Last night I was at a restaurant with friends and we were discussing coffee. So I shared that I typically use a French press with around 25g for a "real" cup (~400 mL). Everyone was suprised at how much coffee that is. Yet pretty much every website I've seen about French press recommends something around these lines, or more. Also - and more importantly - I've tried lowering the amount and it does taste thin.

YET... I do enjoy for instance K-cup coffee, which is around 10g/cup. Does it mean the French press is not economical at all?

  • The question is not clear to me. I tried my best shot. I hope this helps as a better title. – MT San Feb 11 '17 at 12:01
  • @MTSan I interpreted the question as, "Do I need to use this much ground coffee per cup?" or, "Can I make a good cup with less ground coffee?" – Jerry101 Feb 11 '17 at 18:11
  • I reformulated it! I guess the real question is: how come K-cups are good even though they use about half the amount I'm using?! – comeauch Feb 11 '17 at 21:53
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think K-cup is [impolite negative opinion] and an absurdly overpriced fad, but I get perfectly decent French press with a scant 2 tablespoons of beans (I don't weigh them, but I'd guess a lot less than you are using - one calculator claims about half.) I can waste more in the FP but it does not really make it better, and if I take two cups off the same grounds, the second one is always inferior, so I just pared down what I was putting in until the first cup was still good, and clean it out and put in a second cup's worth for the second cup (need to dig the big one out of storage one of these days, it would be more efficient.)

I seem to recall that K-cup sizes max out around 10 ounces, not the 13.5+ that 400 ml is. They use the same pod to brew 6 or 8 ounces (based on the one machine I see and avoid using regularly, having tasted its "product" and wondered what all the hype was about.) At 6 or 8 ounces, it's in the realm of half your "cup." But my FP cup and yours are about the same.

I do not (as seems to be preached a lot) grind particularly coarse for FP. I don't mind a little bit of fine grounds ending up in the cup, reminiscent of Turkish, but not so much.

I also brew somewhat below the widely preached "standard" temperature as I like the results better; Sometimes I also cold-brew in the FP by filling it with cold tapwater and grounds the night before.

  • You're right about the 10oz on K-cups and I confirm that 2 tablespoons of beans make about half of what I use (before I started using a scale regularly, I used 4 tbsp). I think you touched the most sensitive point here: I grind the coarsest I can and other extraction systems typically use finer grounds, hence more extraction overall. I'll try your method! – comeauch Feb 12 '17 at 23:16
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    If you get bent out of shape by the horrors of Jerry101's answer, it's easy enough to pour through a filter cone on the way to the cup... – Ecnerwal Feb 13 '17 at 1:19

Consider trying an AeroPress coffee maker. It's kind of a redesigned French Press. It's quick, makes smooth coffee, and is easy to clean.

If you put in one heaping (rounded) scoop of coffee, that's 14 grams or 3 tablespoons, according to their FAQ.

While you're on the FAQ page, it answers interesting questions like about gentler coffee:

... about one-fifth the acidity of drip brewed coffee and one-ninth the acidity of French press brewed coffee. Because of this it’s easier on your stomach.

They have a web page comparing AeroPress with French Press and other kinds of coffee makers:

French presses use coarsely ground coffee because of the size of the holes in their filters. The coarsely ground coffee particles have less surface area than finely ground coffee. The lower surface area necessitates a long steeping time to extract full coffee flavor. Unfortunately, this results in bitterness and acidity in the cup. The AeroPress uses espresso or fine-drip grind coffee with a big surface area to quickly extract rich, full flavor without bitterness.

The coarsely ground coffee required by French press filters unfortunately includes some small particles which pass through the filter and into your cup. These particles continue to leach bitterness leading to a harsh, gritty brew. AeroPress brewed coffee is micro filtered so it is pure and particle free.

French presses cannot produce espresso style coffee and therefore the drinks that can be made with it. The AeroPress can produce regular American style coffee or an espresso style concentrate which can be used like espresso in espresso based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos.

All ground coffee contains the molecules cafestol and kahweol, two molecules which raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. The metal filters in French presses do not filter out cafestol and kahweol. The AeroPress’s paper filters do remove them, meaning that AeroPress brewed coffee is free of these harmful elements.

French presses are notoriously difficult to clean. The AeroPress is essentially self cleaning, requiring only a quick rinse.

BTW, if you use a Baratza grinder, see this page for their recommended grind sizes. (The page also has a link to different brewing recipes, but to be honest, I'm happy with the standard recipe.)

  • Mh it seems similar to the French press, but the fact that it allows finer grounds might actually make it more economical. I might give it try, thanks for the suggestion! – comeauch Feb 12 '17 at 23:19
  • It looks similar to French press but it brews quickly, with finer grounds, typically at a lower temp, and uses a paper filter. It makes coffee that's less bitter and acidic, which is subject to different preferences. (I copied in the comparison from their web site.) – Jerry101 Feb 13 '17 at 0:28
  • I should add: I like it a lot however in a direct, blind comparison, two friends preferred the coffee from the Oxo On-9 coffee maker. It depends on whether you prefer sharper (like sharp cheese) or smoother coffee, and I probably over-diluted it trying to match the Oxo coffee concentration. – Jerry101 Feb 13 '17 at 0:36
  • I bought the Aeropress and tried it a few different ways already. I've found that in order to get the same concentration and same volume, I need to use 2 "scoops" of finely ground coffee (approx. 28 g) and then dilute to 400 mL. I think it might be just a tad stronger than usual, but it's also 3g more in comparison. It does produce different flavors than the FP, and a cleaner cup. However in the end, it seems to take about the same quantity. – comeauch Feb 17 '17 at 23:05
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    well actually, 1 well-rounded scoop made something very drinkable this morning, using an higher water temp, espresso-fine grind and about 1 min extraction time (that so called inverted method)... maybe all hope is not lost! – comeauch Feb 21 '17 at 11:40

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