French Press Coffee: Ideal Ratio & How to Brew (Beginner’s Guide)

Do you love the taste of freshly brewed coffee? A French Press can be a great way to get the rich flavor from your home brewing. If you want an easy and affordable way to enjoy an exceptional cup of joe, then the French Press is for you.

French press is my go-to brewer, and every morning I rely on French press coffee to kickstart my day. Making this type of coffee requires care and precision when it comes to measurements. The ratio of ground beans to water and brewing time needs to be spot on for that perfect brew.

If you are looking for an ideal ratio and how-to guide on using a French press, then look no further! This article will cover both with step-by-step instructions so that you can enjoy delicious coffee every single time!

What is French Press Coffee?

French press coffee, also known as “cafetiére” or “press pot” is a method of manually brewing coffee by immersing ground coffee in hot water, then pressing down its plunger to filter out the grounds.

It originated in France in 1852 and has been extremely popular with fans of full-bodied fresh brewed flavors.

french press coffee
French Press Coffee

Using a French press allows for greater control over coarseness, temperature, and steeping time. This makes it easy for passionate home brewers to fine-tune their ideal cup of joe without an expensive investment.

It also fits compactly on even small kitchen countertops taking up minimal space compared to espresso machines or automatic drip models.

On the other hand, French presses may require more manual effort & may not be suitable for large gatherings. It’s less cost-effective comparing the coffee ratio per cup size against other variations like a stovetop Moka pot.

Why Coffee-to-Water Ratio is Important in French Press Coffee

To make the perfect cup, you need the perfect ratio of coffee and water, the proper grind size, and the brewing time. Additionally, temperature plays a significant role in adding a special taste to your coffee.

The importance of the coffee-to-water ratio can be summarized in two words: taste and body. The correct combination will enhance the aromas and flavors of your favorite roast, all while creating a balanced cup that’s neither too weak nor too strong.

French press coffee brewing
Brewing French press coffee

There are several factors that can affect this equation. Roast level, grind size, as well as water quality all come into play when it comes to getting the perfect balance between coffee and hot water.

Generally speaking, light roast beans require higher ratios while medium and dark roasts call for lower ones to reduce the bitterness from over-extraction [1]. The finer you grind your beans, the more surface area will be exposed to extract coffee. Water quality also plays an important role. If not filtered properly hard water minerals can lead to over-extraction [2].

Because there’s only a short window of time for extraction, a soluble roast will work better than a light roast.

However, the perfect coffee-to-water ratio also depends on your mood. You might want something strong for the morning, whereas something light at night, so you don’t lack sleep.

Cold Brew Coffee Maker
French Press Coffee Maker

Nevertheless, for me, the 1:14 ratio has been the optimal one. It means for every gram of coffee; I add 14 grams of water. So, if you want to brew 500 ml of coffee you’ll need 35 grams of coffee grounds for a 1:14 coffee-to-water ratio. This ratio is in between too strong of a coffee and a weak one.

I will leave a chart for your preferred coffee-to-water ratio so that you can make one according to your needs. So, here’s the ratio you would want to be implemented according to your need for a weak, regular, or strong coffee.

CupsWeak (1:17)Regular (1:14)Strong (1:12)
1 cup (8 oz or 240 ml)14 grams of coffee17 grams of coffee20 grams of coffee
2 cups (16 oz or 480 ml)28 grams of coffee34 grams of coffee40 grams of coffee
4 cups (32 oz or 960 ml)56 grams of coffee68 grams of coffee80 grams of coffee

Tips For Adjusting The Ratio:

• If you find that your brewed French Press Coffee tastes too strong or bitter, try adding more hot water after brewing at a ratio close to 1:17 instead. However, keep in mind anything beyond 1:17 will be a watery brew.

• If you find that your brewed French Press Coffee tastes too weak or watered down, try adding less hot water after brewing at a ratio closer to 1:12 instead.

How to Measure Coffee-to-Water Ratio for French Press Coffee

Measuring the correct coffee-to-water ratio is important for any brewing method, but especially for French press coffee. There are a few different methods to measure this ratio but a measuring scale is the best. Scoops or cups may not give you the exact amount.

I suggest using a kitchen scale to accurately measure the amounts of coffee and water needed in your desired ratio.

But, if you don’t want to make things precise, you can use coffee scoops or a tablespoon. A standard coffee scoop holds around two tablespoons of coffee, approximately 10 grams.

Your coffee cup can be used to measure water. To brew two cups (16 oz or 480 ml), heat that amount of water, then add the correct amount of coffee grounds accordingly.

In a French press, keep in mind that you’ll lose some of the water due to the heating, rinsing, and steeping processes – with the remaining settled at the bottom.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Brew French Press Coffee (Beginner’s Friendly)

It’s time for the step-by-step guide for making French press coffee.

Step-1: Gather & Prepare the Equipment:

Gather all the necessary gadgets for French press brewing. Here are the lists:

  • 1. French Press: A French press coffee maker is a must-have. When brewing for the first time, make sure you give your French press a good rinse and wash.
  • 2. Coffee beans or Pre-ground Coffee: I always use to grind coffee beans just before brewing with my French press. It’s also recommended by experts, since that way, you’ll get the freshness, and rich aroma intact of coffee beans. Obviously, you can use pre-ground coffee, but you may not get the full-bodied flavor.
  • 3. Coffee grinder: Depends on whether you use coffee beans or pre-ground coffee. If you wish to grind coffee just before brewing, but don’t have one yet, try this one.
  • 4. Filtered Water: Water quality is vital in a good cup of coffee.
  • 5. Kettle: You need to boil the water, arrange a kettle, or use whatever accessories you’ve to boil the water.
  • 6. Measuring Scale: Coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for brewing, and a measuring scale is the best for this purpose.
  • 7. Spoon: To stir after pouring hot water into the French press chamber.
  • 8. Timer: It will work as a notifier when steeping is done. 

Step-2: Heat the water

The ideal brewing temperature is in the range of 195 – 205 °F just below the water boiling point. Using boiled water will over-extract coffee, and will result in a bitter taste. However, precisely heating the water to the ideal range is difficult without a temperature scale.

I also don’t use a temperature scale, instead, I boil the water and let sit for 3-4 minutes to cool down a bit.

Amount of water to be heated for brewing

Here, I’ll heat 600 ml water to brew a full pot of my French press coffee maker.

Step-3: Grind the Coffee Beans

Owning a burr grinder comes in handy here. How do burr grinders make the process better? Burr grinders produce fewer particles than blade grinders because they apply pressure to the beans rather than cutting them first.

Home-roasted (dark roast) coffee beans

The ideal grind size for a French press is between 0.75 mm and 1 mm. And I always use a medium-coarse grind (similar to sea salt) since a little finer grind helps extract more easily.

You can use coarse grind if you want, and it is also advised by many. It’s up to you, but don’t grind too fine, otherwise, it may pass through the French press filter.

Grind your desired amount using a scale (preferable). My French press is 600 ml, so if I want to brew a full pot with a ratio of 1:14, I need almost 42 grams of coffee (approximately 8 tsp). If I want to brew half pot following the same ratio I’ll need 21 grams (4 tsp) of coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds for French press brewing

So, the amount of coffee grounds varies along with your preferred coffee-to-water ratio, and how much you want to brew.

Step-4: Add Water and Coffee to the French Press

To ensure I retain as much heat energy as possible, I preheat my French press chamber with hot water before brewing in this step. After rinsing remove the water.

Pour the ground coffee into the French press, and cover it with enough water that the grounds are just submerged. Give the mixture a stir with a spoon (being careful not to crack the press), which is all the stirring you’ll need for this brewing method.

Submerge the coffee grounds in water to bloom coffee
Just submerge the grounds in water
(add twice the amount of coffee grounds)

Now wait for 30 seconds, and it will allow your coffee to bloom. While soaked in water carbon-di-oxide will be released from coffee grounds which will help in better extraction.

After that, pour the rest of the water, and put the lid on, but don’t push the plunger down.

After Adding full amount of water

Step-5: Steep, and Serve the Coffee

Wait exactly four minutes, and I prefer using a mobile alarm. Otherwise, I may forget, and if I anticipate the time wrong, It will lead to under or over-extraction of my coffee. So, always better to use a notifier system (a timer or mobile alarm).

Put the lid on for steeping
Put the lid on & wait four minutes

Now press the plunger down, but remember slowly. Don’t hurry up because the plunger may agitate the coffee grounds.

Slowly reach the bottom, and when you reach there you’re done. Now serve the freshly brewed coffee. leaving the brewed coffee inside the chamber will end up over-extracting your coffee.

After that, clean your French press, and keep it ready for brewing at another time.

Press the plunger slowly to the bottom
Press the plunger slowly to the bottom

Tips: Here are some tips that will make your coffee even better:

  • Use fresh mineral water
  • Clean your press after each brew
  • Grind your coffee right before brewing
  • Use hot water ranging from 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit

Troubleshooting Common French Press Coffee Ratio Problems

Pouring French Press Coffee
Pouring French Press Coffee

Under-extraction: Too little coffee can result in under-extracted coffee that tastes weak and watery. To fix this, try increasing the amount of grounds used and/or extending your brew time by 1-2 minutes (5-6 minutes, instead of 4 minutes). However, be careful not to over-extract.

Over-extraction: If you find your coffee is too strong and has a bitter taste, you may have over-extracted it. It can happen for a few reasons.

  • Your ground coffee is too fine for French press brewing.
  • You’ve used boiled water
  • You haven’t used filtered water
  • Long steeping time (more than 4 minutes)

The best way to fix this is to assess the issue and rectify that in the next brew.

Bitter/Sour Taste: This may occur when your grind size or brewing time is incorrect resulting in either over- or under-extraction. The key here is to adjust your grind setting & steeping time Also, the roast level can also play a big part in bitter/sour taste. Dark roasted coffee beans have less acidity and are more bitter in taste than a light roast.

Weak Coffee: If you’re getting a weaker cup than expected, you can try increasing your water temperature before brewing as well as slightly increasing the amount of ground coffee until you achieve a stronger cup of joe!

French Press Coffee Ratio 1 Cup

French press coffee 1 cup

If you are a solo drinker, you just need that one cup of perfect coffee for a day’s start. To summarize from the above discussion, the French press coffee ratio of 1 cup is 17 grams of coffee following a 1:14 coffee-to-water ratio.

Additionally, ensure it is ground perfectly (coarse or medium-coarse) to get authentic flavor and satisfying results. Keeping the water temperature and maintaining the brewing time frame is what makes your overall coffee taste better.

More resources:

Wrapping Up

It is a matter of personal preference when making the ideal cup of French Press coffee. Ultimately, it’s up to you – what’s too strong or too weak for me may not be for you.

The best way to make sure your French press is producing great tasting café quality coffee is by experimenting with different recipes. Start with 3 tablespoons of grounds per 8 ounces (240 ml) of water and adjust until you get the right amount of strength and flavor intensity. This may take a few attempts but will be well worth it in the end!

Remember that pouring water that’s too hot will over-extract the grounds, so keep an eye on your thermometer. The ideal brewing temperature should remain between 195°F (90°C) and 205°F (96°C) throughout the entire process. If you can maintain this correct temperature range then you’re all set to enjoy delicious results!

Coffee Gears that I Use Daily

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

This is my favorite grinder when I’m at home to start my day with the perfect cup. It delivers excellent grind consistency & offers versatile settings. The price is also reasonable. I recommend this grinder to all my fellow coffee enthusiasts. Check it out on Amazon now.

VSSL JAVA Manual Hand Coffee Grinder

I travel a lot, but can’t take Baratza with me. So, I carry this fantastic manual hand coffee grinder made by VSSL. It’s compact and lightweight, and its crank handle comes with a convenient carabiner feature, making it the perfect on-the-go companion for me. Get yours on Amazon today.

Coffee Scale

I rely on my trusty digital scale to measure the exact amount of coffee grounds and water for the perfect flavor and strength. Whether I’m at home or on the go, this scale is a must-have. Available on Amazon, get your hands on one and elevate your coffee game to the next level.


Sujit Modak

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