French Press Coffee (& The Perfect Coffee-To-Water Ratio)

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by brewthatcoffee

French Press Coffee (& The Perfect Coffee-To-Water Ratio)

Freshly brewed coffee can be enjoyed in many ways, but French press coffee is getting much attention lately. Many coffee lovers prefer experimenting with the French press method of brewing coffee to find that perfect coffee-to-water ratio.

French press coffee is a manual brewing of coffee made in a cylindrical carafe with a plunger and mesh filter. Fresh ground coffee is covered with boiling water for a few minutes before being plunged to extract the oils and flavonoids that make French-pressed coffee so flavorful.

There are many names for the French press style of coffee, cafetière à piston, press pot, coffee press, and coffee plunger, to name a few. Still, no matter what language you speak, the French press coffee offers a unique nuance due to the oils. Experimenting with water ratio will offer you different levels of strength and a perfect cup of joe specific to your tastes.

What Is French Press Coffee?

French Press Coffee (& The Perfect Coffee-To-Water Ratio)
French Press Parts, Labeled

French press coffee is a manual brewing approach with different portable and self-contained variations compared to other coffee makers.

Freshly ground coffee beans are added to a cylindrical carafe and sit in hot water for a few minutes to extract the oils and flavonoids from the coffee grounds.

The brew is then slowly plunged by a metal or plastic handle with a fine stainless-steel wire or mesh filter to separate the grounds from the liquid.

The Perfect French Press Coffee-To-Water Ratio

The perfect French press coffee depends on the sweet spot of the coffee-to-water ratio, and this can vary considerably from person to person.

Firstly, you need to choose which size French press you want. The French press comes in different sizes, from 12 to 51 ounces. Remember that the cup measurements on a French press differ from the US cup measurement.

French presses usually say how many cups you can make from one carafe. This is measured in 4 fluid ounces, whereas US cup measurements are 8 fluid ounces.

If you research the net, you will find many opinions on the golden ratio of coffee to water.

You will need to adjust the coffee-to-water ratio depending on how you prefer your coffee, for example, strong, regular, or mild. As a rule of thumb, a regular-strength coffee will have a ratio of 1:12, which means 1g of coffee to 12 ml of water.

Below is a chart to break down the maths and make brewing your perfect cup easy and painless. You can, of course, experiment with ratios to create the perfect blend that suits your taste.

Use a 1:12 ratio for a regular cup of coffee that most people will enjoy.

French press sizeWaterCoffeeDrinkable coffeeServes 4oz regular cup
12 fl. oz.12 oz5 ½ Tbsp10 fluid ounces2 people
17 fl. oz.16 oz8 Tbsp14 fluid ounces3 people
34 fl. oz.32 oz16 Tbsp28 fluid ounces7 people
51 fl. oz.48 oz23 ½ Tbsp43 fluid ounces10 people

For a strong brew coffee that is rich and bold, use a 1:10 ratio.

French press sizeWaterCoffeeDrinkable coffeeServes 4oz regular cup
12 fl. oz.12 oz6 ½ Tbsp10 fluid ounces2 people
17 fl. oz.16 oz9 ½ Tbsp14 fluid ounces3 people
34 fl. oz.32 oz19 Tbsp27 fluid ounces6 people
51 fl. oz.48 oz28 Tbsp41 fluid ounces10 people

For a mild brew of coffee, for a more subtle and lighter coffee, use a 1:16 ratio.

French press sizeWaterCoffeeDrinkable coffeeServes 4oz regular cup
12 fl. oz.12 oz4 Tbsp10 fluid ounces2 people
17 fl. oz.16 oz6 Tbsp15 fluid ounces3 people
34 fl. oz.32 oz12Tbsp30 fluid ounces7 people
51 fl. oz.48 oz17 ½ Tbsp45 fluid ounces11 people

Standard French Press Brewing Method

A French press can give you some great-tasting coffee. It can be easy to master, with the versatility to create a coffee however you prefer. Still, it does require some involvement, waiting, and equipment.


If you have decided to use a French press, most of the equipment you need to create a comforting cup of coffee is already in your kitchen.

So, to create your perfect cup, you will need the following.

  • French Press
  • Coffee Grinder
  • Kettle
  • Scale
  • Timer
  • Wooden Spoon Or Stirrer


Ingredients for a French press are pretty simple. Use coffee beans as the bean retains their freshness for longer, and you can get the freshest tasting coffee compared to pre-ground beans that lose a lot of their rich flavors after 2 weeks to a month.

The best coffee for a French press is medium to dark roasts to get a rich and bold flavor, using even coarse grounds.

Water should never be boiled and only be heated to just before boiling point; the best temperature for a great cup of French-pressed coffee is water that is heated between 195 to 205°F.


Here is a step-by-step on how to brew a perfect cup of French-pressed coffee.

Step 1: Boil The Water

Start off by heating your water. Do not use boiling water, as it can adversely affect and burn the grounds, giving off a bitter taste to your coffee.

Ensure your water is heated between 195 to 205°F, using a thermometer to check the temperature of your water.

Too cold water may not extract the flavors from the grounds and would need a longer steeping time.

Step 2: Warm Your Press

French presses are made of glass or stainless steel and can drop the temperature of your water. Pour some hot water into the press and allow the press to warm up.

Step 3: Grind Your Coffee Beans

While waiting for your water to heat, weigh your beans and grind for 30 seconds to a minute for an evenly coarse ground.

If you find a lot of resistance when plunging the coffee, your grounds are too fine, which does not allow the water to filter through properly. When plunging the coffee, you feel little resistance; the grounds are too coarse, giving you weak and under-extracted coffee.

Step 4: Weigh Your Coffee

Put your French press on a small kitchen scale and test the result; add your desired amount of coffee according to the size of your press and the desired strength, and refer back to the sweet spot ratio of coffee to water.

Step 5: Bloom The Coffee

Pour your water over the grounds and allow the grounds and water to stand for a minute to bloom. This allows the ground beans to degas, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2), which can interfere with the extraction process.

Step 6: Stir And Rest

The grounds will form a crust layer on top of the water as it blooms; gently stir the slurry with a spoon or wooden stick, ensuring all the grounds are well-saturated. Place the plunger on top without plunging the slurry, and allow it to rest for another three minutes.

Step 7: Plunge And Decant

Next, gently press the plunger down, filtering the coffee. Avoid pushing the plunger too far down a compacting the grounds, as this can increase the coffee sludge. Decant and enjoy.

A critical point to consider is that the grounds will continue to brew if the coffee is left in the French press.

The James Hoffman French Press Method

James Hoffman is credited as a pioneer in the coffee movement after winning the world barista championships in Tokyo in 2007. His French press method is similar to the above steps, with a few alterations to get a perfect sludge-free cup of coffee.

Perform the same steps up to step 5, leaving your coffee to bloom for four minutes, and after the four minutes, gently stir the crust. Most of the coffee grounds will sink to the bottom; with a spoon, remove the top layer of remaining coffee grounds and foam, and then let your coffee rest for a further five to eight minutes.

Once all the sediment has floated to the bottom of the carafe, gently put your plunger back in the carafe. Do not press the plunger down; this will stir up all the coffee grounds and sediment. Let it lay just on the surface of the coffee to use as a filter to prevent any coffee grounds from escaping.

Gently pour your coffee into your cup; this gives you a beautifully filtered cup of joe free of sludge and coffee residue.

French Press Vs. Pour Over

The French press is an immersion method of brewing coffee, while the pour-over uses an infusion method. Both styles offer great-tasting coffee, but they are very different. The trend of manual method coffee has become very popular even though both these methods have been around for decades.

The hands-on approach to making coffee gives you more versatility and control over brewing your favorite cup of java.

Level Of Difficulty

Both these methods are more technical than your standard drip machine, where you press the start button and return after a while when the coffee is all done.

Both these brewing processes require attention to the grind’s coarseness and the brewing time to extract the best flavors from the brew.


Unlike the difficulty level, the taste of these coffees is very different due to the brewing method.

The French press, an immersion of coffee grinds in the coffee, offers a much bolder, richer, and full-bodied cup of coffee. This is due to the oils and flavonoids extracted from the coffee during brewing. The mouthfeel can also be slightly gritty due to the particles that pass through the filter.

The pour-over method offers a much smoother, lighter, and cleaner coffee better suited for people who prefer a milder coffee taste. The process eliminates the oils and acidity from the grinds as the coffee infusion passes through a paper filter. This also eliminates the grittiness found in French-pressed coffee.

Time Required

Both require a similar amount of time. Four to five minutes to brew the coffee and allow the flavors to be extracted from the grounds.

The French press can take longer if you use the James Hoffman method to brew your coffee to remove the grittiness.

What Size French Press Should I Buy?

It’s important to consider the size of the French press you need. This all depends on the size of your family or how many cups of coffee you want to get out of a carafe.

French presses come in different sizes, and the most popular are,

  • 3 cups (12 ounces)
  • 4 cups (17 ounces)
  • 8 cups (34 ounces)
  • 12 cups (51 ounces)

If you are single and enjoy a cup of coffee occasionally, a 12 to 17-ounce is perfect. For a couple that enjoys sharing a good cup of coffee together, it’s best to buy a 34-ounce. For a family, it’s best to stick with a 51-ounce so you save time making only one brew session instead of making coffee in intervals.

Pros Of French Press

Like anything, the French press method of brewing coffee has pros to making your favorite cup of joe.

Easy To Brew

Brewing your favorite coffee in a French press may be more involved than pressing the button on your coffee machine. However, it’s still simple enough and offers more versatility to adjust the strength and flavor. Brewing a carafe of delicious coffee for any occasion takes only four to five minutes.

Control Over Brew

Another positive to the French press is your control over your brew. You can easily adjust the strength of your coffee. Depending on the water-to-coffee ratio and the amount of time you seep your coffee will give you different results.

Another plus point to the French press is enjoying your favorite cup of cold brewed coffee.


Compared to coffee machines, it is a much more affordable option. It’s a self-contained coffee maker that has different variations.

The glass is the most classic look, but they come in stainless steel carafes that keep coffee warm for longer, even portable ones to take on holiday, so you always get your favorite brew.

Full-Bodied Coffee

With a French press, you are always ensured to have the best-tasting coffee, a thicker, full-bodied, heavier, bolder, and richer brew.

There is a higher count of minerals from French-pressed coffee compared to other methods providing a coffee with high antioxidant capacity.

Cons Of French Press

Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and the French press method is not exempt from the cons.

Easy To Over-Extract

Brewing your favorite coffee in a French press may give you the ultimate coffee, but it’s also easy to get it wrong.

Since the ground beans are seeped in water, remaining vigilant is essential. Suppose the coffee is left for too long. In that case, it can create an unpleasant-tasting coffee that has been over-extracted, making it bitter and undrinkable.

Taste Can Vary

It’s great to experiment with a French press to get the perfect balance between water and coffee for your favorite brew. Still, suppose you don’t take note of the measurements and just eyeball it. In that case, the taste can vary considerably, never giving you the same cup of joe, which can be disheartening.

Coffee Sludge

Although some people don’t mind the coffee sludge, it is a common occurrence in French-pressed coffee. The sludge is the residue that filters through the fine mesh into the coffee liquid and leaves a fine residue at the bottom of your cup.

It’s heavier than the liquid, so it settles at the bottom of the cup; I usually stop drinking the coffee just before I get to the last sip of coffee so that I don’t drink the sludge.


Unlike coffee machines, where you can remove the grounds with the paper filter and the machine cleans itself, there is a waste to consider with the French press.

Scooping out cold coffee grounds can be messy, and there are better options than flushing it down the drain since the grounds can block your drain.

French Press Coffee FAQs

Here are some more frequently asked questions about home brewing.

French press coffee is not better than other coffee; it depends on the person’s taste and what type of coffee you prefer. French press coffee is ideal for coffee lovers that prefer a more full-bodied coffee that is rich, bold, and heavier than other coffees.

Pour-over coffee is thought to be healthier than French press as the filter prevents all the oils and flavonoids from immersing into the coffee like the French press, which is said to, in high quantities of consumption, increase bad LDL cholesterol levels.


For coffee lovers who enjoy the fuller-bodied flavors of coffee, the French press is the perfect way to make an immersion-styled coffee. Most people agree that the sweet spot of water to coffee for a French press is 1:12; it can be tailored to your preference by experimenting with more or less coffee-to-water ratio.


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