What are the Best Coffee Beans for French Press?
There are no specific requirements for the best coffee for French press. All you need to do is ensure you buy high-quality coffee beans with a flavor profile you enjoy – and that you buy them as fresh as possible.
In this article, we suggest eight delicious coffees for brewing with your French press, with something designed to appeal to every style of a coffee drinker. Whether you’re a fan of light or dark roasts, blends or single origins, decaf or caffeinated, we have a pick guaranteed to produce a fantastic French press coffee.
The 8 Best Coffee Beans for French Press
Coffee beans of all flavor profiles and roast levels work well with the French press brewing method. As long as you know how to use a French press properly, the most important thing is simply buying gourmet coffee beans that you enjoy.
Here are eight options guaranteed to please, from light to dark roasts – and even a decaf! You can even use any of these beans in your French press to prepare a delicious cold brew.
|Koa Estate 100% Kona Coffee||
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|Lifeboost Medium Roast||
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|Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend||
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|Volcanica Coffee Ethiopia Yirgacheffe||
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|Volcanica Bolivia Peaberry||
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|Coffee Bros. Costa Rica||
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|Doma Bella Luna (Trade Coffee)||
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Kona coffee beans are considered among the best in the world. They grow them on Hawaii’s Big Island. The island’s unique growing conditions, with towering volcanoes and the mild mid-Pacific climate, are ideal for growing the high-end arabica beans sought by coffee drinkers, according to Brandon von Damitz of Big Island Coffee Roasters (1).
As coffee enthusiasts around the world sought higher quality and more ethically sourced coffee, Kona was able to claim and maintain a brand of excellence in the eyes of coffee lovers.
The best Kona coffee, including this exceptional dark roast from Koa, is ultra-smooth. The dominant flavor profile is of chocolate and nuts, especially in this darker roast, but a bit of island character shows through, with hints of tropical fruit and even a bit of coconut. This is a surprisingly complex cup for a dark roast.
Koa Coffee offers only 100% Kona coffee. This is a crucial designation as, by law, blends containing as little as 10% Kona beans can be labeled as Kona coffee, resulting in unsuspecting consumers being ripped off (2). These Koa Estate coffee beans go a step further. Not only are they 100% Kona coffee, but they’re all from the same Estate, guaranteeing consistently high quality.
Central-American mountain ranges have for long been providing high-quality Arabica coffee, thanks to their rich soils and an ideal climate. These organic coffee beans from Lifeboost are shade-grown high in the Nicaraguan mountains without pesticides or chemicals. They are hand-selected for purity and hand-washed to ensure impeccable quality control.
Considered among the best coffee beans in the world, they are roasted carefully to a balanced medium roast, making them our pick as the best coffee for French press brewing.
Expect a well-balanced, smooth brew with an earthy body, low acidity, and pleasant lingering aromas of chocolate with nutty undertones.
They also make for a compelling cold brew. The company is so sure you’ll love them that they offer a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Lifeboost offers their coffee both in whole bean or pre-ground form. Note that they only offer one grind size, which is best suited for drip coffee makers, so if you want coarsely ground coffee for French press, you’ll need to grind your own.
One of the best things about French press brewing is its versatility. You can make a delicious French press brew with a light roast, dark roast, blend, or single origin. So if you like trying new coffees, sign up for a coffee subscription to pair with your cafetière.
Our favorite coffee subscription for press pot brewing is Driftaway, which specializes in sustainably sourced, single-origin, specialty coffee (say that three times fast!). Your subscription kicks off with a blind taste test that reveals your coffee preferences. Then, each month, you’ll be mailed a new single-origin coffee tailored to your taste.
Home Grounds readers can get 50% OFF the first box of any new subscription. Just use the code HG50 at checkout! This is for a limited time only, so hurry up!
Sustainability may be a bit of a buzzword these days, but Driftaway doesn’t just talk the talk. Their coffees are traceable to the farmer who grew them, they’re transparent about the price they pay for the beans, and they purchase carbon offsets to alleviate their environmental footprint. With Driftaway, you can enjoy great coffee and a clean conscience.
If you’re looking for a reliable dark roast at an affordable price, look no further than the Major Dickason’s Blend from Peet’s Coffee. Founded by Alfred Peet in Berkeley, California, in the 1960s, Peet’s built their reputation on European-style dark roast blends, and Major Dickason’s is their all-time best seller. It’s hard to argue with credentials like that!
Named after an early supporter of the original shop, Major Dickason’s brews up a rich, delicious cup of coffee that’s a great everyday choice for dark roast lovers. This crowd-pleasing blend makes a delicious drip coffee, Moka pot, or espresso and is a superb way to experience the magic of the French press.
It’s crafted for a rich flavor profile, with spicy, complex notes and a full body. It’s enjoyable to consume black but also holds up better than most to the addition of milk or cream, which really brings out some chocolate notes.
As a bonus, Peet’s online orders are roasted and shipped the same day, so you know you’re getting freshly roasted beans when they arrive. You can opt for whole beans or one of two grind sizes; the coarse grind is the perfect coffee for the French press brew method.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and it still produces some of the finest and most unique coffee in the world. Ethiopian coffee tends to have fruity or floral flavors and a bright acidity, with blueberry prominent in some of their best beans.
Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is distinct in that they harvested the bulk of each crop from wild coffee trees. For generations, the Arabica beans grown in the area give the coffee floral and fruit tones, unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. Many are so rare that they don’t even have names and are simply referred to as “heirloom” varieties (3). Tasting notes for this coffee list lemon, blueberry, and blackberry – classic flavors of the region.
This is a light-medium roast coffee, contrasting with the typical darker roasts associated with the French press. While you’ll still enjoy the creamy mouthfeel you expect from an immersion brew in hot water, expect brighter flavors and a lighter body when compared with the other coffee beans on this list. The juicy nature of this coffee also makes for a standout refreshing cold brew.
This Bolivian Peaberry medium roast from Volcanica coffee is everything a medium roast should be. It’s sweet and smooth, with a long finish and rich cocoa flavor. Brewing it with a French press really enhances the body, making it feel almost like drinking hot chocolate, primarily if you serve it with a touch of cream and sugar.
Peaberry coffee is a natural mutation in about 5% of coffee cherries. Rather than growing two coffee beans, the fruit produces only a single coffee bean – the Peaberry. This single coffee bean receives all the nutrients typically split between two, giving it a more intense flavor that makes it prized among coffee enthusiasts. Peaberry coffee is expensive because it is rare and must be hand-harvested, ensuring that the quality is always top-notch.
This coffee is really something special. It’s not just the best coffee for French press, but it also makes for an incredible espresso, drip brewed coffee, or even iced coffee. It’s just that good.
What makes it so special?
Coffee Bros. Costa Rica is a micro-lot coffee, as the extreme version of a single origin. This coffee can be traced back to an individual producer, ensuring only top-quality beans make it into each bag. In this case, that producer is a father and son duo who has perfected their craft for decades. Their farm resides in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where many believe some of the world’s best coffee is grown.
These coffee beans are 100% arabica, which is no surprise given the Costa Rican government’s commitment to exporting exclusively high-end coffee. The growing of the lower quality robusta coffee bean was illegal for many years (4). They’re roasted to medium to yield a full-bodied hot coffee with sweet notes of cocoa and toffee heightened by bright lemon acidity.
Decaf coffee is often criticized for being bland and underwhelming – not bad, necessarily, just not coffee. One way to counter this is to brew it with a French press, as this immersion method naturally yields more boldly flavored brews. Another way is to find a roaster that takes decaf coffee just as seriously as they take their caffeinated brews.
Introducing Doma. Their dark roast Bella Luna decaf is as rich and flavorful as you could want. It’s sweet and smooth, with a heavy body and appealing flavors of dark bittersweet chocolate, toasted nuts, and caramel. Picture the most delicious chocolate bar you can imagine, but in liquid form. And because it lacks caffeine, you can (and should!) enjoy this coffee as an after-dinner treat.
The Bella Luna dark roasted beans are decaffeinated via the Swiss-Water process. Swiss Water Process is the premier decaffeination method. Not only is it immaculate, using no chemicals, but it doesn’t remove any of the coffee’s flavor along with the caffeine, a common problem with some of the other strategies.
Finding the Best Coffee for French Press
French press is one of the most forgiving brewing methods. Provided you avoid the common French press mistakes, making French press coffee is a piece of cake. For this reason, it’s an excellent way for anyone first starting to get serious about good coffee, according to Costa Rican barista Fabiola Solano (5).
For someone who wants to try specialty coffee for the first time, it’s a very good way to start.
Because the French press is so versatile, many types of coffee beans can yield a delicious brew, and you are free to cater to your taste. This buyer’s guide will walk you through what to look for and avoid when choosing the best coffee for French press.
Roast Levels and Their Flavors
One of the reasons a French press is such a popular device is that it works for all types of coffee roasts. But generally speaking, medium and darker roasts tend to be more popular, and arabica beans are preferred for their sweeter flavor.
A light roast certainly won’t taste bad, but with an immersion brewer like a French press, you’re likely to lose some of its complexity, which is what many people enjoy about a lighter roast. Light roasts usually have a lighter body and offer bright fruits, florals, and tea flavors, with citrus acidity. They are more popularly brewed using a pour-over brewer, which highlights their subtle nature better, but if you have a favorite light roast, it’s well worth trying in your French press.
Compared to lighter roasts, medium roasted beans tend to be lower in acidity and heavier in the body. They offer sweet flavors like nuts, caramel, milk chocolate, and ripe fruit – to name just a few of the most common. They are deliciously brewed in a French press, enhancing their sweetness while also adding body.
Darker roasts have an even heavier body and creamier mouthfeel, both of which are further enhanced by an immersion-style French press brew.
For some people, this can be overwhelming, and they will enjoy a medium roast more. But if you like a cup of coffee that feels thick – that coats your mouth with bold flavors – a dark roasted coffee in a French press will be right up your alley. Typical flavor profiles include dark chocolate, molasses, earthiness, smokiness, toasted nuts, and dried fruit.
Does The Origin Matter?
In short, no, any coffee-growing region can produce delicious coffee beans for French Press brewing. However, some regions are known for specific flavor characteristics and more consistently high-quality coffee beans. So if you don’t know where to start, looking for a particular origin might be an excellent way to discover a new favorite coffee.
Here’s a rough guideline for what you can expect from different growing regions.
Coffee from the Americas, which is often wet-processed, is usually the cleanest-tasting coffee with flavors of chocolate, fruits, and nuts. Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala are mainly known for consistently high-quality coffee.
Coffee beans from East Africa are known more for fruit, floral, and tea flavors with a wine-like acidity. They may be wet or dry-processed and often have complex and subtle flavors best suited to light or medium roasts. The most famous growing regions are Ethiopia and Kenya.
Coffee from Sumatra has a unique earthy character and a heavy body, which is a direct result of the humid growing conditions in the region. Often roasted to medium or dark, Sumatran beans are a popular component of blends because they add a richness that fares well both in a French press or an espresso machine.
Whole Bean or Pre-Ground Coffee?
As always, we recommend buying whole bean coffee and grinding it as short a time as possible before brewing. Ground coffee goes stale faster than whole bean coffee, so the shorter the time between grinding and brewing, the more flavorful the cup. Fresh coffee beans are always better.
Of course, this advice assumes you have a great grinder for French press. If you don’t have a grinder, or all you have is a blade grinder, then buying pre-ground coffee is a better option.
Many companies will grind their coffee beans to a grind size appropriate for a drip brewer, which is slightly finer than French press’s typical coarse ground coffee. Though you can use fine coffee grounds for French press, you’ll need to adjust brew time to avoid over-extraction, which can yield bitter or muddied flavors. Finely ground coffee also results in a bit more silt making its way through the mesh filter and into the cup of coffee, though some people enjoy the richness this conveys to the brew.
Many top roasters and distributors – including Peet’s and Volcanica – give you the option to choose a grind size based on the brewing method. They’ll prepare coffee grounds with either a fine or coarse grind to suit your needs. Look for this if you need to buy pre-ground coffee and prefer coarse ground coffee for your French press.
When it comes right down to it, choosing the best beans for any brewing method comes down to your taste and the flavor profiles you enjoy. We’re here to skew your decision in the direction of higher-quality coffee beans. This list contains exclusively arabica beans produced in some of the world’s top growing regions, any of which guarantees a delicious French press brew.
We recommend the Koa Estate 100% Kona Coffee for an all-around crowd pleaser. These world-class beans feature appealing flavors of chocolate and nuts, with an ultra-smooth body. If you want quality on a budget, look no further than the dark-roasted Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend, rich with the flavors of dark chocolate, toasted almonds, and caramel.
Yes, French press coffee can raise your levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. This is because the metal filter leaves more coffee oils in the final cup than a paper filter. However, unless you have a pre-existing issue with high cholesterol, this should not be a concern as the effect is minor (6).
Yes, you can use a paper filter in a French press. If you enjoy the rich flavor of an immersion brew without the oily mouthfeel of metal filtered coffee, then a French press coffee brewed with a paper filter is a great option. Alternatively, the Clever Dripper is a brewing device designed to offer this same result.
According to our team of experts, the best French press coffee maker is the Frieling Stainless Steel French Press, which combines function, style, and affordability into a near perfect package. But any of the French presses on our top nine list will deliver a delicious brew when paired with great coffee.
- Newman, K. (2011, June 30). Heirloom Coffees. Retrieved from https://imbibemagazine.com/heirloom-coffees/
- Grant, T. (2022, January 6). A guide to Hawaiian coffee production. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2022/01/a-guide-to-hawaiian-coffee-production/
- Brown, N. (2015, February 10). Kona Coffee Leaders Renew Push for Purity Standards and Packaging Disclosure. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2015/02/10/kona-coffee-leaders-renew-push-for-purity-standards-and-packaging-disclosure/
- Pretel, E.A. (2018, February 9). Exclusive: Costa Rica to lift 30-year ban on planting robusta coffee trees. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-costa-rica-coffee-exclusive-idUSKBN1FT2UH
- Otero, M. (2020, August 13). Improving Your French Press Coffee Brewing. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/08/improving-your-french-press-coffee-brewing/
- Godman, H. (2016, April 29). Pressed coffee is going mainstream – but should you drink it? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pressed-coffee-going-mainstream-drink-201604299530