How to use a French Press

Posted on Thu, Oct 18, 2012

I have always been enamored with the sleek design of a French Press.  There is no denying that this is a beautifully simplistic piece of equipment. But,  for some reason I have always been too intimidated to try one. I know,  crazy being the coffee geek that I am.  Well,  this weekend I decided that I had enough.  I was done admiring every French Press I saw from afar.  I took the plunge and bought myself a new toy:

Isn’ she pretty?  Now,  I had to figure out how to use this thing.  I had several questions like,  seriously,  I don’t plug it in?  Where do I put the filter?  Where is the digital panel? Where do I put the coffee?  How does the water get heated?

I quickly figured out the most impressive feature of a French Press… it is refreshingly simple.  There is not filter, it does not require electricity.  There are no complicated components.  Most of these beauty’s consist of three parts.  A glass carafe where all of the magic happens.  A plunger which prevents the grinds from getting into your mug and a handle to keep your hands off the hot glass.  All of the parts a removable and dishwasher safe.

Yes,  the French Press is simply.  But,  keep in mind,  I am used to my Keurigbrewer.   Keurig= NO LABOR.  I was hesitant to believe that I would enjoy anything less than stumbling out of bed and to my brewer, popping in a Kcup, hitting brew and having a fresh cup of coffee in my hand in under a minute.  But,  I was willing to give it a chance.

I chose to brew one of my favorite ground coffees, Donut Shop Classics Cinnamon Coffee Cake:

The first step is to rinse the class carafe out with hot water.  The glass is not particularly thick so you need to warm it up before you add steaming hot water to prevent it from cracking.

Next remove the plunger and add the coffee of your choice.  The French Press allows you the ability to control the strength of your brew.  A tablespoon of coffee grinds per 6 ounces of water is recommended.  I added two tablespoons with the goal of a nice large mug in mind.

Now it is time to add the water.  Again,  you are in control of the temperature.  Coffee experts report that the best brew temperatures are between 195-205 degrees.  Also, with any coffee brewing you should always use bottled or filtered water.  It is best for the equipment and for the taste of your coffee.  There are two ingredients in great coffee- water and coffee… both need to be the highest quality possible.  Chlorine will destroy the taste of the coffee you spent time and money purchasing.  I happen to have a water cooler with a hot spigot so this part was a breeze for me.

You can heat the water any way you would like… a good old-fashioned teapot would be perfect or a microwave works as well.

After adding the water,  your coffee will look very dark and slightly foamy. Dont panick, that is completely normal.

Next,  all that you have to do is wait while the coffee steeps.  I read that after about a minute you should stir the grinds a bit and then let it steep for about 3 additional minutes.  I forgot that step… oops.

Now comes the exciting part-  plunging!  Place the plunger and lid on the glass carafe and push down.  The plunger will move all of the grinds to the bottom of the French Press and prevent them from being poured into your mug with the fine filter that is attached to this piece.

Once plunged,  pour the coffee in your mug and viola,  you just brewed coffee in a French Press,  don’t you feel sophisticated?!

I definitely noticed a difference in the look of the coffee using this method. The only word that I can come up with to describe it is raw.  It was darker than I am used to and there was somewhat of a texture.  French Press enthusiasts claim this as the reason for their love of this brewing method. The coffee is in its rawest form,  it is not altered by being pushed through a filter which can change the original characteristics of the bean.  I believe this is mainly because of the oils.  Coffee oils (which are very rich in antioxidants) are trapped in paper filters,  with this method the oils become part of the beverage.

After my analysis of this system I was right,  although it is very simple and I am definitely drawn to simplicity,  I am spoiled by my Keurig.  I do not want to mess with any measuring, waiting or cleaning up with my first cup of coffee of the day. I need that heavenly liquid in my body ASAP! Therefore,  I will be sticking with my Keurig.  But,  the second cup on a lazy Saturday morning, a leisurely cup of coffee with a friend, an afternoon treat… I may be using my French Press.

I purchased mine at a local coffee shop (shock and awe, yes I still go to a coffee shop occasionally).  But,  I found several online that I thought were very attractive:

This one is from Optimist Work Co and is $35.00.
french press coffee maker

french press coffee maker


I found this copper version on Amazon for $38.47,  I love it!  I wish I would have found  it before I bought mine.  The copper is striking and unique.

BonJour 8-Cup Maximus French Press, Copper


The red Le Creuset is perfect for the farmhouse or country french kitchen! You can find this on Amazon for $59.95.

Le Creuset Stoneware 27oz. French Press, Cherry


I could not wait to show you this option,  a travel mug/ French Press in one- so cool! It does not get much easier than that!  The Bodum is listed on Amazon for $24.83.

Bodum Double-Wall 16-Ounce Thermal Plastic Travel Coffee and Tea Press with Bonus Tumbler Lid, Red


And last but not least,  every French Press deserves a nice coat to keep it warm!

French Press Cover (fleur de lys)


I am by no means a French Press expert after only a few days.  Do you have any suggestions or opinions on French Press brewing?

Topics: All about coffee