your coffee.
Pre-heat your vessel by pouring hot water across the outside. Then, add your fresh grounds.
This process of pre-heating brings the temperature of the glass vessel so that the coffee will extract at a consistent temperature from the first pour. Also, since you pre-heat with a pour on the outside of the vessel, the inside remains dry when you add your grounds. This prevents them from extracting in residual water, resulting in a smoother extraction when you begin to add your water.
Set your French Press on your scale, be sure to tare the weight, then start your timer and pour ~80g of water in a spiral motion from the center to the edge of the grounds.
Wait 20-30 seconds, or until the coffee stops bubbling.
This process is called "blooming". When you add a water to wet your grounds, it allows all of the grounds to initiate extraction and allows the coffee to degas some of the volatile CO2. This process helps the coffee flavor bond better and ensures a smooth brew when you add in the rest of the water.
Using small circular motions to evenly agitate the coffee grounds, pour in the rest of your water until the scale reads 500g.
Stir 5-8 times, then let the coffee steep until your timer reads 4 minutes.
Be careful not to over-agitate the coffee. While the course grounds will help the coffee extract evenly as it steeps, too much agitation can cause over-extraction and will break the grounds into unwanted sediment.
Place your piston-filter on the top of your brew vessel and lower it carefully so that it touches the top of your brewed coffee, but DO NOT PRESS FURTHER.
With the piston-filter at the top, pour your coffee through the piston-filter and into your drinking vessel.
While the tradition is to press the piston-filter to the bottom, this actually re-agitates the sediment in your brew. That excess agitation results in over-extracted grounds and muddy sediment in your cup. Instead, filtering the coffee as you pour allows most of the sediment to stay at the bottom, and gives you the crisp flavors your are looking for.
While your home equipment may seem sufficient, we have outlined our recommended line-up below if you want to dial-in your coffee equipment.
In terms of French Press vessel, we recommend the .
For a coffee grinder, it would be difficult to beat the quality of the Baratza Encore for the price. It is hands-down the most affordable quality grinder on the market, and it yields consistent and even grinds.
Since precision is essential to a quality brew, you may consider a Brewista Ratio Scale for its precise measurements. This coffee scale has the ability to give your pouring speed when using a pour over brew method, which optimizes extraction time for the perfect cup.
The whole bean coffee you use with the French Press method can vary to your taste. However, since the French Press is an immersion extraction method at a coarse grind, we'd suggest some smooth, but bold, high-altitude coffee with a medium roast profile. You can find these qualities in our Haiti, Bolivia, and Peru beans, giving you the most flavor for your French Press experience.