The Best Coffee Beans for French Press: Our Top Picks for 2021

best coffee beans for french press

Brewing methods for coffee lovers are quite personal. Actually, very personal. We feel strongly about the method, the beans, the roast, the result, and most importantly, the taste.

In this article we're going to focus on one brewing method - French press - the why's, wherefore's, the how-to's, the be-sure-to-avoid's, and the best coffee beans for French press.

First, a quick definition of French press coffee and where it began. French press was originally patented in Italy in the 1920s by Ugo Paolini, developed from his original idea of a tomato juice separator. The simple design has evolved over the years with both French  and US designers filing patents for their versions.

It is sometimes referred to as a coffee press or a cafetiere.

best coffee beans for French press

French press coffee is brewed using coarsely ground coffee beans and letting them soak in hot water in a French press for about 4 minutes. This brewing process is referred to as immersion.

Pretty simple, right?

Well, yes and no. Like any other hands-on brewing process, each step involves human decision and action. That would be you, my friend. So, while the steps are relatively few, the result can vary greatly. That's where the selection of the best coffee beans for French Press become critical. 

Read on to learn more about brewing a tasty and satisfying cup of French Press coffee as well as which coffee beans will give you the best result.

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Best Coffee Beans for French Press: The Short List

Here is the short list of the top 5 picks for the best coffee beans for French press. We'll give you all the details below, but if you want to cut right to the chase, here it is!

How do we come up with our 'best of' list? Honestly, with time, and attention to detail. We scour the internet world, discover what's available, and filter out the brands that don't make the cut. Then, we study the features and benefits individually for those that look promising, comb through the reviews and actually read them, to identify the pros and cons of each roast as identified by real-life users. From there, we identify the top...the best...the most consistently rated higher...and present them to you.

We don't rate or rank them because we know that everyone has their own taste buds and preferences. Any one of these coffees will work very well and satisfy your search for the best coffee beans for French press brew!


Why Brew Coffee the 'French Press' Way?

If you prefer simple methods of brewing coffee that don't require an investment of money or counter space, French press coffee may be the perfect choice. And, there is something kind of cool and European-feeling to it, isn't there? 

The other appeal of French press brew is the distinctive taste. It has a heavier feel than drip-brewed coffee and is also richer. That's because the coffee grounds remain in contact with the water throughout the brewing process. It's an immersion  method, remember?

The absence of a paper filter allows the natural oils in the coffee grounds to be retained, and is why the resulting flavor is rich and deep. The other side of that process is that you can see the coffee oils floating on top. It's not a bad thing by any means, but if you're  new to drinking French press you might wonder what that is!

You'll also find a bit of sediment (the grounds) at the bottom of your cup when you're almost finished drinking it. Don't worry - that's normal and due to the way the coffee is steeped. Just discard that last little bit.

you might also like: how to choose the best coffee for cold brew


Simple French Press Brewing Method: Step by Step

Here is a simple step-by-step to brewing a fresh cup of French Press coffee, created by a coffee lover (that would be me) who likes to keep things simple, easy, and fuss-free. It's true that you'll want to tweak these instructions to suit your preferences, but these steps will give you a solid foundation for brewing your French press coffee. You're welcome. ☕

Step 1

Your water should be at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour a little bit of water into the press to warm it up, then discard.

Step 2

Grind fresh coffee beans (you know...the best coffee beans for French press!) to a coarse grind, kind of like sea salt. Remember the 'golden rule' of 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water as you decide how much coffee to use. Add the freshly ground coffee beans to the French press.

Step 3

Pour in the water, making sure that all of the grounds are completely immersed. It's best to stir with a non-metal type spoon or stick...wood works really well.

Step 4

Place the plunger on the press and leave it at the top...don't let the filter touch the water and grounds. Steep for 4 minutes. Set a time on Alexa or your microwave, for example, to make sure you're accurate with this.

Step 5

Press the plunger down slowly and evenly. Pour yourself a cup and enjoy!

You Might Also Consider:

These tools can help make your coffee brewing experience more efficient and satisfying:

  • coffee grinder - a burr grinder will give you the most precise and even grind
  • electric kettle - set the exact temperature for your water so there is no guesswork
  • coffee scale - if you prefer to have precise measurements

  The Keys to Successful French Press Brewing

  1. Grind your beans fresh before each brew to a coarse grind. You will always get a better result when the whole beans are ground just prior to brewing.
  2. Use filtered water for the best tasting brew. Tap water can give your coffee a metallic taste, or other type of taste that is less than desirable. Avoid distilled water, too.
  3.  Be sure to time the steeping of the brew. 4 minutes is recommended, at least to start. Don't guess - set a timer!
  4. Pay attention to the water to coffee grounds ratio. Measure 2 tablespoons of coarsely ground dark roast coffee per 6 ounces of water, and adjust from there.

Our Top Picks for 2021: best Coffee Beans for French Press

Our top choices for the best coffee beans for French press are listed below. Any one of these roasts could be the perfect choice for you. Read through the features and comments and see what appeals to you. We have kept our top picks with dark roast coffees, as they are full-bodied and will give you a rich, tasty cup of French press coffee.

You can certainly use a medium roast if your taste runs to a lighter blend. Brewing the perfect cup of French press coffee will take a little bit of time and experimentation! 

Peets coffee Major Dickason whole bean

Developed in 1969 after a loyal customer, retired army sergeant Key Dickason brought the idea  to Mr. Peet in 1969, Major Dickason's Blend is Peets all-time best selling coffee. It is rich, smooth, and hearty but never bitter. One of my personal all-time favorite blends, too.

Key  Features:

  • rich, complex, full-bodied
  • hand roasted in small batches
  • 100% Arabica coffee
  • all-time best seller
how to make french press coffee

Koa coffee best coffee beans for French press

Since 1997, Koa Coffee has satisfied customers with their hand-picked, expertly roasted coffee beans, winning many awards for their quality product.

The smooth, sweet taste of Koa Private Reserve dark roast 100% Kona coffee will produce a memorable cup of French press coffee!

 

Key  Features:

  • smooth, sweet taste
  • is not bitter
  • 100% Kona coffee, proprietary blend
  • premium Hawaiian coffee
how to make french press coffee

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Reserve

The Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Reserve is a dark roasted, rare Indonesian coffee. 

Volcanica Coffee is a specialty retailer of exotic gourmet coffee committed to offering only the finest quality from volcanic regions around the world that is wonderfully exotic and remarkable in taste. 

Key  Features:

  • Fair Trade and Kosher certified
  • smooth, with a rich, heavy body
  • exotic flavor with earthy richness
  • notes of brown sugar and dried fruit
how to make french press coffee

SF Bay coffee creates environmentally and socially responsible gourmet coffee offered at the best possible prices.

French Roast, 100% Arabica whole beans coarse ground results in a full bodied brew with chocolate and toasted cinnamon notes and a smoky finish.

Key  Features:

  • 100% Arabica beans
  • full-bodied with notes to chocolate and toasted cinnamon
  • smoky finish
  • certified Kosher
how to make french press coffee

Coopers Sumatra dark roast coffee

Woody Earth, Dark Chocolate, and Dark Cherry with a hint of tobacco are the notes of this coffee.  It is roasted to a full dark roast to showcase the dark rich flavors and rustic earth tones.

Be sure to check out Coopers Bourbon and Whiskey Barrel-Aged coffees, too!

Key  Features:

  • Fair Trade & Organic
  • wet processed and sun dried
  • roasted in small batches
  • from the Lintong region on the island of Sumatra
how to make french press coffee

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Brewing French Press Coffee

  • Using too much water / not enough coffee - a common mistake that many people make when brewing coffee. If you want to extract the best flavor you need to use enough coffee, friend. 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water is a good starting point.
  • An improper grind of the bean - it should look similar to sea salt, with a uniform grind. If it's too fine of a grind, your brew could be bitter and unfortunately not have a lot of taste. If the grind is too coarse, the brew will be under extracted and the result is sour, acidic taste. Yuck.
  • Leaving the brewed coffee sitting in the French press - make just what you need and pour it as soon as the brewing process is complete. If you let it sit in the press it will continue to brew, become over extracted and bitter. If you want to have some extra for your second cup, pour it into a thermos right after brewing.

the coffee files

FAQ

Can store bought ground coffee be used in a French press?

The best grind for French press coffee is coarse, and that can be difficult (or nigh impossible) to find on the shelf in the coffee aisle.

But, many grocery stores offer whole bean coffee that can be ground prior to purchasing. Using the grinder at the store, grind to 'coarse'. It won't be as fresh as grinding the coffee beans at home just prior to brewing, but it will give you a better result than an off-the-shelf medium grind.

What is the best grinder for making French press coffee?

A burr grinder that has a variety of settings will give you the best result. Burr grinders will give you a consistent grind, and when you choose the 'coarse' setting you will have what you need to brew your French press coffee!

Does coffee get stronger in a French press if you steep it?

French press coffee is all about timing. Once your brew has steeped for 4 minutes (or the time that works best for you), pour it all out into your cup(s). 

If you let the brew continue to steep it will become bitter and you will not like the taste! 

What is the best way to make French press coffee less bitter?

Make sure that the grind is course (not too fine), that you let it steep for 4 minutes, then immediately pour the brew into your cup.


Resources:

how to make good coffee - the coffee files

Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions. ☕