French Press coffee doesn’t have to be mediocre coffee. With a few minor adjustments anyone show be able to make good coffee at home.
Pros: Unfussy, strong and full-bodied, retains coffee oils, nothing tea-like about it.
Cons: Flavors are less clear, coffee less sweet, uses more coffee, gritty.
What you need: French Press, ground coffee (make it good), hot water, timer
Key –> brewing long enough for the specific grind size you use. Our current preference is to start with a grind size just a bit larger than drip grind for a 5:00 minute brew.
- Boil water or heat kettle to 205F then preheat the French press
- Use a cup or so of water – let sit while grinding coffee – then pour into your mug(s)
- Add fresh ground coffee
- Start timer & add water in about 15-30 seconds (coffee/water amount below)
- measure with a scale for best results
- wet all grounds with the pour
- Cover to retain heat
- Stir at 1:00
- Be consistent (stir a few seconds of gentle back and forth – ensure all grounds on surface get mixed)
- Replace top to retain heat
- (Bonus light stir/fold in the floating grounds then skim foam to reduce bitterness)
- Press at 5:00
- Wait about 30 seconds then pour
- Figure out how to do it better next time and tweak for own enjoyment.
Custom amount of coffee? Use this calculator –
Check out other online guides and see our detailed notes below
We have starred some of our favorite recipes and guides.
|Blue Bottle||40||coarse & even||400||Just off boil||96||4:00|| |
o Add twice coffee weight in water and stir - then wait 30 sec before adding the remaing water.
|Craft Coffee||27||Coarse||430||205||60||4:00|| |
o Water temp at 205F or boil and wait 30 seconds.
o Fill halfway - at 30 sec stir for 5 sec then fill.
|George Howell||★||45.8||drip to medium||550||hot water||68-80||5:30|| |
o Pour half water in 15 sec, stir for 5 sec, pour second half for 15 sec and stir again for 5 sec.
o Be consistent on the stirring.
|Intelligentsia||33||coarse||525||Just off boil||60||5:00|| |
o Boil water, pre heat kettle - then brew.
o At 1 min give 6 back and forth stirs
|James Hoffmann||★||24||cupping grind or fine sugar||400||Just off boil||58-75||9-10:00|| |
o Break (stir) the crust and skim the foam off at 4 min then plunge. Wait until 9 or 10 minutes to pour and drink.
o James Hoffmann was the 2007 World Barista Champion.
o Recipe from The World Atlas of Coffee and the provided link.
|James Hoffmann 2016||★||60-70g/L||medium grind||1 Liter||hot - dont fuss||60-70||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st571DYYTR8|
|Nick Cho||★||60-70||Very coarse||1 Liter||Just off boil||60-70||6-8:00|| |
o Grind size should be between coarse salt and steelcut oats.
o For dark roast coffee or decaf the water should be 10-15 degrees cooler.
o A gentle stir at 30-45 sec.
|Scott Rao||200||3:30|| |
o Start the timer after adding water - stir after 15 sec.
o Adjust grind and time to 3:00 with finer grind or 4:00 min with coarser grind as coffee dictates.
|Sightglass||38||Just coarser then Chemex||567||45-60 sec off boil||61||4:00|| |
o Fill to top - gentle stir at 1 min - skim the surface at 3:30.
o "just use a scale and your brain smarts"
o Stir at 60 seconds.
o Plunge at 4 then wait a minute for everything to settle before pouring.
|Stumptown||56||breadcrumbs||8 cup FP||205 or just off boil||57||4:00|| |
o Fill halfway - wait until 1 min then give a good stir, then fill.
|Sweet Maria's||51.7||Just coarser then drip||8T (1000 ml)||195-205||52.2||4-6:00|| |
o Recipe for various sizes at 51.7g per 8T (or 1000ml).
o Short stir or swril at 1:00 then slow 20-30 sec plunge at the end
|Tim Wendelboe||65-70||Filter grind||1 Liter||Just off boil||65-70||4-5:00|| |
o Pour half - stir to ensure everything wet - pour the rest.
o Time Wendelboe was the 2004 World Barista Champion and 2005 World Cup Tasting Champion.
|Barefoot Coffee (video)||45||Kosher salt||567||200-204||76||4:00|| |
o Fill 2/3rds full - gentle stir at 1 min.
o Press and serve at 4min
|Counter Culture (video)||60||Medium-coarse||900||205 (just off boil)||64||4:00|| |
o Fill halfway - stir - then fill.
|Verve coffee (video)||★||20||Bit coarser then drip||300||water||64||4:00|| |
o Fill to top, at 30 sec fold the top layer into the water.
o Right before pressing gently stir the surface then skim the foam off.
|Not Your Parents' Coffee||★||45||Drip or a bit coarser||600||205||72||5:00|| |
o Pre heat.
o Add grounds.
o Start timer and fill with water.
o Cover then stir at 1 min.
o Skim the foam at 4:45 then press at 5:00.
|Starbucks (video)||10||Really corase (coarse sea salt)||170||Just off boil (200)||56||4:00|| |
o 2tbsp coffee per 6 ounces of water
o Start timer and add all the water.
o Stir at 2 minutes and again at 4 minutes.
o Skim off the surface oils & grounds then slowly plunge.
|PT's||60||most coarse setting||900||195-200||64||4:00|| |
o Add coffee.
o Start time and vigorously add 900g of water.
o At 1:00 stir the coffee.
o Put on the lid.
o At 4:00 slowly press down.
o Serve and let rest in the mug a few minutes before drinking.
|Ceremony||22.5||cracker pepper size||350||205||62||6:30|| |
o Add 350g of water saturating all grounds.
o After 30 seconds stir 3 times to mix the grounds into the water.
o Add the lid.
o At 6:00 stir 3 more times then press slowly and evenly.
|Illy||20||medium grind or filter if you like||500||Hot not boiling||38||3-4:00|| |
o I don't understand how this recipe could work (if you figure it out please let me know). The grams of coffee to water seems way off although the coffee looks very dark in the picture.
o Also interesting that Illy recommends storing the coffee in the fridge and in the video it comes right out of the fridge and is opened to air.
o This seems like a recipe to destroy coffee quickly.
o Elsewhere on the site they recommend bringing the cold coffee to room temperature before opening - if you do store in the fridge or freezer this is prudent to avoid condensation.
|Torch Coffee||1||coarsly ground like coarse sea salt||15||195-205 or 30 seconds off boil||64||4:00|| |
o Bloom for 30-45 seconds
o Add all the water
o Stir for 30-45 seconds.
o Wait 3 minutes then break the crust and stir 3-4 times around.
o Press and serve or filter through a V60 filter for extra clarity.
Brew guide compilation and notes:
There are lots of ways to make reasonably good French press, just balance grind size with brew time and you should be able to hit the sweet spot.
I started compiling these links and references and thought, wow, these recipes should be similar and they are not! While all of these companies and the people behind these recipes have made and consumed more coffee than we ever will, there is something strange going on with French press. Most of these recipes focus on using coffee around 60g/L, which should, under other brewing methods, maximize your probability of making a good cup of coffee, but a few use much higher doses.
Our experiments indicate that most of these recipes will likely make a weak and under-extracted cup of coffee. Take an average of these recipes and you get about a 4min extraction and a grind size a bit bigger than drip. We made a few French presses right in the sweet spot and our extraction, which has been averaging between 20-21% with a TDS of 1.3-1.4 using the V60, went to a bit over 15% and the TDS was around 1.0. This seems like a big problem when the Specialty Coffee Association and nearly every online resource indicates you want an extraction between 18-22%.
The coffee tasted decent – a little watery but maybe the fines and grit that went through the metal filter made it taste acceptable. Perhaps this should be no surprise – our V60 brews had been taking almost 4:00 minutes with a much finer grind. With the V60, the extracted solids are carried to the bottom and fresh water continues to drive the equilibrium, not to mention there is constant flow across the particles. With French press, the grind is larger and, outside of a single stir, the grinds are stationary and as brew time increases, the solution becomes more saturated with coffee extracts, further slowing extraction.
Only a few of the recipes acknowledge this issue. One of the most telling (and the first one that really made me question the dosing recipes) is the George Howell recipe that provides an expected TDS and the dose of coffee that should be used. Looking at the SCAA coffee brewing chart, it is easy to see that all of these strength/dose relationship relate to an extraction of around 15.5%. From a practical and economic perspective, this means that you will need to use 10-20% more coffee per cup with a French press when compared to other brewing recipes. Likewise, the caffeine concentration should be about 20% higher. At least you should end up with a full-bodied brew that tastes pretty good.
James Hoffmann and his blog post on cupping for French press tried to address this issue of under-extraction by decreasing the grind size and then waiting 10 minutes after pressing before pouring off the coffee. This seems to boost extraction and, with the added steps, the extraction manages to squeak up to 18%. I am not sure you can go higher with a French press due to equilibrium issues but maybe that should be a future experiment.
Nick Cho and his post on Serious Eats tries to address the under-extraction issue by going with a longer 6-8 minute extraction and using a slightly coarser grind. I haven’t tried this route but it does have potential and is worth a go.
About how much coffee do you need to make?
|Mug or Starbucks equivalent||1 Tall coffee or
2 tiny coffees
|2 Tall coffees (smaller side)||2 Tall coffees or
3 small mugs
|2 Grande or
3 Tall coffees
|2 Venti coffees or
4 Tall coffees or
5 small coffees
|Bodum French press size||4 cup equivalent||6 cup equivalent||8 cup equivalent||10 cup equivalent||12 cup equivalent|
|Ground coffee (g)||32||48||64||80||96|
Values calculated with a water density of 0.96 g/L at just over 200F at sea level, i.e., 1 liter of water weighs 960 grams.
The George Howell instructions are interesting because they explicitly shoot for an extraction outside the standard 18-22% extraction range. The instructions list an expected strength for 3 different brew ratios of 1.2% TDS for 1/14 ratio, 1.3% TDS for 1/13 ratio and 1.4% TDS of 1/12 ratio. These points correspond to an extraction yield of just 15.5%, a low extraction percentage that is often described as tasting good.
Really cool idea
Reverse French press – push the press to the bottom then add the ground coffee, then water. When you pull up you will also skim the bitter foam, removing the need to skim the surface.
A look at up-dosing vs increasing strength through greater extraction and grinding a touch finer than drip: http://www.pilotcoffeeroasters.com/blogs/the-fix/62689861-the-fix-grinding-for-immersion.