If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best coffee for French Press is, then we recommend the Kicking Horse: Cliff Hanger as our top choice.
The classic French Press method of brewing coffee is one of the simplest you can explore, and it’s a consistently popular option. Grind your beans, add the water, push the plunger and enjoy!
As always though, there’s mastery to be had when it comes to even this most basic form of coffee brewing.
It’s also crucial that you pick the right beans – ground to the right size – before brewing up a pot.
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the best French Press coffee beans you can buy today.
We’ve also got plenty of advice for getting the most out of those high quality beans, so your investment really pays off where it matters – your cup!
(My guide to brewing coffee at home contains plenty more tutorials and buying tips!)
In this article we’re going to review the following French Press coffee beans
- Death Wish Organic USDA Certified Whole Bean Coffee
- Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roasted
- Kicking Horse Coffee: Cliff Hanger *** TOP PICK ***
- Stone Street Colombian Supremo
- Real Good French Roast Extra Dark Coffee Beans
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What you need to know
Before we take a closer look at the beans, it’s worth understanding what makes the French Press method tick. This will, ultimately, help you pick the beans that are right for you.
How does a French Press work?
It’s very simple. Once you’ve added the beans and water to your cafetiere, you allow the mixture to steep for a few minutes before slowly pushing the plunger down.
The mesh filter inside this plunger screens the grounds from the liquid, which remains above it as you push. At the same time, more of the flavor-rich oils and solids from the beans still make it through into the drink.
It is hard to avoid some silt getting through though, so if you really don’t like that texture in your drink it may not be the best brewing method.
Grind size is everything
Because of the silt problem, it’s very important that you use coarse ground coffee for French Press brewing.
There’s less chance of gunk making its way into your drink this way, but crucially the coffee will also taste much better.
That’s because the flavor extraction is maximized when there’s a greater surface area for the water to come into contact with.
Although you can buy pre-ground coffee designed especially for the French Press method, you’ll be compromising on flavor to at least some degree.
That’s because once a coffee bean’s shell has been broken, it begins losing its aroma and flavor potential extremely quickly.
The more time that passes between grinding and brewing, the less impressive the final drink will be.
For best results you’ll want to grind your whole beans at home, using a dedicated grinder, as and when you need a fresh batch.
Alternatively, your local specialty coffee shop may be able to grind them for you. They may even be able to recommend some of their favorite coarse ground coffee brands.
If you really have no choice but to buy pre-ground coffee, just make sure it’s coarse and advertised as suitable for French Press brewing.
Getting the Roast Right
Before we move onto the best coffee beans for French Press brewing, it’s worth understanding just why the roasting level is so important.
Light Roast – These beans are light brown in color and aren’t bitter. They don’t have a particularly strong flavor profile though, and so aren’t great for French Press coffee – particularly if you like a splash of milk with your brew.
Medium Roast – You’ll find that these beans are quite a bit darker, with a little bit of oil present on the surface and a richer aroma. For those who like a milder drink, this is your entry point.
Medium-Dark Roast – As the name suggests, these beans sit somewhere between Medium and Dark Roast. The beans will be darker still, with even more oil present on the surface.
Dark Roast – No prizes for guessing that these beans are the darkest, and the oiliest! These beans tend to be quite bitter though, so only go down this route if you’re ready for a seriously strong cuppa.
Coffee to Water Ratios
How much coffee and water you add to the cafetiere is really down to your own personal preference.
This is a coffee brewing method that’s very customizable, but may take you a little while to get just right for your own preferences.
As well as the coffee / water ratio, the steeping time will also affect the final brew.
We recommend starting off with a 1:10 ratio of coffee to water. If you find the strength a little wanting, add more coffee to the next brew.
If it’s too strong for you, either add less coffee in the future, or steep the brew for less time.
French Press Coffee Bean Reviews
Here are five of the best coffee brands for French Press brewing we know of. Each one of these will deliver an exceptional cup of coffee, but read the notes carefully to decide which is most likely to resonate with you.
Death’s Wish reputation as a supplier of exceptional coffee has become well-deserved over the years. It’s no surprise, then, that they have a coffee brand that’s very popular with French Press enthusiasts – despite the dark roasting process.
Although this stuff is super-strong, it has none of the bitterness you might expect as a result. Instead it makes for a surprisingly smooth brew, with hints of cherry and chocolate as you savor each cup.
It’s also USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade, which means only the very best beans make it in – and they’re ethically sourced as well. There’s nothing but beans in the bag, so you don’t need to worry about artificial additives.
Koffee Kult takes bean freshness really, really seriously and aims to move from roasting to shipping within a matter of just a few hours.
This is another very strong bag of organically grown beans, one that consists of a unique blend of Columbian, Guatemalan and Sumatran produce.
As a dark roast bean, the resulting brew is strong – but not bitter – and smooth, with delicious cinnamon notes as well.
You can buy these beans in either a 32 or 64oz pack. Make sure you don’t over-commit on the bigger batch though, as you really don’t want to lose out on the freshness and flavor potential of these expertly prepared beans.
If a dark roast French Press brew is too much for you, Kicking Horse’s Medium Roast is a fantastic alternative.
It’s a very versatile batch of beans as well. As well as being designed for French Press brewing, they’re also very well suited to espresso and cold brew preparation as well.
That’s great if you like to dabble in a few different brewing methods, and not stock up on multiple bags of beans that will lose their freshness over time.
This a fruity, berry-like bean with a luxurious chocolatey finish. It’s also organic and grown to Fair Trade standards.
Stone Street’s Colombian Supremo is another dark roast batch of beans, and is very popular amongst French Press fans.
This offering consists of nothing but 100% Arabica, single-origin beans. There’s no blending of flavors here, just a dark bean that’s bitter yet smooth, and with a somewhat sweet taste.
Some feel that this is better suited for cold brew, but we think it’s a great French Press option too. If you like both of these brewing methods, you’ll find this an excellent choice.
Handily, it’s also available as pre-ground coffee if you don’t have a grinder of your own. Go for a smaller batch if you go down this route though.
The packaging’s pretty neatly designed to preserve freshness, but there’s only so long any pre-ground coffee can remain at its best.
Seattle-based Real Good Coffee Company have been sourcing and roasting top-notch coffee beans for more than 30 years now.
These French Roast beans are very dark and very bold, and yet don’t have the bitterness we’d have expected from the brew.
Expect a rich drink regardless, with shades of dark chocolate and raspberry throughout. This extra level of sweetness makes for a very balanced brew, but have no doubt – this stuff is strong.
Our Top Pick?
For the average coffee drinker, we think the Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger is going to be the best option when it comes to French Press coffee.
As a medium roast bean you won’t have to worry too much about tweaking the coffee/water ratio to get a very good brew. It’s also extremely versatile, and makes great espresso and cold brew coffee as well.
If, on the other hand, you’re ready for a dark roast explosion, we highly recommend the Death Wish Organic Beans instead. This stuff’s guaranteed to get you going in the morning!
How to brew incredible French Press coffee
Those are the beans covered, then, but how do you get the most out of them once you’ve sourced them?
The instructions for brewing French Press coffee are very simple – and certainly when compared to other brewing methods.
Pay attention to each of these steps and you’ll have an incredible cup of coffee in no time:
- Grind your beans to a coarse setting.
- Pre-warm the French Press. Heating it up first with a little warm water will make a big difference to the final brew. Empty the cafetiere once it’s warmed up a little.
- Add your ground beans, paying careful attention to the water / bean ratio you’re using. We’ve covered this already in our guide, but aim for a 1:10 ratio of coffee to water when starting out.
- Once you’ve boiled your water, don’t add it to the cafetiere right away. Your coffee will brew much better if you allow the water to cool a little before adding it in. A temperature between 195-205F is ideal (and easier to achieve with a thermometer, of course), but don’t worry too much about precision. Just allow a little cooling time to take the edge off the boiling point.
- Allow the brew to steep for around five minutes. You won’t find any agreement on the internet about how long to steep French Press coffee for, but we think this is about right for a solid brew.
- When the steeping process has finished, slowly push the plunger down through the liquid until it’s gone as far as it can.
- Pour into cups – pre-warmed if possible – and enjoy!
- Don’t forget to properly clean your grinder and your French Press once you’ve finished.
Here are some final tips that should help you take your French Press coffee brewing to the next level!
Choose the right equipment
As with all things, you get what you pay for when it comes to French Press coffee – and this doesn’t just apply to the beans.
Although it’s a simple coffee-brewing method, we recommend investing in the best cafetiere available in your budget range.
Not only will you enjoy a superior cup of coffee, it’ll likely last longer. That makes it kinder on your wallet in the long-run, and better for the environment as well.
That advice also applies to the grinder that you choose. Take a look at my guide to the best coffee grinders for French Press brewing if you need inspiration.
For French Press coffee, a dedicated coarse-grind option is essential. Unless this is the only coffee you plan to enjoy though it’s worth buying a grinder that can accommodate other coffee types as well. That way you’ll save money, but also have access to a wide range of coffee-brewing methods.
Clean thoroughly and regularly
It’s worth taking the time to properly clean your French Press equipment, and to do so after each use.
If you don’t clean your grinder and your cafetiere properly, you’ll end up with a load of gunk that will make for a seriously unpleasant brew down the line.
When cleaning, make sure you get in all the little crevices of each piece of equipment.
Pay particular attention to the mesh filter in the French Press and make sure you’ve completely flushed out all of the residue.
Don’t let it stew
The best way to ruin great coffee is to leave it stewing in the pot for too long.
As it stews, the extra brewing time will cause the coffee to become unpleasantly bitter.
A better approach is to transfer the coffee to a carafe, for example, once the brewing has finished. A good thermal carafe should hold the heat for a few hours without impairing the flavor of the coffee.
Improve your water quality
As important as the bean quality is, at the end of the day a large part of your brew consists of the water that comes from your faucet.
If you don’t find a glass of freshly poured water in the kitchen to be particularly pleasant, you shouldn’t expect your coffee to taste its best either!
If a plumbed-in water filter is beyond your financial means, consider buying a standalone filter jug that you can keep topped up, ready for your next brew.
As simple as the French Press method is, there’s most certainly mastery to be had here.
As the old magician’s saying goes, it’s better to be able to do a few simple tricks exceptionally well.
If you’re ready to start adding a new French Press trick to your repertoire, have a look at Kicking Horse’s Cliff Hanger, and let us know how you get on with it in the comments.