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1 Simple Ratio For French Press Coffee That Works Every Time

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Brewing French press coffee is quick and easy, making it a fantastic choice for those who want a strong cup of coffee in a short amount of time.

French press coffee is substantial, dense, and full-bodied. It has a richness that’s unmatched by other coffee brewing methods.

But authentic French press coffee isn’t for everyone. Getting the right grind size and coffee water ratio for French press is critical to avoid an over-extracted, bitter brew.

Here we’ll explore this seductive brew in-depth to ensure you’re brewing the most delectable French press coffee possible.

Let’s get plunging.

Ratio For French Press

What Is French Press Coffee?

While the origin of the French press is a subject of heated debate and scandal between the French and the Italians, we know for sure that this brewing method has been in use for centuries.

Brewing coffee in a French press involves pressing down (or plunging) ground coffee into hot water.

The ground coffee is immersed in hot water rather than pouring hot water over the coffee as we see in drip and pour over methods. 

Because of this, it is essential to use the correct grind size and French press coffee-to-water ratio to avoid an over-extracted brew.

Fellow Clara French press in black

How To Grind For French Press

The best grind size for a French press is coarse. Ground coffee should resemble sea salt—not table salt, not kosher salt, but sea salt. Getting an even, consistently coarse grind is critical to brewing the best cup of French press coffee possible. 

If the grind is too fine, there will be too much pressure in the plunge, and the brew will be over-extracted. You may also end up with fine grounds in your cup. Gross. If the grind is too coarse, you’ll end up with a weak, under-extracted brew that’s bland and sour.

You’ll need a quality burr grinder to get the grind just right. Buy the freshest whole coffee beans available and grind them just before brewing. Store your beans in an airtight container or in their resealable foil bag.

Unfortunately, you can’t use pre-ground coffee for French press. Or for any coffee brewing method if you ask us. Pre-ground coffee is ground to medium-fine grind size. This grind is too fine for French press brewing.

Using a French press with pre-ground coffee will leave you with an over-extracted cup of soot, no matter which French press ratio you use. Not the best way to start the day.

jar of coffee beans in foreground with french press behind

French Press Coffee Ratio

We advise starting with a 1:12 coffee water ratio and adjusting from there. But for best results, we recommend staying somewhere between a 1:10 and 1:18 French press ratio.

Is there one perfect ratio for French press coffee? Yes and no.

Coffee is a very personal experience. Our favorite French press coffee ratio may not be your favorite.

So, while we recommend a 1:12 ratio for French press, you may find that brewing a stronger or weaker ratio yields a better-tasting result (for you).

And we’re cool with that.

Coffee is a journey, and French press coffee is no exception. As with any brewing method, french press brewing requires some experimentation to figure out how to make the perfect French press coffee for you.

Remember that the best French press coffee is meant to be heady, rich, and full-bodied by design. So start strong and add water as needed until you find the best ratio for your needs.

Tattooed arm pouring French press coffee into white mug and saucer in busy outdoor cafe, french press coffee ratio

How To Brew French Press Coffee

Of all the tips for French press, this is the one you need to remember: decant your brewed coffee immediately once it is ready. 

We can’t stress this enough. This is even more important than your French press ratio. Seriously.

Leaving the coffee in the French press after plunging will result in an over-extracted brew, so pour it promptly. Now that that’s out of the way let’s walk through how to brew with a French press. 

Step 1: Gather What You’ll Need To Brew

  1. French press (umm, duh. We’re guessing you’ve got one if you clicked on this post, but if not, try this one)
  2. Filtered water (yes, using filtered water for coffee will make it taste better)
  3. Kettle (or other means to boil water)
  4. Coffee beans 
  5. Coffee grinder 
  6. Scale
  7. Paper filter (while not necessary, it’s good to have a filter on hand in case any sediment passes through in your French press)
  8. Wooden Spoon
fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Step 2: Boil Water

For an 8-cup French press, you’ll need to boil 700 grams (34 ounces) of water. We’ll be working on a 1:12 French press coffee water ratio, so adjust the French press amount of coffee and water as needed to suit whichever size of French press you’re using. 

As we mentioned before, the ratio for French press coffee isn’t an exact science. Each of us has different palates and taste preferences, so our standard ratio may not work best for you.

But try it out and go from there.

close up shot of coffee beans in hopper of grinder, best coffee grinder for french press

Step 3: Measure & Grind Coffee

Using the 1:12 ratio for French press, you’ll need about 60 grams of coffee for your 700 grams of water.

Use a scale to measure your coffee, then grab your burr grinder and grind your coffee to a coarse grind. Ground coffee should resemble sea salt.

Note: this is a coarser grind than you’d use for pour over or drip.

Remove the French press lid and pour the ground coffee into the cavity. Set your French press on the scale and tare to zero.

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Step 4: Add Filtered Water

Start by pouring about 120 grams of hot water over the ground coffee. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the coffee grounds.

Allow the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds before proceeding. 

(The blooming process allows the ground coffee to release carbon dioxide and create voids, allowing the water to interact more with the coffee, resulting in a more flavorful brew.)

Continue pouring hot water over the ground coffee until you reach 700 grams. Place the lid on the French press, but do not plunge.

looking down into french press with coffee grounds floating, How to use a french press coffee maker
What is french press
Brewing time for french press

Step 5: Steep French Press Coffee

Allow the coffee to steep for four minutes. Not three. Not five. Four minutes, exactly.

We recommend setting a timer so you don’t get distracted and accidentally over-extract your brew.

Once four minutes have passed, place your French press on a solid surface and slowly press the filter down.

You should feel some pressure here, but not so much that you struggle to move the plunger. If this happens, it means your coffee was ground too fine. If the filter freely plunges to the bottom of the French press, your grind is too coarse.

Once the plunger has reached the press floor, serve the coffee immediately. Leaving the brewed coffee in a French press will result in over-extraction and a bitter taste.

Airscape coffee storage canister in turquoise
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Final Thoughts: Coffee To Water Ratio French Press

Now that you’ve learned more about brewing French press coffee and the proper French press coffee ratio, we think you’ll be a master at it in no time. 

While finding the perfect ratio for French press may take some experimentation, it’ll be worth the (minimal) effort.

After all, the brew time for French press is only four minutes (precisely), so you won’t be spending too much time on it. Maybe use those four minutes to learn the lyrics to a new song?

“One more cup of coffee for the road. One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go….”

Close up of french press with coffee on deck with sun rising behind, Brewing ratio

Frequently Asked Questions

Is French Press Better Than Drip?

That depends. You can decide which coffee brewing method you like best, but brewing with a French press will produce a heady and rich cup. 

This isn’t always the case with drip coffee. We recommend experimenting with various brewing methods and coffee makers to find the best style for you.

We typically prefer manual brewing over drip brewing, but we enjoy consistent results from this drip coffee maker when we’re feeling lazy.

Can You French Press Espresso?

In a word, no. The pressure to pull the shot makes espresso different from other brewing methods. Espresso is pulled with 9 bars of pressure, creating a highly concentrated shot with a creamy mouthfeel and a beautiful crema. 

While some stovetop espresso makers can create an espresso-like brew, even those can’t compete with an espresso machine. A French press plunger won’t deliver the pressure necessary to give the concentrated shot you’re after.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t use your favorite espresso beans to brew a dark, rich cup of French press coffee. It just won’t be, by definition, espresso, no matter how much coffee grounds for French press are used.

Bialetti Moka Pot
Bialetti 9-Cup Moka Pot

What Size French Press Should I Buy?

The great thing about a French press coffee maker is that you can brew as much or as little as you like. We recommend purchasing the 34-ounce model to allow flexibility when brewing for two or more people.

Only brew the amount you plan to drink immediately or decant the coffee into another container if you want two cups back to back without brewing another batch. Don’t leave your coffee in the French press once you’ve finished brewing, or it will continue brewing and over-extract.

How Much Coffee For French Press?

If you’re still wondering how much coffee to use in your French press, there are a few easy tricks you may employ. The amount of coffee for French press will depend on a couple of things: first, how strong you prefer your coffee. Second, the size of the French press you’re using.

The French press amount of coffee is indicated on each French press. A standard French press, like this one from Bodum, comes with a scooper and has line indicators on the carafe to assist you in brewing and using the correct amount of coffee for your French press.

But, we prefer to stick with a simple French press coffee ratio that works no matter what size French press you’re using (or if you lose the scoop that came with the press). Try our 1:12 coffee-water ratio (one part coffee for every 12 parts water) and see how you like it.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters