Three things affect the quality of your French press coffee brew: the amount of time the coffee stays in the press, the water temperature, and the size of coffee grind for French press. It might sound like alchemy, but there’s a simple way to get a decent cup of coffee.
Some people say that using a coarse grind is the only correct choice for a French press brew, while others swear by the exotic taste they get with finer grinds. So what is the best size coffee grind for French press?
The answer is that it depends on your flavor profile. The most common size coffee grind for French press is coarse ground coffee. This ensures you get a robust flavor profile from your French press coffee and is more economical than using fine espresso ground coffee grinds. But at the end of the day, the flavor is subjective – so you might like a different coffee grind for French press.
Lucky for you we’ve covered all the different coffee grinds in this article! Read on to find out what’s the best coffee grind for French press depending on the flavors you like. Also, we’ll go over how the different grinds affect the taste of the brew.
How Does the Grind Size Affect the Taste of Coffee?
There are hundreds of compounds that make up the different flavors and aroma layers of coffee. All this goodness starts extracting once the coffee grounds get in touch with water.
Author Note: If the water comes in contact with a larger surface area of the coffee, then the extraction of flavors would naturally be higher. That’s why finer grains give off far more flavor than coarse grounds during the same amounts of time.
And speaking of time, this is another factor that we often consider as we talk about grind size. If you leave coffee grounds in water for a short while, they might not get a chance to extract fully. And if they’re left for too long, they’ll extract too much.
Under-extraction and over-extraction are both bad for your coffee. They taste sour, acidic, salty, or what we generally refer to as a ‘muddy coffee’.
The temperature and flow rate also affects the extraction rate of coffee. For example, Espresso coffee is best when fine coffee grounds are subjected to steam quickly and under pressure. A cold brew goes through the opposite process, where coarse grounds are left in cold water overnight.
The Different Coffee Grind Sizes and Their Best Brewing Methods
To get a feel of which coffee you can use with your French press, here’s a summary of what each grind size is typically used for.
Extra-Coarse Coffee Grind
Their texture is like ground peppercorns. This is a texture that extracts best over a long period of time. So naturally, it suits a cold brew best. It’s also used in Cowboy coffee, which is in many ways similar to French press coffee,
Coarse Coffee Grind
This type has a texture similar to sea-salt. It works best with French press brewing, percolators, and the fine art of coffee cupping.
Medium-Coarse Coffee Grinds
Going a tiny step finer, we reach these sandy-textured coffee grains. They’re perfect for Cafe Solo Brewer, Chemex, and Clever Dripper.
Medium Coffee Grind
This is a popular texture that has several applications. It’s probably so because of its balanced properties, and how easily it extracts its best flavors. Medium grinds work best with the Aeropress, Siphon brewers, Pour-over coffee makers, as well as drip coffee makers.
Medium-Fine Coffee Grind
This is the fine-tuning of the previous grade, and it’s a connoisseurs’ extra mile to get better results while brewing coffee with a Pour-over or an Aeropress.
Fine Coffee Grind
This is the most common type of coffee grinds you’ll come across. It’s similar to fine table salt and lends itself nicely to Espresso brewing. It works great with French press, drip coffee machines, and making espresso in a pan or on the stovetop.
Extra-Fine Coffee Grind
This is the type of coffee grinds used for Turkish or Greek coffee. It feels like powder or flour and extracts in less than two minutes with a bit of steering. It gives full form to the coffee and has an overpowering aroma.
Grinding with a Blade or a Burr for a French Press Brew?
Not all brands of coffee offer coarse grinds, which would limit your choices only to the ones who do. That’s why having a coffee grind around the house opens up the possibilities to try the finest types of coffee.
Author Note: This sounds great, but there’s a catch. While you feel like a total pro, buying whole beans, and grinding them to your preference, you might still get-mud tasting coffee. This unfortunate outcome usually happens when you use a coffee grinder with a blade.
What Happens When You Use a Blade Coffee Grinder?
The blade is too strong, too fast, and causes plenty of friction as it spins around. The violent action shreds the coffee beans into misshapen little lumps that often have uneven sizes. It’s mostly coarse, but the grounds are interspersed with slightly larger and slightly smaller grains.
This means that you’d get a good brew, along with over-extracted and under-extracted tones. It’s a blend that has sour, bitter, and regular tastes all put together. The result? You can imagine of course, but let me tell you that it’s so not good.
That’s still not all. Surprisingly, there’s more damage that this type of coffee grinder inflicts on the coffee beans. The high speed of the blades, plus the significant friction the beans suffer through, generate plenty of heat. This ‘overcooks’ the coffee beans, and alters their flavors irreversibly.
Is the Burr Coffee Grinder Better for a French Press Brew?
The previous scenario can be avoided altogether by using a good quality burr coffee grinder. The particle sizes are consistent, and as the burs move slowly, there’ no extra heat. This makes for perfectly ground coarse coffee, probably better than what you’d get commercially.
The Cuisinart Automatic Burr Mill is among the best you could have, with its 18-position grind selector, conical bean reservoir, and large grind chamber. You could also go old school, and use a manual burr grinder like the one from JavaPresse. It’s convenient, accurate, and actually fun to work with.
What’s the Best Grind Coffee for French Press?
Folks who favor a French press brew are often serious coffee connoisseurs. As you already know, it’s hard to satisfy such sophisticated tastes with just any regular coffee.
Add to that, the uniqueness of the brewing method, and you’ll see why the type of coffee should be top tier. Here are some of the finest coffee selections that work wonderfully with a French press.
Gevalia is a highly reputable Swedish coffee producer, with more than 150 years of experience in the roasting business. This brand has a multitude of coffee selections, but you can choose the Gevalia Coarse Medium Roast Ground Coffee for your French press brew.
It comes straight from Guatemala, carrying a solid earthy flavor, slightly smoky notes, and cheerful hints of cocoa.
It’s from 100% Arabica beans and roasted to the point of putting all its hidden flavors on standby. Once the hot water is poured over these coarse grinds, the full taste is released.
This coffee comes from a well-established family business that started in 1929. The founder Don Felipe started with a modest plantation in the mountains of Jinotega in Nicaragua.
Primos coffee is grown under the shade and only harvested by hand. This makes it a well-balanced coffee, that’s low in acidity and filled to the brim with flavors.
This Arabica coffee is smooth, with a pleasant fruity aroma, citrous hints, and clear cacao notes. Select the Medium Roast French Press Specialty Coffee for an exquisite brew. It’s a bit mild, so you might want to make it an afternoon beverage.
The Medium Grind Medium Roast for French Presses from illy is often described as ‘delicious’. That’s not a surprise from a coffee producer who truly understands the slightest nuances between coffee flavors.
Being a medium instead of a coarse grind makes it a bit of a challenge for an inexperienced coffee brewer. The extraction time has to be a bit shorter for these not-so-coarse grains. In addition, using water that’s a bit below the boiling point gives the best results.
We had to include here the Canadian coffee brand that started more than 50 years ago, at the hands of a Hockey legend. It’s a taste that coffee lovers relish and feel familiar with. Tim Hortons Coarse Grind Original Blend is among the signature flavors that provide enjoyment in every sip.
The last item on this exclusive list is San Alberto’s Medium Roast whole beans. I would just mention that this is the most awarded Columbian coffee brand, you can imagine the rest! This single-origin coffee is made from a unique blend of two Arabica varieties, namely, Arabica Caturra and Arabica Castillo.
It has a generally sweet flavor and overpowering rich aroma. Its taste is mainly caramel and soft dark chocolate, together with delicate fruit-like hints. It’s well balanced and absolutely elegant.
This brand recommends buying the beans whole and grinding them at home, or at a specialty coffee shop. It’s totally worth the extra effort.
There’s a general consensus that coarse coffee grinds work best with French press brews. However, coffee connoisseurs have experimented with various finer grounds and came up with amazing ways to utilize them in a French press.
Varying the temperature and the extraction would certainly be necessary to get the best taste out of the coffee grounds, whether they are coarse, medium, or even fine.
If you’d rather stick with the classical, and relatively easier, way of making a French press brew, then go for the coarser grinds. And make sure to use the richest coffee you can get! It would be totally worth it.
We hope you enjoyed our article on the best coffee grind for French press and have learned which grind will work best for you.
Stay caffeinated friends!