Chatelaine Kitchen

Make the perfect cup of coffee with your French press

Faced with a new way to brew coffee, I took on the challenge to find the correct way to use a French press. Here is a how-to and some tips I've discovered along the way.



In an effort to save some money, a few of my colleagues and I started a “Coffee Club” at the end of the summer. The idea is that each month, we’ll purchase a bag of coffee beans from a different part of the world. None of us are coffee connoisseurs, but we’re hoping to expand our java horizon by testing and sipping our way across the globe. In September, we sampled coffee from Thailand including the well known civet coffee (which, by the way, we’ve decided is delicious), and in October we sipped coffee from Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica.

Our brewing vessel of choice is the French press. We found an abandoned one hidden away in a cupboard during a routine Chatelaine kitchen cleanup session. When making coffee at home, I usually use an espresso machine or a drip coffee machine. Faced with something entirely new (to me), I took on the challenge to find the best way to brew coffee using a French press.

Here is the optimal way to use a press, along with some tips I learned along the way:

1. Add your coffee grinds (one standard coffee scoop per cup). The best grind for a French press is a medium-coarse grind (the same as a drip grind). You don’t want your grinds too fine, or they might filter through the pores of the plunger. Once ground, coffee grinds will stay fresh for up to a week.


2. Pour in the hot (but not boiling) water. Always start with fresh, filtered water. Filtered water contains more oxygen, and thus, more flavour. (But don’t fret too much if you don’t have a Brita handy – I’m guilty for using tap water sometimes too).


3. Let your coffee brew for about four minutes, stirring halfway through. After stirring, you’ll get a creamy froth that rises to the top. This is called the ‘bloom’.


4. Plunge! Then serve immediately. Coffee will get more bitter the longer it stays in the press.




Storage Tip: Don’t keep your coffee beans in the fridge or freezer. Ground coffee is very porous so storing it in the fridge can not only infuse it with the scent of last night’s dinner, but the cold air can also dry out the beans. Keep it in an airtight, light-proof canister and store them in a cool, dark place.