How to Brew — Plunger/French Press

Whether you call it a plunger, french press or a cafetière, one thing for sure; everyone has one in the back of their cupboard. Loved for its simplicity and rich flavors, this method is perfect for beginners and connoisseurs alike.

An introduction to plunger brewing

Plunger brewing, also known as French press, or cafetière is a coffee brewing method that traces back to the 19th century with its origin often attributed to a Frenchman named Attilio Calimani. Over time, it has gained immense popularity as a soft brew method due to its simplicity, easily accessible equipment, and ability to produce a full-bodied brew. Today, it remains a staple in coffee culture, cherished for its simplicity, accessibility, and capacity to highlight the natural flavors of coffee beans.

What you’ll need to brew plunger coffee

  • A cafetière big enough for the amount of cups you’d like.

  • Freshly ground coffee (check out our grind guide for how to grind coffee for Plunger brewing)

  • A kettle of boiled water

  • A spoon

  • A scale for measuring coffee and water volume

Picking the best coffee for plunger brewing

Opting for freshly ground, coarse coffee is key to bringing out a nuanced flavor profile. Single Origin coffees can really shine with this brewing method, offering rich, full-bodied cups with distinct tasting notes. Ultimately though, the best coffee for plunger brewing is one that suits your palate preferences, but prioritizing quality beans and proper grind size is the key to ensuring a delicious and satisfying brew every time.

Recommended recipe

For cafetiere, a good starting point is 60g coffee per 1L water. For a brew for two, we’re using the following recipe:

  • 30g coarsely ground coffee 

  • 500g water (just off the boil)

  • Brew time: 3-4 mins.

Step-by-step guide for plunger brewing

Step 1 - Place the cafetiere on your scales and make sure they are tared to zero.

Step 2 - Add the coffee dose to the cafetiere and tare scales to zero again.

Step 3 - Add 60g of water and stir to make sure all of the coffee is saturated.

Step 4 - Start timer and leave coffee to bloom for 45s.

Step 5 - At 45s, top up with the rest of the water (500g) and leave to brew for a further 3 minutes.

Step 6 - Gently break the crust with the back of a spoon, then using the spoon, remove the foam left on the surface.

Step 7 - Gently press the plunger down until. Be mindful not to push down on the grounds at the bottom of the carafe.

Serve and enjoy!

Additional tips

  • Before starting, pour some boiled water into your plunger to pre-heat it. A lot of heat is lost as you brew, so by pre-heating, you can keep the temperature slightly more constant.

  • If you’re able to control your water temperature, we recommend aiming for around 93 degrees out of the kettle for best results.

  • An insulated or double walled french press is better than a glass option as this will retain heat much better for an even temperature and controlled brew.

  • After pushing your plunger into the coffee, serve immediately. Letting the coffee sit will cause it to continue brewing and over-extract.

  • Coffee becomes more bitter the longer it brews. Only brew as much as you think you'll drink and if you prefer a stronger cup, use more ground coffee at the start of the process.

Plunger Brewing FAQ’s:

How much do coffee plungers cost?

The Plunger brewing method can be one of the most cost-effective ways to brew coffee. basic glass-walled plungers are widely available and can be found at many homeware stores and online for under $20. For a well-built stainless steel or ceramic french press, you end up paying a premium price.

How many cups can I make with plunger coffee?

This depends on the size of your plunger. Most small Cafetière's are made for a single cup of coffee while larger vessels can produce up to six cups. If you are brewing in a larger Plunger but not serving right away, we recommend pouring your coffee into another vessel to avoid over-extraction.

How do you grind coffee for plunger?

Plunger coffee involves a fairly long brew time so the grind you’re using should be relatively coarse to avoid over-extraction. Aim for a consistency somewhere between rock salt and breadcrumbs. Check out our comprehensive grind guide for more info.

How to clean your cafetière

Fill your plunger with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. Reapply the plunger and plunge the mesh filter up and down several times through the soapy water. Avoid using a hard brush where possible as too much force can damage the mesh filter.