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What is the Best Coffee for French Press?

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

As coffee makers go, the French press is elegant in its simplicity. All that’s needed is some good coffee beans (freshly ground) and hot water, a 4-minute wait whilst you doom scroll Instagram, then plunge and pour.

Simples.

The hard part is picking the right coffee beans, but we’ve got your back there. As former baristas, we’ve tasted a LOT of coffee beans and think the best coffee for French Press is Volcanica’s Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. The bold aromatics. rich sweetness and complexity are perfectly expressed when brewed with a French Press.

When you brew via steeping (like in a French press), all the delicious oils stay in the coffee. So it’s a great way to experiment with different beans, particularly single-origin coffees where you can taste the unique flavors of the different growing regions. After extensive testing (it’s a tough job), we’ve listed some of our top picks to hopefully inspire you to try something new and exciting:

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Best Overall

Three bags Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffee with some of the coffee beans on the counter, French press being poured into mug

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – Volcanica

From the home of Arabica coffee, these forest-sheltered, high-altitude beans are stunning. Using a French press releases the intense aromatics and delicate fruit notes. So you get incredible complexity and great acidity – overall, it’s a fantastic coffee.

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10 Best Coffees for French Press

Volcanica – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

What to Expect:

Source: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Roast: Medium-Light Roast

Processing Method: Natural

Tasting notes: Blackberry, lemon, blueberry

Important notes: This Kosher certified coffee is dried in raised beds, giving a sweeter, more floral flavor profile

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Ethiopian coffee is synonymous with great quality. And this offering from Volcanica is no exception: 

Yirgacheffe is the epicenter of coffee growing in the Sidoma region of the country. Famous for its commitment to quality, the farmers of this region have been supported by the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) since 2002.

Representing over 45,000 small-holder farmers along with 28 cooperatives their mission is to “promote and support the continuous development of sustainable coffee supply”.

With flavors of citrus and berries, these beans have a tea-like quality to them. It’s a slightly lighter option to use in your French press and a greatly enjoyable, smooth-drinking experience.

Getting all those amazing aromatics from the beans by steeping really shows off this amazing coffee region. Just keep a careful eye on your brewing time – the lightness of the beans means they’re very sensitive to brewing errors. We found if you leave them steeping even 10 seconds too long, the flavors go really flat.

Spirit Animal – Bourbon

What to Expect:

Source: Yuliana Hernandez microlot in Marcala, Honduras

Roast: Medium

Processing Method: Natural

Tasting notes: Tropical fruit, cacao, white wine, nuts

Important notes: Spirit Animal coffee is roasted at source and shipped directly to your door from Honduras. This is the best way to ensure the people and countries that grow our amazing coffee get the financial benefits

Spirit Animal Coffee specializes in microlot coffees from the stunning coffee-producing nation of Honduras. And this particular specialty French press coffee comes from the Yuliana Hernandez microlot in Marcala.

The medium roast coffee beans are from a single Honduran coffee farm, located over 6,000 feet above sea level. Here, the natural processing method is used which intensifies the sweet fruit flavors.

Spirit Animal works very closely with the farmers to ensure only the highest quality coffee beans make their way to you. Whilst this does mean it’s a relatively expensive coffee, you can feel good about the money going to the people it should: the talented growers and workers on their farms.

We loved the tropical fruit notes that were so prominent in this coffee. The full-bodied fruitiness works well in a French press but we also love these beans for pour over too. Honestly, all of Spirit Animal’s coffees are so great that we could have picked any of them for this list.

Lifeboost Coffee – Dark Roast

What to Expect:

Source: Mt Kilambé, Nicaragua

Roast: Dark

Processing Method: Washed

Tasting notes: Chocolate, caramel, dried fruit, and spice

Important notes: Lifeboost’s mission is to create the healthiest, low-acid coffee possible. All their beans are from a single farm in Nicaragua where they’re shade-grown at high-elevation

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The entire Lifeboost Coffee range comes from a single farm in the Mt. Kilambe area of northern Nicaragua. Here, the coffee cherries are farmed at an elevation of 5,700 ft and are hand-picked at their peak of ripeness before being washed processed. This preserves the bright, clean flavors of Nicaraguan coffee grown at altitude.

Their primary aim is to create low-acid coffee that is kind to the gut. They also have all their coffee beans tested by an independent third party to ensure there are no mycotoxins. So if you’re concerned about your health, these are the guys to get your coffee from.

For us, it’s hands down one of the best dark roast coffees available. Perfect if you prefer a bolder and richer style though if you’re used to high acidity coffees, you might find this a little too mellow. We love a dark roast in the winter months so it’s a good option when things start to get colder. But maybe that’s just us.

As an added bonus, Lifeboost also works with Rainforest Trust to preserve the biodiversity and habitats across coffee-growing regions. On top of this, they are USDA Certified Organic and their coffee is all Shade-Grown. That’s a whole lot of ticks in all the right boxes.

Equator Coffees – Equator Blend

What to Expect:

Source: Blend from Sumatra, Kenya, Colombia & Zambia

Roast: Medium-Dark

Processing Method: Blend of wet-hulled & washed

Tasting notes: Cedar, apricot, marzipan, milk chocolate and nutmeg in a mellow yet complex blend

Important notes: Equator Coffees’ best-selling beans and their namesake, this blend is expertly crafted to create a consistently smooth and delicious blend

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These coffee beans bear Equator Coffees’ name so they go all-in to ensure the blend is consistently superb. It’s also their best-seller, so it’s not just us that adores these beans!

By combining beans from Sumatra, Kenya, Colombia, and Brazil they’ve created something unique and delicious. The Sumatran beans are wet-hulled – a process unique to Indonesia that yields deep-toned, woodsy-tasting coffees. This is then blended with brighter, lighter-tasting coffees from the other regions that are all washed processed.

The result?

A robust, smooth, and flavor-packed coffee.

The medium-dark roast brings out the complex flavor profile of cedar, apricot, milk chocolate, and nutmeg. No matter how many other coffees we try, we keep coming back to Equator.

Koa Coffee – 100% Ka’u Private Reserve Medium Roast

What to Expect:

Source: Ka’u Private Reserve, Hawaii

Roast: Medium

Tasting notes: Citrus and flowers, syrupy mouthfeel with caramel and currants

Important notes: Koa Coffee is a family-run business, providing top-quality Kona coffee from Hawaii

In the south of Hawaii’s “Big Island” lies the Ka’u Forest reserve just to the north of the small town of Pahala. The coffee from this region is comparable in style to some Central American coffees. But it has its own quirks that make it an exciting brew to try, particularly as a coffee for French press.

Koa Coffee specializes in the unique flavors of Hawaiian coffee, having started as a small family business in 1997. Their dedication to quality has seen them named in lists of the best coffee in America multiple times. And, over the years, they have gone from strength to strength.

Their medium roast is consistently a best seller and a firm favorite of ours for most brewing methods. It’s sweet and complex with a really velvety mouthfeel. We like how the complexity shines through when we brew by steeping. Also loved the texture of this coffee.

Volcanica – Jamaica Blue Mountain Peaberry Coffee (Luxury Pick)

What to Expect:

Source: Clifton Mount Estate, Blue Mountain, Jamaica

Roast: Medium

Processing Method: Washed

Tasting notes: White flowers, sweet chocolate, and cream

Important notes: This is the most sought-after coffee and is simply perfection in a cup. Direct Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified too so you know it’s good for the people, the environment, and your taste buds

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Peaberry Coffee from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica is possibly the most prized and sought-after coffee in the world. And, after just one sip, we instantly see why:

It has big flavors with excellent balance and arguably the most intoxicating aroma of any coffee we’ve ever tried. (And that’s saying something!) You get deliciously creamy chocolate notes with hints of flowers.

Very strictly controlled by the Jamaican government, coffee from the Blue Mountain region has long been prized as the “best in the Caribbean”. And many coffee experts say it’s the best in the world. Why? The combination of elevations over 2,000 feet, rich soil, and continuous rainfall create perfect coffee farming conditions for the world’s finest coffee beans.

As an extra bougie choice, these aren’t just any Blue Mountain beans, they’re the rare Peaberry. This is when the cherry produces 1 seed instead of 2 – something that only happens in around 5% of the crop. Peaberry is generally thought to have more complex flavors and better balance than regular coffee.

The downside is that since there’s no way to guarantee growing Peaberry, you pay a premium for the experience.

So this isn’t a cheap option.

But boy is it worth it! It’s a luxury coffee that really tastes luxury. We’re not totally convinced it’s worth the full price tag, but a must-try nonetheless. Maybe only on very special occasions though.

Out of the Grey – Costa Rican La Minita Coffee

What to Expect:

Source: La Minita, Tarrazú, Costa Rica

Roast: Medium-Dark

Processing Method: Washed

Tasting notes: Citrus fruits, smooth chocolate, and caramelized sugar

Important notes: This Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee is grown on a large farm in La Minita that supports its workers both at work and outside of working hours. For example, there is an on-site medical clinic, plus they fund sports programs and annual trips

On the site where the indigenous people of Costa Rica went to search for gold, in the Tarrazú region, lies a 1,200-acre farm growing supremely good coffee.

Whilst the farm is located in the Tarrazú region, they believe the geography and microclimate give their coffee better balance and more flavor than most of the region’s coffees. It’s for this reason that they don’t put Tarrazú on the label. 

A lot of experimentation and effort has gone into producing the best beans from the farm’s particular microclimate. So, whilst Caturra, Catuai red, Catuai yellow, and Hibrido Tico coffee varietals all grow on the farm, they concentrate predominantly on Caturra with a little Hibrido Tico.

That’s all a very technical way of saying that when carefully brewed in a French press, this Costa Rican coffee bursts with flavors of caramelized sugar and sweet citrus. It’s a flavor profile we love a lot, particularly after spending time exploring Costa Rica and its various coffee regions in 2022. Almost all of our favorites are produced in Terrazú.

The farm is also home to 200 acres of rainforest which will never be put under cultivation. Across the rest of the farm, they have a rotation of coffee cultivation to ensure the natural biodiversity is maintained. It is this care and attention to the local environment that ensures the coffee’s Rainforest Alliance Certification. 

Stumptown – Indonesian Bies Penantan

What to Expect:

Source: Aceh, Sumatra

Roast: Medium

Processing Method: Wet-Hulled

Tasting notes: Pineapple, clove, dark chocolate

Important notes: From the woman led Ketiara Cooperative

From the stunning Gayo Highlands in Aceh, Sumatra. These coffee beans show everything that is unique and exciting about coffee from Sumatra.

The Ketiara cooperative has been woman-led for a long time now and continues to promote better growing and processing practices across the region.

This coffee is “wet-hulled” – a unique method of coffee processing that produces a very full-bodied style with spicy, earthy notes. This robustness lends itself well to the longer immersion time of French press brewing.

Whilst it won’t be for everyone, if you’re looking for something that packs a punch, this is the one.

I love the stark difference from this style of coffee bean. It’s rich and delicately spiced with hints of fruit – very different and very enjoyable.

Altruistic Joe – Cream & Crimson Blend

What to Expect:

Source: Guatemala and Ethiopia

Roast: Light-Medium

Processing Method: Washed

Tasting notes: Berries and stone fruit, flowers and sharp citrus

Important notes: Altruistic Joe is veteran-owned and donate 20% of net proceeds to charities

What separates the average from the amazing coffee for French press is the aromatic oils that are retained in your cup. And Altruistic Joe nails it with this blend of highly aromatic coffees from two exciting coffee countries.

By mixing the bold, sweet fruit flavors of Guatemalan coffee with the berries and flowers of coffee from Ethiopia, you end up with a big aromatic punch in a cup. We were intrigued by how these two nations would blend in a coffee as they don’t feel like the best match on paper. But were very pleased to taste the best of both.

This is a very punchy style that we loved but it may not be for everyone.

To help you feel good about your coffee bean purchase, Altruistic Joe is a Veteran owned company. They also donate 20% of net profits to a range of charities.

Stone Street – Cold Brew Reserve Colombian Supremo

What to Expect:

Source: Colombia

Roast: Dark

Tasting notes: Nutty, chocolate flavors with light fruit notes

Important notes: Created with cold brew in mind but also makes a great tasting French press coffee brew

The French press doesn’t just make delicious hot coffee, you can also use it to make incredible-tasting cold brew too. And, Stone Street’s Cold Brew Reserve is exactly what you need to help you whip up a batch. So, these great-tasting coffee beans feature on both our lists of the best coffee beans for French press and for cold brew. 

The 100% Arabica coffee beans are dark roasted in a small New York roastery. There, they ensure the single-origin Colombian beans receive the best treatment and make their way to you at their optimal freshness. 

Colombian dark roast is a guaranteed rich, smooth, chocolate and nut experience. This offering from Stone Street didn’t disappoint. The chocolate flavor is really front and center. For an everyday coffee, we tend to steer away from dark roasts but still love this one for delivering on that “classic” roasty profile.

Stone Street offers up either whole-bean coffee or a coarse grind, perfect for the French press. Although we find the pre-ground to be a little uneven so you’re better off grinding your own, if possible. Either way, you can expect to enjoy a crisp, clean, well-balanced cup of coffee.

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Quick Comparison Table

Image Product Details
Volcanica – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
  • Medium-Light Roast
  • From Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
  • Blueberry, blackberry, lemon
Spirit Animal – Bourbon
  • Medium roast
  • From Marcala, Honduras
  • Flavors of tropical fruit, cacao, white wine, nuts
Lifeboost Coffees – Dark Roast
  • Dark Roast
  • From Mt Kilambé, Nicaragua
  • Flavors of chocolate, caramel, dried fruit, spice
Equator Coffees – Equator Blend
  • Medium-Dark roast
  • Blend
  • Cedar, apricot, marzipan, milk chocolate, nutmeg
Koa Coffee – 100% Ka’u Private Reserve
  • Medium roast
  • From Ka’u Private Reserve, Hawaii
  • Notes of bright citrus, jasmine, caramel, and currants
Volcanica – Blue Mountain Peaberry
  • Medium roast
  • From Clifton Mount Estate, Blue Mountain, Jamaica
  • White flowers, sweet chocolate, cream
Out of the Grey – La Minita
  • Medium-Dark roast
  • From La Minita, Tarrazú, Costa Rica
  • Citrus fruits, chocolate, caramelized sugar
Stumptown – Indonesia Bies Penantan
  • Medium Roast
  • From Gayo Highlands, Aceh, Sumatra
  • Bitter chocolate, clove, pineapple
Altruistic Joe – Cream & Crimson Blend
  • Light-Medium roast
  • Blend from Guatemala & Ethiopia
  • Berries, stone fruit, flowers, sharp citrus
Stone Street – Cold Brew Reserve
  • Dark roast
  • From Colombia
  • Nutty, chocolatey, fruity
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How to Get the Best from Your Beans

Once you’ve chosen your coffee for French press, the hard part is over. Now you just need to brew them like a pro and these top tips will help you:

  1. Use a high-quality French press: Whilst it’s true that only a bad worker blames their tools, a bad French press will result in silty, muddy coffee – hardly a great start to the day. To help weed out a good French press from a bad one, look at these factors:
    • Material Used: You will find options available in glass, plastic, ceramic, and stainless steel. Both glass and plastic presses allow you to watch your coffee brewing and tend to be more affordable options. Glass is also the most traditional, found on the Bodum’s classic French press range. However, ceramic (when pre-heated) and stainless steel will retain heat better, particularly double-walled stainless steel – but they’ll cost more.
    • Filter Quality: The quality of the filter is the difference between a smooth, delicious cup of coffee and one that’s filled with grainy sediment. Look for a three-layer filter made from fine stainless steel mesh. This should fit snugly against the carafe, creating an airtight barrier.
    • Style: If you travel a lot, we recommend looking for a traveling French press instead. Some combine a travel mug with the press, and others are separate to decant into a travel mug whilst on the go. Either way, a great option for commuters and frequent travelers.
  2. Freshly grind the coffee beans: Wherever possible, we recommend steering clear of pre-ground coffee as it loses freshness too quickly after grinding. Instead, buy whole bean coffee and coarsely grind it yourself (think sea salt sized). To do this, you’ll need a grinder that performs well at the coarser end of the spectrum – here is a list of the best options.
  3. Use the correct ratio of coffee to water to match the size of your French press and how strong you like it. For most French press coffee lovers, a 1:12.5 ratio is a good place to start. But our handy calculator takes away all the guesswork – click here to check it out.
  4. Keep it clean. There is nothing worse than mixing old, stale coffee with vibrant, freshly brewed coffee. So, keep on top of cleaning your French press.

When in doubt, serve croissants on the side for a truly Parisian touch.

For more top tips on how to get the best quality from the French press brew method, check out our ultimate guide:

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What Types of Coffee Beans Are Best for French Press?

Regardless of your brewing method, the first step to the best quality cup of coffee is the best quality coffee beans. Like any of the ones on this list!

But ‘best’ is subjective, and the French press is a pretty forgiving and flexible method of brewing coffee.

So you can opt for any roast from any region and still get a delicious cup of coffee. That said, it will bring out different qualities from the beans than a coffee that’s better suited to Chemex or espresso, so follow these tips for what to look for:

Jar of coffee beans in front of French press

Best Roast for French Press

Whilst common wisdom says medium to dark roast is best for French press, it really depends on just one thing: What do you like drinking? 

Not sure? Then check out our complete guide to the different coffee bean roasts and what you can expect from them.

One of the best features of the French press is that it brews up delicious coffee, no matter what roast you opt for. But the following roasting rules should help you choose what will suit your tastes better:

  • Light roast: Best for exploring the unique flavors of a certain growing region. These coffees will be citrusy and delicate, with less of the caramel and chocolate flavors you may be used to. But, brewing light roast coffee in a French press will allow you to enjoy the nuance in flavor.
  • Medium roast: For us, this is the best roast for French press as you still get the unique taste of the growing region but with more of the classic coffee flavors. This balance between bean flavor and roast flavor leads to a delicious cup of joe when steeped in a French press and allows you to explore the diverse world of coffee.
  • Dark roast: As the roasts get darker, you taste less of the beans and more of the roasting process. This is great if you love big, bold coffee with hints of smoke and bitter chocolate notes. You can still taste general stylistic differences between origins but to a much lesser degree.

If you’re relatively new to grinding and brewing French press coffee at home, you may want to start with a medium to dark roast – it’s more like what you’ll be used to. Then get gradually lighter roasted beans to find the perfect level for you.

Grind Size

You need a very coarse grind for French press, possibly as coarse as your grinder will go.

Whilst we don’t recommend it for freshness, if you’re buying pre-ground then look for “coarse ground” or “French press grind”.

If you’re buying from your favorite roaster, you can ask them to grind it for you. Then they’ll be able to get the grind size right and also advise you on the optimum brewing time and ratio for their beans.

But to really get the best cup of coffee from your French press, it is best to freshly grind the whole bean coffee yourself. Doing so keeps all those delicious oils in your brew and means you’ll never have “stale” coffee.

A bit of trial and error is needed depending on your grinder and how experienced you are with using it. So we recommend setting your grinder as coarse as possible and working finer from there if needed.

And remember: what works for one coffee bean might not work for another. So have fun and experiment.

Coarse sea salt in one hand and coarse ground coffee in the other
For French press, the grind size (right) should be similar to coarse sea salt (left)

Single-Origin or Blend?

For us, single-origin coffee is the best option for great-tasting French press coffee. It is all about the excitement of tasting something different and seeing how the climate or processing changes the flavor.

Steeping draws out all the delicious oils and minerals that make coffee beans taste so great. So it tends to deliver a more robust, rich, and full-bodied cup of coffee.

We tend to favour coffees from Central or South America, and Indonesia. Whilst there’s no hard and fast rule that says these will always be the best choice, they do tend to have more of the deep chocolatey and nutty flavor profiles that work well in a French press.

But with so many places growing amazing coffee, you’ll never be short of choice.

Don’t get us wrong, blends can be great too. However, many blends are created as an easy way to use up lower-quality coffee beans by mixing them with some better ones to add “top notes”.

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The Verdict

It’s hard to nail down the overall best coffee beans for French press as so much of taste is subjective. Plus, the French press works with so many different styles of coffee beans that the world really is your oyster.

The best thing to do is pick a couple of different beans from totally different regions of the world and try them next to each other.

We love tasting Spirit Animal’s Bourbon Honduran beans next to Volcanica’s flavorful coffee beans from Ethiopia as they showcase two completely different but delicious sides to coffee. Throw in some wet-hulled Sumtatran beans for when you need a serious jolt in the morning, and you’re onto a winner.

So, our recommendation for the best coffee for French press is simple:

Taste everything. Life is too short to limit yourself to just one style of coffee beans.

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Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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