Make Perfect French Press Coffee Like James Hoffman

Like any other brewing technique, using a French press to make coffee gives your coffee a unique taste. However, although French press coffee tastes pretty amazing, the sludge that inevitably ends up in your cup is quite irritating, to say the least.

Until James Hoffman came and changed the game with a couple of extra steps. The world of coffee will never be the same.

James Hoffman: The Genius Behind It All

I guess before we go on I should give you some information about the genius that came up with this technique. He is quite a big name in the coffee industry and is well-known for his YouTube channel and blog.

In 2007 he won the World Barista Championship, which only proves his expertise. Furthermore, he is the author of “The World Atlas of Coffee” and “How to Make the Best Coffee at Home“. These books cover a wide range of topics like the harvesting of coffee, how to roast and brew good coffee as well as information on the origins of coffee. I have actually read “The World Atlas of Coffee” myself and think that it is definitely worth the read.

Hoffmann is also the co-owner of Square Mile Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee roasting company based in London. 

Regular French Press Recipe

Firstly, most people go for a coarse grind size when making coffee in a French press.

After grinding the beans you would add the coffee grounds to the French press. The coffee-to-water ratio of 1:15 (about 65g/l) is recommended quite often.

Next, you would pour water of about 200°F (93°C) over the grounds and let it steep for 4 minutes.

After the waiting period, you would press the plunger down and voílà, you have French press coffee.

James Hoffmann’s French Press Brewing Method

Ingredients

Here are the ingredients to make coffee in a French press using James Hoffmann’s method.

  1. High-quality coffee beans
  2. Filtered water

Some Notes About Coffee Beans

Like with all other brewing methods, the quality of your coffee beans is unbelievably important. It has an enormous impact on the taste of your coffee.

Using fresh beans that were roasted recently also has a great impact on the taste of your coffee. However, most of us do not have our own roastery, so the best we can do is to check the production date of the beans that we will be using.

The roast that you use is completely up to you and technically there is no “right coffee”. However, I like a medium roast and my favorite roast is the “Pike Place” roast by Starbucks. (You can also check out my review of Starbucks’s “Pike Place” roast.)

Pike Place coffee beans.

Water Quality

James Hoffmann recommends that you use filtered water and not hard water for your coffee. It has an influence on the taste of the coffee.

Basically, clean water gives you a better cup of coffee.

Instruments Needed

Of course, you will need some other tools as well to help you make this coffee. Here is a list of them:

  1. French press
  2. Spoon
  3. Kitchen scale
  4. Timer
  5. Coffee grinder
  6. Kettle

Steps

Okay, so now for the actual recipe.

1. Grind the Beans and Boil the Water

To save some time I usually grind the beans while I am waiting for the water to boil. Don’t worry too much about the water temperature, just make sure it boils.

You want to grind your beans just before you start brewing the coffee. The fresher the beans, the better the coffee.

Of course, you can use pre-ground coffee. The final brew is just a bit better if the beans are freshly ground.

Grind Size

Firstly, unlike most people, James Hoffmann recommends a medium or fine grind (that is about the coarseness of medium or superfine sugar). His opinion is that unless your grinder makes too many really fine pieces and it causes your coffee to be too bitter for your taste using a very coarse grind is unnecessary.

2. Mix It All Together

Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Hoffmann recommends using 75 grams of coffee for every liter of water. He likes to weigh the ingredients because it is a very precise way to measure what you are doing. That way you can easily make small adjustments to the coffee next time because there is no hard rule when it comes to this.

What I give you here is a basic recipe with which you can play to find the perfect ratio for your taste.

If You Don’t Have a Scale

It is hard to convert this to volume for those of you who don’t have a digital scale because the density of beans differ. This means that the weight of a cup of beans with a medium grind, for example, will be lighter than if you used a finer grind.

I think that a great starting point is 90 ml of water for every tablespoon of coffee. You can then adjust it to taste.

Although this isn’t exactly what Hoffmann’s recipe is, I believe that the genius of his method is in the brewing method and not necessarily the ratio of the ingredients.

Pouring Over the Water

When you pour the water over the grounds make sure to do it fast. This way you can be sure that all the grounds are wet. Now, wait for 4 minutes.

3. Stir the Crust

After the 4-minute waiting period, take a large spoon and stir the crust that formed on the surface of the brewed coffee. Most of the grounds will now fall to the bottom.

4. Spoon Off the Grounds

Spoon off the foam and remaining grounds floating on the surface of the coffee into a separate container. You can discard of this, you won’t be using it.

5. Wait Again

Now, wait for 5 more minutes.

Most people will be like, “But why?”. I get it. It feels redundant, but Hoffmann’s reasoning is quite solid regarding this. He says that at this point the coffee is any case too hot to drink, so it really doesn’t matter that you have to wait for it. You would have waited for it to cool down anyways.

6. Finally, Plunge, Kinda…

But, not as you usually would. Instead of pushing the plunger all the way down, you just insert it into the beaker. Pressing it into the coffee will cause the grounds that are lying on the bottom to come back up and you don’t want that. You basically just want the plunger as a filter for the bits of grounds that will inevitably try to escape.

7. Pour the Coffee

Now, you are finally ready to pour your cup of coffee. As I mentioned, most of the remaining grounds will be at the bottom of the beaker and most of the ones that try to escape with the coffee will be filtered out by the mesh of the plunger. However, don’t try to pour out every single drop, because the last bit of will have a little bit of grounds in that could possibly escape regardless of the plunger.

8. Enjoy Your Coffee

You should now have a great brew with very little grounds remaining at the bottom of your cup. So, enjoy it…

Conclusion: James Hoffmann’s French Press Method

I think that Hoffmann’s is probably the ultimate French press technique. The unique flavors of French press coffee are quite spectacular, but I cannot stand the sludge left behind when using the regular French press method.

With Hoffmann’s coffee brewing technique, this is almost completely eliminated.

Leave a Reply