Dialing in the right French Press Grind is the most important variable when making coffee.
The perfect French Press grind is very coarse and after some fine-tuning will take your coffee from good to exceptional.
We've published a complete French Press Brewing Guide, if you're looking for an in-depth explanation.
Why does grind size matter?Each brew method has a sweet spot where you get the sugary flavor notes without hitting over extracted and bitter notes. French presses are one of the most popular brew methods out there because it is easy to use and, when done right, it can produce a great cup of coffee. The difference between one of the best cups you've ever had, and a bitter, undrinkable mess can be the grind size of the coffee you are using.
The science behind grind and coffee extraction:
A good burr grinder is a must for making the precise adjustments required to achieve the ideal French Press grind. Check out our post on finding the perfect burr grinder if you dont already own one.
When coffee is exposed to water, it breaks down and releases that amazing flavor that brings you back every morning. If the coffee spends too much time in the water, or the grounds are too fine, the resulting coffee will be an over-extracted brew which can be bitter. If the grounds dont spend enough time in the water or the grounds are too coarse, you will end up with weak, watered down coffee. The finer you grind the coffee beans, the less time with water the grounds needs. Reversely the coarser the grind, the more time your coffee will need to brew. Finding a balance between over-extracted, bitter coffee and weak, watered-down coffee will help get you that sweet cup of Joe.
So how do you get that flawless balance?
Dialing in French Press Grind
Step 1: Start with Coarse Ground coffee (sea salt or sand, see picture)
Step 2: Brew and review. Was the coffee overly bitter? Then Grind a little coarser. Was the coffee flat or watery? Grind a little finer.
Step 3: Repeat until you've found the setting on your grinder that works best for you.
Your coffee should have a sweet, thick taste. If instead, it is bitter, or watered-down you know you need to adjust your grind.
A bitter cup means that your grind is too fine and you need to make the granules larger, and a watered-down cup means you need to make them smaller.