Making coffee doesn’t have to be complicated regardless of the brewing method. After all, there is beauty is in its simplicity.
The French press is not an exception to the rule, so if you’re new to it, you’ll want to know how much coffee grounds to use. Since the answer isn’t as black-and-white as you may think, this is where the coffee ratio guide comes in.
As a general rule, the French press mixing ratio is between 1:10 and 1:16. This produces a bold, creamy-bodied coffee. There are also taste preferences to consider, but a good place to start is with the “golden ratio” of 2-3 tablespoons to every cup of water.
Wait, there’s more! How much coffee to use isn’t the only factor in making that perfect cup of joe that sets the mood for the rest of the day.
Before tossing just any kind of grind into the beaker-style coffee maker, consider a tip or two.
How Many Tablespoons to Use in a French Press
The first thing you need to consider is the size of your coffee press and how bold you want your coffee. Most coffee lovers use about 2 tablespoons of coffee to every 6 ounces of water but this can be altered to produce a milder or stronger flavor.
For instance, if you want a medium brew strength and you’re using the common 8 cup (about 32-34 oz) French press, you will need 14 tablespoons of coffee.
To help you out on your French pressing journey, we’ve added the most common French press sizes to a chart with helpful measurements to assist you.
Our chart is using a medium strength level so if you prefer a stronger or lighter flavor simply add or subtract from the coffee quantity until you’ve reached your desired result.
|French Press Size||Coffee||Water|
|12oz||5 Tablespoons||3 Cups|
|17oz||7 Tablespoons||4 Cups|
|24 oz||10 Tablespoons||6 Cups|
|34 oz||14 Tablespoons||8 Cups|
|51 oz||21 Tablespoons||12 Cups|
How Many Coffee Scoops to Use in a French Press
A level coffee scoop holds about 2 tablespoons (10g) of grounds and is a great way to get the right amount every time. Simply use one scoop of coffee for every cup of hot water adding more or less to suit your preferences.
If you prefer a coffee scoop over measuring in tablespoons, no problem. This chart aims for a medium strength brew so you can alter the amounts to fit your taste.
|French Press Size||Coffee||Water|
|12oz||2.5 Scoops||3 Cups|
|17oz||3.5 Scoops||4 Cups|
|24 oz||5 Scoops||6 Cups|
|34 oz||7 Scoops||8 Cups|
|51 oz||10.5 Scoops||12 Cups|
French Press Brew Strength
The first step in using your French press is deciding how strong you want your coffee to be.
How do you influence the brew strength with the amount of coffee grounds in a French press? Answer: see above tables and adjust to preference.
How do you influence brew strength with steeping time? Answer: you don’t.
The brew strength is determined by the ratio of coffee to water. It is not determined by how long you let it steep in the French press.
You may prefer your coffee more mild than average, or you might want to try it with a little more kick. This is all decided by your taste preferences and whether you are looking to add milk and sugar or if you want to experience the finer flavors by drinking it black.
Using the tables above as a starting point, you can adjust the ‘formula,’ if you will, to find the right strength and flavor profiles you crave.
So, what role does French press steeping time have in all this? I’m glad you asked!
French Press Steep Time
At one time or another, we’ve experienced a bad cup of coffee. If you’re wondering what makes that happen, you need to understand that not all flavors that are extracted from the coffee bean are good ones.
Approximately 70% of the bean is insoluble in water and 20% gives you those rich, wonderful flavors the world has come to love.
Unfortunately, there is that 10% that contributes to the awful taste we want to avoid.
Enter here: the importance of steeping time.
|Coffee Ratio (Strength)||Steep Time|
|Flavor Profile (Right)||Steep Time (Wrong)||Flavor Profile (Wrong)|
|More than recommendation (Strong, bold)||4 minutes||Rich, full-bodied||5+ minutes||Bitter, overpowering|
|Less than recommendation (Light, bright)||4 minutes||Flavorful, mellow, balanced||1-3 minutes||Sour, pinching, flavorless (weak taste)|
This is a great visual of how steeping time affects flavor profiles and not necessarily brew strength.
The longer the grinds are in hot water, more flavor is extracted.
However, wait too long and your coffee is bitter and can end up with a powdery texture.
On the other end, if you don’t wait long enough, you will have a sour, salty flavor that is lacking sweetness.
For optimal extraction when using your French press, you generally don’t want it to sit longer than 4 minutes. With this general rule in mind, you can extract all those wonderful flavors while leaving the 10% you don’t want behind.
French Press Water Temperature
On average, the perfect water temperature for a French press is just below boiling or about 195°F. Using a thermometer is a simple way to ensure accuracy.
Consider electric kettles with temperature controls that prompt automatic shutdown when the desired temperature is reached.
Using your preferred method, heat the water and let stand for approximately one minute before making the coffee.
Heat up extra hot water. Pour excess water into your mug and French press to help with temperature stability. Essentially, you’re heating up the equipment before you use it. This is a good use of time while waiting for the remaining water in the kettle to come off boiling temp.
French Press Coffee Grind
To achieve a great cup of coffee using a French press, use a medium-course grind. If your grind is too fine, your efforts will result with a “muddy” cup as the microscopic specs are able to travel through the filter into your mug.
A common mistake that many newcomers make when it comes to the French press is using a coffee grind that is too fine.
Investing in a good coffee grinder is the best way to ensure you can achieve the desired grind for whatever method of brewing you choose. This also goes for using an automatic coffee maker and an espresso.
Experiment with different coffee grind sizes to feel the difference when you plunge. You will notice resistance when using too coarse a grind and not enough resistance when using too fine a grind. You can often tell when you have a perfect French press cup during the plunging process before you even taste the coffee.
Easy Guide to Using a French Press
When you’re ready to start using your French press, gather your favorite grounds, French press, and electric kettle or pot for heating on the stovetop.
Use the charts above to determine how much coffee and water to use based on your preferred brew strength.
Follow the steps below for the best way to use a French Press!
- Preheat your press by pouring boiling water into it. This will help to maintain water temperature throughout the coffee-making process. Empty before adding coffee.
- Measure/weigh your coffee grounds and add them to your preheated French press.
- Measure/weigh hot water.
- Pour hot water over grounds half-way.
- Stir gently to bloom.
- Pour remaining hot water to top.
- Put the lid on and let stand for 4 minutes
- Slowly press the plunger down.
- Serve and enjoy.
Access your inner barista by decanting before serving for a clean and perhaps new tasting cup of French press coffee.
The Unmeasurable Scoop on French Press Coffee
The French press coffee ratio that counts on measured tablespoons and leveled-off scoops has a lot to do with making a perfected cup at home, but it’s only one key factor among others.
While it seems that there are a lot of complex things to keep in mind when making French press coffee, it’s worth it when you’ve found your ‘custom formula’ for the perfect cup.
From there on, it will become second nature to brew up a flavorful batch – that is, if you have a French press that’s big enough.
Plunger coffee is not for those who are in a rush as extracting the right balance of maximum flavor, enjoying the process, and savoring the results requires patience that is well paid off.
Pressing coffee is a delightful experience to any coffee lover’s existence. Making it the right way may just change that morning cup from just “okay” to “I’m fiercely ready for the day!”