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How To Make French Press Coffee

French pressing is a time-honored method of making coffee. It doesn’t use any fancy percolator, drip or espresso system to brew. Instead a French Press (sometimes referred to as a “press pot”) allows ground coffee to soak in hot water for a pre-determined period similar to tea. Once the coffee has brewed, you simply push down the built-in metal filter (the “press”) until all the coffee grounds are on the bottom and the delicious full-flavored coffee is left sitting on the top. Figuring out how to make French press coffee is actually pretty easy if you follow a few rules.

French Press CoffeeFrench Press Coffee Photo:Don LaVange

First things First: Starting with the Right Grind

Learning how to make French Press coffee begins with the grind. You will need a much coarser grind than with espresso. And even more important, the grind must be consistent. People researching how to make French press coffee usually mess up this small point.The one high-priced investment with using a French press is inevitably the grinder - you’ll definitely want a fancier burr grinder to ensure all your grounds are the same shape and size.

Recipe for Satisfaction: Measuring your Coffee

French press pots come in all sizes, so measuring depends on your equipment. But a good rule of thumb to follow is 2 tablespoons of coarse ground coffee per cup of water. Some people like their coffee stronger, but 2 tablespoons is a good place to start, and you can always adjust your recipe later. The French press method is best when making coffee to be consumed all at once, so once you get more familiar with how to make French press coffee, feel free to make a follow-up batch!

Temperature Quest: Finding the “Goldilocks” Zone

Too-tepid water will make your coffee taste terrible, but so will water that’s too hot. The trick to how to make French press coffee is you have to be able to heat water until its “just right.” A well-calibrated digital thermometer is best to use until you get more familiar with the fine tuning of your stove top, and water temperature should measure within the narrow band between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit (91 to 93 degrees Celsius).

The Most Precious Minutes of your Journey: The Brew

The penultimate piece to how to make French press coffee is the brew. Once the ground coffee is in the Press, add the amount of water you plan on using. Cover this murky mixture and let it sit for about a minute. Then take the cover off, stir vigorously, and cover again. Don’t press down! Simply let the coffee soak like you were steeping some tea, approximately 5 minutes. At this point, the grounds should mostly be settled on the bottom of the glass.

How to Make French Press Coffee: The Press

We're almost to the end of the process! Make sure the filter on your French press is perfectly aligned with the sides of the vessel. Otherwise, grounds are going to sneak around the sides and get into your coffee (which isn’t a tragedy, since you can always pull the filter back to the top and try again). It should take about half a minute to do a careful filtering from top to bottom.

And that's how to make French press coffee. Now all you have left to do is pour and enjoy!

The Issues with the French Press System

Knowing how to make French press coffee is easy. The press itself is completely human powered, with no disposable parts to replace or wall outlet to plug into.

But the finicky parts are right there for you to see: getting the right grind and getting the right water temperature. Not to mention watching the coffee like a hawk to make sure you don’t forget about it! More than a few French press users have walked away only to come rushing back 15 minutes later to cold, black, tar-like sludge.

We’re going to level with you. We love the flavorful, consistent, repeatable results from espresso pulled through Nespresso®* compatible coffee capsules. But French Press coffee is quite tasty too, and you should definitely try how to make French press coffee at least once to see what all the fuss is about. We’d never turn down a cup!

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