The French press (recognized by a plunger-style coffee maker) is one of the oldest and most popular coffee devices globally. It's inexpensive, easy to use, and generally pretty consistent, making it an easy way to enjoy specialty coffee at home.
If you use the French Press regularly, you may want to know if there is a way to improve the quality of the coffee you make, or if you can use it to make other coffee-based beverages.
The French Press is a method of preparation by immersion, which means all coffee comes into contact with all water at the same time. The opposite would be pour over style coffee, in which water touches the coffee bed at different times (which is where the gooseneck kettle comes into practice).
In this article, you'll learn extensively about how to improve your French Press coffee. We have taken the time to outline some great tips that would help you.
Tips on how to improve your French Press coffee
Tip 1 — Start with a standard recipe
When experimenting with any preparation method, you should use a standard recipe to ensure that you can repeat the experiment and take notes of any changes. You can usually find this on any basic coffee website (We have several recipes in our Brewing Guides)
If you don't have a recipe that you usually use, you can also source a French press standard recipe from the Specialty Coffee Association. As with most brewing methods, you'll want to make sure you have filtered water, coffee beans, a grinder, kettle, scale, timer, spoon, and serving cup.
Tip 2 — Modify the preparation variables and experiment
Because the French press is so easy to use, it's a great starting point for home brewers who want to experiment.
Many factors can influence your results, such as the size of the grind, the temperature of the water, the quality of the water, the ratio of coffee to water, and the intensity of the agitation.
Playing with one or more of these elements will change the taste of your coffee.
For example, if your coffee seems too bitter, it may have been over-extracted; you can add more water. On the other hand, if it is watery or sour, it may have been under-extracted, and a finer grind could result in a richer flavor.
Tip 3 — Improve your mug
One of the biggest problems with the French press is that it leaves sediment at the bottom of the mug.
The easiest way to improve coffee made in a French press is to remove or reduce them.
Most of the time, it is a problem with the quality of your filter. Changing the filter mesh that normally comes with the French press is an option, but you can also add a cloth or paper filter to the carafe before brewing. Another alternative is to decant the coffee through a paper or cloth filter once it is ready.
In addition to this, be sure to remove or "break" the crust that forms on the top of the jar before lowering the plunger. This will push more sediment to the carafe’s bottom, which means that it will not escape the filter. Some people even recommend removing the crust once while brewing and then again before lowering the plunger.
Tip 4 — Prepare other drinks with your French press
The French press is much more versatile than most people expect. With a few minor adjustments, you can even use it to create a wide variety of drinks.
For example, if you don't have an espresso machine handy, you can use your French press to make a more concentrated coffee to use in a cappuccino or any other coffee-based beverage. Simply use less water and more coffee to increase the extraction of the brew. It is by no means a true espresso, but it can be a decent substitute for brewing at home.
Tip 5 — Check the size of the grind
In addition to using the correct coffee beans, the degree of grinding is one of the most important factors when preparing coffee with the French press. The finer the coffee beans are ground, the more flavor they will absorb. This increases the risk of the coffee being over-extracted and producing only bitter and acidic substances, which would kill all other nuances.
Tip 6 — Use the best scale of grinding, level 8 preferably
In absolute terms, on a scale of grinding levels from 1 to 10, the best scale should be around 8. But you can carry out your own
experiment because each coffee grinder has its own levels.
Some people have noted that they get excellent results even with very finely ground coffee. But that only works if you adjust the infusion time downwards. And in that case, you should also reduce the amount of coffee.
Tip 7 — Does the amount of coffee matter?
With the French press, you don't need to be so exact when it comes to the amount of coffee. Whether you are generous or you strictly follow your grandmother's advice, you are sure to get a good result.
In general, the formula is as follows: 55 to 65 grams of ground coffee per liter of water.
Normally, I use 55 grams of ground coffee, but many manufacturers and roasters recommend 65 grams.
Tip 8 — Use the right water temperature
The optimal water temperature for the French press is 95 degrees Celsius. Here you should be a bit stricter with the amount of coffee or the degree of grinding.
Each coffee granule has permanent contact with water throughout the extraction process.
Temperature is, therefore, an important factor for the speed and intensity of the extraction.
If you don't feel like using a kitchen thermometer, you can use a kettle that has a temperature gauge. Or you can also follow the general rule — boiling temperature of water plus 90 seconds of waiting time. That is not entirely accurate, but it is enough for day-to-day.
Tip 9 — Use the best infusion/brew time—4 minutes, according to our specifications
If you have followed the basic instructions in the other points, the optimal infusion time is 4 minutes. If you follow other specifications, the time will change accordingly. Not being dogmatic on this point, but there's no reason why you should brew the coffee for longer or shorter.
Many may have seen romantic pictures of a French press sitting for hours on a coffee table amidst books and delicious food - but you really should dispense your coffee past the five-minute mark.
Tip 10 — Use good water
A lot of coffee lovers only focus on the quality of the beans used for making coffee. This can be a huge mistake. What you may not realize is that coffee is mostly water.
Do not use distilled water, which contains no interesting or flavorful minerals whatsoever. Reverse osmosis water is also not ideal for your coffee. This may likely go against popular opinions, but you should know that the minerals in natural water bring out the flavor of the coffee.
Tip 11 — Use the right variety
You can also make espresso-intended coffee beans work well in the French press. Opt for varieties that aren't too dark and look for notes of milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate.
Even with dark roasts, use a finely ground espresso. Let it rest at the rate of 8 grams per cup and 40 milliliters of water per cup at a temperature of 95 degrees for 10 seconds. In the last section, press down hard on the plunger and serve the espresso immediately.
Tip 12 — Clean the French press after use
Complex machines such as super-automatic coffee makers usually bring lengthy cleaning instructions. In the case of the French press, cleaning is carried out as follows.
- Disassemble the coffee machine completely
- Clean all components in the dishwasher or by hand.
- Let everything dry, put it back together, and you're done.
- The main emphasis is to not let the grease of coffee and oils build up on your device, which may make your coffee smell odd in the long run.
Tip 13 — Store your coffee well
If you've already bought coffee, you may not know where to store it to preserve its quality. Did you put it in the fridge? The best thing is that you leave it in its packaging if it is airtight; if not, you can place it in a glass container. The most important thing is that you try to keep it away from the sun and humidity.
The way you store your coffee may go a long way to improve your French Press coffee.
Tip 14 — Keep your recipe in mind
Always try to have your recipe and keep it in your preparations. For example, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of coffee for each 8-ounce cup of water.
If you like cooking, you will know that most of the time, we do everything “by trial and error.” But in coffee, this can result in great cups of water and other discouraging ones.
Tip 15 — Don't over-extract your coffee
With this, we tell you, " don't burn your coffee." Extracting a coffee means “removing” from the roasted and ground beans all the chemical compounds that give it flavor and aroma, which is essentially what brewing coffee is. If you do this extraction for a long time, your coffee will extract very bitterly and produce not so pleasant flavors. When you make coffee, you should avoid very long extractions.
The French press will reward you for buying quality coffee beans at a fair price with a coffee with a lot of character that is fully achieved.
Furthermore, the total cost of purchasing the French press is very low. You will need a coffee grinder, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Low-end products work too. And you don't need an expensive brew machine either, just a working kettle or kettle.