Any coffee connoisseur worth their salt knows that a cafetière is one of the best – and easiest – ways to enjoy beautifully brewed coffee at home. We break down exactly what a cafetière is, how it works, and how to prepare the perfect French press coffee.
- What is a cafetière?
- How much coffee do you need in a cafetière?
- How to use a cafetière
- Frequently asked questions:
- What type of coffee grind is best to use in a cafetière?
- Can a glass cafetière crack?
- Can boiling water burn the coffee?
- How to can I keep the coffee hot while brewing?
- Does the coffee need to be stirred before pressing?
- What’s the best way to store ground coffee?
- What’s the best way to dispose of used coffee grounds?
- How to choose the right cafetière
- What are the best cafetières and accessories?
What is a cafetière?
A cafetère, also called a French press, is a device that’s used to brew coffee.
Cafetières usually consist of a heatproof jug with a spout and a handle, and a lid that has a strainer attached to it. The strainer is plunged into the coffee once it’s brewed, separating the grounds from the liquid. And when the coffee is poured from the jug, the strainer keeps the grounds trapped inside the cafetière so you can enjoy a smooth and grit-free coffee.
The very first model originated in France in the early 1850s (fun fact: ‘cafetière' means ‘coffee pot’ in French), then the design was improved and patented by an Italian inventor in the late 1920s.
Today, cafetières have seen a lot of useful upgrades and have become a handy staple for easily brewing quality coffee in the comfort of your home. Explore our full range of cafetières to find one that best suits you.
How much coffee do you need in a cafetière?
You should use one heaped tablespoon (7g) of ground coffee for each mug, or per 125ml of hot water. You can also reduce or increase this amount if you want your coffee to be weaker or stronger.
This is a general guideline as the amount of coffee you use in your cafetière can also depend on the strength and fineness of your grounds.
You might want to use less if your coffee grounds are richer or if they’re quite fine. Finer grinds have a shorter extraction time, so reducing the amount that you use and cutting back on the brewing duration can help to prevent them from over-brewing.
How to use a cafetière
1. Heat your water
First, get your kettle on to heat your water. Once the water has boiled, leave it for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly so that it doesn’t burn your grounds (which would give your coffee a slightly bitter taste).
2. Add the coffee grounds
As your water is cooling, add your coffee grounds to your cafetière carafe. If you’re not sure how much to use, one tablespoon per person is a safe measurement to start off with. You can always adjust to your liking next time.
3. Fill with water
After you’ve poured hot water into the cafetière, the grounds will rise to the surface of the water and form a ‘crust’ at the top. Use a spoon to give the liquid a stir, breaking the crust and letting the coffee grounds settle at the bottom.
5. Place the lid on
Pop the lid onto the cafetière. Make sure the filter’s up so that it’s not touching the liquid at all.
And now, you wait for it to brew. For 4 minutes to be precise. So, wash the pots, get your favourite mug at the ready, or just enjoy a spot of ‘me’ time.
If you plunge too early, your coffee won’t have developed all of its complex flavours; too late and it might be over-brewed and bitter.
Set a timer to make sure you’re sticking to the perfect extraction timing. You’ve come too far to let your hard work go to waste!
Keeping the cafetière steady with one hand on the handle, slowly but firmly press down on the plunger. This will separate the grounds from the water.
Plunging too fast and with too much force can cause your precious coffee to leak out the top of the cafetière or the grounds to escape the filter. Gently does it.
Pour your coffee into your favourite mug and enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
What type of coffee grind is best to use in a cafetière?
As a general rule of thumb, the longer coffee grounds are in contact with water, the coarser they should be. A coarse grind is best for using in a cafetière as it can tolerate sitting in the water for longer without the risk of ‘over-extraction’ – which is a fancy word for when you brew your grounds for too long and they give your coffee a bitter taste.
Finer grinds work better with espresso machines as they’re not exposed to water for as long, and use medium grinds for drip or pour-over coffee methods as they have a slightly faster brew time.
Grinding your beans yourself means you can achieve the perfect consistency, every time. Aim for grounds that are matte and earthy looking, with no shiny shells or large pieces. If your grounds start to look dusty and it’s hard to spot the individual pieces, you’ve ground too far.
Can a glass cafetière crack?
Some cafetière carafes are made from toughened glass, rather than metal. Despite this, they’re specially made for taking the heat of hot water, so you don’t have to worry about them cracking.
Most glass carafes are also dishwasher safe too, but always check the manufacturer care guidelines. Take it out of the metal frame before you pop it into the dishwasher, as the frame may be hand wash only.
Can boiling water burn the coffee?
Yes! Using freshly boiled water in your cafetière can scald the grounds. This can give your finished coffee a slightly burnt and bitter taste.
After your kettle has boiled, wait for 1-2 minutes to let it cool slightly.
How can I keep the coffee hot while brewing?
Cafetières are not only designed to stand up against the heat of hot water, but for trapping and retaining it as the coffee brews.
If you prefer your morning dose of caffeine to be piping hot, you may want to choose a cafetière made with stainless steel over glass. A metal beaker is even more effective at keeping your brew at temperature.
Does the coffee need to be stirred before pressing?
Stirring the coffee before you leave it to brew will agitate the grounds and make sure that they’re completely submerged in the water.
This means you get a better extraction – and taste – as the grounds can fully impart their precious flavours into the water.
What’s the best way to store ground coffee?
Whether you have beans or grounds on hand, the best way to store any type of coffee product is in an airtight and moisture-free environment. You should also keep it away from direct sunlight or sources of heat. A coffee jar or container that’s stored in your cupboard should do the trick nicely.
If you keep your grounds in the bag that they come in, use a coffee bag clip to preserve the grounds for longer by keeping air and moisture at bay.
Coffee will start to lose its freshness as soon as it's roasted, so we’d recommend buying your favourite coffee in smaller batches rather than stockpiling it up.
What’s the best way to dispose of used coffee grounds?
Never pour your used coffee grounds down the sink. As tempting as it might be, the grounds can clump together when they get wet, building up inside the pipes and causing clogged drains.
To save yourself any stress and a DIY job, empty your grounds into your kitchen bin or a compost bin.
How to choose the right cafetière
Cafetières come in a range of different sizes varying in the number of cups of coffee you can make from them. This makes it super easy to work out which model is best for you.
However, it’s worth noting that the cup capacity of cafetières is based on traditional 120ml coffee cups. So if you like to sip on a full mug of coffee in the morning, you might be better suited with a bigger model.
If you’ll be using your cafetière for personal use or for brewing smaller cups of coffee, a 3-cup cafetière is a great choice.
Cafetières with glass beakers are some of the most popular styles as the glass gives a luxurious and chic finish that looks great on any countertop. It’s also easy to peek inside and see how your brew is doing.
If you need your coffee to cool down quickly to use it in cooking, baking, or in an iced coffee, a glass cafetière is an excellent choice. Take a look at our guide to making an iced coffee for the perfect summer refreshment.
Stainless steel and aluminium cafetières are also common. The metal is often double-walled and boasts unbeatable thermal insulation – a must for any connoisseurs who like to enjoy their coffee as hot as possible.
Metal cafetières are usually made up of two main parts: a beaker and a lid. This makes them easy to clean and maintain.
Glass cafetières tend to feature the glass beaker, an outer metal holder that provides sturdiness and support when pouring, and a lid. The removable metal holder works like a sleeve to insulate the coffee as it brews, but it also keeps the exterior from being too hot to touch.
What are the best cafetières and accessories?
Best for contemporary style: La Cafetière Pisa Latte Cream Cafetière - 3 Cup
Effortlessly elegant, this cafetière from coffee-expert La Cafetière proves that they know a little something about brewing in style. The beautiful cream-coloured stainless-steel sleeve snugly hugs the borosilicate glass carafe to keep your coffee warm. The natural wood effect handle stays cool while also adding a contemporary finish.
Best for a classic look: La Cafetière Roma Cafetière - 3 Cup
If you like your cafetière how you like your coffee – simple, clean, and refined – you’ll love this classic design. A combination of borosilicate glass and a sleek stainless steel frame leaves a lasting impression, just like your favourite blend of java. The fine mesh design holds back all the grounds for an unbeatably smooth sensation and the silicone-coated handle gives it a supremely comfortable grip.
Best for keeping coffee warm: La Cafetière 8 Cup Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press
Keep your coffee warmer for longer with this double-walled stainless steel cafetière that locks in the heat. The polished exterior is as luxurious as it is practical, making it a winner for daily use in busy homes. The special fine mesh filter preserves all the essential oils released by the grounds but catches any grit.
Waiting for your coffee to brew doesn’t have to be a chore when you have this nifty gadget. Time the extraction process to perfection by pressing the button, which counts down from four minutes. And when it’s ready, this doubles up as a coffee stirrer too. A great gift for any coffee aficionado, if you ask us.
Best for keeping grounds fresh: La Cafetière Stainless Steel Coffee Measuring Spoon with Clip
This multi-purpose measuring spoon and bag clip is the accessory that you didn’t know you needed. The scoop’s long handle lets you reach down to the bottom of any jar or packet and is designed to measure a single serving, so you can say goodbye to guesstimating. And don’t forget to seal up your bag of grounds with the ingenious clip after each use.
How to use a cafetière for making the perfect brew
If you love to enjoy a quality brew on the daily, a cafetière is a must-have tool for easy but excellent coffee.
From arabica to robusta, get the most out of your coffee beans with our selection of cafetières and coffee tools that help you to prepare a delicious blend in a matter of moments.