To continue with my series on making french press coffee we need to address an all too common (and basic) question – how much coffee grind should go into a french press coffee maker?
For a novice coffee snob the answer to this can be surprisingly complex.
A simple gander at common threads around the web reveals just how many different opinions there are on the topic.
Although I understand the argument for anyone’s basic brewing technique I also understand that someone using a french press for the first time needs to use it a bit before feeling good about the process.
To give a broad answer to the question though, most pros suggest using roughly 10 grams of coffee for every 6 ounces of water.
Considering one tablespoon of coffee is roughly 5 grams that would be 1 tbsp of coffee for every 3 ounces of water.
For a 32-ounce french press that’s roughly 60 grams of coffee.
That rule of thumb however is not going to satisfy everybody though and it really takes a nerd to take it a step further and start analyzing the science behind coffee and fine tune the ratio to your liking.
Grind Size Affects Brew Strength
For starters you should know that french press pots (for most people) require a larger grind.
If you are used to buying pre-ground coffee from normal big brands then look on the packaging for labeling that says coarse grind. Some people prefer using a finer grind than this but for starters just go with coarse.
Coarse ground coffee can also easily be made yourself at home with just about any standard coffee bean grinder. Sure there are better grinders but as long as you have one try to be happy with it until you decide you want to upgrade to the best one you can afford.
As for the amount of coffee you place in the french press this is always ripe for debate.
For beginners using the french press the best and most common standard advise is to keep it super simple, get used to the process and then start experimenting changing individual variables at a time until you get the best cup of coffee for your own palate.
You’ll probably find that if you use the two tablespoons per 6 ounce rule then you will want to adjust either the steep time down if your grind is a little finer than ideal or you will want to use a little less coffee per cup of water.
If you grind size is on the larger side then you may need to use a larger coffee-to-water ratio to get a good brew… or just steep the grind for a bit longer than four minutes.
Here is the Basic Coffee Grind To Water Ratio For French Press Coffee
Standard though is to use roughly one tablespoon of ground coffee (measure your scoop to see how big it is for reference) per 8oz cup of water.
The thing is however this always yields weak coffee. It’s wont have the body and depth of flavor it should have unless you use a lot more grind.
Obviously some people like to use more and others like to use less but one tbsp per 8 ounces of water just doesn’t cut it.
If your grind is more fine or more coarse this can and will change the optimal amount of grind to use but for starters use the basic ratio – 2tbs per every 6-8oz of water.
It will make a difference in the quality of your coffee.
If you boil 16 ounces of water then use four tablespoons of coffee grind the next few times you use the french press. If it’s too weak then try adding a bit more grind or try giving it a little longer to steep before pouring into your cup.
Get That Down And Then Experiment As Much As You Care
In actuality you’ll find there are so many variables to experiment from this basic ratio of coffee to water that your final “optimal” french press technique may be quite unique.
For instance you can get a stronger or more flavorful cup of coffee by using a finer grind, longer steep time, stirring the press pot once or twice prior to pouring, using a different coffee, grinding it with a burr grinder as opposed to blade grinder, or you could do a mixture of all these.
Start brewing with a super simple and basic formula and then slowly experiment with that formula over time. You’ll appreciate the art of making good coffee much more and your morning cup will be less of a chore and more of an experience.
Ohh yeah, if you’re brewing more than you need immediately make sure to pour it from the press pot into a thermal carafe otherwise it will get cold pretty quickly.
This is handy for those making a few cups of coffee for themselves in the morning. You can see this post for a list of quality thermal carafes with excellent heat retention.
Last parting thought, french press coffee should have some sediment in the cup so make sure you find a way to use actual coarse grind and play with the other variables. If you use medium grind then you will likely get way to much sediment in the cup and it will taste very strong and bitter, a combination few people like.