Best Coffee for French Press Brewing

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Freshly Brewed French Press Coffee
Photo by Christy via Flickr.

When I am asked what is the best coffee for French press, or the best beans for manual drip, I usually hesitate. Recommending a coffee to someone can be a very difficult task. This is because everybody has different tastes and preferences. A type of coffee I like, might be completely wrong for you. Stick with me, and I'll show you how to find out what's best for you.

Personally, I like medium roast, African, single origin coffees, such as coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya or Rwanda that have a fruity and bright body. This is very different to most coffee drinkers. South American coffees, for example, are much more popular than African coffees. One of my favorite single origins is the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, check my review here.

On this page, I picked coffees that would work best in a French press and that would suit the palate of a coffee drinker who is partial to press pot coffee. You will note that I picked richer coffees, typical of South America and darker roasts in general; all qualities very popular among North American coffee lover.

I usually look for coffee that is of single origin and that is small batch roasted. This formula is perfect for getting some of the best beans for French press. The reason is that single origins will have their distinctive personality, and that will be found in the final cup. Again this is just what I prefer and is not a rule of thumb.

Remember the Basics

Let's recap the basics of specialty coffee.

  • It is always a good idea to buy coffee in smaller quantities so that it doesn't go stale in your cupboard. Many roasters like to sell their coffee in big bags 2 to 5 pound. This is something to be aware of when you are buying your coffee. It's always better to buy in smaller quantities.
  • Make sure that coffee you buy is whole beans. If you buy ground coffee you may as well be buying cheap, badly roasted coffee. This is because most of the essential flavors in a coffee bean are released just minutes after the coffee has been ground. The product you will receive won't taste anything like the original coffee that was farmed.
  • This also means you need a decent coffee grinder. This will help with a consistent grind, which is critical for French press.

Brazil Peaberry – Best coffee for French press

For my first choice for the best French press coffee, I went with the single origin Brazil Peaberry from Rising Sun coffee roasters. The Peaberry is a very rare and delicious type of roast that only uses a small part of the bean and it is always worth giving it a try.

Brazilian coffees are very dark in nature and for this reason, they usually compliment the French pot very well. To balance the dark Brazilian notes, I went with a medium roast, sweet tasting coffee. A dark roasted Brazilian coffee prepared in a French press can often be too strong for the standard coffee drinker.

This coffee is rich but sweet which is a very effective combination for the French press. Rising Sun roast a little at a time instead of roasting in bulk which is a big plus as well. This is one of the nicest Brazilian roasts that you will find on the market and will perfectly complement your French pot.

Some Notes on Tastes

As I mentioned, coffees from different countries and regions typically have different tastes. African coffees are famous for being fruity, bright, acidic and flavorful. South American coffees, on the other hand, would often have darker, nutty, chocolatey, sweet and caramel notes. For this reason, some people think that South American coffees generally suit the French press better than African coffees. Have some fun and experiment with different coffees in your French pot.

Coffee Cupping

If you are someone who likes to try new things, you should definitely try a lighter roast, against the general trend. You will love it. I only included here medium roasts. If you have a sensitive stomach though, stick to darker roasted beans, they are less irritant for your stomach. If your stomach is fine, try transitioning to light roasts.

It takes a bit to get used to a light roast. You need a week or so to get used to the new taste, but it's totally worth the transition time. Lighter roasts carry more of the natural bean aroma and flavor. Some describe it as earthy. I love this flavor, and the African beans are the best when they are lightly roasted.

Take your time to discover how a coffee with caramel and sweet tones compares to a coffee bean with earthly qualities. Lighter roasts carry more of the bean's character into the cup.

If you ask me, I'd say that the best coffee for French press is a Brazilian coffee or an African one. But again, that's just me.

And I like finer grinds for brewing my French pot coffee. Everybody is different and has different tastes. Take a look at my French press brewing tutorial if you want some great tips.

It will take some trial and error to find the perfect coffee and combination for your French pot. A good idea is to buy coffee bean samples to taste coffee from a region that you haven’t tried before, instead of buying a whole bag only to realize that you don’t like that sort of coffee! I wish you luck in your French press coffee tasting journey.

One more thing before I point you to some beans. Try blending your own. This one thing that I do more often than not. I said I loved African and Brazilian beans. Sometimes I just mix them in various ratios depending on my mood.

Colombia JO, Medium Roast – Jo Coffee

The next coffee I feel would be best for the French press is the Columbian roast from Jo Coffee. Colombia is also famous, like many of its South American neighbors, for a darker tasting coffee. Again, I chose a medium roasted Colombian coffee because the French pot naturally brings out fuller, more robust flavors in coffee and so a dark origin medium roast is perfect for the French press.

Jo Coffee roasts in small quantities and not in large batches. A big plus as well is that their coffee is all organic. I don’t only buy organic coffee, but I am always happy when I see one. Buying fair-trade is a great choice. It ensures sustainability for small farmers. You can be sure that the coffee, the land, and the workers were all treated properly throughout the coffee making process.

How to Use a French Press | Perfect Coffee

Here is a video that shows the basics of French press brewing. This is the technique proposed by the mainstream coffee culture.

If you want to break the mainstream advice, check my article on French press.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe – Lavanta Coffee Roasters

I had to include an Ethiopian coffee in my selection! Ethiopian coffees are the real deal. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and is the staple for good coffee. The Yirgacheffe region in southern Ethiopia is famous for some of the finest coffee around and you can be sure you'll get the very best when you buy the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. In my opinion, Yirgacheffe is the best french press coffee. Just try it.

I picked a dark roast, Ethiopian coffee is typically milder tasting. The dark roast would cover some of the earthy tones and will produce delicious, rich coffee, with caramel tones. Lavanta also directly trade with the coffee farmers so you can be assured of product quality as well as fair worker treatment. Check this coffee on Amazon.