Learn the secrets of making the perfect pot of coffee with a french press or cafetière coffee maker. From picking out a cafetière to choosing and grinding your coffee beans to pouring the french press coffee into your cup, we’ll lead you along the way and explain every step in detail.

Using our french press cafetière coffee guide and the tips we frequently post, you’ll learn how to use a cafetière and the best ways to make perfect, consistent pots of great tasting coffee.


Choosing a Cafetière Coffee Maker

BODUM Caffettiera French Press
BODUM Caffettiera French Press

The first thing you’ll need to begin brewing great french press coffee is a cafetiere coffee maker. There are literally hundreds of different kinds out there and choosing the right one depends on a couple of different factors.

  • Is it just for yourself or do you need to make coffee for more than one person regularly?
  • Do you like to make coffee for your friends after a nice dinner?
  • What’s your budget?

Choosing Coffee Beans

When it comes to choosing the coffee beans you want to use in your caffertiere, it really comes down to your own personal preferences and needs. Any grocery store or coffee shop will carry beans for you to purchase and most will even grind the beans for you there if you ask. If you don’t have a grinder at home, this option will work. If you do have a grinder though, grab the whole bean coffees so you can have fresh ground coffee all the time.

Measuring and Grinding the Beans

The measuring and grinding of beans for your french press is probably the most confusing part of the whole process. Listed below are some general guidelines that should help you get the numbers right the first few times.

Once you’ve tried these numbers and measurements, feel free to try out your own tests to get the coffee just the way you like it. Some people like weaker or stronger coffee, so experiment with different amounts of ground coffee beans and water until you’re happy.

There’s no right or wrong way to make a pot of french press coffee. The following tips will simply help point you in the right direction.

Store Coffee Sizes VS. French Press Coffee Sizes

We’re all used to the sizes of coffee that are served up to us in Starbucks and the like: the smallest regular cup of coffee you’ll see is 12oz. Things are a little different for cafetiere coffee makers, where a cup of coffee is generally between 4-6 ounces.

So if you’re looking to be a traditionalist, get yourself some small cups and saucers and stick to the 4-6 cups of coffee with your french press. For the rest of us, go ahead and pour your coffee into your 64 ounce mug and get on with your day.

How Much Coffee do you put in a Cafetière?

So because the size of a traditional cup of cafetière coffee are smaller than what we’re used to, so are the serving sizes. For every 4 ounces of water, you’ll want to use 1 heaped tablespoon of coffee beans.

So in a single person french press, 3 heaped tablespoons is the perfect amount of coffee beans to make a great pot of coffee.

Grinding Settings for your Coffee Beans

French press coffee makers do not use paper filters like standard drip coffee makers do. Instead, a cafetière will either have a nylon or steel mesh filter to separate the grinds and the water.

French Cafetiere Coffee Beans

Because of this, you will need to use a much coarser grind of coffee to make sure that it doesn’t clog the filter on the cafetière’s plunger. On nearly every grinder, it will either say “coarse” or “press” grind; that’s what you want to use.

Heating the Water

Heating the water to make your coffee is a pretty simple process. You just need to get the right amount of water to a boil. Once boiling, take the water off of the heat and let sit for about 45 seconds to cool down just slightly. This will prevent the coffee from getting burnt when you pour in the water. Then you’re good to go.

Here are a few of the best ways to heat up your water:


The tried and true. 99% of people have either a gas or electric stove. Electric is quicker but either will work fine. This is a great little tea kettle to get the job done easily.

Electric Kettle

Electric Kettles are great ways to heat up your water for your french press. They are quick and really convenient

Regular Coffee Maker

Nearly all of us have a standard drip coffee maker at home. These are great for heating up water for your cafetière because they’re basically an electric kettle. Just leave the basket empty (no filters or anything) and add the water and turn it on. Hot water in minutes.

Steeping the Coffee

Once you have your water heated up and the right amount of coffee added to your cafetière, you’re ready to start steeping your coffee.

Start pouring your water into your french press. Be careful as you pour as the steam that comes up is really hot and can scald you if you aren’t careful. As you’re pouring, move the stream of water around to splash the grounds up as much as you can. This helps to get all of the grounds fully saturated and helps pull the most flavor possibly out of the grinds.

Once you’ve poured the water in to the level you want (remember, 4 ounces of water for each tablespoon of coffee), go ahead and place the top and plunger back on top of your french press. After it’s securely placed on top, push the plunger down slightly so that the grounds are held about a 1/2″ below the top of the water. This helps keep the grinds fully soaked and will significantly add to the flavor of the coffee.

At this point, you get to play the waiting game. The ideal steeping time for french press coffee is 4 minutes. So go ahead and set a timer if you have one or just make note of the time and get ready to come back and press the coffee.

As the water is very very hot, you’ll want to set the cafetière down somewhere where it won’t get bumped or knocked down. It’s usually best to leave it to steep right near where you boiled the water.

Pressing the Coffee

french press plungerNow that you’ve ground the beans, heated the water, and then poured the water into your cafetière and waited the 4 minutes for it to steep, you’re ready to press and pour your coffee.

On nearly all french presses, there is a small mark that shows where you pour the coffee out of the top. You’ll want to turn the lid so that that mark is not over the spout. The reason being is that when you’re pressing your coffee, you don’t want to run the risk of the hot coffee spurting out and burning you or someone around you. So give the lid a quarter turn and everyone is good.

Start Pressing!

Place your hand on the plunger and begin gently pushing it down. This does not require a lot of force at all. If you find a lot of resistance, STOP. You don’t want to run the risk of splashing boiling hot water anywhere or potentially breaking the french press. So use about 2 fingers worth of force and take an extra couple of seconds to fully press the coffee down slowly.

Make sure to press the plunger all the way down as far as it will go. This will ensure that you’ve all squeezed out all of the coffee possible and will get you ready to pour and enjoy your coffee.

Pouring and Drinking the Coffee

The main difference between french press coffee makers and a standard drip coffee maker is that in a drip coffee maker, the finished pot of coffee is separate from the grounds that made it. In a french press, the coffee sits in the cafetière with the used grounds. This means that a cafetière of french press coffee will sour significantly faster than a regular coffee pot.

To prevent this, you’ll want to drink your coffee within 20 minutes of pressing it. So go ahead and turn the lid so that the mark on top is aligned with the pouring spout and get ready to pour. Pour slowly as the coffee is very hot and you don’t want to make a mistake and miss a cup. You don’t have to worry about any grounds pouring out with the coffee; the filter holds them all on the bottom of the cafetière so you can turn the thing upside down if you want.

Once you’ve poured all of the cups you want, if you have any left over coffee, there are a couple of things you can do. You can obviously just pour the rest out if you’re not interested in keeping any of it. Or, if you want, you can pour the remainder into a container and put it straight into the fridge to let it chill. Then you can enjoy iced coffee later really easily.

Once the coffee is poured, you can add any ingredients you want like cream or sugar. French press coffee has a much more robust flavor profile as the tannins and oils from the beans are left in the coffee as opposed to drip coffee machines with paper filters that will remove all of those oils from the coffee. So you might want to try the coffee without any extras at first to really take in the difference that cafetiere coffee makes.

Cleaning the Cafetière

Once you’re all finished with your coffee, it’s time to clean up.

First, pour any remaining coffee into the sink. Once you’ve done that, remove the lid and plunger and at the bottom of your cafetière you’ll see all of the used coffee grinds from your brew. You can pour these down the sink as well but it’s usually better to just dump them into your trash can.

Cleaning the Cafetière
Do not scratch the glass of your cafetiere when cleaning as bacteria can ruin the taste of your coffee.

Once they’ve all been dumped out, take your cafetiere over to the sink and rinse it out to get rid of all of the leftover grinds.

Next, take a soft sponge and a light detergent and gently scrub the inside of the french press to get rid of all of the oils and residue left over. You don’t want to use any rough sponges or anything like that because you don’t want to run the risk of scratching the inside glass or metal. Scratches can potentially lead to bacteria emerging in the container.

Disassemble the plunger and lid and rinse and scrub those as well. Once they’re all nice and shiny clean, lay them all out to air dry for a little bit.

Once they’ve dried, you can go ahead and reassemble the cafetière and put it away until the next time you want to have an amazing pot of coffee.

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