Simple Way to Fix French press hard to push down

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Johny Morrisson

French press coffee is the most adorable way of brewing coffee. But the plunger of the French Press may get stuck sometimes or become very hard to press.

This also happened many times to me when I was a beginner, and I must say it was really a very annoying experience. However, I acknowledged my mistakes and overcame them over time.

If your French Press is hard to push down, it could be due to a fine grind size or a dirty mesh screen. Finer coffee particles can clog the screen, leading to resistance.

French Press hard to press

4 REASONS Why French Press hard to press

Here are the top 4 reasons why your French Press is hard to push down and how you can fix it easily.

1- You are using the wrong ground size

Always use coarse grind size for French Press if you want to avoid any unnecessary difficulties with pushing down the plunger.

Fine grind size can clog the mesh screen and make it very difficult to push the plunger down, and it can also make your drink muddy as fine particles can pass through the mesh screen of the French Press plunger.

Don’t go overboard with coarse coffee grounds too because it might make your French Press taste watery and leave it under-extracted

You have to experiment with different grind sizes in the coarse and medium coarse region sizes until you find the perfect taste. 

I recommend you buy some good quality burr coffee grinders if you want the best from your French Press.

If you don’t own a coffee grinder, it’s better to purchase high-quality pre-ground coffee with a coarse grind. However, in my experience, it can be challenging to find pre-ground coffee with the exact grind size required for a French Press. Moreover, the size of the pre-ground coffee particles is often inconsistent.

2- The mesh screen is not clean

If you’re struggling to push down the plunger while brewing French Press coffee using coarse grounds, it’s probably because you forgot to clean your French Press or didn’t clean it well enough.

Clean it thoroughly before brewing to make sure everything goes smoothly.

How to clean the French Press properly?

There are two methods to clean a French Press coffee maker: daily cleaning and thorough cleaning.

For daily cleaning, take the plunger out and discard the used coffee grounds. Rinse the French Press jar and filter assembly with water.

Now fill the French Press jar again with water and add some drops of soap into it. Fit the plunger and just move it up and down three to four times; this will create agitation, and your French Press will get cleaned properly.

Now rinse one more time, and your French Press coffee maker will be ready to brew another cup of great coffee.

If your plunger is stuck or if it’s very hard to push down, then, in that case, I think you need to do a thorough cleaning.

For thorough cleaning, you have to disassemble the plunger assembly. The plunger usually contains a mesh screen, cross plate, and spiral plate; you have to separate them all and clean them with baking soda.

Baking soda can effectively break down any oil residues that may cause clogging. This simple routine maintenance will significantly increase the lifespan of your coffee maker.

Here’s a complete guide on how to clean a French Press

3- The rod of your plunger is bent, or Jar is damaged

These two possibilities might be very unlikely to occur, but if you are doing the above two things right, this might be the cause of the problem.

The French Press coffee maker might get damaged if you wash it too vigorously or push the plunger down by applying too much force.

To check if your French Press is damaged or not, empty the French Press jar and try to push the plunger up and down in the empty French Press. If it’s still getting stuck or hard to push down, your French Press is undoubtedly damaged.

4- Don’t be in a rush! Push the plunger slowly

Never push the plunger by applying too much force; always push the plunger slowly and smoothly. 

Applying too much force to the plunger can cause agitation, resulting in coffee grounds moving up and potentially blocking the filter. This can make it difficult to push the plunger down.

If you are into unique and exquisite French Presses. Read a detailed review of Le Creuset French Press

What to do if the French Press plunger is stuck? Solutions

Sometimes it’s hard to push the plunger down, and sometimes it gets stuck so badly that it becomes tough to push it down as well as to move it up. So, what to do in that case?

Twist the plunger slightly as you move down

First, try to twist the plunger and slowly move it down. It might be possible that coffee grounds are blocking the plunger, and they get out of the way by twisting the plunger. 

Twisting also helps to reduce friction as you move down.

Don’t push the plunger further if it’s stuck

If the Plunger of your French Press is not going down Never push it by applying too much force because it can break the glass jar of your French Press, or it can form dents if you have a steel French Press.

Applying too much force can also damage the filter screen of the plunger, or the rod can also get bent. So, what to do if the plunger gets stuck?

First, shake your coffee maker for 10 to 15 seconds; if the bunch of coffee grounds is blocking the screen, they will get out of the way by doing it, and then you can push the plunger.

If this also doesn’t work, you have to waste your coffee inside the French Press, or you can save your coffee by using paper filters if you have one. Just empty the French Press jar and pull the plunger upwards. In this way, you can save your French Press.

Final thoughts

And there you have it! Now you know exactly why your French press may be so difficult to push down, as well as a few handy solutions to try.

Whether it’s too fine a grind, or just time for a good cleaning, identifying the culprit is the first step towards smooth and easy plunging.

Have any other French press pushing problems or tricks up your sleeve? Did one solution do the trick or are you still wrestling with your press? Share your tips below – inquiring minds want to know!


Do you push a French Press all the way down?

There is no need to push the plunger all the way down. Just leave it at the place where the plunger starts facing too much resistance.
If you push the plunger beyond that point by applying too much force, a lot of finer coffee particles will make their way to your coffee and your coffee will become sludgy.

How long should French press steep before pressing?

4-6 minutes is the ideal French press steeping time before plunging. That’s the sweet spot for a rich, flavorful brew that’s sure to kickstart your day!

Other French Press Guides:



Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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