Brewing coffee in a French press releases intense and full-bodied flavors as there are no paper filters to remove excess oils. Due to this and the fact that the coffee spends a longer time in contact with the hot water, the tastes do differ from a standard drip coffee maker. This begs the question of which type of coffee is the best for use in the French press?
I’d recommend a medium-dark roast coffee that’s coarsely ground. For best results, buy whole beans and grind them at home. Ideally, choose beans fresh from a local roaster. Perfect your brew technique to get the most out of your beans and all the other coffee variables such as origin, blend, and variety actually come back to personal preferences.
The French Press
French press coffee is a simple brewing method that gives a full-bodied and bold cup of joe. All you need to do is add your coffee, add hot water, wait 4 minutes then press the plunger down. If you want to ensure you’re choosing the best coffee for French Press then you need to consider a few factors. Luckily, it’s a straightforward procedure.
A good quality french press is a good starting point as the mesh filter does a better job if it’s well designed to remove as many grounds as possible. You want to select a stainless steel or glass option as these materials don’t hold onto odors or stale flavors.
Next up, you want to consider the roast of coffee you’re choosing. Dark roasts are rich in single note flavors (like chocolate and burnt caramel) and low acidity. The coffee beans are oily and make an intense brew, perfect for bolder brews like an espresso. Dark roast coffee goes well in a french press if you prefer those flavors.
A medium roast is a good choice if you’re not so keen on the darker beans. A light roast isn’t a great choice for the french press as it comes out weaker and lighter and is best used in pour-over or drip coffee. That being said, if you prefer a much milder brew then a light roast may be a good choice for you.
Coffee is grown in many different regions from Africa to South America and Asia. It needs a specific altitude and climate for the beans to ripen. The flavor profile found in the beans is dependant on the region where they are grown.
Ethiopian coffee beans are known for their floral, fruity, and delicate flavor whereas coffee from Brazil has more rich chocolaty and sweet notes. Colombian coffee has a characteristic sweet-caramel flavor with nutty undertones.
Coffee beans are sold as single-origin meaning they all originate from the same plantation. If they are not single-origin, they are sold as a blend. Blends of coffee beans are constructed to help balance all the flavor notes giving you the very best flavor in your cup of coffee.
There is so much variety when it comes to coffee bean flavors and the best coffee beans are, ultimately, whichever variety you like best. The one recommendation I would give is to choose fair trade coffee.
Arabica Vs Robusta
Next up it’s worth considering arabica coffee vs robusta beans. Arabica beans are grown at high altitudes and are rich in delicate flavors. They are considered a high-quality type of coffee. Robusta beans are darker and have full-body flavors as well as more caffeine. They can be a bit bitter so not always the best choice for French press brewing.
Use Whole Beans
Pre-ground coffee may seem like an easier choice but this is not the best for the freshest coffee. As soon as coffee is ground up, it starts to go stale, losing its flavors and aromas. Buying whole beans and using a coffee grinder to grind small batches keeps your coffee as fresh as possible.
Freshly roasted beans elevate the coffee flavors to the next level if you can source them from a local coffee roaster.
Coarser Is Better
When choosing a grind size for your coffee the only correct option for a french press is a coarse grind setting. Coarsely ground coffee gives larger particles of coffee which brew a less bitter cup when steeped in the hot water.
To ensure you get an even grind you need to use a burr grinder as blade grinders have the habit of producing a mix of fine and coarse grounds which causes an unbalanced cup of coffee.
Water Temperature and Water Ratio
Coffee brewing requires an optimum water temperature to extract all those lovely flavors. You want to use water that’s 195-205F to extract a delicious, full-flavored cup that’s not bitter. This ideal water temperature is the same across pretty much every other coffee brew method (except cold brew!).
The water to coffee ratio you choose is also super important to get a balanced and rich flavor from your coffee. The exact ratio varies between coffee drinkers as some people prefer a gentler flavor whereas others prefer a bolder brew. I’d recommend starting with a 1:15 coffee to water ratio (so for a 600ml carafe you’ll want 40g of coffee). You can adjust this ratio as much as you like to suit your tastes.
The steeping stage for the french press coffee maker is 4 minutes so don’t press the plunger before then or you may lose out on some of the delicious flavors.
What Is The Correct Choice?
The brew method and grind size of the coffee chosen for your French press are vitally important as this dictates the quality and flavors that end up in your coffee cup. A dark or medium roast goes well in a French press but after these factors, the type of coffee chosen comes down to the individual coffee lover’s preference. Whether you prefer the light, fruity beans from Ethiopia or the darker, sweet beans of Colombia or Guatemala, the final verdict comes down to whichever one you like best.
So get out there and speak to your local barista or pick up a few taster packs of coffee to try at home. The best coffee for your French press has to suit you so it’s important to try different varieties to get to know which ones you like best!