How to Use a French Press

You see them every where!
- Who you might ask?

People in a hurry with a paper cup in their hand
...or perhaps you are already one of them?

For many, buying a hot cup of coffee to-go has become a daily ritual!

Either way, it is what's inside that counts ..the hot and hopefully delicious coffee!

Have you ever wondered what it would take to be able to make a cup of quality coffee yourself?

You’ll love this in depth French Press Guide!

The main focus of this guide is to teach you how to use a French Press and make yourself a delicious cup of coffee in 5 easy steps.

But first, let’s give you some insight about how coffee became this popular and world wide beverage..




Coffee became this world wide commodity during the first wave of coffee. Starting at 1800’s, this wave was all about mass production of coffee, vacuum packing and bringing coffee to the masses for consumtion.

Cafe porto Santos 1880
Coffee being embarked in the port of Santos, Brazil 1880.

During the 1900’s companies like Maxwell and Nestlè was dominating the coffee industry, with instant coffee and catchy slogans like “The best part of waking up”. The first wave coffee was known for being bitter, week and containing a lot of leftover acids from the coffee production.

In contrast to the first wave, the second wave of coffee, starting from late 1960’s, the coffee industry was forming a new awareness of the coffee quality, brewing techniques, roasting and occasionally knowledge of the coffee origin. The consumers was now expecting more from their coffee – where the first wave was focusing on consumption, the second wave was now focusing on enjoyment. During this second wave, big business coffee shops started to pop up, with the most famous ones being Starbucks and Peet’s. There where also smaller, more local coffee shops starting to show, many of them inspired by Italian and French coffee culture.

Pan-American Coffee Bureau Vintage Ad "coffee-break"
Pan-American Coffee Bureau Vintage Ad “coffee-break” 1952

From this second wave, the to-go cup as a status symbol was beginning to form. The to-go coffee was forming as a ritual that celebrated the American ideals of working hard and playing hard. It was the Pan American Coffee Bureau that invented the “coffee break” in a 1952 campaign, thereby giving people a socially acceptable reason to leave the cubicle and grab a coffee to-go. In modern days the to-go cup as a signal of wealth and a busy schedule can be seen in other parts of the world as well, according to this article, women in South Korea are starving themselves to afford a cup of Starbucks coffee.

Starbucks Insa, South Korea
Starbucks Insa, South Korea

While in Great Britain, 8 million takeaway coffees are being consumed each day – yet, supposedly, fewer than 1 in 400 is being recycled.

Although the second wave of coffee gave us new knowledge about the different types of brewing, roasting and enjoyment of coffee, you do not have to be a coffee snob to realize that some of the big business coffee corporations do not sell their coffee with quality in mind. You get the impression that they are making money by selling milk-based coffee drinks, often heavily flavored with syrups, to caffeine addicts that don’t really like coffee.

baristaThis is where the 2000’s third wave of coffee comes to place, inspired by the wine and craft beer culture, it came from a demand to hold coffee to a higher standard – all the way from the seed to the cup. Every step of coffee production from farming, roasting, and brewing is pushed further than in the second wave. The third wave is really an extension of the second wave of coffee, taking coffee from good to great, educating the consumers to not only to enjoy, but also to appreciate the coffee as a crafts. High quality coffee beans (aka. specialty coffee), and light roast are distinctive features of the third wave of coffee, some of the big third wave coffee companies in America are Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, and Stumptown.

The goal of the guide is not the overwhelm you with a lot of coffee facts, but rather give you a basic understand of what coffee really is, and maybe some inspiration to take a greater, more conscious part in the third wave of coffee.

For this guide, brewing with a French press will be the essential for making our cup of quality coffee. So lets familiar us self with this brewing method and its history…


The basic idea of French Press is quite simple! You pour the water and the grounded coffee together in the container – then you press the plunge to gather the coffee at the bottom of the cylindrical beaker,

The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing
James Hoffman: Winner of The World Barista Championship (WBC) 2007 and author of the “The World Atlas of Coffee”

the coffee is been filtered trough a re-usable metal mesh filter attached to the plug. Regardless of its simplicity, the French Press coffee maker is incredibly effective. The fact that it does not use electricity or any additional paper filters makes it environment friendly and great to bring outdoors.

James Hoffmann is referring to French Press brewing as the “most underrated method of brewing coffee”, in his book The World Atlas of Coffee – a must read book for all coffee lovers out there!

The first documented origins of the French Press like coffee maker, dates all the way back to 1852 France, it describes a rod attached to a piece of tin pierced with holes stacked together between two layers of flannel. A more refined design, that resembles the French Press we use today, was patented by a Milanese firm owned by the Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929.

The Italien patent office Ugo Paolih of Milan: “ASSIGNOR OF O NE-HALF TO ATTILIO ‘CALIMANI AND ONE-HALF TO GIULIO MONETA” Match 24, 1931

This was the first ever registered patent for a French Press, and the company continued their work and perfected the device in the years that followed.

The next significant redesign was achieved by another Italian, Faliero Bondanini in 1958, who described his design as an “Apparatus in which ground coffee or tea-leaves are immersed in the hot liquid in the beverage container having immersible, e.g. rotatable, filters”.

This coffee maker design spread across the European market, distributed by the French company Martin S.A. under the name Chambord. It became very popular in France, where nearly every home had one by the 1960s – this might be the prehistory of the name French Press

Many will recognize the Chambord design as the predecessor to the Danish BODUM coffee maker – a glass vessel, a steel lid, a round handle of the rod with the plunge.

Bodum Chambord - the well known classic french press coffee maker.
Bodum Chambord – the well known classic French Press coffee maker. Why not buy one today?

It took a while before the French Press made its way across the Atlantic sea. But eventually, during the early 1980s, Americans began following the Europeans and started to use, what was first referred to as the cafetiere. In 1993, Florence Fabricant explained the “French-press method” to the readers of The New York Times as a favorite of connoisseurs. Today the cafetiere is mostly known as French Press or coffee press in the United States, Canada, Germany as well as in most Scandinavian countries.

According to Wikipedia, the French Press also goes by various other names. In Italy the French Press is known as a caffettiera a stantuffo. In New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa the coffee maker is known as a coffee plunger. Its French name is cafetière à piston, though French speakers also use generalized trademarks, notably Melior or Bodum. In the UK and the Netherlands the device is known as a cafetière – the French word for coffee maker or pot.

At the time of writing there are several companies that are working on improving the widespread French Press design and brewing method. One of the big drawbacks with the traditional French Press design, as Florence Fabricant pointed out in her New York times article, is the fact that the one layer metal mesh filer, tends to let some of the fine coffee grind trough the filter – and could potentially make the coffee muddy. The Canadian based company Espro, have reinvented the French Press design, with a double mirco-filter – “for the cleanest cup you can get”.

The Rite press
The Rite press is launched under the motto “The ‘No Mess’ French press”.

The kickstarter founded Rite press have taken the French Press design in another direction. This is a coffee maker with a removable bottom, integrated thermometer, and built-in timer to ensure optimal conditions for “an amazing cup of coffee every time”. The Rite press is launched under the motto “The ‘No Mess’ French press”, referring to the fact that the stainless steel filter is forcing all the grounds into a removable bottom chamber, which twists off for easy cleaning.

As you can tell, the French Press coffee maker has been trough a lot of testing and redesign since the first design draft back in 1852, and new improvement of this simple and genius principle is still being made. If you know how to avoid the pitfalls using a French Press, like the potential of muddy coffee, it is an affordable and easy way to make great quality coffee.

As you now have learned, French Press is one of several names of this convenient coffee maker design. French Press is also used as the name of a method of coffee brewing. Therefor in the next part of this guide, I will show you how to make coffee using a regular French Press coffee maker in only 5 easy steps. I will also give you some useful tips to how you can prevent the coffee from becoming muddy – and a little tip on how to use the French Press coffee maker to steam milk for your cappuccino..



  • Brewing time Coffee: 5 min
  • Brewing time Cappuccino: 7 min
  • Coffee per Liter: 55 grams
  • Grind Level: Medium
  • Degree of Difficulty: Easy



  • Coffee (preferably coffee beans)
  • Soft fresh Water
  • Milk (for cappuccino)


1 Cup (2.36 dl)CoffeeWaterMilk
Regular Coffee13 gram (app. 2 1/2 tbsp)2.36 dl (1 cup)
Cappuccino4 gram (app. 1 tbsp)0.78 dl (1/3 cup)1.58 dl (2/3 cup)

(*) Use a little more water and milk than stated due to evaporation.

brewing Tips

  • I strongly recommend that you buy some freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them just before your brewing – this will definitely make your coffee taste a lot better than by using per-grinded coffee beans.
  • Use soft, fresh water, basically water that taste great on it’s own – use bottle water if necessary!
  • For a consistent cup, always use a scale. Coffee beans vary in density and size from variety to variety.
  • After the coffee has settled at the bottom of the French Press, pour it directly on a mug if you are not planning to drink it all at once. The coffee will get a bitter taste if you leave it in the French Press

The Fast Cup Method

    Fill the boiler with 1 cup of water if you are making regular coffee (not cappuccino). -> Boil the water on maximum heat!

    Boil instead (1/3) cup of water.

    Boil The Water
    Measure the beans/coffee using a scale (preferably) or with a table spoon, you want 2.5 tbsp of whole Coffee beans for each cup, OR 3 tbsp pre-grinded coffee for each cup.

    Leave the grinded coffee in a cup, do not put it in the French Press yet! You want 1/3 of the coffee measuring above, both for coffee beans (1 tbsp) or the pre-grinded coffee (1.5 tbsp).

    Messure Coffee with a Table Spoon
    Grind the beans if you are using whole coffee beans, to prevent muddy coffee you should grind the coffee to a medium grind level – that way the coffee will not pass the filter as easily.

    Put (2/3) cup of Milk in the microwave for 1,5 min – or in an additional boiler. Pour the milk in the French Press, then move the plunger up and down until the Milk becomes Frothy. Pour the Milk back in the cup and clean the French Press in water.

    Froth Milk With a French Press
    Put the coffee in the French Press and pour Water from the bolier over the coffee. Stir a couple of times, try to remove some of the foam and the floating bits with a spoon.
    Now you just wait while the floating bits sinks down to the bottom of the French press. (Don’t put the plunge on the French Press yet!)
    Coffee in the French Press
    After about 3 min, when all the bits have sunk to the bottom, put the plunge on the French Press. Do not press it all the way down, then you will just stir up the coffee ground at the bottom. Just press the plunge down to the top of the coffee line and use it as a filter when you carefully pour the coffee.


    Pour the coffee in one cup and pour the warm, frothy Milk over the coffee (add some Sugar or Cinnamon if you like)

    Wait 3 min before Coffee is ready

There you have it!

This is how you can make a delicious cup of Coffee or Cappuccino in less than 10 minutes using the Fast cup method.

By learning how you can use a French Press to make a cup of great coffee, you won’t have to rely on buying some overpriced take away coffee with a variable quality on you way to work. You could just simply put the coffee in a travel mug and bring it with you..


Are you still not convinced?

I will wrap this article up by pointing out the benefits of making you own coffee instead of buying an overpriced paper cup coffee on the go.

Looking at this Business Insider article on how much a cup of cappuccino coffee costs in 8 cities around the world, I calculated that the average price for a cup of cappuccino is about $4,815. Let’s say you buy a cup of cappuccino 4 out of 5 days during a regular work week – like I did!

It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits..

This will add up to $19,26 a week.
Then add this by 4 weeks. You end up width $77,04 a month.

$77 you could you could use on something fun and useful, like a re-usable travel mug.

One big problem with the to-go paper cup, is the fact that the cup is indeed made out of paper. One would assume that paper, in contrast to plastic is easy to recycle – and that is in fact true!

Think about it, if the paper cup was just made out of paper, the hot coffee would soak through the paper and burn you badly, that is why the inside of the paper cup is filled with a thin plastic layer to prevent this from happening – and this plastic layer is exactly the core of the recycling problem!

How can you, or more specific a machine separate the plastic from the paper cup? Exactly, not that easy!

Luckily, there are some companies working on solving this problem, but at this point in time we do not see many functioning, real life paper cup recycling systems in use. Let’s just hope for the future!

In the meanwhile, the most environmentally way you can solve this problem is to use a re-usable travel mug, preferably in steel, bamboo or ceramic.

Thank you for hanging in there, hopefully you learned something useful about this fantastic beverage and managed to French Press yourself a delicious cup of coffee – cheers!!

If you enjoyed this guide, do not hesitate to share it with your friends! Do you have any questions or additional phrases? Feel free comment below!

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