How to Fix Watery French Press Coffee and Make it stronger

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Johny Morrisson

While the French press should produce strong and flavorful coffee, you can easily mess up with brewing parameters and end up with a weak French Press Coffee.

Top 5 Reasons Why French Press Coffee Tastes Watery

  1. You are not steeping it for enough time
  2. You are not using adequate coffee grounds
  3. Your grind size is not correct
  4. The temperature of the water you are using is not hot enough,
  5. The roast and the quality of your coffee beans are not good.

In this article, I’ll break down the key reasons your French press coffee turns out watery and thin. I’ll troubleshoot issues from grind size to steep time so you can get a strong, balanced cup of French Press.

How to Fix Weak French press Coffee and Make it stronger

1. Increase the steeping time

The steeping time of your French press coffee will have a significant impact on the flavor of your coffee. For a stronger flavor, steep your coffee for at least 4-6 minutes before pressing the plunger.

If you give less than 4 minutes of steeping time to your French press, most coffee grounds will remain unextracted, and you will end up with a watery or weak drink.

When I’m in the mood for a stronger cup of coffee, I sometimes increase the steeping time to 6 minutes. However, it is important not to exceed 6 minutes, or the coffee will become overly bitter.

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

french press steeping time

2. Use more coffee grounds

If you don’t use enough coffee beans, your French press will eventually taste weak. I recommend using 14-16 grams of coffee grounds for a 6-8 oz cup

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

If your French press is weak, it could be because you are using the wrong ground coffee size

The best French Press grind size is coarse. However, 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 rough sand to make your French Press strong. 

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

Use coarse grounds for French Press

For the freshest coffee, it is best to purchase whole beans and grind them yourself. However, if you cannot grind your own beans, be sure to choose a pre-ground coffee that is specifically ground to coarse settings for French press brewing. Here’s the list of best pre-ground coffee 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. Bad-quality coffee beans or grounds can 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 the freshest and most flavorful cup of coffee, I always recommend grinding your own beans. Pre-ground coffee beans stale more quickly and give you no control over the grind size, which can have a significant impact on the taste of your coffee.

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

Here’s 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 the French press, you are making a mistake.

Lightly roasted coffee beans are not ideal for French press brewing because the coarse light grounds do not extract flavors quickly, resulting in a weak cup of coffee.

Always use Medium-dark or dark roasted coffee beans for making French Press coffee as they extract flavors more quickly and make a stronger and richer drink.

Use dark roasted coffee beans

Read a Guide on Light vs Dark roast Coffee

6. The water temperature is not adequate

The right water temperature for making a French Press is 195 to 205 degrees. 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.

To achieve perfect temperature for French Press, 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

For a stronger cup of French press coffee, gently stir the grounds and water together after adding them to the French press.

This will help to ensure that all of the grounds are wet and that the extraction process begins evenly.

Stirring for 10-15 seconds 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 stronger taste and texture.

How to make strong French press coffee

Here’s the 5-step process to make a 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 200°F.

2- For each cup (8 oz), add 3 tablespoons (15-17 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 steep 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 slowly to avoid over-agitating.

Pour the pressed coffee immediately into mugs and enjoy the 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.

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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