Kitchen & Cooking

Here’s how to use a French press to make coffee

Wake up to the best cup of coffee.

Here’s how to use a French press to make coffee Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Using a French press is one of the most popular ways to make coffee—and for good reason. Unlike the other methods like pour-over and cold brew, which either take a long time to brew or can’t produce enough for multiple servings, an inexpensive French press can give you hot coffee in large quantities, fast.

However convenient, some people may find this gadget challenging to operate correctly—it can produce overly bitter, sour coffee as hot water sits on coffee grounds for an extended period of time. Here’s how to use a French press correctly to get the best coffee possible.

How does a French press work?

A French press consists of three parts: a cylindrical beaker, usually made of glass or stainless steel, a lid, and a plunger with a fine mesh filter that fits snugly in the beaker and prevents coarse grounds from entering the coffee. A French press works by steeping coffee grounds and hot water in the beaker and extracting the coffee by pushing down the plunger. While the plunger is being pushed down, the metal mesh filter will separate the coffee grounds from the juice, allowing only the liquid to pass through.

To help you brew the most robust coffee every time using a French press, here are some simple steps to follow.

Step 1: Measure the beans

measure the beans

To produce 32 ounces (4 cups) of coffee, measure one half cup of beans. Before you measure the beans, make sure your French press can hold at least 32 ounces of liquid. Our favorite, the SterlingPro French press, starts at 33 ounces and can go up to 60 ounces.

Step 2: Grind the beans

grind the beans
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Use a burr grinder to coarsely grind the beans.

Using an electric coffee grinder, either blade or birr, grind the coffee beans until coarse but even.

Step 3: Bring the water to boil and prime the French press

Prime the beaker
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

For better steeping, warm the beaker with some hot water.

Heat the water until it boils. Then, pour 32 ounces of the hot water into the French press to warm the beaker up. Let the hot water sit for about five minutes, then discard it. This step is to keep the temperature of the beaker relatively stable for better steeping.

Step 4: Add the coffee grounds to the press

add coffee grounds
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The coffee grounds should be coarse—this will prevent bitterness.

Use a dish towel or paper towel to wipe the interior of the beaker dry. Then, add the fresh coffee grounds to the beaker.

Step 5: Boil water again and let cool for one minute

Pour hot water
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds.

Bring more water to a boil. Next, let the water cool a little as the boiling water temperature might scorch the coffee grounds and increase the bitterness of the coffee. Pour four cups of hot water into the French press. Stir the cup vigorously using a spoon. This is to ensure all the coffee grounds get wet.

Step 6: Let it steep for four minutes

Let it steep
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Close the lid and let it steep.

It takes about four minutes to brew four cups of coffee in a French press but the time may vary, depending on the type of beans.

Step 7: Plunge the press

Plunge
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Let it brew for two to four minutes, depending on the size of the beaker.

After letting it steep for four minutes or so, gently press down the plunger all the way to the bottom of the French press. Serve the coffee immediately or transfer the coffee to a carafe. Don’t let the coffee sit on the coffee grounds for too long, or this will make the coffee bitter.

How to clean a French press

First, let your French press cool off before cleaning. Clear the beaker of any remaining coffee grounds and dump them in the garbage or compost bin. Don’t put coffee grounds in the sink because, as I learned the hard way, the accumulated coffee grounds can easily clog the garbage disposal or the plumbing under the sink.

That said, it’s safe for a small amount of coffee grounds to end up in your sink. Rinse the beaker, the mesh, and the lid thoroughly under water. Place the parts on a piece of dry cloth and let them dry.

Enjoy your coffee!

pour coffee
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Serve the coffee with cream and sugar.

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