How Long to Wait Before Pressing French Press for Brewing Better Coffee

The French press method is popular worldwide for making rich, full-bodied coffee. In this method, you add coffee grinds to a carafe and pour hot water over the coffee. After letting it steep for some time, you push the plunger down to separate the grinds from the liquid.

But how long to wait before pressing the French press? You should wait at least 4 minutes before pressing the French press plunger. But it goes down to one’s preference. If the coffee beans are lightly roasted, you can wait for 6 minutes.

In this guide, we will talk about the ideal steeping time while making coffee with a French press. You will also learn what affects the steeping time. Let’s get started.

The Benefits of French Press Coffee

French press coffee has several benefits. You can expect the following benefits from French press coffee.

French press ready to plunge
French press ready to plunge

1. Rich, Full-Bodied Favor

When you brew coffee, the essential oils inside coffee beans get released. These oils contain a lot of flavors. Most of these flavors get filtered if you use a paper filter to make coffee. As a result, you don’t get that rich taste in your cup of coffee.

But the French press uses no such filters. So, you can enjoy a rich, full-bodied flavor with a great aroma.

2. Cost-Effective

Different types of French presses are available out there. You can find stainless steel machines at about $10, which is highly affordable. Glass or ceramic French presses cost a bit more, but they are still more affordable than high-end machines used in other methods.

3. More Control Over Taste

As this is a manual process, you can control every aspect of the taste. For example, you can experiment with different grind sizes, steeping times, water temperatures, etc. You can also use the French press for brewing different coffee such as espresso, and cold brew.

I have a separate post on how to make cold-brew coffee with a French press. You can try that, and It’s really delicious.

4. Easy to Use

You don’t need a lot of equipment for French press coffee, just the coffee grounds and hot water. So, the fuss around making coffee is a lot less here.

5. Durable and Portable

Stainless steel French press machines are pretty durable. If you use them with care, they will last for decades. Plus, you can easily carry small-sized machines in your travel bag.

How Long to Wait Before Pressing French Press?

Brewing coffee with a French press is pretty straightforward. You need to take a coarse grind to make coffee in the French press method. Before adding the coffee to the carafe, you can pre-heat it with boiling water. Then, add the coffee grinds and pour hot water over the grinds.

Remember, the water should be hot but not boiling hot. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee in the French press is about 200-205 degrees Fahrenheit. But don’t go below 190 degrees Fahrenheit as it may yield under-extracted flavor.

French press coffee
French press coffee

The ideal steeping time

Then comes the most important part, waiting before pressing the French press. You should wait for at least 4 minutes before pushing the plunger down. This time is necessary for the hot water to extract flavor from the grinds.

If you plunge the coffee before 4 minutes, the taste can be underdeveloped. Coffee grinds have various components that need different amounts of time to dissolve in water. Components that make the coffee sour are dissolved faster.

On the other hand, the compounds that make the coffee bitter take more time to dissolve. If you wait much longer than four minutes to plunge, your coffee will be much bitter and unpleasant.

So, maintaining the ideal steeping time is crucial to get a cup of coffee with a balanced taste.

In the John Hoffmann method, the steeping time is high and close to 9-11 minutes and coffee tastes good. I’ve made a video following his method, you can see that in the video below.

Factors Affecting Steeping Time

The ideal steeping time might not be the same for everyone. It varies depending on several factors. Check them out.

1. Type of Grind

Coarse grinds are more suitable for the French press method. As the hot water sits with the coffee for some time, it can extract the right amount of flavor from coarse grinds.

If the grind is too fine, the flavors will be extracted faster. So, the steeping time will be lower. Otherwise, the bitterness can overpower the taste. Some people like medium-coarse grinds. But you should start from coarse grinds and make your way to finer grinds if necessary.

2. Coffee to Water Ratio

The coffee-to-water ratio can greatly impact steeping time. It is standard to use a 1:14 ratio, which means you should add 14g of water for every 1g of coffee.

If the amount is lower, the coffee should be steeped for longer. But if you use more coffee, you can steep it for less than four minutes.

3. Desired Strength

Everyone doesn’t drink coffee of the same strength. If you want your coffee to have a light or medium strength, steeping for three to four minutes is enough. But if you want the coffee to be extra strong, you can steep it for six minutes.

Tips for Making French Press Coffee Consistently Good

Blooming coffee in French Press
Blooming coffee in French Press

You can follow these pro tips to make good French press coffee all the time.

  • The coffee beans should be of high quality to deliver a great taste. And roast them to the right level. Dart roast works best for brewing with the French press.
  • Use coarse or medium-coarse grinds between 0.75 mm and 1 mm to get the best taste [1]. Too coarse a grind will lead to under-extraction. And too fine grind can make the coffee bitter, and end up as sediments in your cup.
  • After boiling the water, let it sit for about one minute so that its temperature is close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pour hot water into the French press to pre-heat the machine before adding the coffee.
  • Pour a small amount of water, just enough to immerse the coffee grounds to bloom your coffee. It allows gases like carbon-di-oxide to escape from coffee grounds.
  • Don’t vigorously stir the coffee after pouring the whole amount of water. Give one or two gentle stirs.
  • Don’t press the plunger too quickly. The keyword is “slowly” while pressing down the plunger. This is to avoid bypassing any coffee grounds of the filter.

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French press is one of the simplest methods of making coffee. It delivers great taste and aroma, so the method is a staple everywhere. You just need to add fresh coffee grounds to the pitcher and pour hot water over it. After steeping the coffee, you can plunge it to separate the grinds from the coffee.

But knowing how long to wait before pressing the French press plunger is important to achieve great flavor. In most cases, you should wait 4 minutes before pressing the plunger. But it can vary depending on the grind size, the amount of the coffee, and how strong you want the coffee.


Sujit Modak

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