How to Brew French Press Like a Professional

I am sure many of us have asked the question; “Is there a fool proof formula to brewing coffee?” or even “Are there some established guidelines to brewing a “perfect” cup of coffee?” The answer is a bit of a tricky one because, while there are clear guidelines as to what is considered over extracted and under extracted, there is also the issue of taste and individual preferences to contend with. So to get you started in your coffee brewing journey, I will attempt to guide you in making a great cup of coffee using the standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe Gold Cup.


Now let’s look at the SCAE Brewing Parameters;–



Water Temperature: 88°C – 93°C – The lighter the roast, the higher the temperature, would be the rule of thumb.


Water: Freshly boiled, filtered tap water. Never use Reverse Osmosis or distilled water because there is a lack of minerals in it and to brew good coffee, the optimum amount of total dissolved minerals is 150 parts per million (PPM). Also remember to never reuse boiled water.


Coffee Grounds: It’s important to grind fresh just right before you brew with a proper grinder and not a spice mill or blender. Hand grinders for coffee are quite popular these days, but a proper coffee grinder is essential for a great cup. The grind size for a French Press should be of the same coarseness as granulated sugar. It doesn’t hurt to clean your grinder too, before you begin your brewing process. Just in case you get the grind size wrong, it would be safe to say that the finer the ground the shorter the brewing time, and the coarser the ground the longer the brewing time.


Steeping Time: 4 – 6 minutes – Stop steeping too early, and you will get an under extracted coffee that will taste sour and weak; steep it too long and you will have unpleasant bitterness. So once brewed, please ensure that you remove the brewed coffee from the spent grounds. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the roast, the longer the brewing time.


Brew Ratio: The ratio of water to coffee should be 18:1. Therefore, for about a liter of water, you should be using 55 grams of coffee. You can add or reduce the amount based on your own taste preference, but the brewing protocol should remain the same.


So here come the steps:

1. Firstly, remove the plunger top and check to see that that no old coffee oils or fines are present on any plunger pieces, lid, or cylinder. Clean it again if you have to by rinsing it well.


2. Boil a kettle of water, bearing in mind you will use this for brewing as well as preheating your French Press.


3. Weigh your coffee out to your desired brew ratio. Set the grinder to the appropriate coarseness. Be sure to clean or purge the grinder prior to grinding the beans for brewing.


4. Once the water is ready, preheat the French Press, serving vessel and mugs with some hot boiling water.


5. Pour out the preheating water. Place the French Press on the scale and tare it to zero.


6. Freshly grind your coffee and add it to the French Press. Check to see that the coffee weight hasn’t changed, then tare to zero again.


7. Start the timer when you begin to pour over the freshly boiled hot water; prior to this decide on the brew temperature.


8. Pre-infusion: Completely saturate the grounds as you pour. As you saturate your coffee, you will see bubbles. Gently allow the coffee to bloom and release its gasses. This will ensure an even extraction as you brew. Pour slowly to ensure you can monitor the scale display accurately and achieve the correct coffee to water ratio.


9. Fifteen seconds before your brew is finished, break the crust on top and skim off the remaining floating grounds and coffee grounds with a spoon. This will help you to plunge easier, and it also gives you a cleaner cup.


10. Replace the plunger cap on top and press down slowly and carefully. Pressing too fast or forcefully may lead to hot coffee spilling out. Once the plunger filter reaches the end, immediately pour coffee into its serving vessel and serve. If you are serving some specialty coffee, letting the coffee cool down to about 55°C before drinking may be a good idea, as this allows you to taste the different flavour notes as it cools.



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Daniel Liew

Barista Guild Asia

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