I have tons of fine ground coffee, and the only way I make coffee is in the French Press. However, I have read that you should never use fine ground coffee in a French press. But there must be a formula out there that works with fine ground. The problem is, I always seem to put too little or too much fine ground coffee in. I just can't seem to find a good formula! Could someone please provide a good formula for making fine ground coffee in a French press?
A fine grind, especially an espresso grind, are usually avoided when doing immersion brewing methods. Reason being that their extraction times are so low that is usually not practical to press a fine grind coffee. Though this isn't a direct answer to your question, I'd recommend grinding your coffee directly before brewing. This is best practice, and it means you can grind your coffee to whichever coarseness that you need.
If you want to french press this coffee I think it would be best to adjust your extraction time. If you're using an espresso grind I'd do a short bloom, then extract for 45seconds.
To eliminate fine grit, wrap a paper coffee filter over the strainer, and press immediately to achieve 45second extraction, as there will be more resistance with the added filter. If the coffee is sour or bland increase extraction time. If the coffee tastes too bitter, then try decreasing the extraction time. Bloom for maybe 8 seconds. It's hard to tell, most people press coffee because they like pressed coffee, and they'll usually use a coarse grind for this. Using a fine grind will likely negate the benefits of using a press pot, and could very well be impossible/very difficult to consistently get a good cup.
You could try adding a paper filter between the wire filter and the frame. This should at least help keep the grounds out of the cup.
I also think you want to pay attention to extraction time as well as finding the right dose. Fine-ground coffee will extract faster, so you may want to try steeping for only 3 minutes (or even less), and then transfer to a preheated thermos or insulated teapot so it doesn't keep brewing until your second cup.
Also, there's an old cowboy trick for grounds in your cup. If you add a splash of cold water, it will carry the grounds to the bottom as the cold descends. I merely report this practice. I have not vetted the science.
Here's the problem.
Imagine that on table A we have spaghetti and a pasta strainer.
On table B, we have some fine coffee and a cheesecloth.
With the strainer, the holes are a lot more open so that the water can drain faster. However, the spaghetti noodles are pretty big, so they don't fall through!
Trying to use fine coffee on a french press is like trying to drain coffee through a strainer.
The grounds will slip through the holes and get into the coffee.
It's more of a physical thing. The holes in the French Press grate are big enough for finely ground coffee so slip through, meaning mouthfulls of grounds.
There's no magic recipe (or formula) out there that will fix this. Just get some new coffee and give it a coarser grind. :)
I've never tried espresso-fine grind in a French press, but here are a couple of ideas that should improve on the outcome.
James Hoffman has a French press technique that will go a long way toward trying to use fine-grind coffee. Here's a video: The Ultimate French Press Technique. I'll describe the gist of the differences.
- He starts with coffee freshly ground to medium, rather than coarse, which contains some fines. Much of the technique is about keeping the fines out of your cup, so I suspect this would also work with a fine grind. You would need to shorten the brewing time quite a bit (his times for medium grind are similar to the times you use with a coarser grind).
- After the brewing time, he breaks up the crust at the top, allowing most of the floating grounds to settle. Then he scoops off any remaining surface foam.
- Then he lets it sit undisturbed for 5-8 minutes. During this time, the fines settle and get embedded into the grounds at the bottom. I suspect the coffee doesn't get over-extracted because by this time, the water has cooled to the point that it isn't very efficient at extraction. The grounds settled at the botton under still water may also affect how much they continue to contribute to the brew.
- He doesn't press the screen through the brew, which helps to avoid stirring up the sediment. He just positions it at the top to act as a strainer, and carefully pours off the coffee, leaving enough behind so he isn't pouring the sludge.
Use an AeroPress. It isn't too different from a small-batch French press (with the ability to add a little pressure at the end to force the water through the grounds). You can get metal mesh filters for them, like a French press, and they make some that are fine enough to use with a fine grind. Otherwise, they use a paper filter, which will filter fine grinds (but paper filters will tend to clog with a fine grind). The AeroPress capacity is smaller than a French press, but you can either make normal strength coffee up to about a 6 or 7 oz serving, or concentrated coffee and dilute it to make a bigger serving.
I had the exact same issue.
what I did was after waiting for as much grinds to fall to the bottom, I plunged slowly then I used a small paper towel and touched the top of the coffee to pick up whatever was on the top of the coffee.
I found that this significantly improved the clarity of my coffee and made it an overall much more enjoyable experience to drink.
Hope this helps (5+ years later)
I honestly prefer using finer grounds in a French press. The flavor is richer, darker, and not as acidic. Even when I go to coffee houses, I request that they use a finer grind. It certainly is a shorter time to steep, and it does press harder, but to me those are small details. It's definitely worth it once sipping on it. I also get more crema that way, as it creates more pressure than usual.