Why Does My French Press Taste Watery?

A French press full of coffee sitting on your morning table is simply stylish but just because it looks fancy doesn’t mean the coffee inside will taste amazing. If your French press coffee tastes watery, you either poured it too early, didn’t use the right temperature water, or have not yet mastered the correct ratio of grounds to water. Assess your method and try again.

Just because your French press doesn’t taste quite right doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your beautiful coffee maker. Take a moment to read through this quick guide and I’ll answer all of your questions about how to make the perfect cup of French pressed coffee.

Why Does My French Press Coffee Taste Weird?

“Weird” is a pretty subjective way to describe your French press coffee. There are plenty of reasons why you might not enjoy the final brew, especially if you haven’t yet mastered how to use the machine.

In this section, I’ll break down a few of the reasons why your coffee isn’t coming out just right:

  1. Under-Brewing – If your coffee tastes watery and weak, it probably is. Odds are, you didn’t let it steep long enough before pouring it into your mug. To brew the perfect batch of a French press, first, cover the grounds in water and let them bloom for 30 seconds. Then, add the remaining water and let it sit for 4 minutes before plunging and serving.
  2. Cold Water – As coffee culture has grown into culinary art, it’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t scorch your grounds. Yet, if you try making French press coffee with water that’s too cool, you won’t get the right amount of extraction and your coffee will taste bland. Ideally, you should use water that’s heated to between 190° and 195° F.
  3. Bad Measurements – Another reason why your coffee may taste watery or weak is that you didn’t use the right ratio of grounds to water. For a medium-strength brew, you should ideally use 1 part coffee for every 13 parts water. While this may seem like a lot of math, we can simplify it for you. For a 12oz French press, use 5 Tbsps of coarsely-ground coffee.
  4. Over Extraction – On the flip side, if your coffee is bitter or unpalatable, you likely over-extracted the grounds. Over extraction happens when you either overheat the coffee, drawing out acids and oils, or you left it to sit for too long. This is a common problem if you leave your press to sit with the grounds and then pour a second or third cup.
  5. Dirty Parts – Finally, if you are not careful to clean the filter screen, it can collect old coffee grounds and begin to rot. This will produce a foul, rancid flavor and can even be potentially toxic. If you suspect that your filter screen has gone bad, take the strainer apart and change it out.

How Can I Make My French Press Coffee Taste Better?

With a brewing machine as beautiful as a French press, you understandably want your coffee to taste as amazing as it looks. To create a cup that encapsulates the bold, rich, and saturated flavor of good French press coffee:

Use a Temperature Controlled Kettle

Technology is amazing, isn’t it? These days, you can purchase a kettle that keeps the water at the perfect temperature, allowing you to pour perfectly heated water directly into your French press. This will help extract the perfect amount of flavonoids from the beans and create a delicious brew.

Use a Timer

Over extraction and under brewing will ruin your cup of coffee and potentially make it watery. By simply setting a timer, you can get your technique down to a science and produce consistent and delicious cups of coffee.

Grind Your Beans

This applies to all brewing techniques but it’s always better to grind your coffee. As soon as you grind the beans, they start to age and lose flavor. By grinding your own, you can control every step of the process and get the most flavor from your morning cup of joe.

Use Filtered Water

Last but not least, your coffee will change with the quality of your water. Overly basic or overly acidic water will ruin the final product, but, you can better control the flavor of your French press by using filtered water.

Never forget – the culinary arts are a science. By introducing some controls into your coffee brewing process, you’ll eventually master the art of the French press.

Summing It Up

A French press can make a delicious and flavorful cup of coffee, but, if you’re not careful to follow the proper technique, you’ll end up with a strange-tasting brew.

Be sure to follow the proper steps and use the right ratio of ground coffee to water. Additionally, make sure you let the coffee steep for the correct amount of time and use filtered water for the best results.