Love it or hate it, you’ll probably need to make coffee with a French press at some point in your life. And while we admit to preferring filter coffee, the French press is capable of making a delicious cup of coffee when used correctly. To get the most out of your French press, avoid these five common brewing mistakes.
1. Grinding too Coarse
Yes, the French press’s metal filter calls for a coarser grind setting to avoid too many particles passing through the mesh into your cup, but that doesn’t mean you should use the coarsest grind setting possible.
You want a fine enough grind that you’ll get a full extraction with a four-minute steep time. Every grinder is different, but the ideal grind for French press is probably about halfway between the medium and coarsest setting. Out favorite French press — the Espro Press — actually works best with a medium grind.
And remember: if you’re taking an TDS reading with a refractometer, you’ll need to filter the sample first!
2. Forgetting to Stir
Stirring a pour-over is optional. Stirring a French press is essential. After pouring the hot water, you’ll notice that the larger coffee particles will float to the top of the French press, creating a crust. You don’t want that. You want each coffee particle fully saturated so you can extract more of that delicious coffee flavor.
The key is not to stir too early or too late in the brewing process. We find somewhere between 1:00-2:00 is ideal. If you’re using a glass French press, avoid using a metal instrument lest you crack it.
3. Pouring out every little bit of coffee.
We agree: you shouldn’t waste coffee. In fact, we’re known to blend the last few grams from different bags of coffee to avoid wasting any.
That being said, with French press, don’t be greedy. That last ounce or two is probably pure silt. Probably best to leave it in the French press. Unless you like silt in your cup. In that case, pour away.
4. Not Cleaning/Replacing the Filter
Yes, that mesh/metal filter is removable. No, the caked-on oils are not “seasoning” your French press. Use some Urnex coffee cleaner, or a similar product, to keep your filter clean. Watch out for coffee grounds that might be stuck in the filter. If the filter becomes bent or damaged consider replacing it.