One of the most important factors in making a great cup of French press coffee is making sure that your coffee beans are ground properly. If the grounds are too fine, you will end up with sludge at the bottom of your cup that looks like something you might find at the bottom of an oil barrel. If the grind is too coarse, you will not get the most flavor and aroma out of your beans.
The following guide will walk you through the fine art of grinding coffee for a French press as well as choosing the best tool for the job.
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Fine, Medium, or Course: What Grind for French Press Coffee?
When using a French press, you want to choose a grind that is coarser than what you would use for an automatic drip coffee maker. The exact level of grind is determined in large part by the type of filter that you use. A metal filter will require a larger grind than a nylon filter with a much smaller mesh. In most cases, grounds that are still distinct particles with a texture similar to potting soil are the optimal French press grind size.
How to Grind Coffee for French Press
The technique for grinding your coffee depends on whether you choose a blade or burr grinder. Blade grinders tend to be the least expensive; however, they can be noisy, messy, and produce an inconsistent grind. The fact that the grounds are not of a uniform size and shape can mean that the extraction is not smooth and complete. Blade grinders also heat the beans, which can affect their flavor.
The important thing to remember when using a blade grinder is that you cannot just put the beans in and grind away. To keep the coffee from overheating, you should grind the beans in short bursts of no more than a few seconds. Be sure to give the grinder a quick shake in between the bursts to redistribute the grounds so that you will end up with a more consistent grind. A course grind should take no more than about 8 to 10 seconds.
Although they are more expensive, burr grinders are preferred by most coffee aficionados. A burr grinder slices the beans into consistent particles instead of pulverizing them. Most models also provide more control over the size of the grind, so you can experiment to find the grind that produces your perfect cup of coffee. Burr grinders operate at a slower and produce less heat, so you do not risk overheating the beans.
Top 10 Best Burr Grinder for French Press
1. Our Pick: Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
This tiny grinder stands just 5.1 inches tall and measures less than 2 inches across making it ideal for use on the go or for smaller, cramped kitchens. Finished in rugged stainless steel with black accenting to break up all that silver, you’ll get a grinder to grace your carry-on luggage or kitchen counter. The only plastic parts are the guide on top and the nut holding the pieces together.
The stainless build means there’s no static when you’re grinding. You’ll be able to serve up fine grinds for your espresso or keep it coarser for the French press giving you great versatility. The coarser grinds work better so it’s perfect for your cafetière. You’ll get enough coffee to fill a couple cafetières.
Pros and Cons
For anyone who doesn’t mind putting in a little effort, this manual grinder might be simple but it’s also highly effective. Ideal for the coarser grinds necessary for coffee in a French press and tailor-made for use on the go, the only real downside is the physical effort you’ll need to factor in.
2. Runner-Up: Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder
Measuring up at 4.7 x 6.3 x 13.8 inches, the Encore is reasonably compact. An entry-level model, the finish is black plastic so make sure you’re comfortable with this. Simplicity itself with just a basic dial on one side, this will set off a more minimalist kitchen a treat.
With fully 40 grind settings, you’re covered for your favorite French press coarse grind without needing to sacrifice the ability to use other types of brewing methods. The pulse button housed on the front streamlines grinding on demand. Despite its diminutive footprint, this affordable conical burr grinder gives you remarkable consistency. 8oz hopper capacity gives you enough coffee for all the family in the morning.
This is one area where the Encore falls down. It’s quite tasky to clean up but as long as you deal with the stuck-on coffee in the blade area and hopper receptacle, you shouldn’t run into too many problems. As with all cleaning, doing so little and often saves you taking too much time or trouble.
Pros and Cons
The Encore is a straightforward no-frills grinder with a diverse spread of settings and it’s only let down by a preponderance of plastic and clean-up that could be made easier.
3. Best Budget: JavePresse Manual Coffee Grinder
Perfect for frequent travellers, this tiny manual grinder measures just 1.8 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches and weighs in at under 10oz. Sleek and slimline, the stainless steel finish and tubular design are striking.
A choice of 18 click settings helps you to get the right grind consistency whatever your preferred brewing method from coarse French press through fine espresso and everything in between. Ceramic conical burrs ensure you get minimal static and a grinder built to deliver while also staying the distance. As with all manual grinders, capacity is limited but you’ll have no problem filling your French press.
Pros and Cons
This is a compact yet capable manual grinder serving up ample choice of grind settings at the expense of a little manual effort.
4. OXO BREW Conical Burr Grinder
The OXO is a heavyweight grinder tipping the scales at 4.5 pounds and requiring 7.4 x 5.25 x 11.75 inches of space on the counter. Design is eye catching with stainless steel housing offset by matte black plastic so the grinder makes a real conversation piece.
With rugged ceramic burrs and 15 settings to choose from, you’ll enjoy power, consistency and the ability to create coffee just the way you like it. An intelligent one-touch timer remembers your last setting so operation is a cinch even if you’re not the biggest tech-lover. The 12oz hopper will give you enough grinds for a large family in one session.
Unlike many electric grinders, the OXO is reasonably quiet in use. You’ll never hope to get the reduced sound levels of a manual alternative but you won’t enrage your neighbors either when you blitz your morning beans. Clean-up is straightforward. You don’t need to use water, simply remove any bean residue on a regular basis and that’s the extent of the effort required to keep your OXO tip-top.
Pros and Cons
If you’ve been looking for an efficient and hard-hitting grinder without spending a fortune, the OXO hits that sweet spot. Equally easy to use and clean, the sole niggle is the fact it draws down a fair amount of power.
5. Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Grinder
Unlike the plasticky Encore, the Virtuoso comes with some die-cast zinc to break up that wall of black. The 4.7 x 6.3 x 13.8 inch footprint means this is a substantial unit so make sure you have the space to accommodate.
In line with a beefier grinder, you’ll get performance to match. 40 settings allow you to run the full gamut from fine espresso through the coarse consistency you’ll need for your French press. Grind-on-demand with a 60-second timer help you to rack up 8oz of coffee per grind, enough for a good handful of coffees.
The Virtuoso is reasonably noisy like all electric grinders but not to the extent it becomes a nuisance. After all, you’ll only need to listen to the noise for a minute or so then sit back and enjoy your coffee in peace. Baratza grinder are guaranteed for 1 year and customer service is robust and responsive.
Pros and Cons
For a versatile and powerful grinder that’s built to last, the Virtuoso represents outstanding value. The only real drawbacks are a little noise and a reasonably bulky footprint.
6. Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
This grinder measures approximately 6 inches x 7 inches x 11 inches. The overall construction is sleek, elegant, and durable enough to withstand regular household use. The exterior is stainless steel with black accents, which means that it will fit into virtually any kitchen décor.
Outfitted with a heavy-duty motor, the Cuisinart Supreme Grind offers 18 different grind settings from fine to extra coarse. The machine features an 8-ounce hopper and a sliding dial capable of producing enough grounds for up to 18 cups of coffee. On a medium setting, the Cuisinart grinder will generate grounds for 18 cups of coffee in under a minute. This grinder tends to be rather noisy; however, it is not a significant problem since it does grind quickly.
The machine features a removable hopper and grind chamber that are both dishwasher-safe. There is also a combination scoop and cleaning brush that makes for easy daily cleanup.
Pros and Cons
For the price point, the Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill is a good entry-level burr grinder that produces a relatively consistent result in a variety of grind sizes. On the other hand, some users have experienced problems with the motor burning out prematurely, so it may not be the most durable option.
7. Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder measures approximately 11 inches x 8 inches x 5 inches. The machine comes in black, stainless steel, and polished chrome and has a sturdy, contemporary aesthetic. The basic functionality makes the Capresso user-friendly.
The commercial-grade burrs produce a precise grind ranging from extra fine to coarse. The slower grinding speed creates less heat, which helps preserve the aroma and flavor of the coffee. The machine has on/off buttons to allow for pulse grinding. You can also set a timer anywhere from 5 to 60 seconds for your preferred grind. The hopper holds nearly 9 ounces of beans to produce up to 4 ounces of grounds.
As far as coffee grinders are concerned, this model is relatively quiet thanks to its gear reduction motor that operates at less than 450 rpm. The hopper and upper burr are removable. The machine also comes with a brush so that you can clean the grind chamber easily.
Pros and Cons
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is sturdy, user-friendly, and does a good job of providing a consistent grind. The low motor speed means that you do not sacrifice the flavor of your beans, and you will not necessarily wake up everyone in the house when making coffee first thing in the morning. It does not feature an anti-static coating, so the grounds tend to jump around. The grind level at the fine settings may not be quite fine enough for espresso.
8. Breville BCG800BSXL Smart Grinder Coffee Machine
The Breville Smart Grinder has a rather high-tech appearance thanks to its backlit LED screen that displays the grind size, customized grind amount, and number of shots or cups. It measures approximately 6 inches x 9 inches x 15 inches. The burrs are made of stainless steel to minimize heat buildup during the grinding process.
The hopper holds up to 1 pound of beans and features an air-tight lid. This allows you to store the beans at the optimal temperature. You can choose up to 25 grind settings suitable for everything from espresso to French press. The Breville Smart Grinder also has an automatic dosing system that calibrates every time that you change grind settings so that you get precisely the amount of grounds that you need. You can also manually adjust these settings to suit your personal preferences. The machine comes with a cleaning brush and disassembles for easy cleaning. It also features a removable tray to catch any overflow grounds and prevent countertop messes.
Pros and Cons
The number of settings and adjustable dosing features place the Breville Smart Grinder above the traditional entry-level grinder. The quality of the grinding, ease of cleaning, and durable construction make the Breville a good value for the price. Novice home baristas may find the number of settings and somewhat complex digital screen a little overwhelming. The computerized parts can also make repair and maintenance more problematic.
9. Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Coffee Grinder
The Bodum measures approximately 6 inches x 11 inches, by 5 inches. It comes in black, white, green, red, and orange. It is made from borosilicate glass, rubber, silicone, plastic, and steel. The fact that the container is made from glass means that it is static-free so that the grounds do not jump around. You adjust the grind size by twisting the hopper, so there are no complicated dials or displays.
The Bodum features a 7.8-ounce hopper and an 11-ounce collection container. Grind levels are continuously adjustable over 14 settings ranging from fine to coarse. A pre-set timer lets you select the precise amount of coffee that you need, which limits wastage. The glass container is easy to clean since there is no static to hold onto the grounds. The silicone sleeve on the outside of the container helps prevent breakage by keeping it from slipping out of wet hands when washing.
Pros and Cons
The Bodum has a small footprint, so it works well for small kitchens with limited counter space. It has a straightforward design and operation. The smaller hopper size means that this grinder may not be the best option if you need to grind a large amount of coffee at one time. Having to change the settings by twisting the hopper is also not very convenient if you need to change grind sizes frequently.
10. Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric Coffee Grinder with Multi Settings
This is a “no frills” blade grinder with settings for fine, medium, and coarse grinds. It has a large “press and pour” lid for easy loading and dispensing of the grounds. This grinder measures a mere 5 inches x 5 inches x 9 inches, so it takes up very little space on your counter or in your cabinet. A simple LED display allows you to select the cup size and level of grind.
The Mr. Coffee can hold enough grounds to produce up to 12 cups of coffee. The automatic shut off ensures that you will not end up with too fine of a grind, and you can walk away during the grinding process. The Mr. Coffee grinder uses 120 volts. The electrical cord may initially appear to be too short; however, the extra cord is tucked away under the bottom of the grinder and can be adjusted to the length that you need. One of the best features of the Mr. Coffee grinder is its Chamber Maid Cleaning System that automatically sweeps leftover grounds from the chamber wall. The chamber is also removable and dishwasher safe.
Pros and Cons
If you are an avid home barista, the Mr. Coffee grinder is probably not for you. It offers very little flexibility over the grinding process. If you do not give the grinder a little shake while grinding, you can end up with inconsistent grounds. On the other hand, if you are looking for an inexpensive grinder that will get the job done, the Mir. Coffee will certainly meet your needs.