When it comes to coffee, the French press is in many ways the OG. It is iconic, and simple, and almost every household seems to have one hidden away in the back of some cupboard.
However, despite the popularity of the humble French press, there is still wide confusion around the French press coffee ratio. How much coffee to water is optimal? If you get the French press brew ratio wrong will it ruin the flavor? How much coffee is too much?
In this article, we will walk through the basics of the French press coffee-to-water ratio as well as the best way to brew with this coffee maker.
French Press Coffee: A Timeless Classic
The French press, or plunger, has been a staple in households around the world for over a century. French Press coffee is popular due to both its simplicity in use and its largely forgiving nature. Thie full immersion method involves pouring hot water over coarse coffee grounds, allowing it to steep, and then pressing down the filter. Particularly if you are adding milk or coffee condiments to your French press coffee, then it takes a lot of work to mess up.
French Press coffee is typically fairly dense and heavy in mouthfeel, with a bold and bitter flavor (in a good way). Because the French press doesn’t use a paper filter, a lot of the oils and some fine particles pass through into the cup. So while it is not as sharp and intense as espresso, French press coffee is significantly ‘heavier’ than pour-over coffee and gives more of the classic caffeine hit.
French press is also popular as an easy way to make a larger batch of coffee for guests, family members, or the old workmates.
French Press Coffee Ratio
With the rise of the specialty coffee movement, there has been a heightened awareness that precise coffee-to-water ratios play a large part in the overall flavor and experience of brewed coffee. However, different coffee brewing methods have different suggested coffee ratios.
Our recommended French press coffee ratio is 1:14 coffee to water. This works out at about 70g of ground coffee to 1L of water (or 2.4 oz coffee to 34 oz of water).
However, the French press ratio can be tweaked either due to flavor preferences or to the roast level of the beans being used. As a broad rule of thumb, we would use 1:12 for a light roast, 1:14 for a medium roast, and 1:15-16 for a darker roast.
We would almost always start with a French press coffee-to-water ratio of 1:14 and then tweak from there. If it tastes too weak we increase the amount of coffee used, or if too strong then decrease the coffee used.
However, for those using the metric system a good rule of thumb is 70g to 1L water.
Equipment You’ll Need
Making coffee with a French press at home is a straightforward process that requires a few essential pieces of equipment:
French Press: To prepare French press coffee, you’ll need a French press. We recommend models like the iconic Bodum Chambord or the Espro P7. The Bodum Chambord is a classic choice, while the Espro press features a finer metal filter to prevent silt from reaching your cup.
Burr Grinder: While you can use pre-ground coffee, we strongly recommend investing in a burr grinder if French press coffee is going to be your daily brew. Grinding fresh coffee just before brewing will significantly enhance the quality of your coffee. We use the Niche Zero, however highly recommend the Baratza Encore if you are after a basic grinder, or the Fellow Ode for a more premium pick. Both of these grinders excel at grinding coffee for manual brewing methods.
Electric Kettle: The beauty of French press coffee is that it doesn’t demand precise water pouring or specific temperature control. You can use a standard electric kettle for this recipe. However, if you have a gooseneck kettle, it can be useful for experimenting with different brewing temperatures. We use the Fellow Stagg EKG kettle.
French Press Recipe
So using the 1:14 French press ratio, how do you actually brew the coffee? Well, below we have what is the baseline recipe which is always our first port of call.
Step One: Bring 1 litre of filtered water to the boil.
Step Two: Grind 70 grams of coffee to a medium-coarse grind (similar to granulated sugar).
Step Three: Place the French press on the scales, add the coffee grounds, and tare.
Step Four: Start a timer and pour in 1L (or 1000g) of hot water just off the boil. Stir to ensure any clumps of grinds are broken up.
Step Five: Leave the coffee to steep for four minutes and then stir gently to knock the crust back into the brew. Scrape off any foam on the top of the coffee using large spoons.
Step Six: Gently press down the plunger and pour the coffee out immediately.
Additional Brewing Tips
French Press Coffee Ratio: The Takeaway
In takeaway, the ideal French press coffee to water ratio is 1:14 or 70g coffee to 1L water. This ratio and the above brew method are a great way to brew and enjoy consistently good French press coffee.
So dig into that dusty closet, get out the old French press, and brew yourself a cup!
French Press Faqs
What Kind Of Coffee Is Best For French Press?
While you can use any coffee for a French press, the best coffee for a French press is typically a medium to dark roast. These roasts bring out the full-bodied and bold flavors that characterize French press coffee.
When it comes to the grind size, opt for a medium-coarse consistency that’s both uniform and even. This grind size allows for a longer extraction time and prevents over-extraction, which can lead to bitterness. Grinds that are overly coarse risk clogging the filter, whereas overly fine ones might slip through the filter, muddying the cup.
Does Coffee Get Stronger The Longer It Sits In A French Press?
Yes, coffee gets stronger the longer it sits in a French press. As coffee grounds are steeped in hot water, the extraction process continues, with more soluble compounds dissolving into the water. As a result, the coffee becomes stronger and more concentrated the longer it sits.
However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between brew time and coffee strength. The sweet spot for French press brewing typically falls within 4 to 6 minutes. Beyond this window, coffee risks over-extraction, resulting in bitterness.
While certain French presses, such as the Espro P7, claim to halt extraction upon plunging, this feature isn’t common to all models. Hence, we recommend decanting the coffee right after brewing to prevent over-extraction and to ensure a more balanced flavor profile.
How Do I Clean My French Press?
Cleaning your French press is a straightforward process. After disassembling it, rinse out the used coffee grounds. If your French press is dishwasher safe, you can just chuck all the parts in the dishwasher, and voila! Otherwise, hand wash all the parts with warm, soapy water. Rinse everything well to remove any soap residue. Allow all the components to air dry completely before reassembly, ensuring there is no residual moisture.
Regular cleaning is essential to maintain the quality of your coffee and prevent the accumulation of residue or stains on the glass or stainless steel.
Can A French Press Be Used For Other Purposes?
While a French press is primarily designed for brewing coffee, it can be repurposed for other uses as well.
Tea Infuser: A French press can also double as a tea infuser for steeping loose-leaf tea. Just as you would with coffee, place the tea leaves in the press, pour hot water in, allow it to steep, and finally press down the plunger to complete the process.
Cold Brew Coffee: Crafting cold brew coffee is a breeze with a French press. For this brew method, add coarsely ground coffee and cold water to the press, and let it steep for 12-24 hours. Afterward, simply press down the plunger to enjoy a smooth, concentrated brew.
Frothing Milk: When a dedicated milk frother is unavailable, a French press can step in as a handy alternative. Heat the milk, pour it into the French press, and pump the plunger up and down to create frothy milk for your coffee beverages.