Our simple brewing guide will take you through how to use a cafetière so that you and your guests can enjoy perfectly brewed coffee from the comfort of your home.
A cafetière, also known as a French press, is a heatproof jug designed for brewing coffee. It’s usually made of toughened glass with a strainer or ‘plunger’ attached to its lid. When the strainer is pressed, it separates the spent coffee grounds and leaves behind perfectly brewed coffee.
Despite its name, the French press might actually have its origins elsewhere. While the legend goes that a Frenchman first invented the device in the 1850s, the patents that best resemble what we now know as a French press were secured in Italy.
A cafetière is especially convenient when you need to quickly prepare coffee for a group, as it can make a large batch with minimal fuss — no machine, filter papers or pods necessary.
The cafetière is a versatile brewing method, and you can use any flavour of coffee that you like. However, we do recommend using more coarsely ground coffee for a French press than you would use in say, an espresso machine, to avoid over-extraction or the grounds slipping through the strainer. If you’re not sure where to start, give our handy coffee quiz a try to be matched to your new favourite brew.
We recommend using one generous tablespoon of ground coffee for each cup that you plan to make, translating to about 7-8g of grounds. As for the water, you should use approximately 125ml per cup. This means for the classic 8-cup cafetière, you’ll need 60-70g of ground coffee and a full litre of water. You can experiment with the exact ratio to figure out just how strong you like your French press coffee.
When you pour your water, it should be boiled and then left to stand for a minute. This is so that it can cool just enough to not scald the coffee grounds, which can make the final product overly bitter. And don’t worry about the water being too hot for your cafetière — they are typically made using toughened glass that can handle high temperatures without cracking.
Stirring the coffee before you press can help to ensure that all the submerged grounds are evenly distributed. While it’s not an essential step of the French press process, a quick (but gentle!) stir can help to make your extracted coffee more consistent in body and flavour.
To reveal the full, complex flavour profile of your coffee, you should leave it to brew for four minutes before pressing. Any shorter than this and you might not get a particularly flavoursome drinking experience, but any longer and you risk over-brewing the coffee and being left with a more bitter cup.
To dispose of the used coffee grounds, you can add them to your food waste, general waste, or compost bin. Spent grounds are a great ingredient to add to compost as they help to break down organic waste and improve soil quality.