Brewing Guides

How To Use A Coffee Plunger For Delicious Zero Sludge Coffee!

Interested in using a coffee plunger but don’t know where to start? Not to worry, we’ve outlined how to use a coffee plunger to get some lovely coffee that is sludge and silt free. This happens to be my favourite way to make coffee so I’m particularly excited to show you the ropes. 

Coffee plungers can seem complicated but they are actually quite simple once you know the mechanics behind them. If you’re wondering how to make plunger coffee this article is for you. 

Quick French Press Brewing Guide

Here are some quick tips on how to make the best coffee in a french press:

  1. Start boiling water (filtered is best).
  2. Grind coffee on a medium grind setting.
  3. Measure a ratio of 30g of coffee to 500g of water to start (you can adjust the coffee to water ratio for a stronger or weaker cup of coffee). 
  4. Scoop the freshly ground coffee into the beaker and pour boiling water over it.
  5. Wait 4 minutes.
  6. Stir the crust that forms on top of the coffee. Most of the grounds will float to the bottom, but there will still be some foam and floaties on top. Scoop those up and throw them away. 
  7. If you’re in a hurry, press the plunger till it touches the surface of the coffee (not all the way to the bottom as that stirs up the grounds) and gently pour into a mug. If you’ve got some time, let the coffee sit another 3-4 minutes before plunging.
  8. If you’ve waited longer, press the plunger until it touches the surface of the coffee and gently pour into a mug. Enjoy!

What is a French Press?

So what is a french press? It’s a coffee maker that is made up of three main components: the lid and plunger, the beaker, and the filter.

A French Press uses the immersion method to make coffee: the coffee grounds steep in hot water in the beaker, and the plunger lid attached to the mesh filter separates the grounds from the coffee before you drink it.

There are different terms for a French Press depending on where you are; coffee plunger, cafetiere, or coffee press, but all these terms refer to the same thing. 

Aeropress vs French Press

An Aeropress uses heat and pressure to make coffee (like an espresso machine), and a French Press uses the immersion method to make coffee.

When using an Aeropress, you press hot water through ground coffee and a filter through a tube into your mug and you only have to wait 2 minutes before plunging it.

An Aeropress is great for when you want your coffee quickly or need a portable method to make espresso-type coffee.

French presses take more time to brew and are typically less portable (especially with a glass beaker) – but they make very nuanced and rich cups of coffee in larger quantities. 

Pour Over vs French Press

A pour-over is a drip coffee maker that is extremely simplified – it’s a  funnel that you place a coffee filter in that can fit on top of your mug or in a stand that you place your cup under.

All you have to do is put ground coffee in the filter and slowly pour hot water in it until it fills up – then the coffee will start to drip into the mug.

Drip coffee is quick and satisfying but does not have as much depth as the coffee a French press can make. That’s because a French press steeps the grounds for a longer period of time (4-8 minutes) before you drink it vs a pour-over where the water does not have as much contact time with the grounds before it drips into your mug. 

How Much Coffee for French Press Brewing?

When measuring coffee grounds for a French Press it’s best to use weight measurements vs volumetric ones as weight measurements are more reliable. A precision coffee scale is a smart and inexpensive investment as it will result in more consistent cups of delicious hot coffee.

You can start with 30g of coffee to 500 g of water per person and adjust the coffee to water ratio for a stronger or weaker cup of coffee as you get more used to how to make french press coffee. 

Best Coffee for a French Press

If you’re wondering what coffee to use in french press, the answer is that it depends. You can use any type of roast to make French Press coffee – it’s the grind that’s important.

Traditionally a very coarse grind used to be recommended for making French Press coffee,  but now we recommend a medium course grind. That’s because you want the grounds to be big enough for the filter to filter them out, but not too big as it takes much longer to extract the essential oils of the coffee.

You also don’t want your coffee ground too fine as it results in a siltier cup of coffee.

Find all the best coffee grinders in this article!

Brew Time for French Press

It’s vital to know how long to brew coffee in a French Press. A good rule of thumb is at least 4 minutes from the time you pour the water into the grounds to when you press the plunger/filter down.

You can let the coffee steep an additional  3-4 minutes for a deeper and richer flavour, but be sure to set a timer because if you over steep the grounds you’ll make the coffee bitter and “burnt” tasting.

Also, it’s best to brew coffee per individual use, as any coffee that remains in the French Press will continue to steep even after you pour your first cup. 

How to Froth Milk – French Press?!

A French Press can make more than just a great cup of coffee, you can also froth milk in a french press! It’s not as good as a steamer wand but it is a quick and easy way to get frothed milk on the go or at home without the use of a machine.

Simply heat up the milk in a microwave, pour it into the beaker, and quickly plunge the filter up and down for 10-15 seconds or until the foam has doubled in volume. Careful not to pour too much milk into the beaker as the volume will expand as you froth it. 

How to Make Iced Coffee in a French Press

There’s nothing better than a crisp glass of iced coffee on a hot day, and you can use your French Press to make it.

Grind your coffee medium fine and scoop it into the beaker. Add water and let the coffee steep overnight with the plunger in the up position. Take it out the next day (or 8 hours later), press the plunger down, and pour over ice cubes in a glass. 


Can You Make Tea in French Press Coffee Makers?

Yes, you make tea in a French Press. Brewing tea in a french press is very similar to brewing coffee in a French press and you can use loose leaf tea or tea bags – just put the tea in the beaker and pour hot water over it. Let it steep for the recommended amount of time (each tea varies) and press the plunger down.

How do I clean a French Press?

To wash the beaker, gently sponge it with warm soapy water and towel dry. Rinse the filter out and let air dry. We recommended taking the filter apart and hand washing it once a week.

There are three parts to the filter: a spring disk, a mesh filter screen, and a retaining disk that goes on the bottom (that’s the one you unscrew to take the filter apart).

When you’re done cleaning and drying it, put the mesh filter on top of the retaining disk and then the spring disk on the top to screw it back together. 

What types of materials are French Presses made of?

French Presses all work the same but can be made of a variety of materials ranging from the glass with a stainless steel plunger and support, to all stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic.

Glass is not as portable and more fragile than the other materials, so consider what types of environments you are going to be using your French Press in when deciding what material you want yours made of.

Check out our post on best coffee plungers and best stovetop coffee makers next.

For more brewing guides, look here!

Sophie is a barista and coffee enthusiast who has owned and ran a coffee truck in her remote community since 2017. She wants to cut the jargon and make brewing coffee enjoyable for everyone.