The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying French Press Coffee

Start your morning with the perfect French Press coffee. Everything you need to know from how to use a French Press, to the best coffee for French Press, to picking the best grinder for your coffee beans. Even a beginner can learn how to make the best cup of coffee with ease!

French Press Coffee Maker on table with two white mugs and a newspaper

A Typical Morning

Most mornings, my puppy races down the stairs, as I slowly stammer behind. 

I hit the “on button” on my coffee maker as I head to the back door.  The time it takes to heat up is timed almost perfectly with the amount of time it takes me to let her out, change her water, and fill her food dish. 

I hurriedly make a cup, add a splash of milk, and dash back upstairs, cup in hand, to wake the kiddos.

This cup of coffee is a staple, a habit, the fuel that gets my morning engine running.  

This Morning Is Different

It’s Sunday morning, the dog has already been out and fed, the kids are still sound asleep

I fill my tea kettle with water, turn the burner on, and set it down to heat.

Next, I stare at the French Press coffee maker that was delivered earlier this week.  Already washed and ready to go, I fill it with the course grounds I’ve just removed from the coffee grinder. 

I pour the hot (not boiling, per the instructions that came with the press) over the grounds, set the timer, and I wait…. Finally, I press the plunger until I feel grounds resisting at the bottom of the press.

Watching the steam rise into the air as I fill my mug, I inhale the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  Adding a splash of organic whole milk to the mug, I give it a swirl with my spoon and notice the milk easily blending with the speckles of rich coffee bean oil topping my cup. 

I walk, mug in hand, to my still dimly lit living room.  I sink into the couch, pull my cozy throw into my lap, and take my first sip.  The flavor is rich and the texture is smooth.  This is the stuff that a cozy morning ritual is made of.

Why is a French Press Better Than My Coffee Maker?

Woman staring out window while drinking a cup of coffee
  • There’s almost something artisan about using the French press itself.  The very act of using the press transports you and gives you a sense of cozy.  As if you could be in a ski lodge looking over a snow-capped mountain or a villa in Italy, watching the sunrise over the rooftops.
  • Remember the drops of oil I mentioned floating on the top of my coffee? Drip coffee machine filters remove most of the coffee bean oil, so it never makes it into your cup.  And, as anyone who appreciates good food knows, the flavor is almost always in the fat.
  • The coffee grounds are steeped instead of washed over by water.  Think about steeping an infuser filled with bulk tea in a mug of hot water.  Same concept. Steeping creates a rich flavorful brew.
  • The French Press forces you to slow down: Put a kettle on the stove. Smell the invigorating scent of freshly ground coffee beans as you remove them from your grinder. Watch as the coffee grinds bloom and then slowly steep their flavor into the hot water. This is not a race to the next step and you find yourself breathing a little more calmly and enjoying the process.

What Kind of Coffee Should I Use In a French Press?

The good news: you can use any flavor of coffee bean you’d like, it’s really up to your own personal taste buds.  (If you are looking for a suggestion, this is hands down my favorite coffee. I always have it on hand and I’m fairly certain that every single person who’s ever had a cup at my house has asked me where they could get it.  It’s THAT good.)

The bad news (but only if you buy your coffee already ground): you will need to switch to whole bean coffee for your French Press.  The key to making coffee “French press ready” is in the grind.

A good cup of coffee from your French Press is going to require coarse, evenly ground coffee beans.

What Kind of Coffee Grinder Should I Use For French Press Coffee?

Woman holding French Press coffee maker in front of coffee bean grinder

According to the Roasty Coffee, a Burr Grinder is going to be your best bet.  A burr coffee grinder will give you an even, uniform grind.  On the other hand, a blade grinder (while less expensive) will produce a less uniform grind and, because the blades move so quickly, they can generate extra heat which can burn the coffee beans. 

In all honesty, I’m not sure that I’m THAT much of a coffee aficionado that I would notice the difference, but I do happen to own this burr coffee grinder.  I love it because I can select the grind of my coffee bean (the entire range from espresso to French press grind)

How to Use a French Press

At first glance, this contraption might look a bit complicated.  In all honesty, using a French Press couldn’t be easier.

  1. Heat a kettle of water to just below boiling. (My super scientific method…I take the kettle off the burner when it starts making that rattling noise in the bottom but isn’t quite whistling yet!)
  2. Place your ground coffee into the press. (Use between 1-2 tsp of coffee per 6 ounces of water, depending upon how strong you like your brew.)
  3. Pour about half of the water you intend on using over the coffee grounds and let it sit for about 30 seconds.  (Here, you’re blooming the coffee grounds in much the same way you’d allow yeast to bloom while baking bread.)
  4. Pour the remaining water into the French Press and give it a quick stir.
  5. Put the lid on the press, but keep the plunger pulled all the way up.  Set your timer for 4 minutes.
  6. Gently lower the plunger all the way down to filter the grounds from the coffee.
  7. Pour the coffee into your mug or another container…if you leave the coffee in the French Press, it will continue to brew.

Enjoying Your French Pressed Coffee

Because French Pressed coffee is so smooth, I encourage you to forgo flavored creamer, stir in a little whole milk or half and half, and really let the flavor of the coffee come through.

After your coffee is done brewing, you are going to want to remove it from the French Press.  (Unless you like extra-strong, bitter coffee.) 

If you have brewed more than you will drink in one sitting, you’re going to want to pour the extra into a carafe or thermos. 

For an even more cozy experience, consider pouring the extras into a pretty, ceramic teapot. I have a favorite ceramic tea set and I love to fill and settle in with a good book. Take the time to relax and enjoy a few moments of calm as truly, French Pressed coffee is just as much about the experience and the ritual as it is a good cup of coffee.

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