When brewing coffee in a French press, one of the most important factors is the coffee to water ratio. This determines how strong or weak the final brew will be. The standard ratio for a French press is around 1 tablespoon of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water. However, this can be adjusted based on personal taste preferences.
Standard Coffee to Water Ratio for French Press
The standard ratio for a French press is:
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) of coarse ground coffee per 6 ounces (180ml) of water
- This equals about 15 grams of coffee per 180 grams of water
This 1:15 ratio is a good baseline ratio to use when first starting to use a French press. It will produce a brew that is full-bodied and flavorful, but not overpowering. The coffee will have a nice balance between the robustness of the grounds and the water content.
Adjusting the Coffee to Water Ratio
While 1 tablespoon per 6 ounces of water is standard, you can adjust this ratio up or down to suit your specific tastebuds.
Here are some variations on the standard French press ratio:
- For a stronger brew: Use more coffee grounds per water volume – ex. 1 1/2 tablespoons (22ml) per 6oz of water
- For a milder brew: Use fewer coffee grounds per water volume – ex. 2 tablespoons per 8oz of water
When adjusting the ratio, a good guideline is to adjust in increments of 1/2 tablespoon of coffee grounds at a time. This will help prevent you from overdoing it in one direction.
Also keep in mind that different types of coffee beans and grinds can impact strength too. Lighter roasts and finer grinds will typically result in a stronger brew, while darker roasts and coarser grinds make a milder cup of coffee.
Ideal Water Temperature for French Press
Along with coffee to water ratio, water temperature is also key when using a French press. The ideal water temperature is between 195°F – 205°F. This helps extract the best flavor from the coffee grounds.
Here are some tips for heating water to the right temp:
- Heat water until it reaches a rolling boil, then let it sit for about 30 seconds to 1 minute off heat. This brings the temperature down into the ideal range.
- Use an electric kettle with temperature control and heat the water to 200°F or 205°F.
- Use a thermometer to monitor water temp and adjust stove heat accordingly.
Brewing with water that is too cool will result in weak, under-extracted coffee. While water that is too hot can scorch the grounds and produce a bitter, overextracted taste.
Amount of Coffee Grounds for Multiple Cups
Figuring out how much coffee to use gets a bit trickier when brewing for multiple people. Here are some general guidelines for how much coffee to use when making more than one 8oz cup of French press coffee:
|Number of 8oz Cups
|Amount of Ground Coffee
|3 tablespoons (45ml)
|4.5 tablespoons (67ml)
|6 tablespoons (90ml)
|7.5 tablespoons (112ml)
|9 tablespoons (135ml)
To calculate the amount of coffee needed for your specific cup size or number of cups:
- Figure out how many total ounces of water needed. For example, 3 cups at 8oz per cup = 24oz of water.
- Divide the total water amount by 15 to calculate the number of tablespoons of ground coffee needed. Following the example, 24oz divided by 15 equals roughly 1.6 tablespoons of coffee per cup.
- Round to the nearest 0.5 tablespoon measurement based on your taste preference. For a stronger brew, round up to the next 0.5 tablespoon. For milder, round down.
Using this calculation, you can figure out the right coffee to water ratio for whatever quantity you need to brew.
Factors that Impact Coffee Strength
While the coffee to water ratio is the main determinant of brew strength, there are several other factors that influence the final flavor and concentration of French press coffee:
- Coffee grind size – Coarse grinds extract less, finer grinds extract more
- Water temperature – Hotter water extracts more flavor
- Brew time – Longer brewing equals more extraction
- Coffee bean variety – Light vs. dark roast, Arabica vs. Robusta
- Freshness of coffee – Fresher coffee has more oils for flavor extraction
- Filtered vs. unfiltered – Filtration removes some coffee solids
- Water quality – Hard water impacts extraction
So while the coffee to water ratio is a critical starting point, play around with some of these other factors to hone in on your perfect French press recipe.
Do You Put Ground Coffee Directly in French Press?
Yes, you can put the coffee grounds directly into the empty French press carafe. There is no need for a filter or separate brewing container.
Follow this process for brewing with a French press:
- Start with your desired quantity of coarse coffee grounds in the bottom of the French press carafe.
- Pour heated water directly over the grounds until you reach the desired fill level.
- Give the coffee a gentle stir with a wooden spoon to saturate all the grounds.
- Insert the plunger into the top of the carafe, but do not press down yet.
- Let the coffee steep for 4 minutes.
- Slowly press down the plunger all the way to filter the coffee grounds.
- Pour coffee into mugs or cups and enjoy!
The French press is designed specifically for brewing the coffee together with the grounds in the main carafe. The mesh filter built into the plunger will then separate them when you are ready to pour the finished brewed coffee.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
While the French press brewing method is relatively straightforward, there are some common mistakes to be aware of:
- Not grinding coffee coarse enough – Can clog filter and result in gritty, overextracted coffee.
- Incorrect coffee to water ratio – Can make coffee too weak or too strong.
- Not preheating press – Cool glass can reduce water temp and extract less flavor.
- Steeping too long or not long enough – Over or under extraction.
- Plunging plunger too fast – Can stir up sediment.
- Not cleaning press thoroughly – Can allow oils and residue to accumulate.
Being mindful of these issues and following good technique will help you make the best tasting French press coffee possible.
Tips for Making Great French Press Coffee
Here are a few additional tips for excelling at French press brewing:
- Start with fresh, quality coffee beans – Freshly roasted beans with nice oil content are ideal. Buy in small batches and grind right before brewing.
- Use a burr grinder – Burr grinders produce the most consistent coarse grind size needed for French press.
- Preheat press – Rinse empty press with hot water to warm it up before adding coffee and water.
- Control brew time – Steep for 4 minutes total, then press plunger slowly and steadily.
- Stop extraction – Once pressed, decant coffee right away rather than leaving grounds and coffee together.
- Clean often – Rinse and scrub all parts after each use to prevent residue buildup.
Stick to proper brewing techniques and ratios, and experiment with different coffee bean types and roast levels. Tweak to match your personal flavor preferences. With a little practice, you’ll be making professional quality French press coffee on your own in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you fill a French press all the way?
No, you should not completely fill a French press with water. Leave at least 1 to 2 inches of space at the top. This allows room for the coffee grounds and water to expand as they steep without overflowing the press. It also allows room for the plunger mechanism to work properly when pressing down.
Is French press coffee better than drip?
French press and drip coffee both have pros and cons. French press produces a very robust, full-bodied coffee since it steeps the grounds directly in the water. However, drip machines are generally more convenient and faster. The best method comes down to personal preference.
Can you put milk in a French press?
It’s not recommended to put milk in a French press, as the proteins in milk will react with the coffee grounds and create an undesirable texture. The best way to make coffee with milk is to brew the coffee first in the French press, then pour it into a cup and add milk or creamer as desired.
How long does French press last?
With proper care and maintenance, a quality French press can last for many years. Glass carafes are quite durable. The gaskets and filters may need occasional replacement after extended heavy use. Avoid scratching the glass or exposing it to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Can you make iced coffee with a French press?
Yes, a French press can be used to easily make iced coffee. Simply double the amount of coffee grounds you would normally use and brew with cold or room temperature water for 12-18 hours in the refrigerator. Then press and serve over ice.
Determining the right coffee to water ratio is critical to brewing good French press coffee. While the standard is 1 tablespoon ground coffee per 6 oz water, you can adjust this based on your own taste preferences. Fine tuning the grind size, water temp, and brew time can also affect the final concentration and flavor. Follow proper technique and measure out the amounts precisely using scales or measuring spoons. This will help ensure a great tasting cup of French press coffee to enjoy every time.