Wednesday, July 08, 2009

How to make coffee #3 French Press (Cafetiere)

This has to be my favourite way to make coffee. It's simple, quick and always tasty if done correctly.

You can buy a French Press in any number of sizes, I have a four cup and a one cup. Let's run with the one cup. The general rule is one spoon of coffee per cup plus one for the pot. Place the coffee in the bottom of the Caffetiere and boil the kettle.

When the water has boiled wait for it to go off boiling. If you pour it in when its too hot it'll burn the coffee which wont taste good.

Then pour in the water, not too fast but not too slow, you'll see it rise and foam a little. The temptation now is to leave it to stew for a while. Instead take the press and insert immediately, pushing down quickly to the top of the coffee, this traps in the steam and gives some pressure. Now leave it for 2-3 minutes before slowly pressing down. An Espresso-style Crema begins to appear and will transfer into the cup, giving a tasty golden layer on top of the coffee..Failing to use enough coffee or catch the pressure results in a watery coffee, and you may as well have instant. Pour into the cup, adding milk and sugar to taste if you must.


  1. This was the only method I used til about 2 months ago, when I read an interview with a man in the Guardian who said the best way to do it was double the amount of coffee, stir it quickly, then plunge after 10-20 seconds. He wasn't wrong. It makes for very strong coffee very good coffee, though obviously uses your grounds twice as fast. I find it's the method I use most often now, though sometimes I like to use the 2-3 minutes as it's a softer taste.

  2. Enjoying this series, it's making me very thirsty. Care with cafetière coffee though - see British Medical Journal November 1996.

  3. French friends tell me this is the best way to make coffee.

  4. My variation on this is to effectively cook the coffee a little by adding a small amount of water (just before it boils), stir, then fill up with water to the top and put the press on. It makes a smoother cup and is particularly useful with the various coffees I've brought back from fieldwork in Zambia. I've found my 8 cup is an essential writing tool.

  5. Mark, I have been using that method too recently. Works well.