This article is an expansion of the troubleshooting table inside the French Press Coffee Tutorial. I’ve brewed a lot of coffee using the French Press. Along the way, I’ve developed a checklist of steps to take to improve the taste. There are variables that are easy to correct and some that take a little effort.
Before you start tweaking, it is important to get the basics correct. The steps listed below should be followed in sequence. There is no point in adjusting the grind if your water quality is poor. Also, I use the terms press pot and French press interchangeably.
1 Water Quality
There are a few articles on this site that cover water quality. I have a simple rule to measure water quality. Drink the water by itself. Does it taste good? If so, then that is good enough. If the water doesn’t taste right on its own, then your coffee will probably end up tasting off as well. Seek out a good water source before you start to brew your coffee.
2 Brewing Temperature
When brewing French Press coffee, you want the temperature to be just off a boil. This equates to 195-205 F or 90.5-96.1 C. For lighter roasts aim to be closer to 205 F. For darker roasts strive for 195 F. Using a kettle such as the Bonavita will let you dial in the exact temperature you need. Not only is that good for coffee, but a necessity for some teas.