How to Brew: 8-Cup French Press
Monday, April 08, 2019
— Updated January 17, 2023
The French press is one of the most recognizable coffee brewers of all time. You can find them nearly everywhere you can find coffee—grocery stores, department stores, the thrift, your coffee homie’s cupboard, and there’s probably even one in your own coffee setup. Anyone who’s even a little bit into coffee has a French press or wants one. Why? They are uncomplicated. They don’t require paper filters, accessories, or additional work. If you’re looking for a full-bodied, bold brew, you need a French press in your life.
Interestingly, French presses (also called press pots) predate other iconic coffee makers, such as the Chemex and Hario V60 dripper. I would think that fewer parts equals easier to invent, but what do I know. While the French press we know and love today was patented in 1929, it appeared earlier (and more simply) in an 1852 French patent owned by Mayer and Delforge, hence the French part.
However, it wasn’t until Calimani and Moneta, two Italian inventors whose press featured a better seal between the filter and glass, that the French press really got going. Since then, the French press design hasn’t changed much, probably because it’s already perfect. The mesh filter holds nothing but the grounds back, giving you 100% of the oils, depth, body, and flavor inherent in single-origin coffee.
It's My First Time Making French Press
But let’s say you don’t own a scale to measure by weight. Measuring by volume using the tablespoons in your kitchen drawer works just as well—the French press isn’t too fussy about a few too many or too few beans. Neither is it too bothered if you don’t have a gooseneck kettle. Any kettle will do. Heck, you don’t even have to pre-infuse if you don’t want to. Here’s how you do it:
You will need
- 8 cup French press
- 8 heaping tsp. or 56g coarse-ground coffee
- A full kettle of hot water or 800g, 30s off the boil
- Kitchen timer
- Scale (optional)
- Add the coffee to your French press.
- Saturate the grounds with water until the slurry reaches just below the ring around the top of the press. Optional: Add a pre-infusion pour by saturating with 400g water, stirring, and letting it bloom for 30 seconds. Pour up to 800g after.
- Stir and put the lid on but don’t press.
- Set a timer for 4 minutes and let it do its thing.
- Scroll down to the fun facts while you wait.
- Plunge and serve immediately.
French Press Fun Facts While You Wait
- You can make cold brew in a French press. 100g coarse-ground coffee, 700g cold or room-temp water, brew for 12 – 20 hours, plunge and enjoy that buzzy concentrate.
- “Serve immediately” is not a suggestion. Even after you plunge, the coffee is still brewing. Decant into mugs for all your pals or into a separate spouted vessel to stop extraction.
- Legend has it the idea for the French press happened when a Frenchman who was boiling a pot of water for coffee forgot to add the coffee, forcing him to hastily buy a metal screen to filter the grounds.
- Scroll back up and finish brewing!
French Press FAQ
Q: My French press says it makes eight cups, but I can barely get three out of it. What’s up?
A: Because those “eight cups” are coffee cups, traditionally, they’re about 5 oz., so not eight regular coffee mugs. You might get three or four of those out of your 8-cup French press.
Q: Do I have to use French Roast coffee in my French press?
A: Only if you want to. Many blends, as well as single origins, make for a wonderfully bold cup. Many people associate dark, dark French Roast with filterless brewing because the lack of a paper filter adds body back to the brew via natural coffee oils.
Q: What should I use to grind coffee for my French press?
A: If you opt to grind it yourself—FYI, we totally would’ve done it for you at no extra charge—a burr grinder is best. Since French presses are more forgiving, you could get away with a blade grinder, but it’s well worth the investment to go burr. Your grinds will be more uniform, and you’ll know when they’re done. If you don’t mind the HIIT workout every time you brew, a hand grinder works well, though we don’t typically reach for it when grinding larger doses like this.