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This step-by-step tutorial on How to Make French Press Coffee will walk you through how to use your French Press, and will have you caffeinated and ready to face the day in no time!
There are precious few moments in life when taking the lazy option leads to perfection — but French press coffee is laziness at its finest.
There are no filters to buy or change, no buttons to push, and no cords to plug in, and yet the coffee is, almost without fail, flavorful, rich, and delicious.
If you’ve gazed curiously at these inexpensive contraptions, but didn’t buy one because you weren’t sure how to use them, this tutorial is for you!
If you DID buy a French press, but it’s been sitting, unused and lonely, in the back of a cabinet, this post is for you.
If you use your French press regularly, and want to shake things up with some flavored coffee concoctions, keep reading, because there’s a recipe for Vanilla French Press Coffee at the end of this post.
Want more coffee in your life? Check out our picks for the best small espresso makers.
How to Make French Press Coffee
Basically, brewing French press coffee involves just a few steps– First, boil water, then let it cool for one minute. Next, pour the hot water into your press over coarsely ground coffee, leaving the plunger up.
Then, set a timer for 4 minutes, and once the timer dings– press down the plunger. Finally, drink your coffee.
That’s it folks– it’s simple!!!
There are a few moments, however, when things can go wrong. No worries, though, because they’re incredibly easy to avoid!
Why Does My French Press Coffee Taste Burnt?
Problem one: Scorched coffee grounds.
Make sure you let the water cool down for one minute.
You can also use a thermometer to check and see when the water has reached 195ºF.
Full disclosure: I never check it with a thermometer. But you can, if you want to.
Using boiling water directly on your coffee grounds can scorch them and give them a burnt flavor.
Why Are There Coffee Grounds in My Coffee Cup?
Problem two: Fine coffee grounds leak through the filter.
Open up your French press, and look at the size of the filter holes.
They’re small, but not microscopic. For the best results, use a coarsely ground coffee.
I have, with decent results, used pre-ground coffee from a bag, but coarsely ground is the best option.
Whatever you do, avoid using ‘espresso ground’ or very finely ground beans, because they’ll slip right through your filter.
Why Does My French Press Coffee Taste Bitter?
Problem three: Bitter coffee.
There’s a reason you set a timer for four minutes when you pour in the hot water– that’s how long you want the coffee to brew.
Once you push down the plunger, the brewing process DOES NOT STOP.
You need to get the brewed coffee away from the grounds after you plunge down the filter. Either serve your coffee immediately, or use a thermal carafe.
What Kind of Coffee Should I Use?
You can use dark or light roasted coffee — whatever you prefer! We love the Major Dickason’s blend from Peet’s coffee.
Making Vanilla French Press Coffee
Once you’ve figured out the ins and outs of your French press, you can start playing around with your coffee techniques.
Try grinding your own beans, see if you prefer dark or light roasted beans, and, of course, add flavoring.
For Vanilla French Press Coffee: simply add a little vanilla extract in with the coffee grounds, and then proceed as usual.
Do you use a French press? Let me know in the comments!
Before I say goodbye for the day– here’s a big “THANK YOU!” to my momma for letting me run off with her favorite pretty (and extra photogenic) French press pot set. Isn’t it adorable!?! Thanks, mom!
↓ French Press BASICS GUIDE ↓
Quick Tip: If you own a French Press, but not an espresso machine, try substituting French Press coffee for espresso in a cappuccino, latte, or mocha!
Vanilla French Press Coffee
Makes 16oz coffee (2 cups)
- ¼ cup (4 TB) coarsely ground coffee beans
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To Serve (optional): milk, creamer, or milk substitute
- French Press
- Bring water to a boil, and then let it sit for 1 minute off-heat.
- Add coffee grounds to French press, add vanilla extract, and then hot water. Add French press lid, but don’t lower the plunger. Let sit 4 minutes. Lower plunger.
- Serve coffee immediately, with milk if desired. If not serving coffee immediately, pour coffee into a separate container or thermal carafe to prevent it from getting bitter while sitting with the grounds.
The information for the French Press Tutorial was gathered from my own experience, as well as online tutorials from The Kitchn and Epicurious.
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
We have a French Press but don’t regularly use. I’ve been drinking tea a little more lately, but this makes me want to take it out again and try this recipe. Love the vanilla in there! Great tips too, by the way. P.S. Will you be returning the French Press set to your mom? It is really cute 😉
Enjoy! I’ve heard you can use the French press to make a big batch of loose leaf tea too. I haven’t tried that yet! And yes, I brought it back to my mom all in one piece 😀 hehe
Meg | Meg is Well
I love French Presses for all the reasons you listed (I HATE coffee filters)-it keeps all those wonderful oils too, which I love. I also use my French Press to froth my milk for lattes. It takes some arm strength, but it actually still creates the best results if you still don’t have an espresso machine (yes, I live in the dark ages). I’ve never tried adding flavoring directly to the coffee beans though, which I’ll be trying soon now!
I’ve heard that you can froth milk like that, but so far I haven’t gotten it to work! Teach me! Lol
Man, oh man, I had to read this post because I never know if I’m ‘French Pressing’ right. And the only thing I’ve done wrong is not let the water sit for a minute before pouring. I can’t wait to try this tomorrow. I got the 4 minute wait time before plunging right, but I’ll see if the minute wait does the trick!
Yay! I’m glad I could help! Now just make sure your coffee grounds are the right size 🙂
Love the vanilla idea! We call a French press a cafetiere. I didn’t know it keeps brewing after being plunged, great tip! I make it one day then stick it in the fridge for the next few days.
Yup it’ll get bitter that way! Just pour it into a carafe 🙂
It’s it the cutest?! And yay! I’m glad I could help!
What a good idea!
I started using a French press last summer, actually (and I did use it first for cold brew…) and we like it. (And I like the counter space I reclaimed from the coffee machine…)
I’ve never put vanilla in it, though. So easy! I like flavored coffee, but he doesn’t, and if I buy the commercial varieties they go stale before I can finish them… But if I do it myself, I can just set it up when I’m in the mood for it. Perfect!
I grew up with parents that always used a French press for coffee. Since living on my own, I’ve resorted to using the basic coffee maker everyone has seen. I’d love to get back to using a French press and might just have to put it on the list for my birthday!
I’ve never used a french press, but always wondered how these work and if there is a special technique! I’m going to have to buy one now, because I really want to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing your tips 🙂
I LOVE french press coffee – we actually have several. It looks totally fancy when I pull it out when we are camping, but the truth is, they’re super practical for that use! You take it up a notch with the vanilla. I bet I could totally get away with that!
I love French press and just recently started making it at home. I’m obsessed, trying different flavors of coffee.
I Love your coffee set! Can you tell me anything about it? Is there a name on it?
Aw thank you so much! It’s from Bodum and it’s adorable right?! Here’s an (affiliate) link to the set I used: https://amzn.to/2Owvdhq