How To Make French Press Coffee

updated Dec 22, 2023

A better cup of coffee is just around the corner, thanks to this step-by-step guide.

Serves2 to 3

Makes3 cups

Prep10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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As soon as I started developing my deep appreciation for coffee, I taught myself how to make coffee using a French press. I loved its aesthetically-pleasing design and that I was only minutes away from enjoying freshly brewed coffee.

There are so many methods and techniques to enjoy the deep, complex, roasted flavors of coffee, but a French press is one of the easiest ways to enjoy it. Simply pour hot water over coarsely ground coffee beans, let it steep to bring out the coffee’s flavors, then plunge. Here’s how to make the best cup of coffee using your French press.

Quick Overview

Tips For Making French Press Coffee

  • Make sure the coffee beans are coarsely ground, yet evenly-sized. They should resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Adjust the steeping time or the amount of coffee grounds to customize the strength to your preference.

How to Make Great French Press Coffee

One of the most important things to remember when making coffee using a French press is getting the right type of ground coffee beans.

Regular pre-ground coffee is sandy, with a texture similar to kosher salt, and it’s best when paired with a drip coffee machine. Espresso-ground coffee beans are so fine, similar to powdered sugar, that they should be only used with espresso machines

Because brewing coffee in a French press involves steeping coffee grounds in water for a few minutes, you need to coarsely grind coffee — they should resemble breadcrumbs. Their large surface area lends them to steeping and allows their flavors to come through better. Plus, they can be easily pushed with a plunge.

To grind beans for French press coffee at a grocery store (which I like to do), you’ll likely need to use the furthermost left setting on a coffee grinder.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Ratio of Water & Coffee for French Press

One of the most common sizes of French presses is 32 ounces, which yields about four servings. But, depending on the size of the French press, you might have to adjust the ratio.

Here’s a general guide to proportions by volume. Even though this guide indicates whole coffee beans, you can use this ratio with pre-ground coffee beans for similar results.

  • 1 serving — 1 cup water (8 fluid ounces) — 2 tablespoons coffee beans
  • 2 servings — 2 cup water (16 fluid ounces) — 1/4 cup coffee beans
  • 4 servings — 4 cups water (32 fluid ounces) — 1/2 cup coffee beans
  • 8 servings — 8 cups water (64 fluid ounces) — 1 cup coffee beans 

Pros and Cons of Making French Press Coffee


  • It’s one of the easiest ways to brew coffee.
  • It doesn’t take too long to make a fresh cup of coffee.
  • You can make a big batch of coffee at once without taking too much time, compared to the pour over method.


  • You can’t use regular pre-ground coffee or espresso ground coffee. Coffee beans need to be coarsely ground for the best results in the French press.
  • Because the coffee is sitting directly on the grounds for a period of time, it’s prone to bitterness and oiliness.
  • Cleaning up a French press each time can be slightly more time-consuming.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Do I Need To Buy a Grinder To Make French Press Coffee?

I think there’s something so special about brewing freshly ground coffee. The ritual of grinding beans, smelling the wonderfully roasty beans, and brewing them for a perfect cup of coffee can be very therapeutic. If that’s your morning aesthetic, I think it’s worth looking into getting a coffee grinder.

But, personally, I need coffee as soon as I wake up to function. My brain doesn’t have space to romanticize the smell of coffee beans! So, I end up grinding whole beans at the grocery store. Sure, the coffee beans may not be quite as fresh, but personally I have never found that the taste of pre-coarsely ground coffee beans affects the taste of a great cup of coffee.

If you’re sourcing your beans at your local café, they are often happy to grind them for you upon request. If you keep pre-coarsely ground coffee beans too long, they will eventually go stale, but they typically taste great for up to 2 weeks.

What Is a Crust When Making French Press? 

When you pour hot water into the French press with coarsely ground coffee beans, you will see a layer of ground coffee beans floating on top. This step is called the bloom. Hot water extracts all the flavors of ground coffee beans during this stage.

During the process, a thick “crust” of grounds will also form, and it’s an essential step of making coffee using a French press to break it apart after steeping, using a spoon or chopsticks. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

How To Make Coffee To Suit Your Preferences

While I’m not a coffee master, my approach with making it is similar to cooking — it’s all about adjusting to your preference. If this recipe yields coffee that’s too weak for you, add more coffee grounds next time. Or, if the flavor is too strong, steep the grounds for less time. Once you understand the basic idea, it’s all about finding the right balance that fits your personal preference.

How We’ve Adjusted Our Recipe

This recipe was refreshed with an updated technique to bring out more of the coffee’s flavor. We now call for filling the French press halfway with hot water first, steeping the coffee grounds for one minute, breaking the crust, pouring in the remaining water, letting it steep for another four minutes, then plunging.

This method allows the flavors of coffee beans to come through better without being too bitter or oily. Now, let’s break for a fantastic cup of coffee, shall we?

How to Make French Press Coffee

A better cup of coffee is just around the corner, thanks to this step-by-step guide.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes 3 cups

Serves 2 to 3

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 cup

    freshly roasted coffee beans

  • 4 cups




  1. Grind 1/2 cup coffee beans on the coarsest setting in a coffee grinder. Your coffee grounds should be rough and coarse, but still evenly-sized, similar to big breadcrumbs. Pour the grounds into a 34-ounce or larger French press.

  2. Heat 4 cups water on the stovetop or in an electric kettle until boiling. Pour half of the hot water into the French press (filling it up about halfway). Let sit for 1 minute uncovered.

  3. Break up the top layer of coffee grounds with a wooden spoon or a chopstick by whisking vigorously. Pour the remaining hot water over the grounds while stirring, making sure the grounds and hot water are well mixed together. Fit the lid/plunger onto the press but do not press on the plunger. Let steep for 4 minutes.

  4. Slowly press the plunger all the way to the bottom. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Using ground beans: 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons very coarsely pre-ground roasted coffee beans can be used in place of the whole beans. Add to the French press and proceed with the recipe.

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