The traditional French press method is one of the most simple and effective ways to get a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee. Following a few simple guidelines—such as coffee ratio, grind size, and brew timing—will help ensure you’re extracting the best properties from your coffee.
So what is the ideal brew time for a French press? The short answer is four minutes. The long answer is that it depends on several factors, including your personal preference.
French Press Brew Time
The industry standard is to brew your French press for four minutes, which allows for a full immersion without over-extracting. Over-extraction occurs when you start to pull out less-desirable flavors and increase bitterness. The French press has some wiggle room, though, allowing you to fine-tune your process and adjust to the particular beans you’re using. Still, we recommend staying within the range of three to five minutes.
Adjust for Roast
Dark roasts require slightly less brew time as beans become more porous the longer they’re roasted. Light-roast beans are denser, and brewing them a bit longer helps extract a more complex flavor profile.
Adjust for Grind Size
You can also adjust for grind size. Grinding a bit coarser and brewing for longer will often create a smoother, more nuanced brew. If you’re looking for a fuller, richer brew, try grinding a touch finer and slightly decreasing your brewing time. Start with 20-second adjustments, staying within the range of three to five minutes as to neither over- nor under-extract.
Bloom Your Coffee
You may also want to “bloom” your French press coffee. Fully dampen your coffee grounds, and wait 30 seconds. If your coffee is fresh, you’ll see little bubbles as CO2 and other gases are released. After 30 seconds, fill your carafe to the desired level and continue brewing for the remainder of your brew time. This should result in smoother and slightly sweeter cups of coffee.