How to Make French Press Coffee Like A Pro! (Complete Instructions & Tips)

If you’ve just bought one of these French Press coffee makers, then a huge congratulations to you because from now on your coffee experiences are going to go from dull, boring, and bland to strong, full-bodied, and rich-tasting. But that’s only if you know how to make French Press coffee the right way.

The beauty of French Press is that this particular brewing method doesn’t absorb the delicious and diverse flavors of coffee. On top of that, since the coffee grounds steep and not filter, the freshly prepared brew is bound to taste better.

The taste, aroma, and overall quality of your French Press over the course of many years (with the same French Press of course because these are certainly highly durable coffee makers) are sure to improve. But then why wait for something to better later when that can happen RIGHT NOW! Just follow along for some very useful AND effective tips and tricks.

Guide to French Press Brewing – The Perfect French Press Coffee Recipe

Recipe Instructions

The recipe discussed below works for the 17-ounce i.e. 4-cup French Press. This “press pot” prepares 2 small-sized cups of coffee. And you can always double everything in case you have the 34-ounce or 8-cup version.

What You Need for the Recipe

  • French Press (4-cup capacity)
  • Coarsely ground coffee (5 tbsp, which is 27 grams)
  • Water, just below boiling point (1.75 cups or 400 grams)
  • Spoon for stirring
  • And kitchen timer

French Press Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Irrespective of the size of your French Press coffee maker, the coffee-to-water ratio must be the same. For every gram of coffee, you should take 15 grams of water. That means 3 tablespoons of coffee per cup of water.

Needless to say, you can tweak the ratio based on your personal coffee taste and preferences.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making the Perfect French Press Coffee


Many skip the first step due to the lack of time or interest perhaps. So if you have a few extra seconds to spare and don’t mind walking the extra mile for some really delicious French Press coffee, then preheating your coffee maker using hot water makes a lot of difference. Don’t leave out the plunger of course!

Warming up the carafe certainly helps since a heated carafe extracts those coffee flavors you seem to not get enough of.

All this is surely not going to take more than a few extra seconds only. In the meantime, you can grind the coffee beans if you’re not already using pre-ground coffee. For French Press, a burr-style coffee grinder is the most suitable. And the grind size should resemble that of sea salt.

Alright then, eliminate the water from the French Press carafe and now let’s get started since prep time is over.

Add Coffee Grounds

Time to add the coffee (make sure it’s freshly roasted and that you’re not using stale or expired coffee) into the French Press. Gently shake the coffee maker for even distribution and leveling of the grounds inside.

Speaking of roast, the French Press brewing method seems to work the best with a darker roast. And that’s mainly because darker coffee roasts have more oil content for a richer, stronger aroma and flavor.

Add Water

The ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 degrees and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. So the hot water you use should meet this Golden Cup standard. If you don’t have a thermometer for checking the temperature of the water, then just allow the water to boil and then sit for half a minute before pouring.

Now pour the water over the coffee grounds in a round or circular motion. Fill up the carafe halfway.

Let the Coffee Bloom

Use the timer for letting the blooming part of the coffee brewing process takes its natural course, which should take only 30 seconds. During this time, what happens is the degassing of coffee grounds. In simple words, the release of carbon dioxide, which paves the way for proper, full-flavor coffee extraction.

Once the 30-second blooming is done, you’ll see the grounds turning bubbly and increasing in volume. At this point, stir the coffee gently using a spoon for breaking the crust.

Add More Water

Now you can pour hot water into the carafe to fill up the rest of it. Put the lid on and gently just lower the plunger until the mesh filter and water level come in contact with each other. No need to press down on the plunger completely just yet.

Let the Coffee Brew

Once again, use the timer for allowing your coffee to brew for 4 whole minutes.

Plunge and Then Pour!

Now is the time to press down on that plunger till it reaches the bottom of the French Press. Just be sure to push it down slowly and gently. Meaning don’t use excessive force because that just ends up agitating the coffee grounds. Thus, releasing bitter flavors into your coffee.

Once that is done and over with, pour your freshly prepared French Press coffee from the carafe straight into your cup. Avoid leaving it in the French Press as that might lead to over-extraction and too much unpleasant bitterness.

More Useful Tips for Achieving French Press Perfection

The instructions above should more than just suffice for preparing strong, rich, and bold French Press coffee. Just keep in mind that when brewing is not done properly, you may end up with excessively bitter-tasting French Press coffee. So here’s how to go about avoiding that bitterness…

  • Over-extraction always leads to too much bitterness. And this, more often than not, happens when freshly prepared coffee is left inside the carafe after brewing. Hence, decanting the coffee immediately post-brewing is a must.
  • You can also end up with excessive bitterness when uneven grinding has been done. If the grind size is not coarse, rather it’s fine, then those tiny pieces are bound to be subjected to faster extraction. To avoid this, make sure to use the burr-style coffee grinder.
  • Are there any leftovers stuck somewhere inside the filter? If yes, then that explains the unpleasant, unwanted bitterness. Therefore, never neglect to clean the French Press post-brewing each and every single time.
  • What about the hot water you’re using? The temperature is supposed to be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more than that is not ideal. That means boiling water is a complete NO-NO. If it reaches boiling point, let it sit for 30-60 seconds and then pour it over your coffee grounds inside the French Press carafe.
  • And finally, use only high-quality whole coffee beans. Because none of this will yield favorable, delicious results if your coffee bean or pre-ground coffee is not good.

French Press Coffee-to-Water Ratio Calculator

How much coffee and water to add depends on how much coffee you wish to brew, right? A standard cup of coffee means 12 ounces of liquid gold.

Then another factor that matters in terms of coffee-to-water ratio is the strength of your coffee. If you take more coffee, you’re actually increasing your brew strength. The standard ratio is 1 part of coffee : 13 parts of water.

Obviously, different strength settings (1 to 7) are also a part of the experience. For instance, 1 consists of a ratio of 1:10 that gives you heavy, bold, and thick coffee. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, which is 7 and that’s a ratio of 1:16, which prepares a lighter, more subtle coffee flavor.

You can choose anything in between too; it all depends on your preferred strength setting. Here’s the coffee-to-water ratio calculator.

And here are the most common French Press ratios…

BREW STRENGTH12 ounces – 3 cups34 ounces – 8 cups
StrongCoffee: 5 tbsp/30g
Water: 10oz/300ml
Coffee: 15 tbsp/89g
Water: 30oz/900ml
MediumCoffee: 4 tbsp/23g
Water: 10oz/300ml
Coffee: 11 tbsp/68g
Water: 30oz/900ml
MildCoffee: 3 tbsp/18g
Water: 10oz/300ml
Coffee: 9 tbsp/55g
Water: 30oz/900ml

How to Prepare Cold Brew Using French Press

Now I completely understand if you also can’t get enough of cold brew because this, in comparison to a traditional hot brew, is not only more flavored but also less acidic. And with less acid in your coffee, your taste buds AND stomach benefit the most. It’s just unbelievable how stomach-friendly, smooth, roasty, and chocolatey cold brew coffee tastes!

French Press Cold Brew Coffee-to-Water Ratio

For cold brew, the ratio is 1/2 cup of coffee grounds : 4 cups of water. The ratio can be tweaked of course depending on whether you like a stronger or weaker tasting cold brew.

Ingredients for Cold Brew In French Press

  • Coarsely ground coffee (4 ounces)
  • Filtered water (2 cups)

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making French Press Cold Brew

Step 1

Add coffee grounds into the carafe and then pour water into it too. Put the lid on and then gently lower the plunger 1-2 inches for ensuring complete submersion of the grounds. DO NOT push the plunger down completely.

Now it’s time for the coffee to steep in there for around 12 hours or overnight. Keep it at a lower temperature in a dark place, like your refrigerator.

Step 2

The next step, after the completion of 12-15 hours, involves pushing down the plunger completely till it reaches the bottom.

And then just pour your cold brew over ice. If using milk, then equals parts milk and equal parts cold brew. Things like sugar, cream, etc. are optional of course, but remember that they surely know how to make your cold brew smoother and more enjoyable.

A few useful tips…

  • The coffee grind size should be coarse. Otherwise, your cold brew will have sediments and grit, which are not appreciated in the cup during the coffee-sipping experience.
  • Cold brew prepared using French Press has a stronger flavor. So if you don’t prefer such a strong brew, then add more milk, water, or ice to dilute the strength.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About French Press Coffee

How Much Coffee to Add In A French Press?

It doesn’t matter what the capacity of your French Press is, the standard coffee-to-water ratio for French Press brewing is 1 gram coffee grounds : 15 grams water. So that’s 3 tablespoons of coffee per cup of water.

Another way of looking at it is 1 tablespoon of coffee per 4 ounces of water. This means if your press pot is 16 ounces, then you should be adding 4 tablespoons of coffee.

And then there’s yet another, more specific instruction. For a 3-cup capacity French Press, use 2-3 tablespoons of coffee. And around 8-10 tablespoons of coffee for the 8-cup version.

Why Is French Press Coffee Bad for Health?

For the simple reason that French Press brewing doesn’t involve filtering the coffee grounds. So the compound cafestol (or diterpenes) is most likely to get into your cup. This is a substance associated with increasing bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. But this is only applicable if you’re downing 5-8 cups of unfiltered, pressed coffee on a daily basis.

What Kind of Coffee to Brew In A French Press?

To be honest, you can prepare just about any type of brew you like with a French Press. French Press coffee doesn’t necessarily require coffee from any specific region. Meaning it could be from South America, Guatemala, Rwanda, etc.

The main thing is the correct grind size, which should be coarse and even. The art of brewing lies in the grind consistency of the coffee you’re using.

For French Press, more often than not, something more intense and darker is used. But if that’s not what you like, you can also choose something fruitier and lighter. Such as Ethiopian or Kenyan coffee.

And if grinding your coffee beans on your own at home, make sure to use a burr coffee grinder for the perfect, most favorable results. Also, the coffee should be high-quality and freshly roasted. Only then can you expect fresh, delicious flavor and aroma.

What Is So Special About French Press Coffee?

Unlike other brewing techniques that demand the use of a paper filter, French Press doesn’t have anything as such. Paper filters tend to trap rich, tasty coffee oils and flavors too, along with the coffee grounds of course. The paper is bound to absorb coffee oils present so abundantly in the grounds. But that doesn’t happen with French Press brewing.

On top of that, with French Press, you can steep the coffee. Since you don’t have to filter the coffee grounds, your brew is sure to taste better and more flavored. All the coffee and its oils are subjected to complete saturation after all, right? Hence, the extra boost of flavor, unlike drip machines and even percolators that don’t cover all of the coffee grounds.

Also, French Press brewing preserves the optimal water temperature for full-extraction, thus full-flavored brewing. On the other hand, with percolators, drip machines, and the like, water heats up and cools down very quickly. So the high temperature is not maintained throughout the brewing cycle as in the case of the French Press.

The Wrap-Up

The process of French Press brewing might seem intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never made French Press coffee before. But, to be honest, the method is not as complicated or even time-consuming as you might think.

At the same time, French Press coffee is not just for coffee snobs. It’s a pretty straightforward brewing technique that allows you, a genuine coffee lover with preferences, to exercise complete control over how your coffee is brewed. It’s one of the most popular manual brewing methods precisely because of the more control factor.

And let’s not forget that French Press coffee tastes more flavorful and full-bodied because of the preservation of more coffee oils since the technique doesn’t demand the use of a filter.