French press coffee is easy to make—but difficult to master. (If you’ve ever had a cup of french press that was muddy and unpleasant, you know what I’m talking about.)
The reality is, French press coffee is quite straightforward to brew, but there are a few crucial points where things can go very wrong. From using the wrong grind size to not allowing the coffee to steep long enough, there are many ways to mess up a batch of French press coffee.
But on the plus side, most of these mistakes are very easy to correct. So if you’ve been struggling to get your French press coffee right, read on. I’ll walk you through the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1) Using the Wrong Grind Size
One of the most common mistakes people make when brewing French press coffee is using the wrong grind size. As with any coffee brewing method, getting this step right is very important. In general French Press brewing typically calls for a coarse grind. If the grind is too fine, the coffee will be overextracted and taste bitter. However, if the grind is too coarse, the coffee will be underextracted and taste weak.
2) Using the Wrong Water:Coffee Ratio
Ah, the age old question: how much coffee should I use? It's all about finding the right ratio for you. A good starting point for French Press brewing is about 7-8g of coffee for every 100g of water.
Of course, not everyone has a scale in their kitchen—so a second rule of thumb you can use is about 1 heaping tablespoon for every 200ml of water.
At the end of the day, everyone's French Press tastes are different. So don't worry too much about these "thumb rules"—feel free to experiment a bit using more or less coffee.
3) Leaving the Coffee in the French Press Too Long
Another common mistake people make is leaving the coffee in the French Press for too long. If you do this, your coffee will become over-extracted and taste bitter.
4) Not Allowing the Coffee to Steep Long Enough
On the flip side, if you don't steep your coffee long enough it will be under-extracted and taste weak. In general, French press coffee should steep for 3-4 minutes.
5) Using Low-Quality Coffee
Last but not least, using low-quality coffee is the most sure-fire way to make bad French press coffee. Since French press coffee relies more on extended steeping rather than filtering, all of the flavors—good and bad—are guaranteed to end up in your cup. So if you're using subpar coffee to begin with, there's really no hope for brewing a good cup of French press. Use the best coffee you can find, and your French press will taste all the better for it.
As I mentioned, avoiding these common mistakes is easy. Just pay attention to your grind size, use the right amount of coffee, and don't overdo it on the steeping time. And of course, always start with high quality beans.
Making the perfect cup of French press (See our selection of premium french press coffee makers from Espro) coffee takes a little bit of practice, but it's well worth the effort. And if you put in that little bit of practice, you'll be brewing perfect French press coffee in no time—I promise!
Meadow Ridge Coffee is a family-owned and operated store that is all about sourcing the best coffees in the world and delivering them to your door. Whether you’re a fan of dark roasts or light roasts, single origin or blends—chances are we have exactly what you're looking for. Click here to explore all of the unique, gourmet, and specialty coffees we have to offer! We can’t wait to hear what you think.