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How to make french press coffee: ratio and grind

French Press is some of the best tasting coffee you’ll ever have. With a thick mouthfeel, rich, bold flavor, and a relatively foolproof brewing method, what’s not to like?

Learn how to make french press coffee the easy way. It’s just a matter of using the right ratio of coffee to water, using the right grind, and brewing for the right amount of time.

Let’s dive in!

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How much coffee to use in french press

If you look around on the internet, you can find everyone giving you varied advice on the best french press ratio of coffee to water. However, the most commonly cited ratio is between 1:14 or 1:16, or 1 gram of coffee to 14-16 grams of water.

Thanks to the metric system, you know that 14 grams of water is the same as 14 ml, so that reduces complications.

A standard 8 ounce cup of coffee is 236 ml, so you’d use between 14.75 to 16.8 grams of coffee grounds for every 8 ounces of coffee you brew.

17 grams of coffee is about 3 tablespoons, but since we’re comparing volume and weight, the measurement will always be a little bit off.

If you want to get really scientific, then invest in a small coffee scale to measure out exact amounts every time. But bear in mind that you’ll only get consistent taste if you use the same coffee beans ground to the same consistency every time. Read more about our picks for the best coffee grinder for french press coffee here.

To brew more than one cup at a time(if your french press is big enough) simply add that much more coffee.

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The 1:14-16 ratio brews a medium, pleasant tasting coffee. You can always experiment by decreasing or increasing the ratio to adjust strength to your personal preference.

What’s the right french press coffee grind?

Generally speaking, you need a medium-coarse grind for making french press coffee.

This image from I Need Coffee shows a nice comparison of what a coarse grind looks like:

what a medium-coarse grind looks like

If the grind is too fine, it will leak through the filter and you’ll end up with a muddy, possibly over-strong coffee.

If the grind is too coarse(that can be possible), then the grinds can get stuck in the filter and the coffee won’t be quite strong enough.

A good comparison is kosher salt. If your grounds have the consistency of kosher salt, you’re in the right vicinity.

The best way to get the ideal grind for french press is to grind your beans just as you’re boiling the water.

That’s because the beans start to lose flavor almost immediately after grinding them. Grinding them at the very last minute ensures that you lock in as much of the flavor as possible.

Configuring settings on your grinder

To get the best grind, I’d suggest using a conical burr grinder. Blade grinders are ok, but conical burr grinders can produce the most consistent grinds over a long period of time.

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Most grinders will have a dial that will let you adjust the grind from “coarse” to “fine” and in between. Since all grinders are different, it’s best to use a few beans at a time to experiment with the different settings until you get a grind that you’re satisfied with.

I wish I could just tell you which setting to use, but you may not get the same results as I did.

For a benchmark, start somewhere between extremely coarse and medium, and adjust up and down as needed.

If you’re using a manual grinder, loosen the set screw and grind a couple of beans to see where you’re at, and adjust accordingly.

How to brew great french press coffee

What you need:

To make 8 ounces of coffee (1 serving), you’ll need

  • 16 grams of ground coffee(approximately 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup of water
  • A burr grinder
  • A scale
  • A French Press
  • A kettle
  • A thermometer(optional)
  • A long spoon

Step 1: Measure and grind coffee

Measure out 12-15 grams of coffee for one cup. If you’re brewing more than a cup, multiply accordingly.

Grind the coffee beans using the coarsest setting in a burr grinder. In case you do not have a burr grinder, then you can sharp pulses in a blade grinder instead, with pauses after couple seconds to overturn the grinder and shake it constantly while grasping the lid on.

At the end of the process, the coffee grounds should be coarse and rough, but in uniformly-sized and shouldn’t have too much fine grit. In other words, the coffee grounds of ideal size and shape can be described as that of kosher salt or rock salt.

Place the grounds into the french press.

Step 2: Heat the water to the right temperature

Bring your water to a boil, and let it cool for about 30 seconds to get it to the correct temperature. 30 seconds is about enough time for the water to reach the ideal temperature of 195°F.

If you want to make sure that the water now is in correct temperature, check again with a thermometer.

Alternatively, if you have an electric kettle which has custom temperature settings, simply set it to heat up to exactly 195 degrees F.

Step 3: Bloom the coffee

Even out the coffee grounds in the french press by giving it a back and forth shake. Place the french press on a scale and tare the scale so it reads zero. Now, very slowly pour 30-50 ml(grams) of water in a circular motion and wet all the coffee grounds.

Provided you were using fresh beans, you’ll see bubbles rise to the surface and pop. This is called the coffee bloom, and indicates fresh beans.

Give it 20 seconds or so to bloom and add the rest of the water. Use the scale to know when to stop. 8 ounces of water is 236 ml, so the scale should read 236 grams when you stop pouring. A couple of grams here or there won’t hurt.

Step 4: Give it a gentle stir and let it steep

Take a spoon and gently stir the coffee a couple of times. You’ll see the surface turn into a light brown foam. This is a good sign! Place the plunger on top, and plunge down until you just touch the surface of the foam.

Don’t plunge any further.

Let the coffee brew for 4 minutes. Set a timer for precision. Coffee scales often have timers built in, but you can also just use your phone.

Step 5: Plunge and enjoy

Once the 4 minutes are up, steadily plunge down all the way. This will separate most of the grounds from the water. Pour out into a cup. Pour steadily and gently to avoid splashes or spills.

Let the coffee cool a little bit and enjoy!

You can clean the machine by emptying out the grounds and rinsing it. Since it was just coffee and water, a quick rinse will do the trick.

Bonus tips for a better french press brew

Although the instructions above are sufficient, you should keep a few things in mind whilst brewing, since we’re all training to become home baristas.

1. Pre-heat The French Press

Although we did not mention this in the beginning, a quick hack to make the french press stay warm and as a result, prevent your coffee from cooling too much during the brew is by pouring some hot water on and around the french press(and emptying it) to heat it up.

This way, when you pour hot water in with the coffee, the cooler walls of the french press will not suck out too much heat from the hot water.

2. Make Use Of A Carafe

If you are too busy to drink the coffee once after it is made, do not let it stay in the brewer as it will become bitter. The solution here is to brew, and then pour it into a thermal carafe to keep it warm for long.

3. Always measure by weight

There are two ways to measure coffee, by weight and by volume. Best practice is that weighing is better than using volume. You can get away with measuring by volume because french press is a more forgiving coffee, but we still recommend using weight.

However, we can also understand if you’re groggy in the morning and you just need your coffee, and you’re too tired to break out the scale. In that case, scoop away!

4. Pressing Down Slowly

Pressing down slowly will prevent any unnecessary agitation to the coffee grounds.

5. Don’t forget to stir

Giving the coffee a gentle stir before letting it steep will help mix the grounds evenly. Grounds can sometimes clump together, and stirring helps distribute them.

Troubleshooting why french press coffee tastes bad

Weak Coffee

The reason behind this problem might be that the coffee is too coarsely ground, so grind it a little finer next time. In addition to this, remember to let the coffee steep for no less than 4 minutes.

Bitter or overly acidic coffee

This issue is normally caused by coffee that is too finely ground, so use coarser ones next time. Additionally, you may have the correct grind size but you let it steep for too long.

Thick Sediment

This problem is commonly related to the filter. When the filter is not well-fit against the glass, it makes chance for the coffee sediment to go into the upper chamber. It maybe the case that the filter is damaged, so purchase a new one and replace.

French Press coffee is great, but it always leaves more sediment in comparison with coffees that use paper filters. That’s just how it is, and in fact, it contributes to the thicker mouthfeel associated with french press coffee.

Remember to clean your french press regularly! If need be, you can also replace the filter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use regular ground coffee in a french press?

As long as the coffee is a medium-coarse grind, you should not have any issues using regular ground coffee. For best results, grind coffee beans just before brewing.

What coffee is best for french press?

French press tends to be a bolder coffee, so medium-dark and dark roasts will bring out the most flavor.

Can I use Folgers coffee in a french press?

Sure, just look at the bag to make sure the ground is medium-coarse. It will taste ok at best, though. For phenomenal, life-changing coffee, buy roasted coffee beans and grind them just before you brew.

Last update on 2020-07-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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