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How Long Does It Take to Brew Coffee In French Press?

The simplicity of the French press is just amazing. That’s why it’s one of the most popular manual brew methods. It is easy enough to master that even a novice can get it right the first time.

But if you’re new to this, there’s one part of the technique that can be quite challenging—getting the steep time right.

So, how long to brew coffee in French Press? That’s exactly what I’ll be covering. But let me explain a few things first…

What Is a French Press?

man making french press coffee

A French press or press pot is a unique type of manual coffee maker that many coffee brewers like.

This coffee-making device uses hot water plus coarse ground coffee to make a delicious brew. When the ideal steep time is reached, the plunger is pressed slowly to help extract all the flavonoids and oils from the coarse ground coffee.

After the plunger has done its job, you are left with a full-bodied brew that is rich in flavor, essence, and aroma.

Unlike other manual coffee-making techniques, French press gives you more control over the entire process. You can conveniently decide on the ratio of water to grounds, the temperature of the hot water, and even the amount of brew you want to make at a time.

I love the versatility of a French press. You can use it as a tea infuser to make loose tea and for broth straining. Not to mention that its portability makes it a great choice for backpacking when you go hiking or camping.

What Type of Coffee Grind Is Suitable for French Press?

5 levels of coffee grinds

The size of the coffee grind has a big impact on the extraction of flavonoids and oils when using a French press coffee maker.

I recommend coarse ground for French press. If you’re not sure if the grind size is correct, just make sure it looks much similar to kosher salt. Note that it shouldn’t be extra coarse.

The plunger usually does the best job of extracting coffee when using coarse grounds.

Coffee to Water Ratio for French Press

The ratios of coffee grounds to hot water vary, and you can tweak according to how strong you want your coffee.

For a 32-ounce French press, for example, use 4 cups of hot water and roughly 3/4 cup of coarse ground coffee. This is a little less than 1 part of coffee grounds to 4 parts of hot water.

If you are using ounces, then use about 32 fluid ounces of water to approximately 3 ounces of coarse grounds. This will give you a ratio of about 1 to 12.

How Long to Brew Coffee in French Press

man pouring french press coffee into cup

The most ideal brew or steep time we recommend for French Press is 4 minutes. This suggested time will make you a very rich, nice cup of coffee if all the factors are correct.

The ratio of grounds to water has to be correct, and the temperature of the water has to be enough to get your desired richness. Sometimes, you could produce a weak coffee brew after four minutes. This could happen, depending on the type of coffee you are using.

You can rectify the situation by adding more coffee grounds and increasing the steep time by a couple of minutes.

You could adjust the steep time to around 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the strength you want your brew to have.

Avoid over-steeping or else you will end up with a cup of coffee that is either too bitter or too strong.

What Happens When You Over-Steep French Press?

When you exceed the recommended time limit of 4 minutes or 6 to 8 minutes, your coffee will likely become too bitter. If, let’s say, you let it brew for more than 10 minutes, the result would be too bitter or too strong French press coffee.

Common French Press Mistakes

Here are a few common mistakes you are likely to make when using a French Press coffee maker:

Using Stale Coffee

When you end up with a weak cup of coffee, you may easily blame it on the steep time. But sometimes, the problem may be the coffee you are using.

Most commercial bags of coffee grounds may claim to be useful for up to 6 months from when the grounds were packed. The coffee could still be safe to drink, but the grounds may not produce the ideal flavor, taste, and essence. This is so because fewer flavonoids and oils are coming out of the grounds.

I recommend roasting and grinding your own coffee. This way, you’d get maximum extraction of coffee every single time. You just have to invest in green coffee beans and a portable coffee roaster. Alternatively, you could use traditional techniques like a popcorn popper. Check out our guide on how to roast your own coffee beans.

Ignoring the Brew Ratio

When it comes to French press, you have to get the brew ratio right to avoid weak or watery coffee even after 4 or 6 minutes of steeping.

So, it is definitely worth finding a balance that tastes good for the coffee that you are drinking. For French press, for example, 3 ounces of coarse grounds to 32 fluid ounces of water is a suitable ratio.

Ignoring Water Quality

The water you use to brew your French press coffee can affect the flavor. Tap water with a lot of chlorine can easily affect the flavor. Dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium in hard water could affect the taste of the coffee.

You can use a simple carbon filter to get rid of impurities in your water.

Over-Steeping

The recommended steeping time for French press is about 4 minutes, which can still be adjusted to 6 to 8 minutes. But you may unknowingly over steep the coffee. If that happens, you are likely to end up with a brew that is either too strong or too bitter.

Sediments in the Coffee

This could happen when you don’t use the correct coarse ground setting. You could repeat the brewing process with the appropriate coarse ground setting, or you could simply use a fine strainer to get rid of the sediments.

FAQs

Should I stir the coffee in a French press?

Yes, stirring is part of the process. It helps ensure all the coarse grounds are properly soaked in hot water. If you forget to stir, you could probably end up with clumps of dry coffee grounds that can weaken the brew.

How do I keep my French press coffee hot?

Consider using a metal French press, which has outstanding heat retention. It will help keep the excess brew hot for a while. Alternatively, you can simply transfer the remaining brew into an insulated container like a thermos to keep it hot.

The Bottom Line

How long to brew coffee in French press? Four minutes should be enough if the brew ratio, freshness of the grounds, and the coarse ground setting are at point. But in some cases, you may have to adjust the steep time to about 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the type of coffee you are using. Also, you’ve got to avoid common mistakes that could affect the flavor and taste of your French press coffee.

Avatar for Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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