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How To Make Coffee: The Perfect French Press Technique

How To Make Coffee: The Perfect French Press Technique

Honestly, I was a skeptic. For years, I didn’t take french press coffee seriously. Most of the coffee I’d been served from a french press wasn’t very good. It wasn’t bad – certainly better than an automatic drip machine – but also not as good as coffee prepared with a ceramic dripper or in a Chemex.

Recently, though, I’ve become a believer. It turns out that if you’re using freshly roasted coffee, properly ground, and prepared with the right technique, it can be every bit as good as coffee prepared in nearly any other method.


In fact, in retrospect I can say that the problem with most of the bad coffee I’d been served from a french press was any combination of the fact that the coffee wasn’t fresh, it wasn’t ground properly, and that the technique used to prepare it was wrong.

So, if you want to get it right and enjoy the best coffee from a french press, I’ve come up with what I think are the six essential steps. It’s very, very easy.

I’ll also note that some pros also recommend skimming the coffee after bringing it to a bloom (during step 4 below), but I think that’s a little too fussy for my taste. You’ll get an excellent cup of coffee even without skimming.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Boil The Water

Your first step is to heat the water. Ideally, you’d like the water to reach a boil at about the same time as you’ve finished grinding your coffee. Your grinds will start going stale after they’ve been ground so the sooner you start extracting the better. Once your water has reached a boil, remove it from the heat and let cool for about 15 seconds.

2. Grind

Grind your coffee at a very coarse grind. As always, I highly recommend using a burr grinder for the best results. I suggest using approximately 11-12 grams of coffee for every 118 grams of water. For example, when making for Kasey and I at home, I use 52 grams of coffee and about 600 grams of water. We use grams for our measurements because many coffee scales (including the popular Hario coffee scale and timer) measure in grams.

3. Bloom

Add an amount of water roughly double your total amount of the grinds in a slow steady pour to bring the grounds to a bloom. For example, I add about 100 grams of water to 52 grams of coffee to create a bloom. The “bloom” is the term that explains the way fresh coffee grounds puff up when you add hot water to it. It occurs because your coffee is releasing C02 and other gases produced during the roasting process.

4. Wait

Wait about 30 seconds. You can stir the grounds using a spoon or chop stick to further develop your bloom before adding the rest of your water to the pot.

5. Plunge

Once you’ve added all of your water, set a timer for 3 1/2 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the lid to the pot and plunge the coffee with a steady, downward force. You’ll notice that I recommend leaving the lid off until you’re ready to plunge the coffee. Leaving the lid off while the coffee steeps allows the bloom to fully progress resulting in a better brew.

6. Serve

Immediately pour the coffee into serving mugs or a thermos. The longer you leave the coffee in the carafe with the grinds the longer it will extract. In other words, you want to separate your brewed coffee from the grounds as quickly as possible to prevent over-extraction.


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Posted by Matthew Hickey

Matthew is the music editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. He’s addicted to vinyl records, pour over coffee, craft beer, small batch bourbon, and pan roasting pork chops.

  • M. Garza

    Thanks for the tips, had given up French press coffee for about a year now because I could never get that “perfect” cup of coffee from it. I was always switching coffee grounds convinced that maybe another brand would do the trick. Currently doing the “K” machine for coffee, and every time I reach for a single serve cup, I take a look at my French press and think, maybe I should give it a go again….But now thanks to your tips, tomorrow morning I’ll be bringing out my French press again.
    Thanks once again!

  • partriot

    I have never had a cup of French press coffee brewed at home that was anything but great. So great, that it is disappointing to have coffee from even fine restaurants and corporate/local coffee shops. I suspect much has to do with individual taste. I prefer full bodied, but smooth and rich tasting coffee. For those that do, try stirring the coffee after pouring the boiled water on as suggested, then allow a full 5 minutes for the love affair of ground beans and water to come to fulfillment–serve immediately, sit down and savor. Has worked for me everyday for 10 years. Like fine art, appreciation of fine coffee is most likely an individual experience. Try various methods of preparation before giving up and be sure to clean the plunger and screen under hot water when done to wash away the oils remaining.

  • French press is my favorite brew process. I use a similar method to this post, with a twist on the timing: After pouring all the water on the coffee, stir and wait three minutes. Then stir again and wait one minute. Then press … Perfect every time!

  • Great tip David! Thanks for sharing it!

  • TFlorida2

    Interesting post, but it would be more helpful if you stayed with one unit of measurement. For example, you say ” For example, when making for Kasey and I at home, I use 52 grams of coffee for about 18 oz of water.” If you used grams for both the coffee and water the reader would have a better understanding of the coffee to water ratio.

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