Making French Press Coffee: how coarse should the grind be?

279
26
Joined Jan 10, 2010
The Cook's Illustrated web site has a video and instructions on how to make coffee using the French press method, which is how I've been making coffee for quite some time.  They say that the proper grind should be a little coarser than the size of couscous.  That seems awfully coarse to me.  Certainly coarser than I've been using.  What do the coffee and French press mavens say?  Too coarse?  What coarseness do you suggest?   What do you think of the video and the CI technique?  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/video/default.asp?newVideo=y&docid=20600
 

Time for my morning cawfee ...
 
Last edited:
1,354
24
Joined Aug 7, 2008
Schmoozer that's a very good comparison. If you pick up one of the Cuisinart flat plate burr grinders we talked about then just set it to the coarsest setting or 1 setting smaller if you prefer. 
 
8,550
207
Joined Feb 13, 2008
There are a lot of different sizes of couscous.  The comparison is meaningless.

The grinds should be fine enough that the filter passes through with only a little resistance.  If the grinds (also called "fines" btw) are too fine, two bad things happen.  Once, some of them slip through the filter and make for a muddy cup. 

Two, and more important, pressure builds up as you press the coffee which can make the pressing very slow and difficult; or, with enough pressure, even cause the pot to burst. 

Yes.  I have done it. Fortunately, that means you don't have to.

BDL
 
1,354
24
Joined Aug 7, 2008
Here's a comparison shot for you Schmoozer. It's just a quick snapshot but I hope it helps. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
 No matter what size you grind your beans will end up with some smaller. Yes even on a $400 grinder. However unless you are tring to use espresso grind in your FP the grinds themselves should not push through the screen.
 
Last edited:
5,422
395
Joined Sep 5, 2008
I used to grind my coffee fine to use with my French press. Result was, a lot of the coffee wouldn't be pushed down by the screen and I had a very good, strong cup of coffee, only toward the bottom of the cup there was a lot of muddy coffee "paste". Once or twice I drank that "paste" by accident and .... well that wasn't my favorite tasting experience.

I've been grinding coarser and coarser until the screen would catch most of the coffee, and ended up grinding exactly the size you see in DuckFat's picture, sometimes a bit smaller. Result is a clearer, weaker coffee without the paste at the bottom. I need to use much more coffee to make the end result as strong as what I had with fine. Sometimes I'll grind it a bit smaller to get more taste.
 
5,422
395
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Just finished a cup this instant that was made with the coarse grind... I actually still get some of the fine powder at the bottom of my cup. That's fine, the trick is not to drink it. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif A few times I drank it, and it seems like it's making me extra nervous (I don't drink a lot of coffee and I like it not too strong).
 
Top Bottom