How Long to Steep Coffee in a French Press?

Making French press coffee is a great way to start your day, or to get a pick me up in the afternoon.  Many people enjoy French press brewing and find it relaxing.  You may have questions when you get started with French press coffee, and we are here to answer them.  You can read our complete guide on how a French press works!

Today we are going to answer one of the critical questions any French press newbie has: How long do you steep coffee in a French press?

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How Long to Steep Coffee in a French Press?

When it comes to answering questions about coffee, I always head to the best sources around.  Today, we will be learning more about French press coffee from Illy.

According to the Illy blog, French press coffee should be steeped for 3-4 minutes.

Illy is an Italian brand, and a famous Italian brand when it comes to espresso, so they really know their coffee.

Understanding French press steeping time really goes back to how a French press works.

Allowing our coffee grounds to sit in not quite boiling water for 3-4 minutes is what allows all of the flavor and caffeine to be extracted from the grounds.

How Long to Steep in a French Press to Control Flavor

One thing that is unique about French press coffee is how you can control the flavor.

There are two main methods.  The first is what we are talking about right now, how long you steep in the French press.

For weaker less caffeinated coffee, steep closer to three minutes, for stronger coffee, steep closer to four.

If you steep longer in hot water than four minutes, you're going to overshoot the sweet spot of the coffee bean, and your coffee will become bitter.

The second way to control the flavor of your French press coffee is to add more or less coffee grounds.

Between these two things, steeping time and amount of coffee grounds, it is easy to completely customize your French press coffee to your personal preferences.

What About Making Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press?

You may have read this article and wondered, "but what about cold brew in a French press?".  Making cold brew in a French press is completely different than making hot coffee.

When we make hot coffee in a French press, the heat from the water speeds up the extraction process.  That's why any hot coffee drink can be made in minutes or even seconds in the case of a shot of espresso.

Because we aren't applying heat with cold brew, it takes longer.  Remember, coffee is nothing more than a chemical reaction, and heat speeds it up.

If you want to make cold brew coffee in a French press, leave it for 12 to 24 hours.  Yes, the extraction time is that much slower when you remove the heat from the process!

Just like with a French press, you can vary your cold brew tastes with a combination of how much grounds to use and the time you allow the coffee to steep.  You also want to be careful you do not oversleep your cold brew coffee.

How Long Do You Steep Your Coffee in a French Press?

If you ask around you will get many different answers in the 3-4 minute range.

Personally, I either do 3 or 4 minutes depending on my mood.

Usually I like my strongest coffee in the morning, so I steep for 4 minutes.

In the afternoon or evening I prefer something a bit weaker, so I usually steep for 3 minutes.

How long you steep your coffee for is totally up to you, and a great way to change the strength and flavor of French press coffee.

Be sure to let us know how long you like to steep for in the comments!

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