If you love the simplicity of a French press, you’ll get first-class coffee in 3 minutes flat but what coffee should you use?
Before anything else at all, we’ll make it clear that you should use freshly ground coffee so we’d advise you buy whole beans and grind directly before brewing.
While grinding before brewing makes the freshest and arguably tastiest cup of joe, if you do fancy using pre-ground coffee, check out our study of the best ground coffees. Our overall recommendation if you prefer the convenience of ground coffee is this Stone Street Cold Brew Reserve.
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- Top 20 Best Ground Coffees
- Top 10 Best Coffee Grinders For French Press
The issue with using pre-ground coffee for a French press is that it’s usually too fine. This will end up slipping through the mesh filter and leaving your cup of coffee filled with sediment. For great coffee in a French press shoot for a medium to coarse grind.
So, assuming you’ve decided to buy some fresh beans, you should also consider the roast profile. Medium to dark roasts are generally preferable with this brewing method but why is that? Well, the beans will retain most oils when roasted medium or dark. This lends to the most intense and flavor-packed brew tailor-made for the French press.
We’ll explore 7 of the best fresh coffee you can use with your French press and we’ll also walk you through what to look out for when you’re on the buying trail.
Table of Contents
I. Top 7 Best Coffees for French Press
1. Our Pick: Stone Street Coffee Tanzania Peaberry
Our favorite overall blend for the French press method comes from Stone Street in the form of this Tanzanian Peaberry but what, exactly, is a peaberry?
Perhaps 10% of all coffee beans are peaberries. These small round beans have a cleft in the middle and lend to a richer, full-bodied flavor and aroma.
The beans are pure Arabica and the medium roast works well with your trusty French press.
The beans are grown on the undulating edge of Mount Kilimanjaro. This area features impeccable volcanic soil and is blessed by a climate ideal for growing coffee. The taste is rich without being cloying or overpowering. Full-bodied and smooth, you’ll get very little acidity and a crisp clear finish.
The bag comes with a one-way degassing valve so your coffee will stay fresher for longer.
If you’re looking for the benefits of an African bean without any heaviness, Tanzania Peaberry from this Brooklyn-based specialty roaster is our hands-down favorite.
2. Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend Dark Roast
Peet’s Coffee has been in business for over half a century. Coffee is roasted in small batches and it’s roasted to order. All bags come with roast dates so you can be sure of getting the freshest possible coffee.
This dark roast is named for one of Peet’s most demanding customers and the taste sensation goes down a storm in a French press. You’ll get a great deal of kick and definite traces of smokiness as you’d expect with any darker roast.
These beans come from a number of carefully chosen growing regions so you end up with an array of characteristics distinct to each area in one powerful cup of coffee.
Whether you want an espresso or a long, smooth coffee from your French press, call in the army with Major Dickason’s blend from around the world.
3. Subtle Earth Organic Medium-Dark Roast
Subtle Earth Organic comes in a wonderfully enticing package that makes you feel you’re there where the beans are being grown. Do the contents live up to the marketing hype, though?
In a word, yes. The medium-dark roast is a nice touch if you’re a fan of the French press brewing method. You’ll get beans where all the flavor is still intact and a full-bodied oomph that responds particularly well to this brewing method.
Despite this flavor and aroma, you won’t get any acidity tainting the smoothness of your drink. You’ll pick out chocolate and cocoa, caramel and honey in this alluring blend from Honduras.
Certified organic and GMO-free, these Arabica beans just need smashing up in your favorite grinder then 3 to 4 minutes in your French press for that perfect golden cup of coffee.
4. Freshly Roasted Coffee: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Fresh Roasted Coffee brings you an Ethiopian from the birthplace of coffee with this Fair Trade Yirgacheffe. The coffee is also USDA Organic so you can buy with a completely clear conscience.
A city roast, you’ll find the profile somewhere between light and medium. Notes of citrus predominate with tangerine, lime and lemon all vying for primacy. Undercut by a sweetness, the mild body makes this an ideal coffee for any time of day.
100% Arabica beans, you’ll get no additives or preservatives and no artificial flavors either.
If you’re hunting for a classic blend that works wonderfully in the French press, FRC is well worth popping on your shortlist.
5. Kirkland Signature Colombian Supremo
Kirkland’s Signature line features blends of coffee from around the world. This Colombian Supremo is a medium roast ideally suited to your favorite French press.
As with all coffee made using this brewing method, you’ll end up with vastly superior results buying your own fresh beans like this and grinding them up yourself.
You’ll get Supremo beans that occupy that range between dry and oily. You won’t find they clog up in your grinder but you’ll get a delicious and deep taste from these classic beans.
The only downside is that some customers reported some inconsistency in taste from bag to bag.
For a solid and dependable Colombian medium roast, you can’t go wrong.
6. Two Volcanoes Dark Roast Espresso Blend
Two Volcanoes is packed with Guatemalan beans and you’ll get your coffee processed and packed in the country of origin to maximize freshness.
If you love nothing better than kickstarting your days with a fierce espresso blend in your French press, you’re in safe hands here. The dark roast has the smokiness you’d fully expect along with hints of fruit and a delicious woodiness that gives this Guatemalan a really characteristic flavor and bags of aroma.
This blend comes from 3 distinct regions and brings you both Arabica and Robusta in one alluring and powerful package.
Two Volcanoes is certainly not for the faint-hearted. If you want to get your day started with a bang, though, check this blend out at your earliest convenience.
One that does need clearing up is the packaging. These beans are completely organic and that’s not mentioned anywhere on the packaging. The beans are also labelled ground when you will receive whole beans. This really is inexcusable so make sure you know what you’re buying so you don’t end up disappointed.
For a lively and unusual blend that works brilliantly in the French press, Two Volcanoes is a must.
7. Real Good Coffee Co Donut Shop Medium Roast
This Donut Shop medium roast from Real Good Coffee Co is a fantastic all-day coffee from a brand you can rely on but does it work well in a French press?
Absolutely. The medium roast is designed to make a neat fit with most brewing methods including the classic French press.
You’ll enjoy a real taste overload with Donut Shop. Brown sugar and hazelnut are easy to distinguish and beneath this sweet and rich base is just a hint of plum.
For the best coffee using the traditional French press brewing method, get your beans whole like this and grind them coarsely. You can drop to medium-coarse if you prefer but give any fine grinds a miss. From there, the best coffee is just minutes away.
With that summary of the best blends for simple coffee in a French press put to bed, we’ll round out with some handy hints on making coffee using this brewing method.
First, though, why should you bother using one of these simple, manual coffee makers in the first place?
II. Why Bother Using a French Press?
With so many tech-driven coffee machines from affordable and convenient single-serve machines through to super-automatic espresso makers suitable for a small business, where does the French press stand today?
Well, if you’re looking for a more hands-on tack and you don’t want to dial in all the variables that some machines don’t allow for, here are 5 key reasons to use a French press.
- Seamless Temperature Control: Since you heat the water separately when you’re using a French press, this gives you complete control. Dial in that temperature to the ideal 200 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ve got the foundation for a perfect cup of coffee to build from
- Straightforward Brewing: If you want a simple brewing method, the French press makes your life incredibly easy. Just pour hot water over the grounds and your coffee is ready to pour 4 minutes later
- Permanent Filter Reduce Running Costs: The cost and environmental impact of replacement paper filters is concerning. With a French press, the permanent filter won’t deprive your coffee of essential oils like a paper alternative and you won’t need to endlessly dig deep for replacements either.
- Easy to Maintain: All you’ll need to do with a French press is empty the grinds after brewing up and then giving the carafe a regular clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher. A great French press is cheap and easy to run!
- Manipulate Strength with Ease: The ability you’ll get to tweak the time to the second rather than relying on presets means you can get your coffee as strong as you like it every time
If that seems like your kind of brewing method, how do you make coffee using this method?
III. Brewing Coffee with a French Press
What You Need
- French press
- Coffee beans
What To Do
- Pour hot water into your French press to preheat it. Do the same with your cup
- Grind up enough beans to give you at least 5 tablespoons of coarse coffee grinds. You should have a consistency roughly in line with table salt
- Add your coffee to the French press and shake it gently
- Start your timer counting down from 4 minutes. Add water heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to the halfway level pouring in a circular motion as you go
- Stir the grinds gently using a wooden instrument
- Add more hot water until your French press is full. Pop on the lid with the plunger resting gently on the grounds
- When your 4 minutes are up, push the plunger right down then immediately pour your coffee to avoid any chance of over-extraction
Remember: If you don’t have a thermometer baked into your kettle, you can gauge 200 degrees Fahrenheit by boiling water and allowing it to sit for 1 minute.
We’ll round out with some simple tips on getting the best French press the easy way…
IV. What To Look For In a French Press
Luckily, the simplicity of this brewing method means there’s very little you need to worry about when you’re looking to buy a French press.
A standard French press will give you a large mug of coffee from a single pour.
You can also get carafes in a full range of sizes from 2 and 4-cup models through to family size carafes giving you enough scope to brew up 12 large coffees in a single pour.
You should keep in mind that coffee does not respond well to lingering in a French press. You should always decant it immediately and, with little insulation anyway, you’re better off brewing enough coffee for a single sitting rather than looking to keep any on hand.
Choose a size in line with your requirements but you should avoid buying the largest French press you can find unless you’re going to make use of that capacity.
French presses come in an array of materials including:
- Stainless steel
Stainless steel presses are by far the most durable and they also retain heat wonderfully.
With glass carafes, you’ll enjoy a crisp and clean drink with all the visual element of brewing exposed.
Ceramic carafes are also strong at holding their temperature but you’ll need to pay for the privilege.
There’s absolutely not a right or wrong answer when it comes to materials. Think about what elements are most important to you and buy accordingly.
Look closely at the plunging mechanism and filter on the French press you’re considering.
If you don’t have chance to physically test a model, look for user reviews and any mention of weaknesses in these areas.
Think about whether or not you like to use the dishwasher for everything. If so, make sure the carafe you’re looking at won’t crack or chip.
You should make certain that the French press you’re considering is easy to use, easy to clean and demands very little maintenance.
Make sure the French presses on your shortlist comes with dual or triple-filtration.
You’ll want to make sure that all the finest particles end up efficiently filtered rather than making their way into your mug to spoil your drink.
Look for seamless integration between the filter and plunger.
Buy The Best You Can Afford
We don’t often mention price in buying guides but it’s relevant here…
Even the pricier French press models are still reasonably inexpensive. You really don’t need to spend a huge amount. This means, though, that you should consider spending a little extra so you get a smooth and dependable coffee maker rather than something where the filter will fall apart after a couple months or the carafe will start leaking unexpectedly.
Bear in mind, too, that you won’t be faced with any ongoing running costs except for fresh coffee. Take advantage of this and use a little of that cash to buy yourself a great carafe that will give you years of faithful service.
We very much hope this showcase of great fresh coffee for your French press has given you some inspiration.
You don’t have too much to worry about when you’re choosing coffee for this brewing method. Get the roast profile and the grind level right and you’re ready to enjoy lip-smacking coffee in minutes flat.
If you don’t mind putting in the time, grinding your own fresh beans and waiting a few minutes longer than you would with a single-serve machine, you’ll be rewarded with first-class coffee from the French press and you won’t need to spend a fortune to get one either. Check out the best models right here if you’re stuck for ideas.
See you soon!