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French Press Brewing


These are intended as a "starting point" for the respective type of brewing. Ultimately, you will figure out the best and most convenient ways to use these brewing devices, so please remake, twist, turn, distort, decomplile, torch, grind and brew these instructions to suit your own need!

Now that you can buy a cheap French Press (also called a Press Pot) at K-Mart or Target, people seem to think they are missing something by not trying it out. Personally I love brewing in a press. The advantages are many:

  • No paper filters to dispose of, to absorb aromatic coffee oils or to impart a "paper taste" to the coffee
  • Total control over water temperature and brew time, unlike most auto-drip coffee maker that is rarely at correct brewing temperature (195-205ºF) when the water hits the coffee.
  • It is simple, easy and quick.
  • It is fairly easy to clean up.
  • I don't mind the additional sediment in the coffee, because there is also more body in the cup.

... but is French Press Brewing for everyone? No!

  • There is more sediment in the cup: You never take that last sip.
  • To manage the sediment, you need a decent burr mill that can create an even grind. We don't recommend brewing with a French Press if you are using a whirling blade grinder.
  • French Press brewing is used to make fresh coffee to consume immediately ...which is ideal. It is not good to leave the coffee in the press for any length of time. Tailor the size of the press or the amount you make to what can be consumed in 10 minutes or so. Don't try to keep it warm. Don't let the coffee sit longer in the press, even in the plunged position it continues to extract.
  • For the above reason, I discourage the "travel press" design in which the press doubles as a cup and you drink out of it. If you need hot coffee for a longer period and want to use a press, decant the coffee into a thermos after brewing.

    Vintage advertisement for the original Melior French Press

    Recommended French Press Brewing Method

    1. Use the finest even grind coffee you can, but coarse enough to avoid having the grind pass through the filter. I use a grind just a few notches coarser than filter drip, and nowhere near a coarse multipurpose or perc grind. They key to avoiding sediment is in the evenness of the grind, and a burr grinder will give you this.
    2. Pull the lid and plunger out of the glass beaker. We recommend about 3.5 scoops (25.8 grams) for a 4T (16 oz) press or about 7 scoops (51.7 grams) for an 8T press. Many presses measure cups in 4 oz (about 125 ml), also called a Tasse. A 3 Tasse press makes about 12 ounces maximum. (That's 1 mug of coffee for many people!) Buy a press that's just a little larger than you need because you can always make less.
    3. Pour the correct amount of 195 to 205ºF water into the press, slowly at first to avoid creating a dry island of coffee grounds. Allow the coffee to float to the surface. Don't overfill the press. The water/coffee needs to be just at, or a little below the bottom of the beaker spout.
    4. Pick up the plunger by the knob so that the lid is down against the screen. Place it lightly on top of the press so that it keeps the heat in, but does not start to push down on the coffee at all. Leave it for 1 minute.
    5. After 1 minute either remove the lid and briefly stir the coffee with a spoon, or (and this is what I do) carefully swirl the press in a circular motion to agitate the brew and make the grinds sink. If you removed the top, replace it.
    6. After a total infusion time of 4 to 6 minutes, begin to plunge. Hold the lid in place with one hand, and carefully start to push on the knob at the top to force the plunger screen downward, pushing the grinds with it to the bottom. Take care right at first, because it is easy to have the filter disc in crooked and allow a flurry of grounds to escape around it. If disaster strikes, don't worry. Just pull out the plunger and lid completely, rinse quickly in hot water, and start over right away.
    7. Push steadily and the plunger should reach the bottom in 20-30 seconds or less. There will be some resistance. Pour, serve, don't save it! Coffee is best right away, within the first 10 minutes. Don't try to keep it hot, just make more fresh coffee if you need it. Enjoy!