French Press is one of the simplest and most effective methods to prepare a delicious and flavourful brew of coffee for you.
In this article, we will cover what is French press and French press coffee, their benefits, the ideal water volume to dry coffee ratio, the grind, the requirements and the procedure to prepare French Press coffee.
Read the complete article to know all about French Press Coffee Ratio!
What Is French Press Coffee?
What may surprise you is that it was an Italian, Attilio Calimani, who invented and patented the most popular version of the French Press in 1929. The name comes from a similar brewing method and equipment patented by two Frenchmen, Mayer, and Delforge, in 1852, for making French press coffee. The 1852 machine can be considered the forerunner of the modern French press.
It is one of the most underrated methods of brewing coffee, in spite of having many positives like being inexpensive, repeatable, easy, and can be done at home without much effort.
The French press coffee falls in the category of infusion or immersion brews, where the coffee and the water steep together to produce a uniform extraction. This is different from most other coffee brewing methods that pass hot water through the coffee grounds.
The French press uses a coarse ground coffee that has a median particle size of 850 microns with a fines content of about 5%. You may know that coffee with a grind size of fewer than 100 microns is referred to as the fines. The water should have a temperature in the range of 93 to 96 °C (199 to 205 °F) at the pouring time.
You will see its other characteristics in detail in the later sections.
What is a French Press?
The French Press coffee maker has many names – cafetière, press pot, coffee plunger, or coffee press. The coffee is sometimes referred to as the plunger coffee.
The French presses are constructed as narrow cylindrical beakers, usually made from glass. Some versions use clear plastic also. The cylinder carries a tight-fitting plastic or metal lid with a plunger, which has a filtering arrangement to separate out the liquid brew from all the grounds.
One of the unique components of any French press is a metal mesh that filters the ground coffee from the brewed coffee. The relatively large mesh opening has a relatively inefficient metal-mesh filtration and allows more insolubles to pass on to your cup of coffee than other brewing methods.
Oils and fats are generally insoluble in water, but high pressure, temperature, or large brew time can increase their solubility and presence. The pressing action by the plunger extracts some more oils out of the coffee grounds into your cup.
The mouthfeel depends on the suspended solids (small grinds or fines) in Espresso or French Press drinks. This, in the presence of coffee oils, leads to a richer and bigger body and texture.
Pros and Cons of French Press Coffee. Why Should You Use A French Press?
The equipment for brewing french press coffee is completely self-contained and easily portable. You can carry it if you are traveling. The French press method does not require any auxiliary or associated electrical system to function. Hence it is inexpensive compared to most other systems, versatile, and easy to clean. It can be used for other purposes like cold brew also. It results in a drink of uniform extraction.
The negative side that puts many people off is the presence of the sludge, the collection of silty coffee particles at the bottom of the cup. While the fines impact the mouthfeel and texture, some coffee drinkers like to have a very clean drink.
If you do not carefully watch the brew time, you may easily under-extract or over-extract. An over-extraction will have a bitter taste and more intensity, while an under-extract tends to be more acidic and sweet.
Since there is no heating during brewing time, those who prefer a very hot coffee may not find the coffee temperature to their liking.
The French Press Coffee-to-Water Ratio
The right proportion of water volume and the dry coffee results in the right yield and flavor balance. The recommended water-to-coffee ratio range, in mL/gm, for a perfect cup of any type of immersion brew lies between 15 to 20.
This means that if you use 12 fl oz of water, 29.6 x 12 ml = 355.2 ml.
Based on the above ratios, the required amount lies between 355.2/20 to 355.2/15, i.e., 18 gm to 24 gm of coarse-grind coffee. If you prefer a stronger coffee, you may use a french press ratio of 12, which results in about 29.6 gm of coffee grounds. How much coffee you require for the desired water volume is given in the table shown below.
The Grind For French Press
The perfect french press coffee requires a coarse grind with a median particle size of about 850 microns, as stated earlier. The coarse grind generally is defined to have an average particle size of 1000 microns or 1 mm, similar to coarse sea salt. So what you should prepare for your French press is a bit finer than the 1 mm.
Definitely, all the particles will not have the same size, and the above value is a median value. The distribution around the median value should be as narrow as possible. However, a certain small percentage of fines (< 100 microns) is required to have a creamy mouthfeel.
If you do not prepare a proper coarse grind and it is on the fine side, you may find it difficult to push the plunger down. But too coarse grind (> 1100 microns) will give an under-extracted and weak brew. The cold brew has an extra course grind with a median of around 1.5 mm. Most pre-ground coffees have a medium grind.
What You’ll Need to Prepare Coffee Using A French Press
Let us quickly run through the requirements (other than the French press itself) and the ideal procedure for preparing a delicious coffee with your French press.
Whole Coffee Beans
As stated above, it is not recommended to use pre-ground coffee for French press. So, You should get good-quality coffee beans and grind them before brewing.
Burr Coffee Grinder
A burr grinder produces a uniform consistency of the grind as the particle size depends on the space between the two burrs. The burrs, as you know, are rough discs used to crush the coffee between them.
There are three main types of burr grinders
- The manual grinder.
- Electric Conical Burr grinder for home use.
- Electric Flat Burr grinder, mostly used for commercial purposes.
Any digital weighing scale to measure the actual amount of coffee and water to adhere to the desired French Press Ratio. Else, though not very precise, you can use standard measuring cups to measure coffee.
You may need other items like
- An electronic timer.
- A long wooden spoon. A metal spoon may cause damage or scratches if your French press has a glass body.
- Kettle or some other arrangement to boil the water.
How To Brew French Press Coffee
With all of the arrangements in place, you can now move on to prepare your French press brew coffee, as described below.
Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need To Brew
Just gather all the listed items above in one place nearby so that once you start the brewing process, you don’t have to look for them. Sticking to the prescribed times is critical for a good cup of French press coffee.
Step 2: Grind coffee
Measure the coffee and water based on the brew ratio you intend to follow and your serving size. Suppose you want to use a water volume of 12 fluid ounces with a 1:15 brew ratio; you will require 24 gms of coffee. Grind the coffee using your burr grinder, as explained above.
Step 3: Heat water
Next, heat the water to about 205 °F. Try to avoid boiling water. If the water had started boiling, cool it for about a minute till it reaches 205 °F.
Step 4: Add Filtered Water & Bloom Coffee
Add coffee grounds into the French press and pour hot water just to submerge the grounds. Stop pouring hot water and give a gentle stir to the grounds. Let the submerged grounds sit for 30 to 50 seconds in what is known as the bloom stage.
During this stage of coffee brewing, the grounds will release carbon dioxide, creating voids for better interaction with water and extraction.
Step 5: Add the Remaining Water & Wait to Let the French Press Coffee Steep.
Add the remaining quantity of water and let the coffee continue brewing for about 4 minutes after his. Use a timer or your phone. You will see that the coffee floats to the top in a crust-like layer.
Step 6: Plunge and Pour
Place the French press lid back and slowly push the plunger down, taking care not to agitate the brew. You can plunge to its bottom position if your plunger leaves a space of about 30 mm or 1.25 inches below that. Else, be careful and stop before reaching the grounds.
Pour the coffee immediately into your favorite mug and enjoy.
Alternative 2: There is another method, commonly known as the James Hoffman method, described by James Hoffman in his book “The World Atlas of Coffee.”
As per this method, you must stir again after steeping for 4 minutes. Use the spoon to scoop out the floating grounds from the top. Wait for another 5 minutes. This allows the coffee grounds to settle down at the bottom. Place the lid, but do not plunge. Pour the cup and serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You French Press Espresso?
You cannot, as the french press is not suitable to deliver the 9 bar of pressure required to prepare espresso and extract in 25 to 30 seconds. Also, the French press works on the immersion principle.
What Size French Press Should I Buy?
If you frequently prepare two cups of French press coffee, as I do, go in for 34 fl oz. You have to prepare and drink the French press coffee immediately, so it is recommended to use the size that you will most frequently use.
I hope that you are now clear about the recommended French Press ratios and are already on your way to enjoying a rich cup of coffee. Do write to me about your experience with your first self-made cup of French press coffee in the section below.