Can You Use Pre-Ground Coffee In A French Press?

Can You Use Pre-Ground Coffee In A French Press?

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So you’ve got your very first French press, that’s great. You’ll be brewing some awesome-tasting coffee, and it’s definitely a step up from a push-button auto drip machine.

If you’ve not used this type of full-immersion coffee brewer before, you may be wondering whether you can use regular store-bought pre-ground coffee in the French press.

✔ Quick Answer

Yes, you can use pre-ground coffee in a French Press, but it’s important to choose a coarser grind, similar to breadcrumbs, to ensure optimal extraction and prevent over-extraction or a muddy cup, which can occur with finer grinds.

If you want to know more, stick around.

In this post, I will explain why you should ditch the pre-ground and which is going to be the best type of coffee to use in your brand-new French press. You’ll be brewing great-tasting coffee in no time!

The Problem With Pre-Ground Coffee In Your French Press?

Almost all of the bags of coffee sitting on the store shelves are pre-ground to a medium setting.

Why? Most consumers buy pre-ground coffee to take home and use in auto-drip coffee makers, and medium-ground coffee is perfect for that type of machine.

pre ground coffee bag and scoop

Although the French press can brew a reasonably decent cup using a medium grind, where it truly excels and brews fantastic tasting coffee is with a medium to coarse grind.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Store-Bought Medium Grind Coffee

The French press functions differently from practically all other coffee brewers. You’ve probably already noticed the metal mesh filter on the end of the plunger.

It’s this filter that stops the coffee grounds from entering your cup; nobody enjoys drinking coffee mixed with a mouthful of grounds.

So this is the reason why medium and fine ground coffee beans are going to cause you a few issues.

Not only will most of the grounds slip past the mesh filter, but if the coffee is ground too fine, it can totally clog the filter, and in some cases, you won’t even be able to push the plunger down.

plunger filter close-up using pre-ground coffee in French press

And if you do successfully brew a cup of French press coffee with a medium or fine grind, you will find cleaning a nightmare due to all of the spent coffee grounds lodged and trapped deep inside the filter.

From experience, you will have to disassemble the filter components and clean each piece thoroughly.

Another problem with pre-ground coffee, which is not solely related to brewing coffee in the French press, is freshness.

I have talked extensively about pre-ground vs. fresh whole coffee beans on this blog. But to summarize, pre-ground coffee starts losing its flavor and freshness almost immediately.

By grinding the coffee, you are essentially breaking the protective shell and allowing oxygen and other elements to deteriorate the grounds quickly.

Let’s be honest, most of those supermarket bags of coffee have been sitting on the shelves for months; trust me, it’s not fresh.

It’s Best To Use A Coarse Grind

When it comes to the French press, fine ground coffee is definitely no, no. Medium ground at a push will work, but if you’re not careful, rogue coffee grounds and fines will find a way into your cup.

French press coffee grind size examples

Coarsely ground coffee is going to be your friend, and combined with a slightly longer steeping time, you are guaranteed a great-tasting cup with zero, yes, zero coffee grounds landing in your cup.

? If you want a complete brewing guide, read our post on how to brew coffee using the French press.

Buy Your Coffee Local

So, where do you find coarse ground coffee? You’re probably not going to have much luck finding any sitting on your local supermarket shelf.

But, you will more than likely be able to buy whole bean coffee. All you need is a good quality burr coffee grinder, lock in a coarse setting and grind just before each brew.

But what if you don’t have a grinder? Most coffee shops sell their branded coffees, and they might even roast on-site if you’re lucky.

Next time you’re passing by your favorite coffee house, pop in and buy a bag, and ask the barista to grind the bean to a coarse grind.

Honestly, this is one of the best ways to get fresh, great-tasting coffee!

Just make sure to buy enough for a week, don’t bulk buy, and have bags sitting in your kitchen cupboards slowly deteriorating.

Conclusion

So if you’ve managed to get this far, you hopefully have a better idea of the type of coffee to use. Can you use pre-ground coffee in French press? Yes, just know that it will not give you the best experience.

But if you have no other option but to use medium pre-ground coffee in a French press, a bit of advice. Once you’ve added your coffee and hot water, push down gently on the plunger but stop just before hitting the bottom.

Let the French press coffee sit for 3 to 5 minutes. This will allow some time for the grounds to fall down and settle at the bottom naturally and less chance of sludge ending up in your cup.

Fresh whole bean coffee will always be the best route to take with any coffee brewing method, not just with the French coffee press.

Remember, as soon as the coffee has been ground, the freshness clock starts ticking, and pre-ground store-bought coffee has more than likely been sitting on shelves for months.

Do yourself a favor, invest in a good grinder, buy freshly roasted whole coffee beans from your favorite coffee shop or local roaster, and make the best brewed coffee at home that you can.

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