Whenever I brew coffee with a French press, I tend to get a significant amount of grind left near the bottom of the cup, making the last bit of coffee far less enjoyable - mostly regardless, it seems, of how finely I grind the beans. Is there any method or tool I can use to minimize the amount of grind left at the bottom of the cup?
I have the same problem, and these things definitely reduce it:
- Grind more coarsely. Blade grinders are incapable of really doing this—they give you boulders and powder. But I've never been satisfied with the taste when I use coarse grounds— it's weak and lacks body.
- Make sure the screen fits well and no grounds are squirting along the sides
- Press gently, don't force it down with a lot of pressure
- After pressing, wait a minute before decanting
- Don't drink the dregs remaining at the bottom of the cup... unless you're like a friend of mine who relishes them.
Finally, if none of that works for you, try a different brew method. Paper filters are very good at keeping grounds out of your cup.
Are you using a burr grinder or a blade grinder? Blade grinders physically cannot give a consistent grind; you'll always have some too-fine (and some too-coarse) bits of beans. If you're having the beans ground where you buy them, have them done as coarse as the grinder will go and see if that helps.
You can also try replacing the screen in your press. (Bodum sells replacement screens online.) If the wires at the edges are bent, they could be letting grounds through.
If you don't mind branching out a little, I've become a devoted fan of the Impress brewer from Gamila. (The link goes to the features page.) It works the same way as a french press, but the apertures in the filter are closer to the size of an espresso machine's filter (roughly 0.2 mm), rather than the +/- 1mm in a traditional french press screen.
I am South Indian and this is a coffee producing region, but the typical local coffee in my home state is sold ground extremely fine and will pass through the metal mesh filter of a French press.
Here is an "adjustment solution" that works very well for me when I try to brew finely ground coffee in a French press: after mixing the fine-grain coffee powder with hot water in the French press, I sprinkle a teaspoonful of coarsely ground coffee powder lightly to cover the surface evenly. It should be done softly so that the coarse powder does not mix and sink into the brew, but forms a thin layer on top.
When I press down with the plunger 2 minutes later, the coarse powder acts as an additional physical barrier preventing the fine grounds from passing through the metal mesh. I get nearly no fine grounds at all in my cup, and the flavor is just fine!
If you're only brewing a cup at a time, just don't drink the last sip - the grounds will have settled and you won't like it.
If you're brewing several cups at a time, then move it from the press into an insulated container - not only does this give the grounds a chance to settle out before they're in your cup, it'll keep the coffee fresh longer.
I use an inexpensive airpot to hold and dispense hot coffee after brewing in a press. This allows the coffee to be dispensed without disturbing the grounds that have settled, and keeps it at the perfect temperature all day long if need-be.
It sounds like you may be grinding the coffee a little too fine or your press may be bent out of shape.
With a french press the grounds shouldn't pass through or around the screen, if they are make sure the screen is touching the sides of the cylinder all the way around and try a slightly courser grind.
My experience is that even if you grind precisely as you should there will always be coffee residue in the bottom of your cup. The only way to minimize this, assuming that you are grinding the coffee as you should, is to invest in a much better french press. I have good experience with e.g. Espro press which has two efficient micro-filters.
The goal for grinding coffee is consistency of the grind, everything should be relatively the same size so it extracts evenly. In coffee grinding parlance, "boulders" is used to describe chunks and "fines" is used to describe microfine particles. When you introduce water (in any extraction method), the "fines" give up their flavor quickly, adding bitterness when overextracted, and the boulders hardly give up anything at all, leaving a thin and sour underextracted flavor.
A burr grinder with two mounted bearings (top and bottom) is the best tool for consistent grinding due to the absence of "burr wobble" seen in cheaper burr grinders.
The Resulting Brew
A sediment layer comes from the fines making their way through the metal screen on the press. Ideally, your goal should be zero fines for your French Press brew. A coffee hack you can do to get around this is to shake your freshly ground coarse coffee in a small metal sieve so the fines fall through. Do this over a container to easily weigh the amount of fines your grinder is producing. I have also seen natural static as a useful by-product of grinding that prevents fines from exiting the grinder.
I’m amused at the variety of solutions to this simple problem. As a retired career specialty coffee person, the causes and solutions are simple. In grinders, like mist things, you get what you pay for, (and that includes coffee.) Absolutely no blade grinder should ever come in contact with a single precious coffee bean. The result is everything from fine dust to boulders. The quality and taste, body etc of a cup of coffee is determined by the amount of time the coffee is in contact with the coffee. That’s why fine grind espresso extracts in a few seconds and French press an average of four minutes. The key is to have a grind that is consistent in size with no dust and no boulders, match the method for brewing. The ONLY way to achieve this is by purchasing a quality burr grinder. Don’t go cheap. Research it, check reviews and buy from a specialty coffee expert who can educate you in the great world of coffee. Quality estate grown coffee is grown and harvested with such care and so many important steps to ensure the highest standards are maintained from picking, through roasting and packaging. It never ceases to amaze me how so-called coffee lovers can ruin the whole process by how they store, grind, miss-match filtering methods to overdosing with cream and sugar. Great coffee is like fine wine. Where it’s grown, how it’s grown, how and when it is harvested, the roast, all go into yielding the best possible cup of coffee. Don’t screw it up by cutting corners when it comes to brewing it. Lastly......never, EVER, put coffee in the freezer!!
I have a cheap French press made by mr. Coffee and it stands about 7 in tall. Coffee grinder is from KitchenAid and it has the blade to grind the coffee. That's just what I have and I did not buy anything special for this answer.
Take a 1 lb cottage cheese carton without the lid then turn it upside down on top of a paper drip coffee filter.
Use scissors to cut the circle out of the paper coffee filter.
Now fold the filter in 1/2 so it looks like a half moon.
Fold the filter in half again so it looks as close to a triangle as you can get.
Take the scissors and cut the point off of the triangle.
Unfold it and now you have a circle with a hole in the middle. Don't cut too much off for the hole will be too big.
Take the filter and place it underneath the screen of the French press. There will be a tit that you place the paper filter over that the stem for the plunger screws into.
Fill the French Press with the amount of water desired.
Level off the coffee.
Take the plunger and put it into the French press.
- Notice how the paper filter you cut out comes in contact with the glass water container instead of the screen touching the glass.
Gently press down on the Press until you see water on top of your filtration mechanism then set the Press some place and do not disturb it so the coffee grounds do not sink to the bottom. This will act as a pre-filter before the coffee goes through the paper filter when you go to press the coffee.
Shazam no grounds in your cup. Now you can pour the coffee off into another container or leave it in the pot nine days old.