What Happens When You Use Fine Espresso Grind for French Press

In a previous article, we have established that to make a properly strong pot of french press, grind size is an important fact. Your have to use coarse grinds that will allow to plunger to be pressed correctly without getting stuck or clogging the mesh filter.

Can You Use Espresso Ground in a French Press?

Espresso Ground for French Press

If you have a bag of store-bought espresso grounds at home and would like to use it for french press, can it be done?

Technically, it can be done, but not without any issues. Using fine ground coffee in a french press will result in many problems:

  • The plunger will be difficult to push down
  • The coffee will taste bitter and over extracted
  • The fine grounds will clog the fine filter mesh

So, while you could try, you will most likely end up with a terrible pot of coffee.

What Happens When Use Fine Grinds for French Press

There are two main steps to making a pot of French Press coffee:

1- Steeping the coffee grounds

2- Pressing down the plunger to stop the steeping process and lock down the grounds

The first step, which is letting the grounds steep, won’t be a problem when using fine grounds. The second step, however, is where it all goes wrong.

The plunger of a French press pot features a steel mesh filter. This filter is what pushes the grounds down while filtering the coffee brew. So you end up with a filtered coffee that does not have any grounds or bits in it.

Because the particles of fine grounds is too small, and the filter mesh is just as small, it clogs right away. This causes the plunger to get stuck, since there’s no room for the coffee brew to flow through the filter and go up. This same thing makes the coffee over extract, because you won’t be able to press the grounds down to stop the steeping process.

On the other hand, using coarser grounds allow for room for the water or coffee brew to go through the mesh filter without any issues.

If Fine Ground Coffee Is All You Have, What Do You Do?

If you must brew your french press coffee using fine grounds, there are few things you can try, however, don’t expect the best coffee results.

Don’t Steep for Too Long

To avoid over extraction, you’ll want the coffee to steep for less time. So if you’re steeping for 5 minutes when using coarse grounds, cut it down to 3 minutes when using fine grounds.

Don’t Plunge All The Way Down

Or even half way down. You can keep the plunger up without pressing. You can press it just enough to ‘trap’ the grounds, but don’t press it down. In fact, because of the fine grounds, you won’t be able to.

Expect Some Sediments or Grounds in Your Cup

Because fine grounds will find their way to escape around the mesh filter due to their small size, you can expect a few to show up in your cup of coffee.

In summary, while it is possible to use fine grounds for french press, it is not recommended. It will most likely result in a pot of bad coffee with bitter and over extracted taste. To make a good cup of french press coffee, you should use coarse grinds instead. They are more suited for French Press brewing method and can withstand the press of the plunger without getting stuck.

If you don’t have coarse grounds and using fine grinds is all you have, there are few things you can do to minimize the bad results. Remember that it won’t be a perfect cup of coffee but at least its better than nothing.