How To Make Coffee With a French Press : French Press Coffee Techniques : French Press Instructions [video]

how to use french press

Have a coffee question…ASK COFFEENATE!

My first video ever, Feb 2009, was about the French Press! I have learned a great deal about coffee, and how to properly brew it since that video was made. If you are a specialty coffee newbie, or you don’t know what specialty coffee even is, then this video is something you need to watch. This method of brewing coffee is simple, uses inexpensive equipment, and is used by even the most sophisticated of coffee snobs! Read the remaining text to reallyget the whole picture, as well as learn how you can win some of the finest coffee that I’ve ever tasted!

There are a few, key things that you MUST have in order to produce the best french press coffee.

  • A quality French Press

  • Freshly roasted, whole bean coffee
  • Proper temperature of water (195ยฐ-200ยฐF)
  • A mid to high end burr grinder (the only way to achieve proper tasting coffee)

Brewing coffee in a french press is quite simple. Just follow my step by step instructions and, in no time at all, you will be brewing the best coffee in town!

Step by step

How To French Press
Brewing Instructions

(only use this method if you want the best cup of french press coffee ever!)

  1. Items you will need; Quality French Press, Fresh roasted whole bean coffee, clean water, kettle with narrow pour spout, 2 spoons.
  2. Fill the kettle with cold, clean water and place on burner. (don’t use distilled water!)
  3. Preheat your french press with some hot water. This will lessen the drastic temperature drop when transferring the water from the kettle to the brewer.
  4. Weigh the appropriate amount of coffee. I use 70 grams for my 32 ounce press. (if you don’t have a digital scale, use 2 level TBS/ 6oz of water.
  5. Add whole beans to grinder (Do not grind until water is heated)
  6. When the water reaches 205 degrees and add your freshly ground coffee to the press.
  7. Immediately start your 4 minute timer and begin to slowly add the water to the press pot. Be sure to add water at a very slow rate and in a circular motion, ensuring that all of the coffee is saturated.
  8. Continue to add the water until the coffee starts to enter the pour spout. If you’re using a digital scale, tare it after adding the coffee and add 950 grams of water.
  9. Patiently wait the remainder of the four minutes.
  10. Take one of your spoons and break the “crust”, the layer of coffee on top of the brewer, with the back of the spoon.
  11. Gently and slowly dunk the remaining crust into the brew.
  12. Take both of your spoons and skim the upper portion of the pot and remove as much of the coffee grounds as possible.
  13. Place plunger/lid on the pot, and depress the plunger
  14. Serve and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all there is to it! These instructions may be a little different than what you usually find. Follow this method to achieve the best french press coffee you have ever tasted. It is important to not stir the coffee and to skim the top layer. Why? Stirring the brew causes the temperature of the water to quickly drop, while also accelerating the extraction process. This causes an unstable environment that cannot be controlled. The result will be inconsistent taste and quality. Scooping out the top layer of coffee does a couple of things. First, it makes the coffee less sludgy. By removing a large portion of the coffee grounds, you eliminate a great deal of the resistance when you depress the plunger. It also enhances the brew by not juicing the grounds at the bottom of the press. When most people plunge, they squeeze the grounds to the bottom of the pot, effectively extracting unwanted flavors from the beans. ๐Ÿ˜›
It is exceedingly better to use a proper digital scale when brewing with a French press. Measuring your coffee and water by mass, rather than volume, will produce much more consistent results. You will always be assured to have an excellent cup by eliminating variables and guessing.

Remove lid and insert plunger first

<<Here is an alternate french press brewing method that I stumbled across in my reading. This technique uses the same equipment, but reversed. I don’t know who came up with this method, but some call it the poor man’s Clover. Instead of adding the coffee before the plunger, you add the coffee after the plunger is inserted into the press. Wh

en you would normally push the plunger down, you instead pull it out. The proponents of this method claim that it has all of the taste of french press coffee, with none of the bitterness. I don’t know what they are talking about when they say ‘bitterness’, because if you have a quality grinder, you won’t get the bitterness. I had to give it a shot.

Add coarsely ground coffee (3/4 of full capacity)

Add water, swirl 3 times, and steep 4 minutes

Slowly & carefully remove the plunger, rinse, wipe the rim of the pot, and reinsert plunger.

While I removed the plunger over the sink, I put the grounds in the compost. Coffee grounds can go directly into your garden as well, and do not require to be composted first.

So there you have it. Give both methods a shot and see which one you prefer. Everyone has different tastes, and I imagine that different coffees will present themselves better with one method than the other. I prefer the method that I detailed previously as opposed to the ‘French Mess’ method. It is easier, cleaner, and produces a fuller bodied cup.

Any questions or comments are always welcome. I prefer to have you ask in the comment section below as there are often times other people with the same issue. This also gives others the opportunity to learn through our conversation!


Nate is a special kind of coffee lover. He began drinking the same swill that most others do, but thought there must be something better out there. Sure enough, he was right, even more so than he ever dreamed possible. He soon found his way into the specialty coffee industry, and was tasting exceptional coffees from dozens of roasters from around the country. He is now committed to teaching others how they can appreciate coffee, and how they can make the best coffee in town and save money at the same time! Cheers c[_]

Say something!

Please leave a comment or ask a question

  • Hmm. I've never heard of this method- will try it tonight! Thanks for posting it!

  • Al

    At our coffee shop we use 1.75 grams of coffee per fluid oz (7 grams per 4 oz). 8oz cup of coffee will be 14 grams or two coffee scoops. We break the surface with the plunger half way through the brewing and do not scoop out the grounds. We use a coarse grind. I would suggest the use of a thermometer instead of guessing. Our temperature is 198 degrees.

  • You are very welcome Tina! Come back and let me know what your thoughts are ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Brad Wainscott

      Hey nate. I have a mr. Coffee grinder. Can u get a good cup of french press using that? Also, you said its about 3/4 cup beans per liter right?

  • Thank you for sharing your shop's parameters Al. There are many different parameters that you could use, and most of them are not 'wrong' per se. It is interesting how subtle changes in method impact the final product! In terms of dosage, your parameters suggest 60g /liter. This is pretty close to my 65. Some places dose 50 and others 75. I think different coffees would be better if tweaked a bit and not held to a hard and fast measure. Sounds like a great reason to drink more coffee…research ๐Ÿ˜‰ In regard to brewing temperature, I'm not 'guessing' as you suggest. The boiling temperature of water is 212 degrees F. Coffee is properly extracted at temperatures between 205-195. The fact is that while you know for certain that your pouring vessel is measuring 198, there are so many variables that contribute to the actual brew temperature that you are guessing as much as I am. The temperature of your brewer, the material of your brewer, the distance of the pour from kettle to brewer, the size of the pour stream, the amount of stirring once you pour. All of these things effect actual brewing temperature when dealing with the press pot. Starting 1 or 2 degrees different is the least of these.

  • Al

    Agreed. Thanks for the video.

  • Thank YOU Al for taking the time to watch and comment! Perhaps you will win some of that Amaro Gayo, it was great!

  • Nice job Nate. I'll have to give that reverse press method a try. Thanks … Tom aka complexespresso

    • Thanks Tom! What were your thoughts of the reverse french press method? You already know mine ๐Ÿ™‚

  • mikecrimmins

    Great tips. I never thought of how the differences between a light and dark roast could change things.

    I'm going to try the pull out version…just to say I tried it. LOL.

    • I recommend trying it at least once. I wasn’t going to experiment with the French “Pull”, but I had to speak from experience rather than perception. So…did ja?

      • Anonymous

        I got distracted…will be trying it with my next batch of coffee.

  • Great post, very informative.

    The picture at the bottom reminds me of a joke we would play on each other when I worked in my first coffee shop. We would take used espresso pods and put whipped cream and chocolate on them and say it was a new pastry that we could sample. Priceless watching someone take a bite.

    • Thanks Jason! That ‘pastry’ sounds wonderful ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • BenP

    I will definitely be using this technique on my intelligentsia coffee.

  • Kevin D

    Het Nate, thanks for the info. Question for you: you’re very exact with the amount of coffee you use; are you equally precise with the amount of water? You say one litre, but how are you sure that it’s exactly one litre? I’m assuming it’s one litre of boiled water, not one litre of cold water put into the kettle before boiling. Do you go by a mark or line on the press?

    • Hi Kevin! I do measure the water before boiling it. I did notice a small amount of loss of volume from pre to post boiling so I increased the amount of water to compensate. I have also seen people actually weigh the water! You can put your press on the scale and pour until it reaches the desired weight, but I think a few ml here and there aren’t really a big deal. I’m anal, but not *that* anal!

  • Brandon Scott

    Hey Nate! Great video. One question though. When you take out the coffee grounds from the top of the press, do you get rid of the crema along with that? I find that I can keep the creme if I break the surface, but I have not thought of removing the grounds. I guess having the crema is a matter of personal preference.

    • Thanks so much, @twitter-145752264:disqus! Yes, you will remove the foam from the top, but I find this has a negligible impact on the flavor. Sometimes, this foam can actually leave a bitter flavor. It isn’t the same as what we know the crema in an espresso to be…which is delicious. c[_]

  • Mr.Hindsight

    Yes, I’m Mr.Hindsight for i read this precious article too lately. Thanks for sharing this.

    And i have a simple question; after i read your article, i was inspired so that i googled about breaking/skimming method of f/p. Most of what i found were similar to your guide, yet some had a very slight difference. They recommend just skimming, without breaking the ‘cake’, and claim that omission of the breaking stage would give you less ‘bitterness’. I’m quite being interested because, although i found your directions gives a incredible cup, but also i found skimming becomes difficult after breaking the crust.

    So, what do you think about going without breaking?