While it is possible to use a French Press to brew a finely ground coffee, it may not always be the optimal choice.
A finely ground coffee will be too fine for the mesh strainer of your French Press to be able to remove the coffee particles.
So, unless you enjoy a mouthfeel of coffee grounds, you’ll need to add an additional filtration step if you want to use finely ground coffee in your French Press.
Why Use Regular Ground Coffee in a French Press?
Believe it or not, there can be some great flavor benefits to using a finely ground coffee instead of a coarse grind, even in your French press!
Using a fine or medium grind, you will find more of the fruity and acidic notes of the coffee are able to develop. With the right temperature and brew time, you can decide how much bitterness you want your coffee to develop.
The French Press is greatly enjoyed by many coffee drinkers because it allows them to customize their coffee so specifically.
Not only can you decide what type of bean you’d like to drink, you can further customize the flavor by adjusting the way you grind the coffee.
A finer grind allows more of the coffee to be extracted, allowing more of the beans flavors to develop.
However, because the coffee is easily extracted from the finely ground beans, it is also very easy to over-extract them and find yourself with a very bitter cup of coffee.
This is where using a lower temperature for brewing might come into play. Bitter flavors don’t develop as well at lower temperatures.
It is often best to follow the standard instruction for optimal French Press brewing, and use a medium to coarse grind, brewed at 180-200F for 2 to 3 minutes.
Ultimately, the choice is yours on how to grind your coffee and how long to brew it at which temperature.
Try customizing your coffee flavor by adjusting these simple settings.
How Do You Filter Finely Ground Coffee Through a French Press?
If you choose to experiment with finely ground coffee in your French Press, it is suggested to only use freshly ground beans.
Finely ground beans for a percolator, moka pot, or drip coffee maker will taste less than optimal in a French Press due to over-extraction.
To filter your coffee, you will need an additional filtration option. You might consider using:
- An extra French Press filter
- A fine mesh tea ball
- A fine mesh sieve
- A cheesecloth
- A drip coffee maker paper filter
Paper filters however are not optimal as they will leech the oils from your fresh coffee beans and take away from the flavor. If you use them it just wont feel like french press coffee in your mouth.
There are several options available if you do choose to use a finely ground coffee in your French Press.
It would also be advisable to let the coffee settle, giving it time to sit undisturbed in your cup before drinking. This will allow the particles to settle and the final sips can be discarded.
The French Press allows for a wide customization of coffee experiences.
Try experimenting with the grind size, brewing time and temperature to find your ultimate cup of coffee.
Also, see this post for more thoughts on filtering your french press coffee to remove more of the fine particulate.
But all of this leads us to the natural follow-up question:
Can You Buy Pre-Ground Coarse Coffee?
One of the most important aspects of brewing great coffee—and one that people often overlook—is using the proper size of coffee ground for your intended brewing method. In particular, if you plan on brewing your coffee with a French press or making cold brew, you’ll probably need (want) relatively coarse coffee grounds.
If you already have a quality burr grinder, this is no problem: just dial in a coarse setting and start grinding! But what if you buy your coffee pre-ground?
Can you still get coarse ground coffee from a store that will work for cold brew and in your French press? We’ll answer these questions and more right here!
Can You Get Coarse Ground Coffee from the Grocery Store?
There’s good news: even if you don’t have your own coffee grinder at home, you can absolutely find decent-quality coarsely-ground coffee at most grocery stores. Depending on the store, you might not have a wide selection to choose from, but you should be able to find a decent option.
The downside to buying pre-ground, bagged coffee from a grocery store is that often, the coffee won’t be especially fresh. That’s why it’s crucial that you check the packaging date on the bag before you buy it. Look for the most recent date you can find, and you should be in good shape.
Can You Get Coarse Ground Coffee Anywhere Else?
Even if you can’t find coarse ground coffee at your local supermarket, you’re not totally out of luck. There are many excellent independent coffee roasters throughout the country that offer their coffees in a variety of different grind styles.
What’s great about this option is that the roasters will usually only grind the beans right before packaging, and they ship shortly thereafter. This way, you’ll get much fresher coffee than you would get in the pre-ground packages at the grocery store. And what could be better than getting high-quality, freshly-roasted, and professionally-ground coffee delivered right to your door?
Do You Really Need Coarse Ground Coffee for French Press or Cold Brewing?
As we discussed above if you want the coffee to brew properly and you don’t want to have issues with plunging the filter down, then yes.
If you use too fine of a grind in a French press or for cold brew, you’ll end up with a lot of unpleasant sediment in your coffee—and that’s if you can even get the plunger to go down in the first place.
If you’re using a French press or making cold brew, either grind your own coarse grounds or find a place to buy coarse ground coffee nearby or online. You’ll be better off for sure… but, if you’re in a bind then there are a few ways to make french press coffee with regular pre-ground coffee which I’ll cover below.
How to Make French Press Coffee with Regular Pre-Ground Coffee
If you’ve ever had coffee brewed in a French press, you know just how delightful the results can be. But you’ve also probably heard coffee snobs going on about the importance of the grind size and how you should never use pre-ground coffee.
Now, we agree that grinding your own fresh coffee beans is always going to result in a better cup of bean juice, but we’re not here to judge.
We can’t deny the convenience of pre-ground coffee, and these days you can even order pre-ground coffee from independent roasters who will ship their coffee to you at peak freshness.
So, the bottom line is that using pre-ground coffee isn’t the sin that it once was.
Let’s now briefly cover the process of making a French press brew with pre-ground coffee.
Coffee Grounds for French Press
While you can certainly make French press coffee with pre-ground coffee beans, it’s in your best interest to get the correct grind size – coarse.
For a French press to work properly, you need to use rather coarse coffee grounds. If you use finely-ground coffee, you’ll have issues with sediment in your brew, and that’s if you’re even able to get the French press’ plunger to go down in the first place.
You can find coarse ground coffee at most grocery stores, or you can buy it online from independent coffee roasters but more often than not your pre-ground coffee will be medium, perfect for drip coffee but capable of making a somewhat gritty batch of french press coffee.
The French Press Process With Pre-Ground Medium Grit Coffee
The process of brewing under this scenario with your French press is simple:
- Measure out the amount of ground coffee and filtered water you will be using. As for how much coffee to use, a good place to start is about a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio. That is, for every ounce of coffee, you’ll use 15 ounces of water.
- Add the coffee grounds to the French press carafe and pour in your hot water (around 202 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal temperature for brewing coffee). Try to saturate all of the coffee with the water, leaving as little dry as possible.
- After half a minute give it a stir to break up the crust that floats to the top.
- Put the cover on the carafe, but don’t press down the plunger yet!
- For coarse ground coffee you would wait about four minutes but if you are brewing medium ground coffee then I wouldn’t wait longer than 2 1/2 minutes because the coffee will brew much faster due to the increased amount of surface area on the grind.
- When you go to plunge I recommend medium grit grounds to be briefly stirred gently one last time to help the plunger get through – press the plunger down very, very slowly so as to not clog the fine mesh strainer or force grind up the side walls between the carafe and the plunger.
- Pour immediately (don’t let the coffee sit in the carafe, as it will become quite bitter if it sits in the grounds much longer).
- Some people will find the bitters to strong but most will find the extra sediment that makes it to your cup even worse. At this point you could double filter your coffee or just plan on drinking the top layer of coffee leaving the sludge as waste. Here is a full post on our site on the process of refiltering your french press coffee.