Making French Press Coffee

French Press Coffee Ratios: A Detailed Exploration

By Coffeenated Stories | 16 min read

Updated On: MAR 06 2024

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The French press, a timeless choice among coffee enthusiasts, is celebrated for its simplicity and elegance and the depth and richness of flavor it brings to your morning cup.

French Press
French Press
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-pouring-tea-on-white-teacup-wEjtwvjpjxg

This beloved brewing method, invented in the 19th century, has stood the test of time, proving that great coffee doesn't require high-tech gadgets or complicated techniques.

Related: The History of the French Press: From its Origins to Modern Day

At its heart, the French press embodies the art of coffee making, allowing the brewer complete control over the extraction process, resulting in a cup tailored to personal tastes and preferences.

However, the magic of the French press doesn't stop at brewing standard black coffee. This versatile tool is capable of much more, offering a canvas for coffee lovers to experiment and explore a wide array of coffee drinks, from robust, espresso-like concentrates to lighter, tea-like infusions.

French Press Coffee
French Press Coffee
Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/poured-coffee-in-teacup-ASmyV3IHgAI

The key to unlocking this versatility? The coffee-to-water ratio. Adjusting this ratio allows you to manipulate strengthbody, and flavor, transforming the humble French press from a one-trick pony into a multi-functional brewer fit for various coffee concoctions.

In this article, we'll dive into the world of French press coffee making, exploring how different coffee-to-water ratios can be used to craft everything from a classic cup of joe to sophisticated coffeehouse-style beverages.

Whether you're a seasoned French press enthusiast or a curious newcomer, you'll discover how to leverage this simple tool to expand your coffee repertoire, experimenting with ratios to find your perfect brew.

Elegance and Authenticity

BAYKA French Press

The BAYKA French Press effortlessly combines sleek, stylish design with the ability to deliver a pure and authentic coffee taste. Elevate your coffee brewing routine and savor every sip of your coffee.

BAYKA French Press
  • Durability and quality: Crafted from high-quality borosilicate glass, this brewer is resistant to thermal shock and can withstand high temperatures.
  • 4-level filtration: This system includes a metal mesh filter, spring disk, metal cross plate, and a final mesh screen. Together, these components work harmoniously to deliver a sediment-free brew.
  • Easy cleaning: The glass carafe can be easily disassembled, allowing for thorough cleaning. Both the plunger and filter are dishwasher safe.

Why the Coffee-to-Water Ratio Matters

The coffee-to-water ratio is a fundamental concept in coffee brewing, impacting the coffee's strength, body, and overall flavor profile. In the context of the French press, this ratio becomes even more critical as it directly influences the extraction process.

Too much water and the coffee can become weak and underwhelming; too little, and it may be overly strong and bitter. Finding the right balance is critical to crafting coffee to suit your taste preferences.

Adding Hot Water to the French Press
Adding Hot Water to the French Press
Photo by Romario Roges on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/a-person-pours-coffee-into-a-glass-mug-1kxTLX0qD7o

But the beauty of the French press lies in its ability to go beyond just brewing standard coffee.

By adjusting the coffee-to-water ratio, you can create a spectrum of coffee drinks, each with its distinct character and appeal.

The French press is a tool of endless possibilities, from strong, concentrated brews that rival traditional espresso to lighter, more delicate infusions that remind one of tea.

French Press Coffee Ratio

The journey into the world of French press brewing begins with mastering the classic cup of coffee. Let's outline the foundational principles for achieving a balanced, flavorful brew using the French press, focusing on the ideal coffee-to-water ratio and other key factors influencing your coffee's quality.

Classic French Press Coffee
Classic French Press Coffee
Photo by René Porter on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-pouring-coffee-in-white-ceramic-cup-LNwllsG5gds

The Ideal Coffee-to-Water Ratio

The recommended starting point for a classic French press coffee is a 1:15 ratio of coffee to water by weight (for example, 30 grams of coffee to 450 grams of water).

This ratio strikes a balance between strength and flavor, providing a rich, full-bodied cup without overwhelming bitterness or dilution.

However, personal preference plays a significant role in coffee brewing, and this ratio can be adjusted to suit individual tastes. Some may prefer a more potent brew, opting for a 1:13 ratio, while others might enjoy a lighter cup at a 1:17 ratio.

Measuring Your Ingredients

Precision is critical in achieving the perfect brew. Using a scale to measure your coffee and water ensures consistency and accuracy, allowing you to confidently replicate your favorite brew or adjust ratios.

Weighing Coffee Beans
Weighing Coffee Beans
Photo by Tim Douglas : https://www.pexels.com/photo/barista-in-apron-making-coffee-in-cafe-in-daytime-6205727/

While volume measurements (such as tablespoons and cups) can provide an estimate, they need more precision of weight measurements due to variations in coffee grind size and density.

Precision and Convenience
TIMEMORE Coffee Scale

TIMEMORE Coffee Scale

The TIMEMORE Coffee Scale is a versatile, highly accurate digital scale explicitly designed for coffee enthusiasts. Its high-precision sensor delivers precise measurements ranging from 0.1g to 2kg.

The Importance of Grind Size

The grind size of your coffee beans significantly affects the extraction process in a French press.

medium to medium-coarse grind is generally recommended, reducing the risk of over-extraction and bitterness while ensuring the plunger can easily filter out the grounds.

Finely ground coffee will lead to bitterness in the brew, as these smaller particles extract rapidly and may also pass through the filter, leading to a gritty texture in the cup. Additionally, this can complicate the pressing process, making the plunger difficult to operate.

Hand Grinder
Comandante C40 MK4

Comandante C40 MK4

The Comandante C40 MK4 is a high-quality hand coffee grinder that sets new standards among premium hand mills for coffee. Delivers precise and homogeneous grinding results with almost no "fines" through all grinding levels.

Brewing Time and Temperature

Water temperature and brewing time are also crucial for a classic French press coffee.

The ideal water temperature is in the range of 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C), just off the boil, to facilitate optimal extraction without burning the coffee.

The recommended brewing time is about 4 minutes, allowing the coffee to steep fully without over-extracting.

Adjusting the brewing time can alter your coffee's strength and flavor profile, providing another variable to experiment with.

Style and Precision
Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Gooseneck Kettle

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Gooseneck Kettle

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Gooseneck Kettle is a standout brewing companion that combines style, precision, and functionality. Its LCD screen displays the desired Set Temp and Real-Time Temp, providing instant feedback on the water temperature. The kettle also includes a built-in Brew Stopwatch, enabling you to time your extraction.

The Brewing Process

  1. Preheat your French press by rinsing it with hot water. This helps maintain the temperature during brewing.
  2. Add the medium-coarsely ground coffee to the French press.
  3. Pour hot water over the coffee grounds, ensuring they're fully saturated. Start a timer.
  4. After one minute, stir gently to break up the crust of coffee grounds that form on top.
  5. Place the lid on the press with the plunger pulled up and let the coffee steep until the timer reaches 4 minutes.
  6. Press the plunger slowly and evenly, separating the grounds from the liquid.
  7. Serve immediately to prevent further extraction and enjoy.

Brewing classic French press coffee is an art that rewards patience and precision.

Read Also: A Coffee Brewing Guide: The French Press

By starting with the recommended coffee-to-water ratio and adjusting according to your taste preferences, you can explore the rich diversity of flavors that coffee has to offer.

The process encourages experimentation, allowing you to fine-tune the grind size, brewing time, and temperature to perfect your brew.

Remember, the best cup of coffee is the one that suits your tastes the best.

French Press Espresso Ratio

For those who crave the intensity and depth of espresso but lack the specialized equipment, the French press offers a compelling alternative.

Adjusting the coffee-to-water ratio and fine-tuning other brewing parameters allows you to create a concentrated, espresso-like coffee with the French press.

Brewing French Press Espresso
Brewing French Press Espresso
Photo by Georgi Petrov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/coffee-beans-beside-coffee-press-and-glass-cup-872890/

Adjusting the Coffee-to-Water Ratio for Strength

To mimic the boldness of espresso, a tighter coffee-to-water ratio is essential.

Starting with a 1:7 ratio (for example, 30 grams of coffee to 210 grams of water) can yield a more concentrated brew.

This stronger base is perfect for espresso-based drinks, such as Americanos or lattes, made without an espresso machine.

The key for an espresso-like brew is to experiment within the range of 1:6 to 1:8 to find your ideal strength.

French Press Espresso
French Press Espresso
Photo by Georgi Petrov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-coffee-warmer-pump-jar-filled-with-coffee-872902/

The Role of Grind Size

While a medium-coarse grind is recommended for classic French press coffee, a medium grind works better for stronger brews.

The finer grind increases the surface area in contact with water, enhancing extraction and yielding a richer flavor profile.

However, avoiding a grind that's too fine is crucial to prevent over-extraction and ensure the plunger can still filter the coffee effectively.

Electric Grinder
Fellow Opus

Fellow Opus

The OPUS Conical Burr Grinder is a versatile and high-performing electric grinder that caters to coffee lovers who appreciate the full spectrum of brewing methods. With its ability to grind for espresso and cover the precise grind sizes needed for French Press to cold brew, this grinder provides exceptional control over your grind.

Optimal Brewing Time and Temperature

For a more potent brew, the extraction time can be slightly extended beyond the 4-minute mark used for classic French press coffee.

Experimenting with times between 4 and 6 minutes can help extract more flavor and strength from the coffee grounds, but again, keep in mind the grind size of your coffee.

The water temperature remains critical, with 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C) being optimal to extract the coffee's robust flavors without introducing bitterness.

Precision and Convenience
Mecity Professional Electric Kettle

Mecity Professional Electric Kettle

Designed with precision and convenience in mind, this 27oz (800ml) electric kettle allows you to select the ideal temperature from 100°F to 212°F (38°C to 100°C). It features an advanced thermostat and a 2.0-inch LCD display, so you can easily monitor and control the real-time temperature, set temperature, hold time, and more.

The Brewing Process for Stronger Coffee

  1. Preheat your French press with hot water to maintain temperature during brewing.
  2. Add the medium ground coffee to the French press.
  3. Pour hot water into the French press, ensuring all the grounds are fully saturated. Start a timer.
  4. Allow the coffee to brew for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on your desired strength. A longer brew time increases the extraction, enhancing the coffee's intensity.
  5. Press the plunger down slowly and firmly to separate the grounds from your concentrated brew.
  6. Serve your stronger, espresso-like coffee immediately. Enjoy it as is for a robust cup, or use it as a base for espresso-inspired drinks.

Read Also: French Press Finesse: Making Espresso in French Press

Crafting Espresso-Inspired Drinks with the French Press

This concentrated brew serves as an excellent foundation for a variety of espresso-inspired drinks. By combining a strong French press coffee as a base with frothed milk, you can enjoy many café-style beverages anytime.

To create a latte, cappuccino, or any other espresso and milk drinks, froth some milk (which can also be done using a clean, warmed French press) and combine it with your concentrated coffee.

Frothing Milk with a French Press

One of the lesser-known uses of a French press is its ability to froth milk, creating a creamy, airy texture perfect for lattes and cappuccinos. Here's how:

  1. Heat your milk until it's warm but not boiling (about 150°F or 65°C). You can use any milk, but whole milk froths better due to its fat content.
  2. Pour the warm milk into the French press, filling it no more than one-third to allow enough space for the milk to expand.
  3. Pump the plunger up and down vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until the milk has doubled in volume and appears frothy.
  4. Remove the plunger and pause briefly to stabilize the milk foam, especially if you plan to spoon it over your coffee for a macchiato. Alternatively, by gently swirling the French press containing the milk and then pouring it into your coffee, you can let the froth form directly in the cup and make drinks like lattecappuccinocortado, etc.
Frothing with French Press
Frothing with French Press
Photo by Aleksandra Krivdic: https://www.pexels.com/photo/glass-of-cappuccino-and-french-press-17543002/

Assembling Your Specialty Drink

  • For a Latte: Fill a cup with one-third coffee and two-thirds frothed milk. Lattes have a smoother, creamier texture with less foam on top compared to cappuccinos.
  • For a Cappuccino: Use equal parts of coffee, steamed milk, and milk foam. Pour the coffee into your cup, add the steamed milk, and then spoon the frothy foam on top for that classic cappuccino finish.
  • For a Cortado: Use equal parts of coffee and milk, but froth the milk with a smaller layer of foam and a silkier texture.
  • For an Americano, simply dilute the strong coffee with hot water to taste.
Foamy Cappuccino
Foamy Cappuccino
Photo by Ioana Motoc: https://www.pexels.com/photo/teaspoon-on-top-of-a-coffee-10530083/
Photo by Lisa Fotios: https://www.pexels.com/photo/shallow-focus-photo-of-teal-ceramic-mug-3100306/

The versatility of the French press allows for creativity and customization in your coffee-making process, bringing the café experience into the comfort of your home.

French Press Cold Brew Ratio

Cold brew coffee, known for its smoothmild flavor and reduced acidity, is another delightful variation that the French press is perfectly equipped to handle.

This brewing method involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, resulting in a concentrated coffee that can be enjoyed cold.

Here's how to use your French press to make cold brew coffee at home.

Coffee Lover's Delight

Mueller French Press

Mueller French Press is an exceptional choice that will exceed your expectations.

Mueller French Press
  • Triple-layered filter structure: This innovative design ensures that no sediment enters your cup while allowing the delicious coffee oils to pass through.
  • Matching travel canister: This convenient addition allows you to carry enough coffee beans or grounds for two whole batches, ensuring that you can enjoy your favorite brew even on the go.
  • Double-layered stainless steel: This coffee maker not only does it retain heat exceptionally well, keeping your coffee hot for a remarkable 60 minutes longer than thinner steel and glass models, but it is also drop-proof and rust-proof.
  • Versatile: It serves as a handy appliance for brewing tea, creating pleasant MCT oil coffee, indulging in hot chocolate, experimenting with cold brew, frothing milk to perfection, and even making infused beverages with almond milk, cashew milk, or fruit infusions.
  • Excellent gift choice: Whether it's a housewarming, wedding, birthday, or any celebration, this coffee maker will impress coffee and tea lovers alike.

The Coffee-to-Water Ratio for French Press Cold Brew

The ideal coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew in a French press is around 1:8 (for example, 100 grams of coffee to 800 grams of water).

This ratio creates a strong concentrate that can be diluted with water or milk to suit your taste.

Due to the cold extraction process, cold brew coffee is naturally sweeter and smoother, making it a refreshing option for warmer weather or for those seeking a less acidic coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee from French Press
Cold Brew Coffee from French Press
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Choosing the Right Grind for French Press Cold Brew

An extra coarse grind is preferable for cold brew coffee to prevent over-extraction and ensure a smooth, clean flavor.

The larger grind size also makes pressing the plunger easier after the brewing process, reducing the chances of fine coffee grounds ending up in your cup.

The Brewing Process of French Press Cold Brew

  1. Combine the coarsely ground coffee and cold water in the French press. Stir gently to ensure all the grounds are fully saturated.
  2. Cover the French press with its lid, but do not press the plunger down. Place the French press in the refrigerator to steep.
  3. Steep the coffee for 16 to 24 hours, depending on your taste preference. Extending the steeping time enhances the brew's strength and concentration. However, steeping beyond 24 hours offers no additional advantage, as this duration suffices to completely extract the flavors from the coffee beans.
  4. After steeping, press the plunger down slowly to filter out the coffee grounds.
  5. Serve the cold brew concentrate over ice, diluted with water or milk as desired. You can also add sweeteners or flavors to customize your drink.

Once the cold brew coffee concentrate made in a French press is filtered from the grounds, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, making it a convenient option for those who want to enjoy a quick and delicious coffee without the need for daily preparation.

The Appeal of French Press Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee offers a unique taste experience that's markedly different from hot brewed coffee.

Its smoothness and mild flavor profile make it an excellent choice for both coffee enthusiasts and those who might find traditional coffee too bitter or acidic.

With the French press, making cold brew at home is straightforward and allows for experimentation with brewing times and ratios to find your perfect cup.

French Press Ratio for Lighter Brews

For those who prefer their coffee on the lighter side, the French press offers the flexibility to create brews more akin to tea in their delicacy and subtlety.

This method involves using a more generous coffee-to-water ratio and a shorter brewing time to extract a gentler flavor profile.

Let's explore how to use your French press to make these lighter brews.

French Press Lighter Brew
French Press Lighter Brew
Photo by Burst: https://www.pexels.com/photo/aroma-bean-beverage-black-coffee-374852/

The Coffee-to-Water Ratio for Lighter Brews

To achieve a lighter brew with a French press, start with a 1:18 ratio of coffee to water (for example, 20 grams of coffee to 360 grams of water).

This ratio produces a less concentrated brew with a milder taste, making it ideal for those who prefer their coffee less robust or want to reduce their caffeine intake without sacrificing the ritual of brewing coffee.

Grind Size and Brewing Time for Lighter Brews

medium grind is best for lighter brews, as it allows for a clean extraction without over-extracting the subtle flavors of the coffee.

The brewing time should be reduced to around 2-3 minutes, as a shorter steeping period extracts fewer bitter compounds, resulting in a brew that is more akin to tea in its flavor profile and mouthfeel.

The Brewing Process for Lighter Brews

  1. Preheat your French press by rinsing it with hot water. This step is optional for lighter brews but can help to maintain a consistent brewing temperature.
  2. Add the medium ground coffee to the French press.
  3. Pour hot water (195°F to 205°F) over the grounds, ensuring they are fully saturated. Start your timer.
  4. Stir gently after 2-3 minutes of steeping to ensure even extraction.
  5. Press the plunger down slowly and carefully to separate the coffee grounds from the water.
  6. Serve the coffee immediately to enjoy the light and nuanced flavors.

Lighter brews highlight the nuanced flavors of the coffee bean, offering a different experience from the bold and rich profiles typically associated with French press coffee.

This brewing method allows for exploring coffee's more delicate notes, such as floral, fruity, or herbal undertones, which might be overshadowed in stronger brews.

Tips for Perfecting Your French Press Brew

Mastering the French press involves more than just following recipes; it's about understanding the nuances affecting your coffee's taste and quality.

Whether you're crafting a classic brew, a strong espresso-like concentrate, a refreshing cold brew, a delicate lighter brew, or a specialty café-style drink, these tips will help you refine your technique and enhance your brewing experience.

Here's how to perfect your French press coffee, no matter your preferred style.

Consistency is Key

  • Grind Consistency: A consistent grind size is crucial for even extraction. A burr grinder is preferable to a blade grinder as it allows for more uniform coffee grounds.
  • Water Quality: The water you use can significantly impact the flavor of your coffee. Fresh, filtered water is recommended to avoid any off-tastes that tap water might impart.
  • Temperature Control: Precise temperature control ensures optimal extraction. Aim for water between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C) for hot brews. For cold brews, room temperature or cold water works best.

Brewing Precision

  • Measure Your Ratios: Always use a kitchen scale to measure your coffee and water. This precision will lead to consistently better brews and allow you to adjust ratios with accuracy.
  • Timing is Everything: Use a timer to ensure that your coffee brews for the right amount of time. Too short, and your coffee will be under-extracted; too long, and it might become bitter.
  • Blooming: Pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds, let them bloom for 30 seconds, and then continue with the rest of the water. This step helps release gases from the coffee, facilitating extraction.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Regular Cleaning: Coffee oils can build up in your French press and affect the taste of your brew. Disassemble and clean your French press thoroughly after each use.
  • Plunger and Filter Care: Ensure the filter and plunger mechanism are free from old coffee grounds and oils. Replace the filter or entire plunger assembly if it becomes worn out or damaged.

Read Also: The Essential Guide to Maintaining and Cleaning Your French Press

Experiment and Adapt

  • Adjust to Taste: The recommended ratios and brewing times are starting points. Adjust these variables based on your taste preferences and the specific beans you're using.
  • Bean Variety: Experiment with different coffee beans. The originroast, and blend all affect the flavor profile of your brew, offering endless possibilities for experimentation.
  • Keep a Brew Journal: Track your adjustments and the outcomes in a coffee journal. Note the coffee-to-water ratio, grind size, brewing time, and any other variables. Over time, you'll develop a deeper understanding of how each factor influences the final cup.


The French press transcends its role as merely a coffee maker; it's a dynamic instrument that opens the door to various coffee adventures.

Grasping the impact of the coffee-to-water ratio on the brew's quality allows us to fully harness the capabilities of the French press.

Adjusting this ratio enables the creation of a spectrum of flavors, from the deep intensity of classic brews to the refined complexity of espresso-based drinks, all achievable with the French press.

The ideal cup of coffee is a personal journey shaped by individual taste and preference. The French press, with its straightforward design and flexibility, encourages exploration and fine-tuning of your coffee brewing, enabling a direct engagement with the broad range of flavors that coffee has to offer.