The French Press has got to be one of the best inventions of all time. The design looks elegant even when they’re made of metal, it’s very simple to use without any instructions whatsoever, and it can be put to work for other purposes if needed.
Before we get to the cleaning part, we need to put it to use! Just in case, here’s a detailed guide for brewing coffee using a French press:
- Heat water until the desired temperature. Keep in mind that it will lose some temperature until you can serve the coffee.
- Preheat the press by pouring medium-hot water so you don’t lose temperature when brewing.
- Put coffee grounds into the press. The ratio is normally 2 tablespoons of coffee per 4 ounces of water.
- Pour water as needed.
- Set your timer: Finer grinds will need less steeping, while the coarser the grind is, the longer it will take for it to brew.
- After about 20 seconds stir it a little to deflate the bloom. Coffee grounds get trapped in the bloom and aren’t brewed properly if this step is skipped.
- Be sure to press gently so the coffee grounds are all submerged.
- When the timer’s done, plunge the filter and serve immediately: if you leave coffee in the press it will continue brewing and become too bitter for drinking.
- If the grind was too coarse, you can use a second filter before serving.
Be sure to also check out “Brew Guide: French Press Coffee” for a full guide on french press coffee!
Priority of Cleaning
Obviously, cleaning wasn’t a top priority for the person who invented it. It’s really, really hard to get out all of the residues– and if you let a filter sit for too long without cleaning it, the coffee will stick to it, making it even harder to get out. First, let’s walk through the regular cleaning process for the French press:
- Rinse with abundant water to get all the loose coffee out of the press.
- Use a wooden spoon to get out any other visible particles that insist on sticking to the mesh filter.
- Disassemble the press, and wash each part carefully with a soft sponge.
- Rinse the press with water.
- Let everything dry before putting it all back together.
Great, clean, good. But it’s a lot of work, and sometimes it feels like such a waste of time to have to take it apart, then put it back together again. Well, just between us coffee lovers, there is actually a way to clean it without having to do all of that. It goes something like this:
- First, you get all of the coffee out. Now, heat water until it’s almost boiling (small oxygen bubbles are visible at the bottom of the vessel but are not yet rising to the surface) and pour it into the press about a third of the way. The hot water is going to get all of the oils, particles out of there, so now it’s time to
- Shake! Shake it vigorously so the water can drag out everything.
- Now you’re going to use the press for cleaning. Pump the water with enough strength that you can feel it’s doing its job but not so much that it’s damaging the press.
- Now you repeat this until you are satisfied with the results. You can use some white vinegar in order to further remove any smell left in the press but that’s taboo to some people, so it’s really your choice to use vinegar or some other cleaning product.
If you don’t clean your press very regularly, it’s good to take it apart and soak the filter in hot water with soap for a few hours. After you do this remember to rinse it enough so there’s no trace left of soap.
The OCD Wash
There are a few methods that I allow to use for cleaning products, but you can experiment and try your own. These are the ones that I use depending on what I have at home:
- Soak the filter in white vinegar overnight, then use half water half vinegar to rub with a brush or a sponge the rest of the press. Rinse.
- Soak the filter in water with baking soda. Use water with baking soda to wash the rest and rinse.
- Soak the filter in water with soap and hydrogen peroxide. Wash the rest with soap. Rinse thoroughly.
- This can be done only in emergencies: Soak the filter (or the whole thing) in hot water and throw in a few drops of any cleaning product with chlorine as its main ingredient. Let it sit for about an hour, and then rinse with a lot of water. Rinse again just in case.
With our French press clean and shiny, it’s time to experiment a little. Here are a few uses for the French press besides brewing coffee that you might find interesting:
For emergencies, this is a good way to froth milk. You only need to heat up the milk in a separate container, then pour it into the French press. Pump vigorously until the desired foam is achieved.
Note: if you’re using cow’s milk, rinse right away after using. The milk goes rancid really quickly and the filter will smell of rancid milk no matter how much you clean it.
Thinking of making a cappuccino? Check out “How to Froth Milk for Cappuccinos” for a full guide.
The French press is my favorite way for tea: I bought one just for brewing tea!
Keep in mind that tea (especially red tea) will leave stains and will taint the filter with its smell and taste. Very important to clean the press after each use, of every time you’re brewing a different type of tea or coffee.
The best part about having a dedicated tea French press is that, if you’re using loose leaves, you can use the same batch many times. I recommend steeping just enough tea for each time, so it doesn’t remain in water: it loses flavor the more you leave it in hot water. Note that tea leaves will expand when they come in contact with the water, so you shouldn’t use too much; it will surprise you just how much they grow in size. Check out this French Press specially designed for brewing tea.
I’ll Leave You With a Short Guide for Steeping the Most Essential Teas:
- Red or Black tea is the strongest in the taste of all the teas because it has been subjected to a longer amount of fermentation. This tea should be steeped at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Green tea, my favorite, comes in many different forms. Some may come with rolled leaves, which will require some stirring for them to properly brew. Ideal temperatures for green tea go from 150 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what kind of tea you’re using.
- White tea has a very subtle, delicate flavor. Its leaves have barely undergone any sort of processing after being collected. Water that is too hot will result in any flavor being neutralized. Steep at temperatures no hotter than 160 degrees.
- Herbal infusions, while not technically tea, are very popular in some parts of the world. While I am not a fan, I do drink from time to time to soothe a stomach ache or to calm nausea. For steeping use boiling hot water, and let steep for at least a couple of minutes: the more, the better. Rinse thoroughly after.
Thank you for reading with us today! Let us know in the comments below if you have a French Press laying around at home ready for good use. Are you a coffee lover? Of course, you are! Become a part of our exclusive Coffee Sesh Facebook Group, Daily Coffee Talk, and join our expanding coffee community. And don’t forget— we’re on Pinterest and Instagram! Check us out for daily coffee content.
Interested in learning more about French Press coffee? Be sure to check out “French Press vs Drip Coffee: What’s Right For You?” for options on choosing the right brew for you.
We’ll brew ya later!! ☕️