Library Blog

Make Coffee with a French Press

Adulting 101

Coffee is one of the world’s favorite drinks, and there are many ways to make and drink it! From iced coffee, to espresso, to the noble French press – the options for coffee are almost endless. The French press as we know it now was patented in 1929 by Attilio Calimani, an Italian designer from Milan.

Now you may be wondering, “If the guy who patented the French press was Italian, how did the French press get its name?” That all comes down to French legend. Story has it that a Frenchman, while boiling his coffee, realized that he forgot to add the grounds. He tossed the grounds in but found that they just floated off the top. He wanted to save the grounds to re-steep, so he bought a small piece of mesh from a traveling merchant and used a stick to push the mesh down to the bottom of his pot, trapping the grounds below them. He expected his make-shift coffee to be terrible, but found that his coffee was the best he had ever had! And thus, the French press technique was born.

So, now I’m going to teach you how to use a French press at home in just a couple of quick steps.

Step 1: Make sure you have all of your supplies! You’ll need a French press (both parts – beaker and plunger), some coarse ground coffee, and a 1 tbsp measuring spoon or scoop.

  • Make sure that you have coarse ground coffee, as a finer ground coffee (like that used in a Keurig or a traditional coffee machine) not only will clog your metal filter, but will be bitter. Smaller grounds require a shorter steep time and are best for drip coffees.

Step 2: Measure out your grounds! You’ll want 1 heaping tablespoon (about 7-8 ounces) of grounds per every 7 ounces of water (200 ml). A typical coffee mug can hold 8-12 ounces of liquid, so I like to do one and a half tablespoons of grounds and about 10 ounces of water. You can adjust this to your liking though. If you like a weaker brew, use less grounds, and if you like a stronger brew use more.

Step 3: Add your water and put on the lid. I heat up my water in my tea kettle and then pour it over the grounds. You should stir your coffee with a spoon before placing the lid on. Stirring ensures that all the grounds are wet and steeping. When you put your lid on your French press, make sure that the pour spout is completely covered. You want all of the heat and steam to stay in the French press.

Step 4: Steep for FOUR minutes. I usually set a timer, but this step is pretty self-explanatory.

Step 5: Push down the plunger. Make sure you go slowly. Pushing down the plunger too fast can result in grounds and silt (fine ground coffee) escaping through the filter.

Step 6: Pour, add any extras, and enjoy!

If coffee isn’t your thing, you can also use a French press to make tea, or to infuse water with fruits and herbs! Any choice is a good choice as long as you’re happy with it!