When I first tasted french press coffee, I thought I had found the answer. I was excited about black coffee. It was strong and full bodied, and I swear I could almost taste the flavors of the coffee. It was easy too! Later on I was introduced to pour over brew methods with much more precise brew recipes, brew recipes that were designed around extraction principles. From there, we incorporated the same precision to batch brewers. Can we apply these same lessons to the french press?
French press recipes are all the same. For decades we've heard, "coarse grind, lots of coffee, four minutes". What's the coarsest setting on any bulk grinder? French press. How much coffee is lots of coffee? One part coffee to ten or twelve parts water (i.e., 1:10-1:12 brew ratio). One should stir the french press after the first minute of the four minute brew time. Secure the lid, but don't press until four minutes has passed.
There you have it, an under extracted yet strong cup of coffee; a flavor-less cup of coffee that still manages to over caffeinate you.
Let's review our extraction variables. In general, fine grinds extract more, coarse grinds extract less. Longer total brew times extract more, shorter brew times extract less. We generally extract more from using less coffee.
So if you're tired of getting lackluster french press, follow this recipe:
- Use a 1:16-1:16.67 brew ratio (e.g., if you're using a 1:16 brew ratio, 50g of coffee would need 800g of water. If you're using a 1:16.67 brew ratio, 50g of coffee would need 833.5g of water.) If you don't have access to a digital gram scale, one tablespoon of wholebean coffee is equivalent in weight to 6-8g of coffee, and one liter of water is about the same weight as 1000g of water.
- Grind your french press finer. Yes, I said it. To properly extract our french press, we adjusted our dial from the coarsest "french press 9" to a "5".
- Extend the brew time to 5 minutes if you think the coffee is too thin.
- Add your ground coffee, add your full water input, secure your lid but don't press, at 5 minutes stir your french press (skim the top layer of grounds if you want) and press the plunger down.
I'm really excited for you to brew french press now, and I hope it provides you with some new answers.