Ultimate Guide on How to (and How Not-To) Use a French Press

The French Press has been helping people create the perfect cup of coffee for over 80 years and is a surefire way to keep your coffee routine consistent.

This coffee press relies on simple brewing methods and serving in a single coffee-making container, which is ideal for just about anyone to use. If you favor simplicity and bold flavors, the French press might be the perfect addition to your morning (or anytime) coffee routine.

If you want to know how to french press coffee and much more, keep on reading!

The French Press Design and Variations

Different types of French Press

The French press is a somewhat simple machine, and there’s not much variation among manufacturers. The overall design consists of an area to pour in coffee grounds, which is at the bottom of the device. Then you pour boiling water over the coffee grounds, inside the carafe (body) to the desired level. Finally, the lid, strainer, and plunger, which are attached by a slim rod, are placed above the waterline.

You’ll wait a few minutes for the coffee to brew, then push the plunger down slowly. The plunger forces the grounds to the bottom, and only brewed coffee remains at the top.

Sizes & Materials

There are a few different sizes of French press options to choose from, including single-serving sizes and full 8-12 cup sizes. The press can also be made from various materials ranging from glass and copper to solid steel. Some are highly decorative and stylish, while others take on an industrial or utilitarian look.

The most common materials used to manufacture the French press include plastic, stainless steel, and glass with a metal carafe holder. Naturally, the cheapest and least durable are the plastic models. They are ideal for users who plan to bring the French press to go on trips or camping.

All, however, operate basically in the same manner and can provide an excellent cup of coffee. Any French Press you get, be sure to read the press instructions before brewing coffee for top results.

What Type of Coffee to Use, How Much, and Which Grind?

Various coffee beans

To make great French press coffee, you first need to get the right grind and type of coffee. Select your chosen whole bean coffee and then use the grinder at the retailer or use your own if you have one. If you don’t know how to grind coffee beans, get someone to show you and mention using a French press. Consider using these types of coffee, which should be coarse ground.

  • Espresso roast
  • Italian roast
  • Kona medium roast
  • Kenya AA medium or blonde
  • Sumatra French roast


Calculating the French press ratio of how many grams per ounce is an essential step in brewing the perfect coffee. On average, the coffee ratio for the French press is approximately 18g or three tablespoons for three 12-ounce cups of mild coffee. For stronger coffee, approximately 30 grams or five tablespoons of coffee can make three 12-ounce cups of French coffee.

Type of Grind

Which is the best coffee for French press use? That depends on a few factors, including the strength of your brew and your taste preferences. But when it comes to the type of grind for a French press, it is recommended to use coarse ground coffee that looks similar to sea salt.

At most coffee specialty stores, ask for a French press grind or French coffee press, and they will usually be able to provide you with the ideal consistency.

Before learning how to use a coffee press, you should make sure you get the right type and grind of coffee to ensure you get the best possible results. With some practice, you’ll be brewing an excellent cup of coffee each time that is sure to be your favorite. It’s also worth mentioning that you can brew both hot and cold brew coffee French press style, which adds to the overall versatility.

How to Brew Coffee in a French Press

Brewing coffee with a French Press

Most people know how to use a coffee maker, but knowing how to make good coffee in a French press properly is a skill that you should master. Follow these steps to ensure you achieve success and create the ideal cup of coffee anywhere, at any time.

French Press Mechanics

Wondering how to use a French Press? First, place the coffee in the bottom of the press and leave it to soak in nearly boiling water for several minutes. This allows the water to soak up all of the beans’ delicious flavors. Here’s a small tip- it’s an excellent idea to put the strainer/lid piece over the top to prevent anything from falling into the water while it sits and brews.

Once the coffee is ready,  press down on the plunger slowly and carefully. This lets the water flow gently through the strainer without forcing it.

Remember, three cups of coffee uses up to 36 oz of water combined with 3 – 5 tablespoons of grounds. In the end, the coffee to water ratio of the French press is less because the beans soak up some of the water, so you won’t get back the same amount of liquid after pouring the coffee.

Since you’re adding boiling water to your French press, make sure to pour slowly. This is one danger that’s not present when operating standard coffee makers.

Brewing Times

The length of time the coffee brews is hotly debated; however, the ideal time frame ranges between 3 and 7 minutes. Some individuals let their coffee brew for up to 10 minutes to make it stronger, but 5 to 7 minutes should usually yield ideal results. Remember, the darker the roast, the stronger the coffee, so over 7 minutes may make the coffee bitter or too intense for some people.

Pouring the Coffee

Pour coffee from the French Press and enjoy!

Once you have brewed the coffee sufficiently, it is time to pour it. Be careful to hold the plunger and lid in place when tilting the French press to pour into cups. Some steel versions have lids that stay in place, but it’s best to be safe when dealing with hot coffee. Don’t let go of the plunger because coffee grounds can slide into the coffee if it isn’t secured, which may ruin your masterpiece.

All that’s left to do is add your favorite extras (if any) and enjoy! If you like your coffee with milk, consider adding milk and making a latte or cappuccino with your freshly brewed coffee. On a hot summer’s day, you may opt for an iced coffee instead. Want something more fancy? Then make a whipped coffee instead. If simplicity is what matters most to you, then consider making a pour over coffee.

By using the tips in this article, you’re sure to create the perfect cup of joe to start off your day. Take into account the type of press you want, how strong you’d like your coffee, the type of grounds you’ll use, and that’s all there is to it!

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Coffee aficionado Ryan Bahar is the Editor-in-Chief at CoffeeGrabber.com. While most people love a good morning cup of joe, only a few can appreciate the art involved in grinding coffee beans, taste the difference between coffee from Ethiopia to Guatemala to Colombia, or identify terrible coffee products dressed up with fancy marketing. Ryan wants to use his coffee expertise to bring you the most authentic coffee tips, guides and reviews on the web.

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