9 Brilliant French Press Hacks That Go Way Beyond Coffee

Dinner, dessert, and even cocktails are easier when you tap into this underrated tool.
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Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Anna Surbatovich, Food Styling by Olivia Mack Anderson

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You need a French press, but not just for coffee. Even if you favor other methods for making your morning brew, there are so many French press hacks that will make this glass-and-chrome carafe your new favorite kitchen tool. A French press isn’t just something for caffeine dispensing—rather it’s an all-in-one strainer/mixer/squeezer/wonder workhorse. Reject the single-use traditional perspective you’ve looked at a French press with and embrace modernity with these nine hacks. Anything is possible with the French press if you just believe.

Be sure to also check out our test on the best French presses to read more about our picks and how we selected them.

The two best French presses:

1. Froth milk

To get milk frothy (and step up your matcha latte game exponentially), fill up a third of your French press with warm milk. Gently pump the metal plunger up and down for about 30 seconds, creating noticeably frothier milk. Pour it into your espresso or matcha and wonder why you’d ever spend $4 at a coffee shop again.

2. Make broth

To make a simple broth in your French press, fill up the glass with aromatics like sliced ginger, crushed garlic, sliced chiles, chopped scallions—whatever you’re feeling. Pour hot water on top of the aromatics, give ’em a good stir, and pop the canister’s top on. Let the aromatics steep for 5 to 7 minutes; the longer it steeps, the stronger your broth will be. Remove the French press’s top, stir once more, then put the top back and press down on it. Season it with salt, and now you’ve got a base for soups, seafood, risotto, and more.

3. Infuse oil

The same technique applies to infusing oil in the French press—add flavorings (garlic, herbs, spicy pepper, etc.) to the canister, pour hot oil on top (you can heat it for a few minutes in a small saucepan first), steep, then strain. Pasta, meat, and plain ol’ bread just got way more exciting.

Matcha Latte

Christina Holmes

4. Steep tea

Once you find your favorite type of tea, you can quit buying the crappy (and wasteful) bagged teas and start buying them loose-leaf. Drop a teaspoon of loose tea into your French press, add in a cup of hot water, close the lid, and let it steep. Herbal infusions need the most steeping (5 to 7 minutes); white teas need the least (just a minute or two). For every other tea (black, green, oolong), taste as you go to determine the ideal brew time. Then simply press the plunger and pour into cups. Be sure not to leave the hot tea steeping in the French press for longer than necessary—like coffee, the tea will turn bitter when it’s overbrewed.

5. Rinse grains

If you haven’t caught on yet, the French press is pretty much a cup with a strainer attached. Naturally, it makes a great tool for rinsing small amounts of grains like quinoa and rice. Add the uncooked grains to the canister, cover with water, give it a few pumps, strain, and repeat until the water is clear.

6. Make cold brew

Technically, this contradicts my headline, but this isn’t just plain ol’ French press coffee. This is strong, rich, coffee-shop-level cold brew, at home.

To make 4 cups of cold brew, coarsely grind 6 oz. of coffee beans (this should yield around 12 Tbsp., or ¾ cup). Place the grounds in the base of your French press, pour over 28 oz. of cold water, stir once with a wood spoon, and cover with the plunger cap (but don’t press down yet). Place in a cool, dark place for 15 hours. After the soak, plunge and decant the cold brew into a container. Serve over ice and you’re good to go. It’ll also keep in the fridge for a week or two.

Soggy veg, begone!

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Anna Surbatovich, Food Styling by Olivia Mack Anderson

7. Squeeze excess water from vegetables

When you're making, say, zucchini veggie burgers, or pasta with shredded summer squash, or potato latkes, you need to squeeze the squash or potatoes of any excess moisture, which can prove to be a pain—squeezing a cheesecloth or a dish towel full of wet vegetables is far from convenient. Instead, pile shredded veg into the canister of your French press, press down firmly, and tip so that the excess liquid drains out of the press’s spout. Now that grated veg is good as gold.

8. Shake up a cocktail

A shaken cocktail is easy enough—if you have a shaker. If you don’t, there’s the French press. Just pour your measured ingredients into the press and pump the handle up and down gently to mix the liquids together. Pour into a glass, or just drink it out of the French press.

9. Self-clean

Once you’ve worked magic in your French press, you don’t have to drive yourself nuts trying to clean it out. Just give the inside of the glass a rinse, add a squeeze of dish soap and enough water to fill the press halfway up, and plunge away. After pouring out the soapy water and giving everything a rinse, you’ll find a sparkling-clean French press once again. When cleanup is that easy, why haven’t you been using your FP for broth, cocktails, and cold brew all along?

Time to pull that French press out and get cold brew started. Your tomorrow-self will thank you.

Toasted Coconut Cold-Brew Iced Coffee

The Best French presses

The best for coffee: Espro P7

We’ve tested many French presses over our years of covering coffee gear on Epicurious and have found that the Espro P7 is the cream of the crop when it comes to French press coffee, specifically. It has some design features that far outweigh the competition, including a double-walled filter, which prevents coffee grit from making its way into your brew (something that can be a problem with French press as a brewing method when you have an inferior machine).

French-pressed coffee is also almost always over extracted unless you decant it immediately into a carafe, because there’s no way to stop the brewing process when the coffee sits on top of the grounds. But the Espro 7 is specially designed to separate the grounds from the coffee in the carafe. Feel free to leave your coffee in the press—and you’ll want to because it’s also insulated to keep the brew warm.

The best for versatility and economy: Espro P5

This less expensive model from the same company features a glass body rather than a stainless-steel one, so it isn’t insulated, but it has the same double-walled filter that’s crucial to preventing grit and keeping your coffee from becoming bitter. We actually think that this model is better if you’re trying to get the most versatility out of your press rather than just looking to use it for coffee. The ability to see through the machine is helpful for the purposes of squeezing moisture out of vegetables, shaking cocktails, or frothing milk. And the price point is a little closer to what you’re used to seeing with a French press. Both Espro models are easy to take apart, which makes for a more thorough and seamless cleaning experience.