Yes! It is possible! Really. I promise. It is also one of the most accessible ways to make good coffee at home, or on the road. I like this underdog method as it’s often discounted as a good way to make coffee. Like anything, practice and a good process will yield top notch results.
What to Expect
French press is a full immersion brew method, meaning all the coffee grounds are exposed to the water for the full brew time. This allows solubles into the brew as they are not filtered out like they are in a pour over/drip brew method. Gives the coffee it’s signature full body characteristics that are just not possible in a pour over. Now, if brewed properly you can totally avoid the sediment at the bottom of your cup… the French Press’ Achilles heal! This is solved with patience, and repeating the same steps to ensure you avoid this chewy misfortune.
Grind – Get it right
This is the most important step… for every brew method, and the same goes here. All great coffee starts with consistency. If you are using a whirly blade grinder there will be really small fine particles, and larger coarse particles, it’s impossible to get it consistent with these grinders. Burr grinders are what’s needed. If the particle size is inconsistent this creates variability in extraction (some will be under and some will be over extracted). With French Press, it will almost always be over extracted (Bitter) because of the super fine particles. I will have a full write up on grinders and the effect on brewed coffee. But for now the purposes of this guide, your grind particles should be fairly coarse, and should look like this:
The proper brew temperature can vary across different brew methods and what flavour you are aiming to get from your coffee, most notably in espresso. French Press is recommended to be around 200 F. Some kettles have this temperature built in and these are an amazing tool for early mornings to help keep things consistent, repeatable and FAST so you can enjoy the best cup of coffee with little to no effort.
Always brew to taste! Everything else just doesn’t matter. That said, if you are looking for a good starting point, I follow the recommended ratio of 60g for every litre of water. If you do not have a grinder with a scale built in (highly recommended) then you can pick one up almost anywhere. If you’re working with a lighter roast and not getting the depth of flavour, increase the coffee to water ratio!
This is the important part.
Put your coffee into the french press and water when it’s at the right temp. Start a timer, aim for 4:00 total. Have a stir stick handy.
After about 1 minute a crust will form on top of the water. If the coffee is old or stale, this will not be as prominent.
Now stir the coffee back into the water to allow it to extract evenly and properly.
put the plunger piece on the press and wait until 4:00 is up
push the plunger down… SLOWLY, and not quite all the way as to not disturb the coffee grounds.
WAIT! Don’t pour it just yet… let it sit for a few minutes more for all the sediment to settle.
Now enjoy the smoothest cup of French Press you can imagine!!