What’s the Best Coffee for French Press?
On the face of it, the French press coffee maker is one of the simplest brewing methods there is: Grind coffee, add hot water, wait a few minutes, and then press the plunger. What could be simpler?
There’s one really important step you’re missing: if you pick the wrong beans, you end up with a chewy cup of bitter-tasting mud instead of the rich, sophisticated brew you’re longing for.
What coffee beans brew up the best French press coffee? Let’s review the way the French press works to understand how to choose the best coffee for French press brewing
Pact’s VILLA RUBIELA ESPRESSO
Perfectly roasted to a balanced medium-roast profile, these Colombian beans produce a full-bodied, magical tasting French Press brew that will leave you wanting more. Organic, shade grown, washed-processed – give them a try.
Getting the Most Out Of Your French Press
Of course, step 1 is to brew with good coffee beans.
Because the French press uses a stainless steel mesh filter to screen out the grounds, more of the delicious oils and solids from the coffee bean end up in your cup. Some coffee drinkers like the “chewy” texture produced by a French press, while others object to it. There are ways to minimize the mud, but essentially, steeping ground coffee in water and then pressing them down with a mesh filter is going to leave a little bit of silt in your cup.
The traditional solution to this is to use coarse ground coffee. In addition to reducing the number of tiny particles that the mesh filter can’t capture, a coarse grind tends to make French press coffee sweeter and less bitter.
When shopping for the right coffee for French press, most fans of the brew method prefer a medium or a dark roast. The French press brew method reduces the perceived bitterness that some people object to with dark roasted coffee beans. Mostly, though, it’s for the simple reason that a smoky, dark brew just suits the character of the press pot.
The usual keys to getting great coffee with any brew method, of course, work for the French press:
- Invest in a quality french press. Here are the best french press coffee makers.
- Try to stay away from pre-ground coffee as much as possible. It loses its freshness too quickly. Buy good quality whole bean coffee and grind it immediately before brewing.
- Use a good coffee grinder for French Press brewing (burr, not blade), and a good french press (here is a list – avoid the cheap £1 shop options)
- Purchase from reliable coffee roasters that roast their coffee beans fresh.
- Properly clean your french press (like this) often to ensure your brew tastes clean.
PRO TIP: The French press needs a higher coffee-to-water ratio, with more coffee than the SCAA’s “golden ratio” (55 grams per litre). Our French Press brew guide suggests 27g of coffee for 350 ml of water (about 3/4 of the water you’d expect to use in a drip coffee maker).
So with all that in mind, here are our five choices for the best coffee beans to use in your French press:
5 beans for Great French Press Coffee
|Pact’s VILLA RUBIELA ESPRESSO||
|Clumsy Goat Fairtrade Peruvian Coffee Beans||
|Single origin coffee beans “DR Congo Kivu”||
|Bird & Wild RSPB Coffee||
|Indonesia Sumatra – Swiss Water Decaf Decaffeinated Coffee||
Pact coffee doesn’t like the word “subscription”, instead, they offer what they call coffee plans. You can choose your roast, grind and whether you want coffee from the House, Select or Micro-lot range. This relates to both the quality score and the amount paid to farmers for the beans.
The company uses the Direct Trade model to source its coffee from nine different regions around the world. This model means that the company forms long-term relationships with farmers, paying an average of 55% above normal Fairtrade prices.
These coffee beans from farmer Fernando Vegas contain both Colombia and Castillo varietals, grown at altitudes of 1700m. The wash processing gives the coffee beans a bright acidity that is reminiscent of crisp apples. This is balanced with a sweet, creamy mouthfeel that ends on notes of bitter dark chocolate.
Clumsy Goat’s Peruvian beans are sourced from high in the Andes. These Arabica beans come courtesy of CECOVASA, a group of eight farming cooperatives founded in 1970. The cooperatives protect the rights of the farmers, which are predominately indigenous Quechua and Amaraya people. In fact, all of Clumsy Goat’s coffees are 100% Fairtrade certified.
Despite the altitude, these beans benefit from the nuttier end of the taste scale, rather than the typical fruit flavours you’d expect. Here you’ll find caramel and walnut notes that finish on flavours of sweet milk chocolate. This well-rounded profile means they’re not only good for French press but also Moka pots and pour-over brewing methods.
Nestling the shores around Lake Kivu is the Democratic Republic of Congo’s main coffee-growing region. The area produces top-class beans, but due to the country’s troubled political history, it has yet to earn its place on the world stage. Farmers here are faced with shortages of drinking water, electricity and even roads, making coffee production and export incredibly difficult. Despite this, they persevere, and what they do manage to produce is very special.
Historically, Robusta was the main crop here, but it is being phased out in favour of superior Arabica crops. These 100% Arabica beans have been grown in the foothills of the Nyiragongo volcano, where they thrive in the rich soil. The result is a sweet, fruity cup of coffee with flavours of marzipan and dried dates, and an aftertaste of dark chocolate.
As the name suggests, Bird & Wild was founded with the mission to protect migrating birds. They only roast coffee that is Bird Friendly and Shade Grown – both of these certifications established by the Smithsonian Bird Migratory Centre. Not only that, but 6% of sales are also donated to the Centre. It’s not just about the birds either, these beans are Fairtrade sourced, so you know that farmers are getting a decent price.
This Bird & Wild’s coffee (which are also certified organic) are a good match for a French press, but you could get a nice brew from an AeroPress too. The mid-strength body holds up well to the immersion method, delivering a chocolatey cup balanced with some bright acidity.
- Medium roast
- Rich and smooth
Decaf lovers take heart, there’s something here for you too. Decaffeinated coffee can be hard to do well, so it makes sense to buy from a brand that decides to make it their focus, such as Decadent Decaf.
These beans have something of a story to them. The Arabica varietal grew wild and forgotten for almost a century in the Sumatran jungle. When the coffee was rediscovered, it was then planted in the Mandheling province, an area known for smooth and sweet coffees. These beans are true to form, with a rich sugary body and a smooth cocoa finish.
All of the beans covered would make a great french press brew but we’d recommend starting with:
Have you tried any of these coffees? Do you have a special bean you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!