If you have a French press, the surest way to get the most out of it is by using freshly ground beans.
It begs the question, what kind of coffee grinder for French press coffee should you get?
Most people know how important the quality of the coffee grounds is to the whole coffee experience.
However, many do not know which grinder will bring out the best from their beans.
This is understandable given how many options there are—choosing just one is not as simple as it sounds.
We have some tips on what features to look for when shopping around for a coffee grinder.
- What Is French Press Coffee?
- Why Should You Use Freshly Ground Coffee Beans?
- What Types of Coffee Grinders Are Available?
- What Kind of Coffee Grinder for French Press Is Best?
- Making the Right Choice
What Is French Press Coffee?
French press coffee is coffee prepared using the French press, a brewing device with two key components.
The first one is a combination of a plunger and a strainer, and the second one is a beaker.
Here’s a quick look at how it works:
- Hot water inside the French press beaker brews the coffee grounds for three to five minutes.
- The water extracts the oil and flavor from the grounds during this process.
- After steeping, the combined plunger-strainer mechanism presses the grounds to the bottom. This step further separates the liquid from the solid particles, leaving behind a fragrant and flavorful black fluid.
- From there, you can just pour it into a cup, add the flavor that you want, and enjoy your drink.
Using the French press is one of the most popular brewing methods, and it is easy to see why.
It gives you total control over the temperature and brewing time, allowing you to achieve your desired flavor.
Why Should You Use Freshly Ground Coffee Beans?
At this point, you should have a better idea of how the French press works and why many coffee lovers use it.
The next important question is, should you go through the trouble of using freshly ground beans?
The quick answer is yes, and here’s why:
Prevents Evaporation of Important Components
Coffee beans contain alkaloids, oils, acids, and volatile compounds.
These substances give your favorite drink its texture, aroma, and taste.
In other words, a lot is going on in every cup just to create the coffee experience that you are after.
However, to unlock the power of your beans, you need to break them into smaller pieces.
It is the only way for the hot water to reach all the amazing chemicals inside.
What is more, it is best to extract them as soon as possible after grinding, before they evaporate.
Uniform Grind Sizes
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that it is not enough just to grind your beans.
You should aim for a uniform grind size as much as possible.
Remember to give the coffee grounds a few minutes to soak in hot water.
If the particles are of different sizes, you won’t be able to extract the optimum amount of all the substances discussed above.
You won’t be getting enough from the bigger particles, giving you a weak-flavored drink.
On the other hand, you will be over-extracting from the finer grounds, which results in a bitter taste.
In the end, what you have is a cup of coffee that does not live up to your expectations.
As you can see, the quality and consistency of your coffee grounds can make or break your coffee experience.
That’s why it is very important to get your hands not only on high-quality beans but also on a high-quality grinder.
What Types of Coffee Grinders Are Available?
Before we dive into what kind of coffee grinder for French press coffee is best, let us first talk about the different types that manufacturers make.
This way, you’ll have a good understanding of the different options available to you.
Based on the Grinding System
One way to classify coffee grinders is by looking at their grinding system.
There are two common mechanisms: the blade and the burr.
- Blade Grinder
Blade grinders use sharp blades oscillating at high speeds to break the coffee beans into smaller pieces.
They are similar to food processors and blenders in this regard.
That said, blade coffee grinders are designed specifically for coffee beans.
Technically, you can use either a food processor or a blender to grind the coffee beans.
The problem is you would get an uneven consistency.
There are indeed some techniques that you can use to improve the quality of the grind.
For instance, you can use the pulse function to control the size and prevent overheating the grounds with blenders.
In emergency cases where your coffee grinder goes out of commission, you can use blenders or food processors instead.
However, they won’t match the efficiency of a coffee grinder, so you should not do this long-term.
Blade coffee grinders have more power and offer faster grinding speeds.
As a result, they are better at chopping tough coffee beans.
The size of the grind will depend on how long the grinder runs.
- Burr Grinder
The burr grinder is a bit more complicated and robust than the blade grinder. It features two serrated metal plates or “burrs.”
One rotates at high speeds while the other one remains stationary.
The beans fall into the space between the plates, and the oscillating motion of the burr crushes the coffee.
The size of the grounds is determined by the gap between the two metal components.
You can adjust this gap in virtually all grinder models, allowing you to achieve the size and consistency that you want.
Once the grounds reach the desired size and consistency, they fall through the gap and into a container below the burr.
From there, you can just scoop the coffee grounds and start brewing using your French press.
Most brands of burr grinders use one of two materials: ceramic and steel.
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Generally, steel is more affordable and will do a great job grinding the beans evenly.
However, it tends to generate more heat as the grounds rub against the burr surface.
If the grounds are heated up, it could ruin the flavor of your coffee.
Ceramic burrs generate less heat and last longer, but they are usually more expensive.
Aside from using one of the materials, burr grinders feature one of two profiles: the flat or the conical burr.
Conical burrs are cone-shaped, while flat burrs consist of two parallel rings.
Both are more or less equally effective in grinding coffee beans.
Based on the Power Source
Another way to classify coffee grinders is by looking at their power source.
They can either be electric or manual.
- Electric Coffee Grinders
Electric coffee grinders use electricity to power their grinding system. Most of them are fast, efficient, and easy to use.
You simply have to pour the coffee beans into the hopper, choose the correct grind size setting, then initiate the grinding process.
After a few seconds, you have freshly ground coffee with even consistency ready to be scooped into your French press.
However, note that electric coffee grinders are more expensive than manual coffee grinders.
This is understandable because they are more complex devices with more moving parts.
Some high-end brands offer 40 grind settings and an array of other advanced features, but the price can be prohibitive.
Some low-end models cost less, but you must be wary about buying them.
There is a good chance that they are of inferior quality and you would end up wasting your money.
The key is to find the right balance between cost and performance.
- Manual Coffee Grinders
A manual coffee grinder is a burr grinder that you operate by hand.
The rotating burr is connected to a handle that you crank continuously to crush the beans into smaller pieces.
The distance between the two burrs is often adjustable, and there is usually a knob or a nut that lets you do this.
However, manual coffee grinders typically have fewer grind settings than electric grinders.
Another thing that you need to know is that they are usually smaller.
Still, they are more affordable and portable, and they make less noise.
What Kind of Coffee Grinder for French Press Is Best?
You should keep one thing in mind when it comes to the French press: it’s all about the coarse grind.
If the grounds are too fine, the particles will go through the mesh, making your drink mushy.
However, you should be careful not to make the grind too big either because you won’t be able to extract enough oils.
Using these criteria and the previous discussions, below are some tips on choosing the right partner for your coffee press.
If you want a perfect cup of coffee on demand, the first thing you need to consider is the grind consistency.
Remember that much of the success or failure of your brewing method depends on how even your grounds are.
If they are mostly of equal size, you’ll be able to extract the optimum amount of the substances that make coffee great.
On this note, it is best to choose the burr grinder over the blade grinder.
Blade grinders use the chopping or slicing motion when grinding beans, which is a bit more violent and harder to control.
Burr grinders are more deliberate, giving you a more consistent grind every time.
Since you will be using your French press, you should look for a grinder that can churn out coarse grounds.
However, if possible, choose a model that offers multiple grind sizes.
Doing this gives you the flexibility to try out other brewing methods.
So if you’ve had your fill of French press coffee and you’d like to give espresso a shot, you won’t have to buy another grinder.
Check out the specific grinder’s description before buying it to know what grind setting you are getting.
Manual vs. Electric Coffee Grinder
The next decision that you need to make is whether to get a manual or an electric coffee grinder.
This would depend on your situation or unique preference.
If you have a limited budget, you should get the manual grinder.
It offers quiet operation, and you can take it to work, when you go camping, or when you go on vacations.
However, note that it has a smaller capacity and that you would need some elbow grease to operate it.
Electric grinders are best for households with multiple coffee drinkers.
They are also suitable for people who are always rushing in the morning and don’t have time for manual grinding.
With the grind consistency out of the way, you should also look into product quality.
Does it use durable materials on the grinding system and the body?
Is the manufacturer confident enough in its product to offer an extended warranty?
Are the reviews and customer feedback about the product mostly positive?
These are just some of the questions you should answer when shopping around for a coffee grinder.
After covering the basics, it’s time to look at the more subtle features of the coffee grinder.
For instance, even among electric coffee grinders, some models offer quiet operation.
Another example is manual grinders with a smooth grinding function that are easier to handle.
When it comes to maintenance, look for grinders that are easy to take apart and clean.
In short, if you can afford it, there is no harm in choosing a brand that offers all the bells and whistles.
When shopping for coffee grinders, you can choose cost as a starting point.
This is a good practice if you have a limited budget.
Once you have narrowed down your options, you can start looking at the other criteria.
Making the Right Choice
Shopping around for a grinder to pair with your French press can be stressful.
However, with the right information, you can streamline your decision-making process.
Once you make the right choice, you can enjoy a perfect cup of French press coffee the way it’s meant to be.