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The Perfect Grind Size For French Press And AeroPress Coffee

So you have a French Press or AeroPress - excellent! Using high-quality gear is one of the best things you can do for your daily mug of coffee. But there’s still more (and this trick is an easy one to use).
What we’re going to show you in this blog will help you use your coffee brewer to its fullest potential (which is going to mean way tastier and balanced coffee). It may seem a bit complicated at first, but don’t worry—by the end of this, you’ll know how to brew coffee that’s blow-your-mind delicious.
So what’s the trick?
Finding the perfect grind size for AeroPress and french press brewing
Allow us to explain.
What’s “Grind Size” And Why Does It Matter?
You know those bags of pre-ground coffee at the store? Those coffee grounds aren’t actually the right size for most coffee makers, including the french press and AeroPress.

Here’s why this matters:
The wrong grind size can mean the grounds get stuck in your filter.
This creates a bunch of resistance when you try to push down the french press filter or AeroPress plunger, which is really annoying.
The wrong grind size can mean your coffee brews way too fast or too slow.
This destroys your coffee’s flavor and makes it either way too bitter or even super sour, which is disappointing for your taste buds.
The bigger issue here is the second one: bad flavor.

You see, different size coffee grounds brew at different speeds.

There’s a sweet spot with coffee brewing where everything tastes balanced and rich. The acids are balanced out by lower flavors, the aromas are vibrant, and there’s even a hint of sweetness. But…
  • Brew too far and your coffee will taste extra bitter and dull
  • Brew too little and those bright acids will have nothing to balance them out
You’re always after this sweet spot—that point of flavor harmony—but every brewer works using a slightly different technique and brew time.
So here’s the goal:
Find the perfect balance between brew time and grind size to reach that sweet spot where the coffee tastes amazing
Let me show you how to do this with both the French Press and AeroPress.

The Best French Press Grind Size

French presses feature a classic mesh filter that keeps grounds out of your coffee, but doesn’t require you to create paper waste with a paper filter. It encourages a richer brew and is environmentally-friendly, but it does come with a notable drawback…

Grounds too small tend to get stuck in the filter.

If you use “regular” ground coffee from the store, you’ll notice that pressing down the french press plunger is hard. There’s a lot of resistance and pressure created by grounds getting stuck in the filter.
This isn’t only annoying - it’s dangerous. Too much pressure, and your french press carafe can burst (thankfully, we offer free french press carafe insurance against accidental breaks).

Clearly, you cannot use grounds any finer than that medium-size (don’t even think about putting espresso grounds in your french press). The solution? Use coarser grounds.
Best french press grind size: COARSE
Coarse coffee grounds tend to resemble ground peppercorns or sea salt in size.
Coarse grounds don’t get stuck in the filter, which is a win. However, since they’re extra-big, they take a little longer to reach that flavor sweet spot - that’s why the normal french press recipe has a 4-minute steep time.

See how the brewer and the grind size are interconnected?
  • The mesh filter means you can’t use fine or medium grounds
  • So you use coarse grounds, but they take longer to reach that sweet spot
  • So you brew for 4 minutes to ensure your coffee’s flavorful and balanced

    When you’re making french press coffee, always use a coarse grind size.
Shop COFFEE GRINDERS for French Press

The Best AeroPress Grind Size

If you’re making AeroPress coffee, choosing the right grind size is a little difficult because you have many more options than you do with a french press. The french press has a fairly straightforward brewing process. But the AeroPress—you can make coffee so many ways with this brewer.
Let’s take a look at two AeroPress methods and see how each process needs a different grind size.
AeroPress Recipe #1
Espresso-Like Coffee:
  • 15 g. Coffee
  • 75 ml. Water
  • 45-Second Brew Time
Recipes like this are aiming for a concentrated shot of coffee that’s rich and bold. The end result isn’t exactly espresso, but it’s similar.

Notice how there’s only a 45-second brew time?
To hit that sweet spot of flavor and balance, you need grounds that can extract fast (like, way faster than the normal coffee brewing method). So here’s what size you need…
Espresso-like AeroPress coffee: FINE
Fine grounds (but still not espresso-fine) don’t need a lot of time to brew since the water can get in and out so quickly.
If you’re after a quick, dense shot of coffee like this, go with fine grounds (and be ready for the pretty intense resistance when you press the plunger down).

AeroPress Recipe #2

Typical AeroPress Coffee
  • 15 g. Coffee
  • 250 ml. Water
  • 2-Minute Brew Time
A more standard AeroPress recipe fills up the brewer and uses a 2-minute steep or so to create a rich, satisfying black cup of coffee. So what grind size do you need to hit that sweet spot?
The grounds need to extract faster than a french press (4-minute brew) but slower than an espresso-like shot (45-second brew). Here’s what you need:
Typical AeroPress coffee: MEDIUM
These medium-size grounds brew fast enough to reach that sweet spot, but not so fast that you overshoot it and make bitter coffee.

Burr Grinders: Your Key To Grind Size Success

The only way to take control of coffee grind sizes to brew better coffee is to use a burr coffee grinder.
With a grinder in hand, you can change the grind size depending on your needs. And this means that you can make small adjustments over time to the grind size to improve your coffee.
Coffee’s Too Bitter -> Grind More Coarse

Coffee’s Too Sour -> Grind More Fine
Sometimes it takes a few brews to bring your coffee to that sweet spot, but sometimes it happens with just one adjustment. Either way, this is the final result…

With a burr grinder, your coffee can be so much more balanced and flavorful.
Here are a few of our favorites:

Baratza Encore

The best entry-level electric grinder you can buy. Cheaper electric grinders will give you grounds that are non-uniform (which hurts your brew), but this incredible grinder’s as consistent as you could want.
SHOP Baratza Encore

Hario Skerton Plus

This hand grinder is smooth and quick to use, but the simple mechanics make it just as powerful as electric grinders two times the cost. A stellar budget and travel grinder.
SHOP Skerton Plus

Lido 3

This is perhaps the most precise and consistent manual grinder ever created. It’s so accurate that even pro baristas use it to make cafe-level espresso!
SHOP Lido 3

A burr grinder is the #1 flavor-enhancing tool in your coffee gear arsenal.

To learn more about how grinders can up-level your coffee game, check out our full lineup of espresso and coffee grinders.
SHOP Coffee Grinders
Garrett Oden
About Author
Garrett Oden is a blogger and copywriter specializing in coffee and food technology. As a former coffee shop manager and avid home coffee brewer, he's very in tune with his caffeinated side and loves to empower others to discover the joys of great coffee.
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