Advanced French Press Instructions For Better Coffee

The french press is one kitchen staple that should not be missed. It’s not exactly as important as a refrigerator, stove, or microwave but it may be on par with the crock pot, toaster, and the hand mixer.

The reason for this is that it makes better coffee than any other coffee maker and it takes up less space too… but not only that, it can be used for a wide range of kitchen tasks making it a versatile tool for the kitchen.

Obviously using a french press for coffee is simple in theory. You add ground coffee to the carafe, pour hot water on top, and then let it steep for a bit before using the plunger to strain the grind out of the freshly brewed coffee. The thing is however, there is a lot more to it than just that if you want it to turn out up to it’s full potential.

  • First you need to have the freshest of grind.
  • Then you need a consistent grind where the particles are sized just right.
  • You need to use the correct amount of grind in relation to the amount of water you are using.
  • You also need to use water that is the right temperature.
  • You have to know how long to let your french press brew before attacking the plunger.
  • You have to make sure to plunge evenly and slowly!
  • You even have to be ready to pour the coffee out immediately after brewing for it to taste best.

Believe it on not there are even more considerations not yet listed that can effect the final product!

Is it even worth it?

Simply put I contend that it is worth it because one you understand the ‘why’ to all of these points you will ‘want’ to do it the best way every time because your cup of morning joe will be that much better.

Yes, you could open up a can of Folgers and scoop a bit into the pot with some hot water and walk away for a while and your coffee will caffinate you just the same but if you read on you will learn that doing every step perfectly will not be hard and will bring you a lot more pleasure when it comes time to indulge.

How to Use a French Press

Want to get it right while reading the least amount of text possible? Here you go. This is all you need to know in just a few bullet points.

  1. To get the best coffee possible from a french press you have to use whole beans that were evenly roasted within the past 3-10 days.
  2. Those beans should be ground to a very consistent size and shape within an hour or so from the start of the brewing process.
  3. You may wish to run your ground beans through a fine screen to separate the powdery and small particles from the larger grind particles.
  4. You will use exactly 8-9 grams of coarse grind coffee for every 8 oz of water you plan on brewing. This is roughly equivalent to using two tablespoons of coarse grind coffee but do note that that’s not exact comparison.
  5. You will want to brew in an insulated french press pot to ensure the temperature of the water drops as little as possible during the steeping process.
  6. You will pre-heat the press pot to ensure the temperate stays as high as possible while the coffee brews.
  7. You will want to use the best quality water you can make or buy. I personally buy jugs of high quality bottled water for use in my french press.
  8. You brew with water that is roughly 200 degrees, which is just off a boil at lower altitudes. For those at higher altitudes you should remember that water boils at a slightly lower temperature due to the altitude decreasing atmospheric pressure in your kitchen. How do you deal with this other than moving your kitchen down hill? That’s a tough one to answer.
  9. Pour your 200 degree water onto the grind in the pot and place the plunger on the top to ensure as little heat is lost as possible during the brewing process.
  10. Make sure you brew for exactly 4 minutes – a timer helps with this. Later you can experiment with brew times slightly less and slightly longer to see what extraction time you prefer. Usually you will brew for no less than three minutes and no more than five.
  11. Make sure you use the plunger level and press it down very slowly to ensure as little sediment and grind particles get past the screen as possible.
  12. Once the plunger is fully depressed pour all of the brewed coffee immediately into a separate coffee carafe to prevent over extraction.

Twelve steps! That’s too much!

Not really, the only ones that will hang up the lazy will be the timing of the grind, the grind particle consistency, and probably the bottled water.

When making french press coffee you will almost always use the same beans, grinder, scooper, hot water source, plunger, and timer. Once you figure out how many of your scoops of coarse grind coffee equals 9 grams then you don’t really have to think about that ever again.

Once you understand how your grinder works you never have to think about that either. Don’t want to sift the dust out of your grind? That’s fine too, it’s going to make a difference in flavor but that’s fine if you understand why and are ok with it.

Before I get to expanded commentary on all the steps mentioned above I wanted you to have an opportunity to watch a video demonstration on making french press coffee. After the video you can scroll down to see expanded answers to frequently asked questions regarding the aforementioned steps.

A Video French Press Guide to Brewing Coffee

How Does a French Press Work and Other FAQs

All you really need to know to make great french press coffee is to follow the 12 steps outlined above. Even still more can be said about all the steps to fully understand why these steps result in a better cup of coffee.

Below you can find more detailed answers to many frequently asked questions posed by novice french press users. I’ve additionally added expanded information on some of the steps above so that you can have a better understanding of how french press coffee works so that you can tweak the process a bit in an informed manner. After all everyone has different preferences and tools at their disposal.

What Grind Do You Use For A French Press?

french-press-grind-sizeIf you’ve never used a french press coffee maker before then you may be a bit unfamiliar with changing grind size. Although the vast majority of coffees sold on supermarket shelves are pre-ground for a standard drip coffee maker they are actually not all that great for french press because the particle size is a bit to small.

In short the grind size of your coffee needs to be a bit coarse, a lot larger than you may be used to.


With a press the filter system is a fine metal mesh plunger. In contrast to the standard paper cone filter smaller particles are not filtered out of the coffee with a mesh plunger and if you try to brew with standard drip size grind you will get a lot of sediment in your coffee which will continue “steeping”. The result with be really thick and somewhat gritty coffee that is overly bitter.

Larger particles are best for the french press but they are harder to grind consistently. Many budget grinders can grind course grit coffee grind but the particle size will vary considerably.

For a lot of people it’s best to either shell out a couple hundred dollars or more on a good french press coffee grinder or simply have your local coffee shop or roaster grind it for you with their expensive equipment.

How Many Scoops of Coffee for a French Press

What is the Water to Coffee Ratio for the French Press?

What is the Best French Press Water Temperature to Use

What Coffee is Best for a French Press?

Can you Make Espresso in a French Press?

Best Way To Keep A French Press Clean

How to Get a Consistent Coarse Grind

How Long Should a French Press Brew Before It’s Done?

How To Prevent Sediment From Getting Into Your French Press Coffee

How to Prevent Over-extraction & Bitterness In French Press Coffee

In addition to the above questions you may be interested in reading the following blog posts that address related topics.

  • Is French Press Coffee Good For You?
  • What is the Best Type of Grinder to Use for a French Press?
  • The Best Manual Grinder for a French Press
  • Are French Presses Dishwasher Safe?
  • How To Assemble a French Press Plunger
  • How To Clean a French Press Plunger
  • Are All French Presses The Same or Are They Different
  • The Best French Presses

If you found this French Press Tutorial helpful then please let me know by sharing it or liking it! If I missed something please shoot me an email to let me know and if you think I’ve made any inaccurate statements please do let me know that as well. You can find my contact details here.