How to use a French press – if you've invested in a cafetière

Good coffee is made simple with a classic cafetière. Learn how to use a French press right and never look back

how to use a cafetière: Stainless steel French press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to use a French press is one of those things that everyone should know how to do, right. Also known as a cafetière, the French press is the secret to delicious and easy to brew coffee, so it will make early starts, and therefore life, much better.

The nifty device was first created in the 1850s and has now come even further to produce an even better cup of Joe. It is essentially just a jug (usually made from heat resistant borosilicate glass) and a filter. So this is simplicity at its best, and it’s a beautiful object to have on your kitchen counter also. 

Usually complete with stainless steel and copper finishes, this decorative and feisty little brewing device is totally worth a shot – pun intended! So sure, you may already have the best coffee machine at home, but this is how to use your French press properly. 

Choosing the best coffee for your French press

The first, and fairly obvious, step is to choose your coffee. Pick your beans Robusta, Arabica or another type depending on the aroma and flavour profile that you’re going for, and while the actual type of coffee you use won’t affect the cafetière itself, it is the consistency of your coffee grounds that you need to pay close attention to.

The ideal consistency of your coffee grounds should be coarse and even, so if you aren’t grinding your coffee beans at home (this would be next level great), be sure to avoid buying grounds for espresso. 

Reason being that if your coffee grounds are too fine, filtering your coffee won’t be an easy task; if your coffee grounds are too coarse, there will be no resistance when you filter the coffee which means likely spillages and a slightly watery finish. No thank you.

coffee beans and grinder for French press

(Image credit: Getty images)

How much coffee do you need for a French press?

Generally speaking, you’re looking for a coffee to water ratio of 1:10, which is 1g/0.04oz coffee per 10g/0.4oz water. A coffee scoop usually holds about 10g//0.4oz so makes for easy measuring, and how much you use depends on what size cafetière you are using.

How long is French press brew time?

Four minutes will give you the most well-balanced and delicious flavor.

Using a French press, step-by-step: 

  1. Boil your water in a kettle or on the stove. This needs to be off the boil when you use it, at around 86 to 90ºC (195°F).
  2. Preheat your cafetière with warm water or by swirling round some of the just boiled water.
  3. Measure and add your coffee to the cafetière jug.
  4. Add the water, again, dependent on how much coffee you have used, and be sure to stir in an up and down motion so that the grounds brew evenly.
  5. Place the filter on top and set a four minute timer.
  6. In the meantime, we like to preheat our coffee cup, KeepCup or thermos flask with some of the spare hot water.
  7. When 4 minutes is up, filter your coffee by slowly pressing the plunger down. We say slowly because if you apply too much pressure and too quickly, you may cause a spillage.
  8. Pour your coffee into your preheated cup(s) and enjoy it as it is or add whatever you need to make it the perfect cup of Joe for you.

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Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing!