How You Should Be Grinding Beans For French Press Coffee

While far from the most popular method for home brewing coffee, as it's only used by about 4% of coffee drinkers (per Statista), the French press is nevertheless a time-honored tradition. While there are certainly less involved methods of making coffee, there are not many that provide you with both the theatrics and quality that a French press presents. Provided, of course, you're grinding your beans the right way. 

The French press is not a method in which store-bought, pre-ground coffee is going to work. Using the process of immersion brewing, the coffee grounds get submerged in hot water for several minutes before being plunged downwards to separate the brew from the beans. The standard ground coffee you can find at the grocery store is far too fine for this, as they are specifically designed for use in an automatic drip machine. For a French press, you need to be buying whole-bean coffee that you can grind a home. 

The size of the ground coffee needs to be small enough for you to be able to steep it and get that strong, signature French press brew, but large enough to be caught by the filter. Thankfully, getting this right is very simple. 

In this case, size matters

The optimal grind for a French press is one in which the coffee granules are roughly the size of flakes of good sea salt. This strikes the perfect balance between too coarse and too fine. You can achieve this grind size either using a manual hand grinder or an automatic coffee grinder. Usually, you can eyeball it to get the right consistency.

So why this size? Well, as the French press is an immersion method, the coffee is in contact with the water for a longer period of time. Therefore, a larger grind is necessary in order to pull the most flavor possible from the beans. Then there is the actual physical process of plunging the coffee. If the grind is too fine, it could slip right past the filter and end up in your mug. And no one wants to be chewing on chunks of coffee grounds when trying to enjoy their morning cup. 

The resulting brew of a French press should be one that is bold, full-bodied, and richly aromatic. And while there are other steps that contribute to the experience, getting the grind right gives you a great start. So, in this case, size does matter.