The Perfect French Press Coffee Ratio

By: | Updated: April 13, 2021

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When it comes to coffee making at your home, the French Press is one of the most well-loved coffee makers, and for a reason!

French Press coffee is incredibly rich, satisfying, without the bitterness that comes with other brewing methods (such as automatic drip brewers).

One advantage of the French Press is that it’s relatively inexpensive. However, despite this, many think making good coffee with a French Press is difficult.

In this guide, we will not only show you everything you need to know on how to make great coffee using a French Press but also a thorough guide for the perfect french press coffee ratio.

How Does A French Press Coffee Maker Work?

The French Press ( sometimes also referred to as a plunger ) works by steeping coffee grounds and hot water in a beaker. We’ve also reviewed the best french press coffee makers over here.

Once the coffee has completed the steeping process, a metal mesh filter is pressed to the bottom, thereby, separating the coffee grounds and leaving the liquid coffee for you to brew.

Since the French Press uses a mesh filter, it allows all the natural oils and flavors to pass through, therefore getting the maximum extraction from your coffee grounds.

This process of steeping coffee and hot water together for a set period of time is called immersion brewing. Immersion brewing allows the water and coffee to easily mix together, allowing for a more uniform extraction compared to other methods such as drip brewing.

The Perfect French Press Coffee to Water Ratio

The amount of water and coffee that you use when brewing will drastically affect your end result. The same can be said for French Press coffee. Getting the right coffee to water ratio is extremely important!

If you put too much coffee, the brew will turn out very strong. On the other hand, if you add too much water, the coffee will be weaker.

The recommended coffee to water ratio is 1:15, which translates to 65 grams of coffee per 1 liter of water used.

Of course, you can experiment with the ratios depending on how you like your coffee.

What Is The Ideal French Press Steep Time?

As we said, since the French Press uses the immersion brewing method, steep time is very important as it greatly affects the final drink.

Steep time refers to how long you leave the coffee and water to infuse before pushing the plunger. If you leave it too long, the coffee will lose all of its characteristics, leave it too little, and all the essential aromas that make the coffee unique won’t be extracted.

We recommend 4 minutes steep time after the initial 30 second blooming phase. To clarify, regardless of the coffee to water ratio you choose, the steep time remains the same.

The Ideal French Press Coffee Grind (For The Best Results)

The Perfect French Press Coffee Ratio

When it comes to coffee grind size, there is a lot of debate among French Press lovers. Some like it very coarse, while others opt for a finer grind (similar to espresso). Here’s what we think works best:

The ideal french press coffee grind should be a coarse grind, similar in consistency to kosher salt. You don’t want to have a very fine grind for French Press due to the infusion process.

Since you need to leave your coffee steeping, a fine grind will extract the coffee too quickly, whereas a very coarse grind, too slowly. You want to aim for something in between.

If you still prefer a very coarse grind, you need to adjust the steep time to around 6-8 minutes, instead of the usual 4 minutes.

The Ideal Water Temperature For French Press Coffee

Since you need to heat the water before adding it to your French Press, you need to ensure it’s at the ideal temperature for extracting flavor.

When it comes to coffee, the hotter the water, the better the extraction of flavors. The best temperature to aim for is  200°F (93°C).

The best method is to simply boil your water and wait for 30 seconds before brewing.

Our Guide For The Perfect French Press Coffee

Now that we went over through the essentials of what makes a great French Press coffee, here’s a handy step-by-step guide on the whole process.

What You’ll Need

  • 4-cup French Press Coffee Maker (e.g. from Bodum). 
  • 5 Tablespoons (27g) of coarse ground coffee.1.75 cups (400g) water ~ 200 °F
  • Spoon for stirring.
  • Burr Grinder (if you prefer to grind your own coffee – recommended).
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Kitchen Timer

Step 1: Prepare Everything You Need

Preheat the french press with hot water, including the plunger (to prevent the glass from breaking). Pour the hot water into your cup.

Meanwhile grind or measure 5 tablespoons (27g) of coffee. The coffee grind should not be too fine, similar to kosher salt.

Step 2: Add The Coffee

Add your coffee grounds to the french press and gently shake to level the grounds.

Step 3: Add Water To Bloom The Coffee

It’s time for the initial blooming phase. Start the timer and add water in a circular motion, making sure to wet all the grounds until the press is half full.

Pause and allow the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds.

Step 4: Stir The Grounds

After 30 seconds, gently stir the grounds with a spoon.

Step 5: Add The Remaining Water

Pour the rest of the water evenly and add the lid allowing the plunger to rest on the grounds. Using your kitchen scale, the amount of water and coffee should come at 400g.

Step 6: Plunge

Once your timer reads 4:00, slowly push the plunger down. Decant the coffee immediately and enjoy!

Pro Tip: Don’t Leave The Coffee In The French Press After Plunging

One of the main things that can make a coffee unpleasant is bitterness. If you leave your coffee sitting in the French Press after the brewing process, you will get over-extracted and very bitter coffee.

The reason for this is that even if you’ve pushed down the plunger, the coffee keeps on brewing if left in the French Press. You want to avoid this as much as possible.

If you want to drink your coffee right away, the best solution is to make the exact amount of coffee you need ( for yourself or if you’re with company).

If you’ve completely filled your French Press, pour the leftover coffee (after plunging) into a carafe or thermos. This will keep your coffee warm for later but more importantly, it won’t over-extract the coffee.

Our Tips For French Press Coffee Perfection

The tips outlined above will allow you to create a really good cup of coffee using the humble French Press. However, some mistakes can still be made, which can be easily avoided.

Among these, the most common issue users face is a bitter coffee when not brewed correctly.

To avoid these, we have outlined these simple steps. Combined with the advice given in this article, you will master French Press coffee in no time.

  • The key to great coffee is the beans themselves. Use the best coffee beans you can find. If you are able to roast coffee yourself, that’s a big plus.
  • Uneven grinding can also contribute to bitterness (not to mention, a less aromatic coffee). Using a burr grinder will allow you to have an even grind.
  • Avoid using boiling-hot water. While the coffee extraction process requires high water temperatures, don’t overdo it. We recommend a temperature of around 392°F (200°) for best results.
  • Old coffee grinds stuck in the filter will also contribute to bitterness, was your French Press thoroughly, especially the filter area.

The most important tip is to avoid over-extraction since it’s the number #1 contributing factor to bitterness. By following these easy steps, you can brew great coffee with a simple French Press!

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by Brett