How to make a foolproof cup of French press coffee
A mug of coffee made by a French Press
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How to make a foolproof cup of French press coffee

The press process is one of the simplest ways to brew coffee. All you do is dump some grounds in the carafe, push the filter plunger and — presto.

Unfortunately, while the process seems straightforward, there’s still a lot of subtlety between making a tasty mug of joe or getting a muddy mess. The guys behind Wasatch Roasting Company have made slow coffee processes their business and offered a few tips on making the perfect pot of French press at home.

1. Get your grounds the right girth

Coffee degrades quickly after grinding, which is why experts recommend buying whole beans and grinding them at home. French press takes a coarser ground then drip brewing, and barista Nick Cobbledick says a good-quality burr grinder is worth paying a little extra.

“There are blade grinders you can find at Target or Wal-Mart, but it’s hard to dial in the same grind every day,” he said. “If you can, find one that has settings, a burr grinder that lets you dial-in the grind.”

A nice grinder doesn’t have to break the bank, either.

“Fortunately now, there are a ton of good grinders for cheap,” roaster Darren Blackford said. “Even five years ago, I wouldn’t say that was the case.”

2. Dial in the ratio

Dumping spoonfuls of grounds into the press beaker is another surefire way to brew inconsistent coffee. These days, most coffee nerds use digital scales to weigh out coffee. From there, it’s finding the right ration of coffee to water. Blackford said anywhere from 15 to 20 parts water to one part coffee is a safe bet.

“Depending on which of our origins I’m grinding up, I’ll switch from 15 to 17 parts,” he said. 

3. Focus on the timing

After weighing and measuring out grounds into the beaker, it’s time to gently pour hot — but not boiling — water.

“This part is the important part,” Cobbledick said. “Start a timer right as you introduce the hot water to your grounds.”

Let the mix rest for one minute, then give it a good stir. Cobbledick recommends stirring with a wooden or high-temperature plastic spoons, since metal can change the coffee’s flavor. Wait another three minutes for four minutes of total brewing time, then press the coffee by pushing down the plunger.

4. Decant

Even though the press filter separates the grounds from the coffee, the brewing process hasn’t stopped.  

“If you let it sit, that sediment at the bottom will still affect the taste,” Cobbledick said. “Transfer it to something else.”

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or Follow her on or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen.