Feature Image by René Porter

Mornings are a little brighter and bolder with French press coffee. Found everywhere from boutique cafes to kitchen counters, the century-old brewing device makes a cup of joe that’s richer and fuller-bodied than that of your everyday drip machine.

Yet, French presses can intimidate new users and would-be buyers because they are so hands-on. How many scoops do you need and how long should the coffee steep? That’s why we’ve rounded up a number of handy tips below, from buying to brewing.

Use coarsely ground coffee beans
The most common French press tip is also the most vexing: use coarsely ground coffee beans when brewing. Too fine a grind and you’ll end up with a bitter, over-extracted cup of coffee (not to mention a mouthful of grounds that slipped through the filter). This is especially a pain for those who buy pre-ground coffee, but fortunately, there are several coarse-ground options online and most grocery store grinders have a coarse setting.

1-to-4 coffee-to-water ratio
Ideal French press measurements vary, but the basic rule of thumb is one tablespoon of coffee for every four ounces of water. Don’t be afraid to experiment, though; it’s worth playing around with different ratios to find what suits your taste buds. Even competitors at the World Barista Championship use differing measurements.

Water temperature matters
After you have your measurements sorted out, start by scooping coffee grounds into the French press. Then, slowly and evenly pour hot water (195 to 205 degrees) over the grounds. You can gently stir the contents with a wooden spoon to ensure even saturation. Place the lid on top (but don’t plunge yet!) and wait four minutes for the coffee to steep. Once you do plunge, wait an additional minute for the grounds to fully settle, and, finally, you can enjoy fresh, delicious java.

Doubles as a cold-brew coffee maker
Whether it’s the grueling heat of summer or simply to mix things up, your French press can conveniently double as a cold brew coffee maker. All you have to do is fill the press with coarsely ground coffee beans and cold water (a 1-to-4 coffee-to-water ratio is generally recommended) and let steep in your fridge for 12 to 24 hours. An added benefit? Cold-brew is extremely low in acidity, so it’s a great option for those whose stomachs have a harder time drinking hot coffee.

Now that you know how to use a French press, here are our recommended products:
Each sip of French press coffee tastes a little sweeter considering how affordable most products are. The majority fall within a range of $20 to $50, like the popular Bodum CHAMBORD, and some are even cheaper than that. Even high-end options, like the Frieling Stainless Steel French Press and Le Creuset’s Stoneware French Press, are around the same price as a reliable electric coffee maker. This makes French presses a wonderful alternative brewing device, especially for those who only drink a cup or two per day.

xx, The FabFitFun Team