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Troubleshooting the French Press Brew


You’ve read our French Press brew guide and you’re using delicious specialty coffee, but something still tastes off. What now? Well, you troubleshoot (don’t feel bad—making coffee is an art, and for some people, a career!).

First let’s discuss the important variables you have control of that can impact how your French Press tastes:

Bean freshness. Check the roast date on your bag of coffee. If it’s further than a month out, snag a fresh bag.

Coffee grind. We recommend a medium-coarse to coarse grind for French Press. If you have a grinder, ensure you’re reading the manufacturer’s guidelines for French Press brewing. If you don’t have a grinder, consider purchasing one. If you don’t want a grinder, be sure you’re ordering your coffee perfectly ground for French Press brew method.

Coffee to water ratio. We recommend 10 grams of coffee per 6 fluid ounces (1:15 ratio in grams).

Water temperature. We look for French Press brew temperature to hover between 200-205 F (roughly 45 seconds off the boil).

Brew time. Refer back to our brew guide, but generally, you should spend 3-4 minutes brewing your French Press.

Decanting. Make sure you remove the coffee from the French Press carafe prior to serving (or serve immediately).

Now, let’s navigate your problems based on the symptom:

The coffee is bitter. The aftertaste makes you cringe, and it’s not pleasant on the palate.

  • Your coffee may be ground too fine, causing over extraction. Another sign your grind may be too fine is if it’s difficult to plunge the French Press. Try using a coarser grind.
  • Your coffee may be ground too coarse, causing under extraction. Try a finer grind.
  • You may be cutting the steep time short. Ensure you’re brewing for 3 minutes based off our brew guide.

The coffee tastes weak. It doesn’t have much body, and it tastes watered down.

The coffee tastes too strong. Your palate is flavor overwhelmed… and not in a good way.

  • You may have steeped too long. Again, ensure you’re brewing for 3 minutes based off our brew guide, and decant or serve the coffee immediately.
  • Ensure your filter is fully in tact and touches all sides of the carafe. If there are any spaces or holes, larger sediment and particles could disrupt the body of your cup.
  • Make sure your coffee is fresh. Old coffee can smell and taste ashy, sour, bitter, and unpleasant.
  • Your French Press may need a good wash. Most are dishwasher safe, so throw it in there to rid old sediment and taste.
  • You may have scorched the coffee with too hot of water. Invest in a thermometer or a kettle that measures accurate temperature.

The coffee is full of sediment. The body of a French Press is naturally a bit thicker… but not that thick.

The coffee tastes... undesirable. The aforementioned variables seem to be fine, but it still tastes a little off.

Hopefully the above suggestions will help you navigate your way out of a bad French Press brew. Remember, though, that coffee taste and all the variables are subjective. Perhaps you prefer your coffee different than our standard brew guide yields; by all means, experiment! We encourage everyone to play with one variable at a time to find their unique preferences.

Of course it’s important to remember that good coffee is worthy of a good brew—which means investing in the basics such as a thermometer for your water, a scale to master the coffee-water ratio, an at-home grinder, and good coffee is worth it!

Bon café!

P.S. We're running an amazing special through January 2017—purchase a French Press and receive a free bag of our First Avenue Blend! Use code FRENCHPRESS at checkout.


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