A perfect cup of coffee is the best way to start the day—especially if it’s brewed from the comfort of your kitchen. You can dive deep into a spectrum of brew methods, but one of the simplest and most effective styles remains that of the stalwart French press. It’s as simple as adding hot water to coffee grounds at the right ratio and letting it steep, but following some best practices will ensure you get that perfect cup every time.
One factor to consider is water temperature. There are a lot of tips, tricks, and even specialized equipment for controlling water temperature, but it’s easy to overthink these kinds of things.
So what is the perfect temperature for brewing in your French press coffee maker, and how do we achieve it?
Ideal French Press Water and Coffee Temperature
The general rule of thumb is to brew French press coffee at a temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this guideline refers to the ideal temperature range of the slurry—or mixture of coffee grounds and water—not the water itself.
Since water boils at 212 degrees F, there is a widely held opinion that it’s best to bring your water to a boil and then let it rest for 30 seconds to a minute before brewing, but this may not be necessary at all.
To Rest or Not To Rest
When you pour boiling water from your kettle or other heating device into a carafe, there is an immediate loss of heat. This is even greater with the addition of ground coffee.
Macallie Atkinson of Verve Coffee Roasters ran experiments testing water temperatures, heat loss, and the effect of water temperature on coffee flavor. He found that not only did using water straight off the boil result in the ideal slurry temperature of around 198 degrees F, but letting water sit in its sealed heating vessel for upwards of 1.5 minutes resulted in a negligible loss of heat.
We recommend heating your carafe and cup as soon as your water boils. You can then brew away. But if you choose to let your water sit for 30 to 60 seconds, that’s perfectly fine, too. Your water will still be nearly as hot.