Road Dog's guide to french press use and coffee brewing

How to Use a French Press

Tired of bland, spiritless coffee that tastes as monotonous as a never-ending highway? It's time to take control of your coffee destiny, and we're here to show you how with a tutorial on how to brew French press coffee. This ain't your grandma's coffee. This is a hand-picked, trucker-approved, kick-ass cup of coffee that's ready to fuel your day. Welcome to the Road Dog guide on how to use a French Press coffee maker.

What is a French Press?

A French Press, also known as a press pot or plunger pot, is more than just a coffee maker; it's a time-honored method of brewing coffee that has captivated coffee lovers for generations. Invented in the early 20th century by Italian designer Attilio Calimani, the French Press has undergone various design changes but has remained true to its core principles.

How does the french press work? The device consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless steel container, accompanied by a metal or wire mesh plunger that serves to separate coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. Coarse ground coffee beans go in first, then the near-boiling water.

Unlike drip coffee makers, the French Press doesn't use paper filters, allowing the natural oils and fine coffee particles to remain in the cup. This results in a rich, full-bodied flavor that's often described as more 'authentic' compared to other brew methods.

A full French Press with a rich, dark coffee brew ready to be served, surrounded by whole coffee beans.

No paper filters. No nonsense. Just pure, authentic coffee brewed to perfection. It's a masterpiece that offers quality and value, allowing you to conquer the open road of flavor with every cup of coffee.

The French Press's simple design and functionality have made it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts, both for home use and in specialty coffee shops. It offers a level of control over brewing variables like steeping time and water temperature, enabling the user to craft delicious coffee to their specific taste preferences.

Despite its name, the French Press's origins are a subject of debate, with both the French and Italians laying claim to its invention. What's certain is that this brewing method has stood the test of time, offering an approach to coffee brewing that resonates with those who value quality and tradition.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned coffee connoisseur, the French Press offers a rewarding and flavorful coffee-making experience. Let's dive into what makes the French Press a rebel in the coffee world.

French Press Use and Accessories

The quest for the perfect cup of French Press coffee is not just about the press itself. It's a thrilling adventure filled with tools and accessories that elevate your brewing game. These are not mere add-ons but essential companions that reflect Road Dog's rebel spirit and commitment to quality. Here's your arsenal:

Coffee Grinder: The heart and soul of your brew, the grind is where the flavor begins. You need ground coffee, but not just any grind. The medium-coarse grind is your ticket to a flavor-packed journey.

Unlike blade grinders, which can create uneven particles, the burr grinder crushes the beans to a consistent-size ground coffee, allowing for a more uniform extraction.

Gooseneck Kettle: A tool that gives you precision in pouring hot water, ensuring an even brew that resonates with Road Dog's rugged spirit.

Its elegant, narrow spout allows for a controlled flow, something that's crucial in the immersion brewing method like the French Press. This tool's roots can be traced back to Japan's traditional tea ceremonies, where precision and control are celebrated.

Coffee being poured from a French Press into a ceramic cup.

Scale: In the world of coffee brewing, eyeballing just doesn't cut it. Want to make the best French Press coffee? You've got to weigh your ground coffee beans. A good scale allows you to measure not only the coffee but also the water, ensuring the perfect ratio every time. It's a nod to the scientific approach to coffee brewing that has been embraced by specialty coffee shops and home brewers alike.

Thermometer: Temperature matters, and with a good thermometer, you're in control of this vital variable. Water that's too hot can over-extract the coffee, leading to bitterness, while too cool can result in a weak brew. Shoot for a water temperature between 195-205°F (90-96°C) to ensure a bold and balanced cup of coffee.

What can a French Press be used for?

Don't limit your adventure! A French Press is versatile and ready to brew more than just coffee. While most commonly used for hot brewed coffee, a French Press can also be used to make cold brew, iced coffee, or even tea.

The lack of a paper filter allows the flavor complexities to shine, providing a pure and unadulterated taste experience. It's the turbo-charged tool that caters to your taste buds' every whim, a true rebel in the kitchen.

How to make French press coffee, the easy way: 

Close-up of freshly roasted coffee beans ready to be ground for use in a French Press.

Choose the Best Coffee Beans

Start with quality coffee beans that resonate with your taste. Whether it's a robust dark roast or a bright and fruity light roast, the choice is yours. Historically, the French Press method has been known to amplify the natural flavors in coffee, making it a perfect choice for exploring various bean origins and roasts.

Ground Coffee: The Key to a Great Cup

The grind size matters. Aim for a medium-coarse grind, like breadcrumbs. This grind size has been proven over time to allow for optimal extraction, maintaining a balance between flavor and body. The French Press brewing method emphasizes this coarse grind, a reminder of the old-world coffee houses where hand-grinding was a cherished ritual.

Measure with Precision

One of the most-asked questions is how much ground coffee to use in a French press. 5-12 tablespoons of coffee should be right, depending on your desired strength and the size of your press. The coffee to water ratio is crucial, and the 1:15 to 1:17 range is often considered the golden ratio by coffee enthusiasts and baristas alike.

Boil the Water

Bring your filtered water to a boil, then let it cool slightly to the desired temperature range of 195-205°F (90-96°C). This temperature range has been recognized by coffee experts for extracting the best flavors without overdoing it.

Pour and Stir

Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds. Gently stir gently to ensure all the coffee grounds are saturated. This simple act of stirring, once overlooked, has been found to significantly impact the brew's uniformity, resulting in a richer flavor.

Let It Brew

Allow the coffee to steep for 4 minutes. This time-honored brew time allows the flavors to fully develop without over-extraction. The French Press method's immersion brewing style, where the coffee grounds are in direct contact with the water, adds to the body and depth of the coffee. A shorter brewing time could lead to weaker coffee.

Press and Enjoy

Slowly press down the plunger, separating the finished coffee from the coffee grounds. Pour yourself a cup, and experience a taste that's as rugged and authentic as the open road.

Voila! A delicious cup of great coffee awaits. It's a process that's been cherished and perfected over the decades since the French Press was patented in 1929. It's more than just a brew method; it's a testament to coffee's timeless allure and a celebration of the bold, uncompromised flavors that Road Dog stands for.

Aromatic coffee being poured from a French Press into a second French Press vessel.

How to set your grinder:

When it comes to brewing french press coffee the Road Dog way, precision is king, and your grinder is what will lead you to flavor victory.

Understanding Grinders:

There are two main types of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. The difference between them isn't just mechanical; it's a divide between the unrefined past and the refined present.

Blade Grinder: These grinders use spinning blades to chop the coffee beans, much like a food processor. While they're simple and often more affordable, they can lead to an uneven grind, leaving you with a mix of fine and coarse particles. 

Historically, blade grinders were the go-to option for many households, but their inconsistent results can lead to an uneven extraction during brewing.

Burr Grinders: The burr grinder is the artisan of the grinding world. It uses two abrasive surfaces (burrs) that grind a few beans at a time, ensuring a consistent grind. Whether it's a flat or conical grinder, the result is a uniform grind that's perfect for the French Press method. Many coffee enthusiasts and professionals prefer burr grinders for their precision and control.

Setting the Coffee Grounds Size:

Aim for a medium-coarse grind, similar to sea salt. This grind size has been embraced by coffee aficionados for its ability to extract the full spectrum of flavors without overdoing it. It respects the coffee's integrity, allowing the flavors to sing without being overshadowed by bitterness.

Whether you prefer the hands-on approach of a manual burr grinder or the convenience of an electric one, the goal remains the same: a consistent medium grind or medium-coarse grind. Manual grinders offer a tactile connection to the coffee-making process, a nod to traditional methods, while electric grinders offer speed and efficiency.

Of course, you could skip this step altogether and invest in a pre-ground coffee, but be sure to use it quickly, as freshness is key to the best cup of coffee.

Gentle pressing of the plunger on a French Press to separate the brewed coffee from the grounds.

How Much Coffee Do I Put in a French Press?

The ratio of coffee to water is like a secret handshake in the world of coffee brewing. The sweet spot is a 1:15 to 1:17 coffee to filtered water ratio, but this rule is as flexible as a seasoned trucker navigating the winding roads.

Do I Need to Weigh My Coffee Beans?

Heck yes! Weighing your whole beans isn't just about being meticulous; it's about understanding the craft. It ensures the perfect pot, a harmonious balance between strength and flavor. Historically, coffee enthusiasts relied on volume measurements, but the move to weighing beans marked a breakthrough in precision. It's a testament to the attention to detail that separates a mediocre brew from a Road Dog masterpiece.

How Long Should You Leave a French Press?

The French Press is all about patience. Four minutes is the magic number, a time-tested standard that lets the coffee steep and the full spectrum of flavors unleash. This steeping time has its roots in the very invention of the French Press in the early 20th century.

Want to kick things up a notch? Add more coffee or let the water sit a bit longer. But remember, a true rebel knows when too much resistance is a bad thing. Finding the perfect strength is about understanding the fine line between boldness and bitterness, and this can be effected by factors like dark roast or light roast beans.

How to Make Cold Brew in a French Press: A Revolution in Coffee Enjoyment

When it comes to coffee, breaking the mold and exploring new horizons is what Road Dog is all about. In that spirit, we recommend you use a french press to make cold brew coffee. Let's embark on this flavor-packed journey, harnessing the power of the French Press to create cold brew, the Road Dog way.

What is Cold Brew? Why Use a French Press?

Cold brew is more than just chilled coffee. Smooth, less acidic, and with a unique and rich taste profile, it's become a favorite among coffee enthusiasts. Historically, cold brew has been a method reserved for specialty shops, but with the French Press, it's brought right into your home.

The Aeropress coffee brewing apparatus in action, pressing down to extract coffee into a cup.

What is the Difference Between Cold Press and French Press Coffee?

Don't confuse cold press with French press; they're two different beasts. Cold press uses a paper filter and takes longer, often 12 hours or more. It's a more refined process that can sometimes lack the boldness true coffee rebels crave. The French press, on the other hand, unleashes a robust flavor in less time.

What Ratio for Cold Brew French Press?

When it comes to cold brew in a French Press, proportions matter, and you want to be sure you're using enough coffee. A 1:7 ratio of coffee grounds to filtered water works well, a guideline that's been honed over time by coffee pioneers. But remember, this french press ratio is your starting point, a baseline that you can tweak to your personal preference to unleash the flavors you crave.

Final Thoughts

In the world of coffee, French Presses are more than tools; they're a symbol of innovation, quality, and rebellion. Whether hot or cold, traditional or unconventional, it's about embracing the spirit of exploration, connecting with a rich history, and taking control of your coffee destiny. With Road Dog Coffee, you're joining a movement, a community of coffee lovers who value authenticity, strength, and the courage to challenge the ordinary.

We've paved the road to the perfect French Press coffee, and now it's your turn to ride. Whether you crave the robust warmth of a hot brew or the refreshing twist of cold brew, the French Press is your vehicle to flavor freedom.

Back to blog