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French Press Ratio Made Easy

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Are you put off from using a French press because it just seems too confusing? Or you keep trying to hit the sweet spot but you’re never sure exactly how much ground coffee and water to add? Then this guide to finding the perfect French press ratio is for you:

As a good starting place, a 12oz French press (makes 1-2 cups) needs 4.5 tablespoons of coffee for a medium to strong cup of coffee. So the ratio of coffee to water is 1:12.5. You can adjust from there if you want a stronger or weaker flavor.

As everyone’s taste is different, we’ve taken the guesswork out of calculating the coffee-to-water ratio for French press. With the help of our easy-to-use calculator, you can adjust the amounts to suit your tastes and the size of your coffee maker. The result will be a perfect brew each time.

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French press coffee maker on the scales, weighing the correct amount of water to coffee ratio
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Calculate Coffee to Water Ratio for French Press

To work out what the different strengths mean for you, just use our handy French press coffee ratio calculator:

How to use this calculator:

  1. Enter the size of your French press coffee maker. The default unit of measurement is fluid ounces but if you prefer to work in cups or milliliters, just use the drop-down menu on the right-hand side.
  2. Pick your preferred strength. We use a ratio of 1:12.5 as a good starting point and will brew coffee on the stronger side of medium. To help guide you, going stronger to something like 1:10 will produce a very bold, thick, and robust cup of coffee. Going weaker to around 1:16.5 (as recommended by James Hoffman) will result in a much thinner, more subtle flavor of coffee.
  3. Once you’re happy, hit that big ol’ Calculate button.
  4. The results will appear at the bottom showing you how much water and ground coffee to use. You can change the units of measurement here too.
  5. Not happy with the results? No problem, just press the ‘Stronger’ or ‘Weaker’ button for the results to automatically recalculate.

French Press Ratio Calculator


Select a different brewing method:

How Strong?

Ratio of 1:12.5

This is as low as we go - anything less would be pointless


This is as strong as we go - anything more would be sludge

Ground Coffee:

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PS. Want to nail your ratios for different brewing methods? Click the icon in the top right to change the type of coffee maker.

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Question 1: How Big is your French Press?

The first step is determining the size of your French press, and how much coffee you can brew with it.

Generally, French press coffee makers come in four different sizes:

3, 4, 8, and 12-cup.

The cup size here refers to a traditional coffee cup which is 4oz – a tasse à café if you want to be all technical.

However, coffee mugs for home use are generally 12oz (can be anywhere between 8 and 15oz). So keep this in mind to prevent someone from only getting half a cup.

Infographic demonstrating the different French press sizes in different units of measurement
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Question 2: How Strong do you Like Your Coffee?

Everyone is different – some like a fairly weak cup of coffee and others like a big punch of flavor. There is no right or wrong – only what you prefer.

When we work out strength, it is based on the ground coffee-to-water ratio. Whilst the actual quantities will vary between French press and other methods like AeroPress or espresso, the methodology is the same.

Ratios are expressed as something like 1:16 but what does that actually mean?

Whistle-stop math tour coming up: Coffee ratios work by splitting up your whole drink into equal parts. So, in the case of a 1:16 ratio – it would be split into 17 parts. One of those parts will be coffee (the first number) and 16 will be water (the second number).

If you spend some time searching the internet for the perfect French press ratio – or golden ratio – you will find very different answers. So, you may need to experiment to find exactly what works for you.

We use the following starting ratios for French press:

Mild – 1 : 16 for a subtle, light taste
Regular – 1 : 12.5 for a straight-down-the-middle coffee that should please most people
Strong – 1 : 10 for a bold brew, packed full of flavor

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Common French Press Ratio Guide

For times when you can’t access the calculator, keep the following image handy. It will keep you on the right track for common coffee to water ratios for French press.

Infographic: Handy coffee to water ratio French press guide
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Our Top Tips for Making Great French Press

Great French press coffee is about more than just the right balance of coffee and water. Nailing each element will skyrocket your brew quality.

Coffee Beans – The better quality of beans you put in, the better quality cup of coffee you will get out. Luckily, the French press is pretty flexible and can handle pretty much any style of coffee. But our tried and tested list of the top choices is a good place to start.

Grind Size – You need to use a coarse grind. So you have two options – either buy pre-ground coffee that is specifically for French press or buy whole beans and freshly grind them yourself. The latter will yield the best results but not all grinders are created equal, particularly when it comes to coarser grinding. You can see our grinder recommendations, here to put you on the right track. You’ll know when you’ve nailed the grind because if you go too fine, your coffee will taste bitter.

Water Temperature – For optimal extraction of your ground coffee, you need your water to be 200ºF/ 93ºC. If you go too cold, your coffee will taste watery or even sour.

Time – Letting your coffee brew for too much or not enough time will cause over or under-extraction. For the perfect French press, aim for four minutes. Even better, bloom your coffee grounds for 30 secs before steeping for 3 mins 30 secs.

Psst.. Want to dig down on how to use a French press for the best brew? This guide has all the answers:

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Final Words

Sipping on French press coffee is one of life’s greatest joys.

We hope by using this French press ratio calculator, you will have the perfect balance of coffee to water for a delicious brew every time.


Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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