Whether you’re a coffee lover looking for new ways to enjoy your favorite brand of artisan coffee or if you’re a novice, using a French press is a fantastic way to make the most of every coffee bean. However, this cylindrical pot with a manual operation may prove a bit challenging to master from the get go, especially if you’re used to pressing a button on an espresso maker. Why, you ask? Well, there are several important steps to go through if you want to get the best results. In this article, you will find out how to use a French press coffee maker the right way so you can brew the perfect cup of joe every morning.

Invented by the French in the 1850s, the French press was patented many years later by Italian Attillio Calimani – in 1929. And it would take another few decades for the device to gain popularity. Fast forward to the present day, and this coffee brewing device has become even more widespread. Yes, even in an age of IoT and app-controlled machinery you can simply command to make your coffee for you. The popularity of the French press lies in its ability to yield the perfect cup of coffee. That is, if you know your stuff. So, how to use a French press coffee maker?

How a French press coffee maker works

The popularity of this manual coffee making carafe has a simple answer: it offers a gentle, but highly effective way of brewing a full-bodied, robust, and richly flavored cup of joe. Used properly, it’s probably the best way to brew coffee, because it extracts more oils and flavor from the coffee beans. It’s also the perfect companion to slow living principles. But how does a French press actually work?

A French press coffee maker functions in a beautifully simple way. It immerses ground coffee in hot water and allows the water to permeate the coarse grounds to extract all the oils and flavor from the coffee beans. Then, it separates the grounds from java with a filter. The user only has to press the plunger down slowly to push the grounds at the bottom and leave only flavorful coffee in the pot – ready to pour and serve! While this sounds easy enough – and it is! – there are a few crucial things to keep in mind if you want to get the best results.

Important tips before you get started

First, the coffee. You probably don’t need to hear this, but we’ll say it all the same – it’s just that important. Selecting quality coffee beans is crucial if you want to learn how to use a French press coffee maker the right way. You simply can’t get around this step if you want to brew some good coffee. It doesn’t matter if the beans come from Ethiopia, Vietnam, Colombia, or Ecuador. Or if you’re getting them from a family-run coffee shop down the street or buying your coffee bags via a subscription service from a small independent coffee roaster located on the other side of the country. Quality matters above all and it’s the best way to guarantee that your cup of joe will be just right. Otherwise, why bother?

After you have your coffee beans, you’ll need to choose the roast. Of course, this always comes down to personal preference, but many French press fans swear by medium-roast beans as they ensure the perfect blend of aroma and flavor. Try different roast levels to find your favorite then go to the next step.

After you pick your favorite brand of coffee (ideally roasted to perfection), you’ll also need to pick the right coffee grounds if you want to know how to use a French press coffee maker properly. If they’re too fine, they slip through the coffee filter and get into your brewed coffee. Smaller particles also taste harsher, as they don’t absorb enough water and can’t release their natural oils properly. When the ground beans have too large particles, they simply clog the filter.

If you want to know how to use a French press coffee maker correctly, this is a great tip: grind your own coffee fresh and grind it coarsely with medium-sized particles. Not only will the larger grounds remain perfectly separated from the brewed java, but they will also absorb an optimal amount of water and thus release more oils and flavor.  Nowadays, there are a lot of home coffee grinders that are not only compact and easy to use, but also ensure a consistent result, every time.

Brewing the perfect cup of joe with a French press also requires the right water temperature. If you use boiling water, you’ll get a coffee that tasted bitter and burnt. Likewise, a cool water temperature can ruin your coffee beans as they won’t release their flavor properly. To make sure you use the perfect temperature (200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 Celsius), you’ll need a thermometer. A meat thermometer works well, but you can also use an electric kettle with a built-in temperature feature. However, if you want to simplify the process or don’t have a thermometer in your kitchen, you can boil the water and wait for a minute or two for it to cool down from 212 to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

While we’re talking about water, consider using filtered water for your French press coffee maker. Since it has less impurities, it has no odor or taste and ensures that the coffee beans shine in all their glory.

Coffee to water ratio
This is another point that ultimately comes down to personal preference, but to get maximum flavor from ground coffee consider trying a 1:16 ratio, or 1 oz of coffee grounds to 16 fl oz of hot water. This translates to around two large tablespoons of coffee to two cups of water. Adjust the ratio to your taste.

If you want to know to use a French press coffee maker, you’ll need to keep in mind that leaving the coffee in 200 degree Fahrenheit water should last for about 3 to 4 minutes for the best results. If you want a stronger coffee, don’t leave the grounds in the hot water longer. This will only make the java taste more bitter. Instead, increase the amount of coffee. Adding more coffee while keeping the water the same will also allow you to steep the grounds for a shorter amount of time, say 2 minutes instead of 4, but we’ll judge you for wasting some good coffee.

Now that you’ve learned these tips, it’s time to get to actual coffee brewing process.

How to use a French press coffee maker

Step 1
Add two large tablespoons of coarse ground coffee to the bottom of the carafe. You can use a special coffee scoop for more convenience. You’ll probably need to adjust the quantities slightly to suit your own taste.

Step 2
Pour around 16 ounces of hot – but not boiling – water. Remember, the 200 degrees Fahrenheit temperature point yields the best results.

Step 3
After one minute, stir the mixture gently.

Step 4
Place the lid on top and leave the mixture to brew for another 3 minutes.

Step 5
Press the plunger down slowly to push the ground beans to the bottom of the carafe.

Step 6
With the plunger in the “down” position, pour your freshly brewed coffee into cups immediately and enjoy.

After each use, you should wash your French press to remove coffee residue and oils from the carafe. Don’t forget about the smaller particles from the filter. Otherwise, the coffee deposits will give your next cup of joe a bitter taste. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as some coffee presses may not be suitable for a dishwasher. In general, cleaning your French press gently with mild detergent and letting it dry naturally is safe and provides great results.

Modern French press coffee makers

So now you’ve learned how to use a French press coffee maker properly. Or, at least, you’ve learned a couple of helpful tips to make the most of your favorite coffee beans. After all, you’re paying extra for that premium quality coffee, so why not do it justice?

What about a quality French press? A beautifully crafted product you will use for years to come without worrying about a replacement? Or a refined design you can use for your morning brew AND those fancy dinners with friends?

Whether you want to buy your first cafetière or need to replace an old one, you can easily find stylish designs. Thanks to the growing popularity of the brewing method and seeing that many people have learned how to use a French press coffee maker, companies all over the world have launched a wide range of products for coffee lovers who also love contemporary design. Made in a collaboration with iconic or young designers, these coffee presses are as beautiful as they are practical.

For example, you can find simply elegant French press designs from Yield with a ceramic or a transparent glass carafe. Love Japanese minimalism? This modern coffee press from Jia features a purple clay body with a bamboo handle and lid. Those who like the look of vintage coffee presses will probably fall in love with this stainless steel with a copper finish Art Deco-style cafetière from British designer Tom Dixon. For design fans, a product created by none other than Arne Jacobsen will make any cup of coffee taste better. Part of the renowned Cylinda-line launched in the 1960s, the Stelton AJ French Press looks better than ever before.

And what about extras? Made by ROK, this manual coffee grinder with a 12-setting range provides an easy way to grind coffee beans to perfection. Finally, a good cup of coffee also deserves a beautifully designed cup. This lunar set from Italian brand Seletti – made in a collaboration with Diesel – draws inspiration from celestial bodies for its out-of-this-world design with eye-catching textures.

Keep in mind that learning how to use a French press coffee maker is only the beginning. The best part of using a French press may actually be the process of brewing itself. From taking the time to make every cup of coffee to picking the right coffee beans and selecting the grinding setting and roast, all the way to pouring the water and putting everything on pause for a few minutes to wait for your coffee to come to life. And the result? A fine cup of joe that’s never just a caffeine fix, but a daily joy.