Why French press coffee tastes watery or weak? (A guide!)

A good cup of French press coffee is the best way to start your day. But it’s not that easy to reach a level of perfection in making a good French Press Coffee. If you are a beginner, you might end up with a too light or too weak cup of French Press Coffee

If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution to Why your French press coffee tastes watery you must know the reasons for this problem.

Why does French Press coffee taste watery? and how to make it stronger

The top reasons why you end up with too weak French Press Coffee are; You are not steeping it for enough time; you might not be using adequate coffee grounds; maybe your grind size is not correct; the temperature of water you are using is not hot enough, or the roast and the quality of your coffee beans are not good.

Let’s discuss these reasons in detail so you can easily prepare a strong cup of coffee with French Press.

1. Increase the steeping time

If you steep your French press for too short a time, you will end up with weak coffee.

It would be best to give enough steeping time to your coffee grounds before pushing the plunger so that the water extracts the flavor from the coffee grounds completely. 

To achieve a strong and robust flavor, it is recommended to steep French press coffee for at least four to six minutes before pushing the plunger.

If you give less than 4 minutes, most coffee grounds will remain unextracted, and your French Press will be too weak.

I sometimes increase the steeping time up to 6 minutes for myself when I am in the mood for a stronger cup of coffee.

But never increase this time from 6 minutes. If you steep French Press for too long the grounds can get over-extracted, and the brew will become very bitter.

Use a timer for this process if you are not good at remembering time.

french press steeping time

2. Use more coffee grounds

It could be possible that you are not using enough coffee beans and that eventually makes the taste of your French press weaker.

I recommend using 14-16 grams of coffee grounds for a 6-8 oz cup

Sometimes, When I am in the mood for a more robust and thick cup of French Press, I even increase the amount of coffee up to 20 grams. 

The golden coffee to water ratio for French Press is 1:15; 1 gram of coffee for 15 mL of water. So, adjust the amount of coffee grounds according to the size of your cup.

The ideal way to measure the amount of coffee beans is by calibrating the coffee scoop you use with a standard weighing machine.

Measure coffee with scale

3. Use the right Grind size

You could be using the wrong ground coffee size for your French Press. But what exactly is the right size?

Usually, a coarser ground size is recommended for making French Press. But achieving perfection in grinding coffee beans is not an easy task. You can only achieve perfection in it with experience.

If your grind size is too coarse, your coffee will become watery or weak. So you have to experience different grinds to find the perfect flavor for yourself.

As fine grounds get extracted more readily, I recommend making your grind a little finer than coarse, just like table salt to make your French Press strong. 

But never use fine coffee grounds, as it will make your French Press full of sediments.

The best practice is to buy whole-bean coffee for maximum freshness, but if you can’t, be sure the pre-ground coffee is suitable for French presses. Here you can check the best pre-ground coarse coffee for French Press.

Use coarse grounds for French Press

4. Use Good quality Fresh Coffee beans

If you want an excellent cup of French Press, Never compromise on the quality of coffee beans.

Some bad-quality coffee beans or coffee grounds might make your coffee weak, watery, or overly bitter.

Always buy Fresh coffee beans from well-reputed brands and grind them just before brewing coffee.

For ultimate freshness, I always recommend never to use pre-grounded coffee. There are two reasons behind this. The pre-grounded coffee beans stale more quickly, and the second is you have no control over the grind size.

So, if you want a rich cup of coffee with a flavorful aroma, don’t hesitate to buy a coffee grinder.

Here you check our guide on the Best coffee grinder for French Press

Use fresh coffee beans

5. Use Dark roast

If you are using light or medium-light roasted coffee beans for making French Press, then this is where you are doing it wrong. 

Light roasted beans will always end up in a weak cup of French Press coffee.

Always use Medium-dark or dark roasted coffee beans for making French Press coffee to get the maximum flavors.

Use dark roasted coffee beans

6. The water temperature is not adequate

The right water temperature for making a French Press is 195 to 205 degrees. This is the temperature of the water right after boiling when the bubbles from the water disappear.

If you are brewing with water having a temperature below 190 degrees, your coffee grounds will remain unextracted, and your French Press will be watery.

Now the question is how to achieve this temperature. Just put the water in a saucepan and wait till it starts boiling. Remove the water from the heating source and wait for 30 to 40 seconds till the bubbles disappear.

Another best way is to use Electric Kettles for French Press with precise measurements of water temperature.

7. Create Turbulence

To get most flavors out of French Press create a little turbulence by stirring as it will make the extraction process quicker. So, stirring also helps to make your French Press stronger.

Stirring two to three times after adding the hot water is enough.

Don’t stir after the steeping time!

8. Don’t use Paper Filters

If you love a thick and full-bodied cup of French Press coffee you should never use paper filters.

The metal mesh filter in a French press allows coffee oils and tiny coffee particles to pass through, which gives the coffee a fuller body and richer flavor.

Using a paper filter in a French press coffee maker can actually remove some of the flavors and oils that give French press coffee its distinctive taste and texture.

How to make strong French press coffee | 5 step process

Here’s the 5 step process to make rich and full bodied cup of French Press coffee

1- Boil water in the electric kettle. Make sure water is just off the boiling point – around 195-205°F.

2- For each cup, add 1-1.5 tablespoons (15-20 grams) of coarse coffee grounds to the French press.

3- Pour the hot water into the French press, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Give the grounds a stir to saturate evenly.

4- Place the plunger lid on top of the press, and let the coffee brew for 4 to 6 minutes.

5- After 4 minutes, slowly press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee. Make sure to press gently to avoid over-agitating.

Pour the pressed coffee immediately into mugs and enjoy the robust and full bodied flavors.

Strong coffee in French Press

Here’s a video that shows how to make the perfect cup of French Press coffee in under 5 minutes.

Read a guide on How to make Espresso-like strong coffee in French Press


Does coffee get stronger the longer it sits in French Press?

Yes, the coffee gets stronger the longer it sits in French Press but it will become over-extracted and will taste bitter if you let it sit for too long time.
4 minutes is the ideal brewing time for French Press. You can increase this time up to 6 minutes if you want a stronger cup of coffee. But never go beyond 6 minutes.

How many scoops do you put in a French Press?

The ideal Coffee to water ratio for a French Press is 1:15. Which is 1g of coffee for every 15g of water. For a standard 8 oz cup (225g) you should add at least 15g of coffee. You can also add a little more coffee than it if you like to have a stronger cup of coffee.

Other French Press Guides

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.

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