How To: Use a French Press

I drink four cups of coffee a day. Yep, I’m aware that it’s a solid amount of caffeine. Normally when I tell people I’m met with a facial expression that is a cross between confusion and pity. It’s like I’ve told them I drink lukewarm sewage sludge in the morning. But I, like most people, have an easier time remembering my name in the morning after a few cups of coffee, so I won’t be stopping soon. Also it tastes good, so that doesn’t hurt.


You know how some people say, “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.”? Well, I’m that person. It’s not because I’ll necessarily be mean to you. You’re just going to have a hard time decoding the random mumblings that manage to dribble out of my mouth. It’s also an effective way to justify all of your early morning mistakes.

A few years ago I was in Copenhagen and shuffled into a random cafe for breakfast. I absolutely couldn’t tell you what the place was called, which is shameful. Seriously, I actually felt a pang of shame and tried to find it, but couldn’t. What I do remember is that it was the first time that I had ever had coffee made from a French press. I’m guessing it was the freshness of the coffee mixed with being prepared in a French press, but it was quite seriously the best cup of coffee I have ever had. It was smooth, dense and had a richer taste and body than the coffee I was normally used to drinking. So, of course I became wildly obsessed and had to buy one.


My original French press is back home, so I ordered yet another one for my apartment in DC. To be honest, by the time I thought about packing it my suitcase was busting so badly at the seams it probably couldn’t handle a tweezer, let alone a coffee maker.

I ordered this one from Amazon, but if you’re especially talented at spending money there are fancier models that you can buy.

Okay, so making coffee in a French press is not hard and only takes a few more steps than making it in a machine. Really, I promise, it’s easy to figure out even in your early morning state of stupefaction.

One of the most important things to remember is how you grind your coffee. For your French press make sure the coffee is coarsely ground. If you try and make coffee in a French press that is ground for an automatic drip machine, you’re going to have an issue. Namely, a mouth full of grounds.

I decided to be just a little bit fancy and walked over to Qualia Coffee to pick up my coffee. They roast their own beans and even have the courtesy of telling you how long ago they were roasted. Mine were only two days old, and the coffee was so fresh that I could smell during my entire walk home. If you don’t live in DC you can also order it online. And you should.

  1. Scoop the coffee into the French press. Some people recommend two cups of water for every scoop of coffee. I normally do a one-to-one ratio, but like I said, I need a significant boost in the morning. You can adjust it to your liking.
  2. Boil your water, wait a few seconds, and pour it directly into the French press.
  3. Stir the coffee mixture. It’s best to not use a metal spoon for this, because if you’re particularly reckless you could damage your French press. I don’t trust myself, so I always use a wooden spoon.
  4. Put the top back on and wait. I usually give mine 4 minutes, but you can do anything between 3-6 minutes.
  5. Press. But for the love of God, do it gently. Nobody needs coffee exploding all over the place.
  6. Drink up, buttercup.

See, now you’re practically an expert. And you’ll even save some money because there is no need for coffee filters for the rest of eternity.


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