When coffee lovers are getting started with a French press coffee maker, one of the first questions that are asked is “Can you use regular coffee in a French press?”
We will address this question from two angles to help give you the best possible answer. The first angle will be regarding the use of regular coffee beans; the second angle will be using a regular grind size.
If you are in a rush, here is the short and quick answer.
Yes, you can use regular coffee in a French press. There is no obligation or absolute need for you to use specialty-grade coffee beans. One thing you cannot do is use a regular grind size. You absolutely must use a coarse grind.
Keep reading as we dig down and detail this topic.
Can You Use Regular Coffee In A French Press?
This is one of the most commonly asked French press questions and while we answered it lightly above, here is a more detailed answer to the question.
The use of regular coffee beans from your local supermarket is totally fine, perfectly fine as long as they are at least a medium-dark to dark roast for best results due to the oil content on the surface, resulting in a full-bodied brew, a more flavorful brew.
It is true that any roast level can be used. Just be aware that medium and light roasts require a bit of experience and competent use of a French press brewer to get a quality cup of coffee. If you get it wrong, you can end up with a grainy tasting coffee.
As for the grind size, a simple regular grind size is not going to cut it for most people. You need a coarse coffee ground to make a great French press brew. A skilled and competent home barista will get away with a slightly smaller grind size, and note I am saying a slightly smaller size, by adjusting the brew time. Due to the smaller size, you might still end up with a slightly muddy brew.
What you absolutely cannot use is finely ground coffee. Brewing with such a small grind size will result in a coffee that is over extracted and too bitter. A grind size so small will simply pass through the mesh filter in the plunger and result in a sludgy brew.
What Equipment Do I Need To Make French Press Coffee?
To make a fantastic French press coffee that has the maximum flavor and quality, you need the following equipment:
- 1. A French Press.
- 2. A Ceramic Conical Burr Grinder.
- 3. Digital Coffee Scales.
- 4. A Digital Thermometer Or A Digital Temperature Controlled Kettle.
A French press is easy to use and, all you need to specifically make a French press coffee is the device itself. The other equipment listed can be used for almost all coffee brewing methods.
The use of a ceramic conical burr grinder is due to this specific grinder providing a more consistent and accurate grind size and greater resistivity to heat, which helps to maintain the integrity of the coffee beans and helps you to brew better coffee.
Control of your water temperature can be done with a digital thermometer or, better still, a digital temperature controlled kettle. The digital coffee scales help you to use exactly the correct weight of coffee and water and ensure the perfect coffee to water ratio.
Use all 4 pieces of equipment, and you will brew stellar coffee.
How To Use A French Press Step By Step
Using a French press – or coffee plunger as it is also known is very easy. There is nothing difficult about it. When you follow our step-by-step process, you will brew amazing French press coffee, maybe even the best that you have ever brewed!
Step 1: Preheat Your French Press
The very first step is to preheat your French press brewer. Pre-heating your brewing equipment helps to keep your coffee warmer for slightly longer.
More importantly is that it helps to balance out the difference in temperature between your coffee brewing device and helps to maintain the brew temperature as it will not fluctuate as the hot water and cold brewer even out.
This is the easiest step of them all. Simply add a moderate amount of hot water to your press and swirl it around until you find it hot to touch. Once your press is hot to touch, simply discard the water.
Step 2: Weigh Your Coffee Beans
Some coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts have a preference for weighting their coffee grounds. There is a 1:1 relationship between the whole coffee bean and the ground beans.
If you weigh your coffee beans, you will eliminate the guess work and waste less beans. Also, I’ll add, your coffee will be slightly fresher as the time period between weighing your ground coffee and brewing is eliminated, and you can brew your coffee grounds straight away.
At Latte Love Brew, we encourage you to store your coffee beans under optimal conditions for maximum freshness. Use a professional coffee canister with a one-way valve and an airtight lid and store your coffee canister in the fridge.
A coarse coffee grind is the ideal grind size for this full immersion brewing method, although you can use a medium-coarse. The best results are with the larger grind size.
Step 3: Measure Your Water And Check The Temperature
Once you have weighed your coffee, you also want to weigh (or measure) your water. This will help you to stick to the coffee to water ratio and make a perfect cup of French press coffee.
The coffee to water ratio varies from 1:12 to 1:15 depending on your own preference and how you like your coffee. 1:12 will result in a stronger tasting coffee with 1:15 a slightly weaker coffee. I suggest that you start with a 1:15 ratio and experiment from there and find what you like the most.
Pro Tip: Weighing your water will result in greater accuracy. 1 ml = 1 gram. Account for the weight of your press. This method, rather than measuring, will give you greater control over this variable and more consistent results.
The ideal coffee brewing temperature is 195F to 205F (92C to 96C). You can simply boil your water and monitor the temperature as it cools by using a digital thermometer, or you can use a kettle that has temperature control built in.
Step 4: Add Your Coffee Grounds And Hot Water To Your French Press
With your coffee ground and weighed, add them to your pre-heated French press and hold it on your countertop and give it a light shake to ensure an even and flat distribution of your grounds.
Add your hot water slowly and stop once the grounds are covered. Pause for 20 to 30 seconds and allow your coffee grounds to bloom. This is the process of degassing your grounds. It is a skill on its own and is very easy to learn and get the knack of. Too much bloom and too little are both bad, you need to get it exactly right.
Most beans with most brewing methods fall in that 20 second to 30 second time frame.
Once you have bloomed your grounds, add the rest of your water slowly and evenly to your French press.
Use a long spoon, one usually comes with your press and give your hot water and coffee a good stir for about a minute.
Step 5: Set The Plunger
Push down on the plunger until it is just below the water line. Set your timer to 4 or 5 minutes as per your preference. The longer your coffee extracts, the stronger it is. There is a point at which it will overextract.
4 minutes is great for most coffee beans based on my taste and experience. Adjust as per your own personal preference.
Step 6: Slowly Press Your Plunger Down
When your extraction has finished, slowly and evenly press down on your plunger and press down until it reaches the bottom.
If you feel too much resistance when you press down on the plunger, this is a sign that the grounds that you are using are too fine. If there is not enough resistance, your grounds are too coarse.
Step 7: Decant Your Coffee
You absolutely must decant your brewed coffee before you serve it. As your coffee remains inside your French press, it will continue to extract.
This will lead to a coffee that is bitter and over-extracted.
Step 8: Pour And Enjoy Your Coffee.
The best step of them all – pour and enjoy your coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Use Regular Coffee In a French Press
How Long To Brew French Press
How long to brew your French press will vary according to your coffee beans, their roast and your own personal taste and how you like your coffee.
I’m a strong advocate for keeping a spreadsheet with the type of beans used, brew method, brew time and tasting notes regarding how your coffee was. This way, you will create a repeatable process. Don’t forget to keep a note of the brew temperature and grind size.
For the vast majority of coffee beans, between 4 and 5 minutes is the ideal brewing time for this method.
What Is The Ratio For French Press Coffee?
The coffee to water ratio for a French press coffee is 1:12 to 1:15 depending on your personal preference and taste. If you like a stronger coffee, lean more towards the 1:12 ratio; if you like a weaker coffee with more coffee, cast your eyes in the direction of 1:15.
What Can You Not Put In A French Press?
The one thing that you absolutely can not put in a French press is the wrong grind size. A skilled home barista will get away with a slightly smaller grind size of medium-coarse by adjusting the brew time.
You can’t, absolutely can’t put fine grinds in your French press as your coffee will end up as over-extracted and bitter. You’ll also end up with a gritty coffee with your grounds getting into your cup of coffee.
You can use your brewer to make more than coffee. It is excellent for tea and for making frothy milk.
How Long Should Coffee Steep In A French Press?
How long you should steep your coffee for in your French press will vary slightly for the beans that you are using. Get to know your beans: take note of how long your brew time was and how it tastes and jot it down for all the different beans that you use. This way, you will know how long to let them steep when you next buy them.
Most beans of a coarse grind size will fall in the 4 to 5 minute range. Always use fresh beans for a fresher coffee!
Is Ground Coffee Too Fine For French Press?
Generally speaking, regular pre-ground coffee that you buy from stores is too fine for your French press brewing. If your pre-ground coffee is a coarse grind size it is perfect; most is medium-coarse.
Can You Use Any Coffee In A Coffee Press?
Yes, any coffee just as long as it is a coarse grind size can be used in your coffee press. The same coffee that you use for your drip coffee maker should not be used in your French press as the grind size is too small.
Can You Put Fine Ground Coffee In A Cafetière?
No, if you use finely ground coffee in a cafetière it will clog your mesh filter. Your resulting coffee will end up too bitter to enjoy. You may end up with some grinds in your cup of coffee due to the very small size.
How Long Do You Let Coffee Grounds Sit in French Press?
The extraction time, also known as brew time for a French press, is from 4 to 5 minutes.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Can You Use Regular Coffee In A French Press?
If you have scrolled down in search of a quick answer to the commonly asked question, can you use regular coffee in a French press?, The answer is yes, you can use any coffee beans in a French press coffee maker, but you cannot use a regular grind size. You must use a coarse grind size to get the best out of your coffee making device and avoid a muddy over extracted coffee.
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