In this article, I will go over the most asked beginner French press coffee questions. Some of these are, explaining why you should bloom your coffee and how to get rid of coffee slush in your French press made coffee.
I will also explain why using clean water is key to making Your Dream Coffee at home! Grab yourself a nice cup of joe, and let’s get into it.
1. What does the blooming of coffee mean?
The blooming of coffee beans means a fast release of gasses that are built up in the coffee bean.
While roasting coffee beans, gas forms inside the coffee beans. The coffee beans will start losing some of their gasses while waiting to be bought and used to make a delicious cup of coffee.
The coffee beans start to lose even more gasses while they are ground. While you don’t notice that the coffee beans lose some of their gasses, you will notice a difference when you start brewing your coffee.
Once you initiate the blooming of your coffee, you will see many bubbles appear on the surface of the water.
If you want to initiate the bloom, start adding 1/4th of the total amount of water to your ground coffee. This technique is most commonly used while using a French press, Chemex, and a clever dripper.
Once the gasses start bubbling away, the sour taste of coffee beans will go along as well. If you have never bloomed coffee before, you might have noticed a slightly sour flavor to your coffee. This means the coffee beans have not been degassed and will leave behind this flavor.
Make sure to use hot water, but not boiling water, to start the blooming of your coffee. Water for coffee brewing should be brought to a boil and brought down to about 92 C to start brewing any coffee. If you add boiling water to your ground coffee beans, you will burn the coffee, leaving a bitter aftertaste to your coffee.
2. Will clean water produce a better cup of coffee?
Short answer: Yes, it will.
If you have ever read a book about coffee or watched a youtube video, you might have noticed that the people talking about brewing coffee; are using clean water.
I can almost hear you asking yourself, does it really matter which water I use? I can just use the water from my kitchen tap, right? Although this is true for most countries in the world, there are countries out there that have really bad chlorine levels in their water.
This will impact your coffee brew big time; the unfiltered water will give off this weird taste in your coffee. I have made coffee with unfiltered water, and I can tell you that it tastes so much more different from what I was used to.
Although chlorine water is not a health hazard, the coffee experience suffers from it. I can recommend using bottled water from your local supermarket.
I know most of you living in a county with calcified water are used to the taste, but I can recommend making coffee using bottled water. You definitely notice a difference in taste, and you will be amazed by the result.
You can also boil the tap water and remove some of the strong-tasting chlorine taste. Although the taste will be less, it will still be there, and you should not drink too much of it. Remember, too much of anything is not good.
3. How to avoid sludge in the French press?
If you have ever drunk coffee made with a French press, you might have noticed a little layer on the bottom of your cup. Most commonly called sludge.
The sludge on the bottom of your cup; are small coffee particles that didn’t get filtered out while pressing on your French press’s plunger.
Although it is tough to completely get rid of the sludge in your French press coffee, you can try multiple things to get rid of most of it. I will get into the James Hoffmann technique and using an added filter to your French press plunger to get rid of most of the sludge in your coffee made with a French press.
Avoiding sludge by using the James Hoffmann method
The first thing you can try is using the Hoffmann method of making French press coffee; I made an article explaining why this is an excellent method to use and why you should try it out. If you haven’t read it yet, you can give it a try by clicking here.
While using the Hoffmann method, the ground coffee sinks to the bottom of the French press beaker. The small particles dive down as well. Using this technique of coffee making will take a bit longer than you are used to. The time is needed to let the coffee ground along with its particles set at the bottom.
This technique will give you a wonderful clean cup of coffee, which will taste a bit lighter than you are used to while drinking French press coffee. It almost tastes like a coffee made with a pour-over technique; it gives off a nicely filtered balanced coffee while still keeping its French press characteristics.
Not only does your coffee taste balanced, the sludge commonly found drifting on the bottom of your cup; is gone. Be careful not to pour all the coffee out of your French press, as this will result in the sludge going through the filter and get into your cup of coffee anyway.
Avoiding sludge by adding an extra layer of filter
If you like the clean and balanced flavor of pour-over coffee, you might want to give this technique of making French press a try, as this will include using an extra filter on your plunger.
To try this technique at home, start by cutting a round- shape out of any coffee filter you have hanging around in your kitchen cabinet. I suggest using Chemex filters for this method. The Chemex filters will be perfect for this method because of their already round shape, and the filters themselves give off an amazing result.
Follow these simple steps to perfectly cut the circle for your French press.
Step 1. Start by folding the pre-folded filters out into their original shape. This will give you a perfect circular filter. Lay it down flat on your kitchen counter and grab a pair of scissors.
Step 2. Put the plunger of your French press in the middle of your filter.
Step 3. Start cutting around the edges of the plunger, adding about 1 to 2 centimeters of your final cut. You are going to need the extra length on the sides later on.
Step 4. You now have a small Chemex filter for your French press. For it to work properly, you will want to add this filter to the bottom of your French press plunger.
Slowly put the French press plunger into the beaker, having the filter attached. You can now press down on your freshly brewed coffee. The sludge cannot go through the filter.
This is why some people prefer drinking Chemex or clever dripper coffee. It’s now time to enjoy the coffee!
Related article: Circle vs. Square Chemex Filters: Which Should You Use?
4. How to fix the French Press when it’s broken?
Did you know there are many parts of your French press that you can disassemble? There are two main parts to a French press. The first part is the part with the lid, plunger, and filter. The second is the beaker with its base and handle.
All the parts can come apart; the great part about removing the different parts from each other is that you can easily order new parts that broke down on you. This being a new filter or even a new beaker.
You will also be able to clean the French press easier this way. While taking apart my French press at home, I found out that a small bit of ground coffee still likes to stick around the edges of the filter.
If you let these little coffee pieces sit there for a few days in a row. They will add a peculiar; bitter flavor to your coffee next time you are brewing. If you keep all our coffee brewers clean, you will enjoy that morning cup of joe even more!
5. What is the appropriate temperature of the water?
The water to brew French press coffee should be around 92°C (or 197°F). When you pour boiling hot water straight onto your coffee ground, you will most likely over-extract your coffee, leaving behind bitter notes.
If the water is not hot enough, you will under extract your coffee, which will often leave you with a sour-tasting coffee.
My tip for boiling water for your coffee brewing adventure is to leave the kettle on your kitchen counter for 30 seconds after it has been boiling. This will most likely do the job of cooling down to around 92°C (or 197°F).
You can always buy a thermometer to measure the exact temperature of your hot water. This will be the most accurate way of making sure your water is not too hot or cold to brew your favorite coffee.
6. Which coffee to water ratio should I use?
I like to use a 1:13 ratio for my French press brew. This comes down to 38 grams of coffee beans for 500 ml of water used. Using this coffee to water ratio for my French press will give a nice strong cup of coffee.
You can always change this ratio up if you don’t like a strong cup of coffee. Try it out and change the amount of coffee used to your liking. The best part about making coffee at home is that you get to choose everything, ranging from the coffee beans used to the brewing technique you like the most.
For example, James Hoffmann likes to use 30 grams of coffee for every 500 grams of water, which comes down to a coffee to water ratio of 1:17. So it really differs from person to person on which kind of strength coffee they like.
When making French press coffee, I like to make 250 ml for one serving of coffee. This is quite a big cup of joe, but totally worth making. If you like to drink a bit less coffee in one sitting, you can easily calculate the amount of coffee needed for your coffee.
If you would like to use the 1:13 ratio and you would like to make 800 ml of coffee, you only need to divide 800 by 13, and out comes a total of 61,5 grams of coffee you are going to need for your brewing.
7. How long do you let the coffee steep in a French press?
The best thing about making (and drinking!) French press coffee is its unique coffee flavor. The best way to achieve this characteristic flavor is to hit the perfect brewing time, every coffee brew.
Your French press coffee will need to bloom 30 seconds before adding extra water to it. After the coffee’s blooming is done, you will pour the remaining water onto the ground coffee beans and wait for an additional 4 minutes.
The total brew time of the French press will be 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Using the James Hoffmann brewing method
However, when using the brewing method of James Hoffmann, you will extend the brewing time by a few minutes. This technique will take a bit more time.
The brewing time will remain mostly the same. The technique requires you to wait 3 minutes and 30 seconds after the coffee beans’ initial blooming. After the coffee has been brewing, you will have to wait for 6 to 8 minutes before drinking your cup of joe.
I wrote an article explaining exactly how to brew coffee using the James Hoffmann method. You can check it out by clicking here!
8. How do you make French press coffee less watery?
When your French press coffee tastes a bit watery, you can try three things to make it taste a tad stronger. You can try steeping the coffee for a longer period of time, up the amount of coffee used in your brewing, or using different coffee beans.
If you have brewed coffee using the James Hoffmann ratio of 1:17, you can try using 1:15. Once you have tried this ratio out, you can easily determine if you like drinking your coffee using that amount of ground coffee in total. You can keep trying this out until you have found a proper amount of ground coffee for your taste.
Whenever you don’t feel like using that much ground coffee for your cup of joe, you can also try adding a minute to your brewing time. This way, the coffee will steep for a longer time, leaving a more developed taste.
If the first two tips of making your French press less watery didn’t help in any way, you might be best off using a darker roasted coffee bean for your next brew.
Dark roasted coffee beans are roasted to higher temperatures, leaving behind stronger flavors, like charcoal and tar, in some cases. Now don’t be scared to try using a dark roasted coffee bean when reading tar and charcoal. The flavors of the coffee beans aren’t so dramatic as it sounds.
It’s just that the flowery and sweet taste of lightly roasted coffee isn’t there anymore and traded in for a pack of stronger tasting flavors.
9. Do you stir the coffee while brewing?
If you are used to making pour-over coffee, you might have wondered if stirring your coffee is necessary to brew French press coffee.
The pour-over techniques of brewing coffee are made with a cone-shaped filter, where all the water will need to get through to extract your coffee. The more coffee is in the small cone, the more flavor is extracted from all the ground coffee chillin’ around.
But the French press is a different brewing process altogether, the coffee will steep with the water for a period of time. While blooming your coffee, you made sure to wet all your coffee beans, so all of them will extract their flavors into the water. So there is really no need to stir the coffee around because the flavors will extract either way.
10. What size of the French press is right for you
There are a few sizes of French press that are most commonly used for a homebrewer.
Although there many more French press sizes on the market, some bigger, some smaller, these are the French press sized I have seen in my life.
Choosing the right size French press for your home is tough. If you are making 2 to 3 cups of coffee at a time, I suggest buying the 4 cups version of any French press out there. This will give you a bit more freedom, for whenever a friend or two come over.
Personally, I use the 8 cups version Bialetti French press. This way, I will be able to brew much more coffee at a time. This is the best size for me.
When looking for the biggest French press out there, you might want to try your luck with buying a 12 cup French press. You will be able to enjoy a lot of coffee at once!
11. Does French press coffee taste better than the Chemex?
The taste of French press coffee is totally different than the taste of Chemex coffee. Chemex coffee is a pour-over technique used to brew coffee, using a coffee filter through which the coffee will have to get through first.
French press coffee is made using ground coffee beans and letting it steep to extract the coffee. Although, after brewing coffee with the French press, the coffee is plunged using a filter. It is not the same kind of filter compared to the filter of a pour-over coffee.
By looking at the photos down below, you might notice the biggest difference in the filter. The left photo is a filter used for brewing with a Chemex. On the right is the French press filter attached to the plunger and lid of the French press.
The coffee made using the French press will deliver a stronger tasting cup of joe. It has a bit more body to it, and you might be able to get a few more sour notes in there as well.
Coffee made with a Chemex is a bit rounder tasting. The coffee flavors are more balanced and have sweeter notes to them.
12. How do you clean your French press the right way?
The oil left in the French press’s beaker, left behind by the coffee beans, might even make your French press more delicious. Leaving behind this oil might even make your French press coffee taste stronger and better.
So, you will not have to thoroughly clean your French press every time you made coffee with it. I suggest rinsing out all of the coffee particles and cleaning beneath the filter every time you use your French press.
Cleaning your French press thoroughly by using soap every few days will work excellent. Start by removing the plunger from its beaker and clean them under running water, using soap.
You can also remove the entire beaker from its base and add it to your dishwasher once every few days to get the same result.
Cleaning your French press properly is key to great coffee. The taste will be altered by the left-behind coffee particles from the past days. Your coffee might even start tasting a bit bitter; the flavor will get impacted by the coffee beans left between the filter.
While writing my coffee blog, I came across many questions that I had not answered before. So I made a list of the most commonly asked questions about coffee.
You now know why blooming your coffee is essential to making a nice cup of joe. But you have also learned why using bottled water is key to the best coffee you can make at home.
If you combine all the questions I answered here and start using them all, then you will probably notice a difference in taste. I’ve listed a few articles below to check out if you’re interested in learning more about home-brewing coffee.
Are you going to try out adding the extra filter onto your French press? Let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!