The Best Coffee For Your French Press
You know how wonderful the French press method of brewing coffee is, but would you consider yourself a FPE? (French press expert). Yes – I did just make that term up, so don’t stress if you have never heard it before.
Still, let's level up in our French press knowledge and ask ourselves: "Whats the best coffee for French press?"
Fellow French Press-ers, today I'm not only going to answer that question, but I'm going to personally walk you through how to make a barista-quality French press at home – yes that’s right, Barista quality.
What is a French Press?
A French press is a coffee carafe that contains a fine-mesh plunger for pushing loose grounds into the bottom of the carafe when ready to be served.
Steeping the grounds in this way allows for optimal extraction of flavor. Here are 5 worthy options if you don't yet have a press.
Okay, But What Type of Coffee Should I Use For French Press?
The most important thing to remember when choosing a French press coffee is never to buy pre-ground coffee from a supermarket.
French presses require a special grind that is much coarser than what a typical coffeepot uses, which is what pre-ground coffees are intended for.
French presses require a coarse grind because the flavor extraction depends on having the maximum surface area for the water to interact with. This also allows for the beans to better release carbon dioxide gasses during steeping, which enhances the flavor.
Freshly ground batches ensure that your coffee retains as many flavorful oils as possible, which improves the overall taste.
Grinding beans too far in advance causes these oils to break down and can lead to stale or bitter coffee.
The ideal solution is to purchase a (great quality) burr grinder and grind the coffee for each press immediately before use. If the Baratza grinder is a little out of your budget, we recommend this Cuisinart model is high-quality and very affordable.
Still don’t want to invest in a burr grinder just yet? Keep in mind that many local coffee shops are happy to custom grind whole beans purchased at their establishment. Just tell the barista the coffee is for a French press and they will know exactly which setting to grind it on.
Any bean can be used in a French press, but medium or dark-roasted beans work best. These roasts have the most oils intact, which leads to a better brew.
If you do have your coffee ground in advance, it needs to be used within seven days of grinding. After seven days, the flavor deteriorates rapidly, and you're left with stale coffee.
How to Brew a French Press (like a FPE)
First, distill the water you're using in your French Press (and in every coffee making process, if possible). Any trace elements in your water can detract from the flavor of the coffee. Nobody likes dishrag-flavored coffee.
Additionally, be sure that your water is heated to just under boiling. Boiling water will scald the coffee and give it a sludgy, bitter taste. By aiming for 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit, you're ensuring that your press will steep within the optimal temperature range.
The coffee-to-water ratio is also critical for crafting the perfect French press. If you're unsure what your preference is for coffee strength, start with two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. A typical French press will use about 8-10 tablespoons of ground coffee.
Brew time is the final important factor to create the perfect French press. You'll want to set a phone or kitchen timer for exactly four minutes. Allow the coffee to steep for the full four minutes, and then immediately plunge the grounds and transfer the coffee into mugs or a separate carafe.
For those of you who prefer the video method of learning, the Stumptown Coffee roasters have you covered. Start taking notes:
Top Secret Barista Hacks (For the Most Delicious French Press Brew)
Now that we've covered the basics of what a French press is and how to brew one at home, we can move on to some of the more advanced tips and barista secrets for upping your French press game.
1. Pre Heat your Press
Always pre-warm your press. Pre-warming keeps the brewing water from losing too much heat during the extraction. If your water isn't hot enough, your coffee will taste weak or muddy.
To do this, fill the carafe about 1/4-1/2 full with boiling or near-boiling water.
Allow it to sit in the press for two or three minutes and then dump it out immediately before adding the coffee grounds to the pot.
2. Bloom it up
Let your press steep uncovered as it allows the coffee grounds to "bloom," or release their trapped gasses in a more uniform manner. This little trick in turn allows for better extraction of flavor.
What’s blooming you ask? This is Blooming.
3. Skim your grounds
You've probably noticed that coffee grounds swell significantly once you add water. This ties into the bloom effect I mentioned above.
Once the wet grounds have swollen, they tend to form one solid cake at the top of the press. Before plunging, World Barista Champions Tim Wendelboe and James Hoffmann both recommend skimming this cake of grounds off of the top of the press. This prevents stray particles from ending up in your finished cup of coffee.
To do this, simply take a large metal or wooden spoon and gently scrape out as much of the cake as possible.
Be careful not to break it up too much, as this will just disperse more grounds into the coffee. Once you've skimmed, simply plunge the press as usual.
If you're looking for a great French press, I recommend this LeCafe Double-Walled Stainless Steel Cafetiere French Press – its modern, it does exactly what its supposed to and it’s a bargain!
French presses may seem daunting at first. I promise, though, once you've gone through the process a few times, it will be just as easy as using your old drip coffee pot.