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For a few years I have been using a French press. I have a kettle that I can set the temperature. I set it 201 F. I grind my beans fresh. I bloom for 30 seconds and brew for four minutes. I’ve been happy with the coffee and it taste pretty good. But I took some temperature measurements and I was surprised with the results. After I poured in all the water the temperature had dropped to 184 F and at the end of four minutes the temperature was 162 F. I up the temperature of the kettle to 210 F. This was a little better the temperature dropped to 195 F and at the end the temperature was 172 F. Also I preheat the French press with hot tap water.

What do people do for temperature in French press? The coffee taste good but the coffee is not brewing at the ideal temperatures of 195F to 205F.

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  • Wow!!! Congrats. I just pour the boiling water in; let it bloom; add more water; wait and pour. It never crossed my mind to test the temperature.
    – Mayo
    Jan 14, 2020 at 21:10

3 Answers 3

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I brew French Press every morning. I think you are doing everything correct. I brew at a target temperature of 190 degrees. Here's what I do... I bring water to a boil and then pour into the press to preheat the press. I grind my beans and I prefer dark roast. Then I dump out the water in the press and add the ground coffee. I use ratio of 16:1 (16 grams of water for each 1 gram of coffee, so as an example in my 2 cup press I grind 17 grams of beans and pour 272 grams of water. I usually pour 1/2 the water and then stir to bloom using a wooden chopstick (no metal to avoid breaking glass press). Then add balance of water. Cover the press with the screen and then wrap the press using a dish towel to insulate and keep temp up. 4 mins to brew and you have a great cup of Joe.

Note: My opinion is not to get too crazy with what if my temp is off by a degree or so or if I have a gram of coffee or water more or less than target. If you brew it and it tastes good to you that's what counts. If you taste and it seems too strong for your taste just add a bit more hot water to your cup. I never come out with a too weak brew. Enjoy!

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I believe freshness of the beans, type of coffee, quality of water, and amount of time coffee remains are the main things. Plus or minus ten degrees doesn’t have as significant impact as other variables.

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The recommendation of 195°-205° isn't necessarily "ideal". In fact, with the long extraction time of a French press, you might get better-tasting coffee with lower temperature water.

The inventor of the AeroPress tested different water temperatures, and settled on 175° (for dark roast to 185° for lighter roasts) as what almost all of his taste testers preferred. The one exception preferred 165°. The higher the temperature, the more extraction there will be of bitter-tasting flavor components.

In my own tests with medium roast, I noticed a big improvement starting at 195° instead of between just off boiling and 205°. Starting at 175°, I had to extend the extraction time a little, and the flavor was noticeably more acidic and less bitter. Starting in the range of 180°-185° gives me nicely balanced flavor with little bitterness.

For fuller flavor at lower water temperatures, you can use a grind a little finer than the coarse setting typically used for French press. I get good results using even a medium grind (close to what you'd use in a drip coffee maker), with 180° water and total water contact time of about 4-5 minutes before starting to decant.

Don't worry about the temperature dropping. You could insulate the carafe, as STL Road Warrior suggested. But even if the temperature drops to 150°, it will still be extracting, just slower and with less extraction of bitter flavors. Much of the acidic flavors will already have been extracted (they get mostly extracted early). At those lower temperatures, the bitter compounds take much longer to extract. So if you extend the extraction time while the water temperature is dropping, you get fuller flavor without excessive bitterness.

In fact, one technique is to skim off the crust at about 4 minutes. That gets rid of some of the bitter-tasting oils and fines. Then let it sit for several more minutes while most of the fines settle out, and the coffee gets closer to drinking temperature. Going this route, people sometimes don't plunge the screen through the brew and stir up the fines again. They just leave the screen near the top of the carafe and filter through it as they pour the coffee.

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